Near the end of the first day of the new look/format/spirit Cincinnati Enquirer, Editor Carolyn Washburn forwarded a selection of reader comments, which I’ve interspersed below with live page designs from the second and third day. (Kudos to Gannett Louisville Design Studio manager Ryan Hildebrandt and his crew.) From my experience in years of redesigns around the world, happy readers tend to submit feedback more than the grumblers, but, Carolyn reports that this is pretty indicative of a high level of satisfaction among readers.
With its new design, the paper converted from the gangly, anorexic broadsheet dimensions now in vogue in the U.S. to a new folded “tall tab” format called Super Compact/Three Around. A big concern might have been the reduction in page size, and the inevitable decrease in “story count” off the front. But the addition of pages, and new editorial features, easily counters that risk, and in the end, readers overwhelmingly report loving the new handier format. This is typical of readers in most every market where broadsheets are converted to smaller, more magazine-like products. (When, if ever, will this trend take off in the U.S.?)
Don’t miss the best feedback of all, at the bottom of this blog post, from the checkout gal at Kroger!
TRADITIONALISTS, DADS AND MOMS WEIGH IN:Â
“So my father, whose daily routine includes hitting up his neighborhood coffee shop and buying our paper (rather than just getting a subscription), sent me this text this morning: ‘I do like the new paper. Crisper pictures, good stories, puzzles on one page, more compact and easier than reading on a smartphone.’ ”
“My father, a lifelong subscriber, holding his new Enquirer. His comment: ‘Truly Awesome.’ ”
“Brilliant. Very well done. I am a bit of a traditionalist and have long enjoyed the broadsheets, however, I welcome your new format with open arms. You and your staff are to be commended.”
“I just received a call from a reader who wanted us to know she was extremely pleased with the Kentucky edition’s new format. She was gushing about it really and saying it is ‘wonderful, just wonderful!’ She said her mother in Grant County loves it too. She simply wanted to call to say thank you.”
ON THE NEW DESIGN IN GENERAL:Â
“This is exciting stuff! I like the contemporary look – it changes the way I think about a newspaper. Long overdue.”
“Love the new layout! Just changed our weekend subscription to everyday… Kudos!”
“Love the new look. My wife and I actually subscribe digitally on our I-Pad. This looks so nice, I think we might be convinced to start the home delivery up again. The ads and photos really pop.”
“Okay, I was skeptical, but I liked this morning’s edition. The size is that of the old Rocky Mountain News, a paper we read every day during summers in Colorado.”
“I feel like I’m a big city now, this is just like the commuter editions in the bigger cities.”
“Love it, love it, love it. The format is GREAT. Sooooo much easier to hold and read being smaller. Excellent content and especially appreciate the focus on who to contact with comments and/or stories. Good job.”
“I like the new format. It reads more like a magazine and I don’t find myself jumping from article to article like I did with the old format, which could be very distracting. I like the color as well.”
ON THE FLOW AND NAVIGATION, INCLUDING SMARTER USE OF ‘JUMPS’:
“I wanted to express my excitement over the new format. I LOVE the size as it is much easier to hold. My husband and I read the paper together at our breakfast table. The old size meant his section laid flat and I held mine up. Now, it all fits on the table. I also appreciate the entire article on one or consecutive pages. I don’t know if it’s because I’m dyslexic, but I could never follow multiple stories that carried over multiple pages. Today I found myself reading much more of each article because I could maintain the train of thought.”
“What do you think of the new Enquirer? I like it. It is sleek, compact, easy to read and has a sharp look to it. I really like that each story is contained on one page and there is a flow to what you are reading. I like the graphics, there is a sharp look to it. I don’t like the multiple sections (six). I was reading while exercising on the bike this morning. I had sections strung out all over the floor. The paper is small enough that all sections should be combined into one section, like the old Sporting News or the USA Today Sports Weekly.”
“I love it!!! It is easier to hold in your hand without a page folding over the wrong way. You can read an article straight thru without looking all over other pages. Each page is not confused with multiple articles, thus allowing you to focus on one article at a time.”
ON THE PAPER’S THOROUGH, MONTHS-LONG MARKETING CAMPAIGN:
“I really like the size and fold of the paper, and the weather report, and found the articles very informative and engaging. The comics and the puzzles on a thicker, separate sheet of paper really make it easier to work. It’s also good to have the short bio with a picture with the writer’s article. Change is difficult for many, but you made it a little easier with the slow but steady e-mails and short articles about the new format over the last months. It definitely gave me time to get used to the idea. You did well! My husband has been reading the paper online while I get to enjoy the paper edition all to myself.”
“I was fully expecting to be upset over this change, but when the paper arrived this morning, I loved it!”
“It is with surprise and enjoyment that I send you this e-mail. Ever since you announced the new format for the paper a while ago and said that we would be able to read it online or on a hard copy no longer printed in Cincinnati, I was fairly certain I would soon be giving up another thing I really enjoy. Today I am writing you to tell you I thoroughly enjoyed the paper this morning.”
… AND THE FINAL WORD, FROM THE CHECKOUT LANE AT KROGER:
“Just wrapped up a quick run to Kroger. Not sure what the draw was in Hyde Park, but there are no papers to be found!! Clerk said they were moving quick today. When I said the real test will be if they sell the same way tomorrow. Her reply: “Oh yeah, they’re going to sell. People loved them.”
Related or semi-related:
- Monday’s blog post about the launch, with 14-page Readers Guide and first live pages.
- An updated album of Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper redesign news pages (and a few prototypes).
- An updated album of Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper redesign features pages
- Earlier blog post with more background on ourÂ preliminary work with Cincinnati Enquirer redesign project.
- Note to readers from Publisher Margaret Buchanan.
- A few months back, theÂ Enquirer published its complete prototype online to solicit feedback from readers.
- Six secrets of the newspaper redesign prototyping process.
- This project featured an off-site design hub. While a controversy with some in the industry, the end result here was efficiency married with creativity. See this Q&A on redesigning with hubs in mind.
- Many more tips, visuals and other resources on newspaper redesigns.
- Follow Ron Reason Consulting on Twitter.Â Â