Mario Garcia

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Financial Times: A classic redesign for the digital age

A version of this post originally appeared on Mario Garcia’s site. It has been reposted with his permission.

From time to time a newspaper redesign is announced that gets everyone on alert mode. Such is the case with the redesign unveiled today by the Financial Times. Let's take a look at the centerpieces of this project: the new fonts, the new grid, greater role of graphics and, overall, creating a print edition for the digital age.

The newly designed front page of the Financial Times

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Kevin Wilson, head of design at the Financial Times, teased me with a short mail that simply said: “Mario, it’s still pink and still a broadsheet”.

That’s good to know, but it was even better to sample some pages with the new design that Kevin sent me a couple of days ago.

Three highlights are the main centerpieces of the Financial Times’ redesign, which was led by Kevin Wilson along with design consultant Mark Leeds :

-A new typographic palette: get introduced to Financier, an elegant, old world font that charms at first sight. Read more


Excerpt from ‘iPad Design Lab’: How tablets allow us to disconnect

As Poynter releases the findings of its latest Eyetrack tablet research, we are also excerpting an abridged section from Mario Garcia’s new book, “iPad Design Lab.”

Storytelling is the one thing that has not changed, regardless of how many platforms we use to practice our craft. With a good story in hand, the rest becomes easy.

A medium in its infancy, the tablet affords us the opportunity to examine and discover as we create apps. We know users spend considerable time with it and prefer it as an evening companion.

I was struck, when designing my first tablet app, that I was designing for the brain, the eye and the finger — and all at the same time. I pay particular attention to the finger, which I consider both unforgiving and impatient: It wants to touch the screen and immediately get results. It is up to an editor or designer to provide for this finger. Read more


The March of the Tabloids

Everything makes a comeback. There is an eternal renaissance of essential things. In journalism, design, literature and art. Things tend to simplify themselves. As life in the big cities turns more chaotic, technology becomes more accessible with wireless, fast communication available to larger masses of the population. For the printed media, this translates into smaller formats, more reader-friendly for users who seek simpler storytelling, quicker messages, and who seem to prefer, as in everything else, the smaller packages.

In the case of newspapers, we have had to wait a long time and climb a steep mountain to get to this exciting moment in which more newspapers are looking at smaller formats as an option. For many, it is already a reality. Conversion from broadsheet to tabloid has paid off: Readers like it, advertisers get used to it faster than anyone thought, and the “wave” of tabloid conversions extends globally. Even the United States is taking a peek into what some of their newspapers will look like in a format other than the huge broadsheet that has served as the canvas for decades. Read more


A Personal Journey — and Hint of Revolution — in Moscow

I arrived in Moscow on a cold and snowy February morning last week, and felt as if I was 43 years late getting here. But the wait was worth it.

You see, I ALMOST came to Russia when I was 13, in 1961. It was the beginning of Fidel Castro’s arrival in Cuba, and, as a child actor, I played a meaty secondary role in a film titled “The Young Rebel,” one of the first films made by the Cuban Cinematographic Institute under Castro. As the film prepared for its premiere, my parents were informed that I would have to fly to Moscow, to a film festival, for the celebrations.

That is all my father had to hear to secure a visa and a ticket for me to get on a Pan American Airways flight to Miami. The rest was, as we say, history.

So I arrived in Moscow not as a child actor, but as a veteran visual journalist, and, ironically, with an American passport and sponsored by the U.S. Read more


Garcia: Redesigns Involve More than Cojones

The re-launch of The Miami Herald has created much enthusiasm and buzz in the industry. Along with that has come a centerpiece story published on Poynter Online in which I was quoted expressing some thoughts on the re-design process of the Herald.

I said sometimes drastic changes do not take place in newspapers or other organizations because management lacks the cojones to do it. In no way was this meant to single out specifically my colleagues at The Miami Herald with whom I had a wonderful collaboration for one full year.

I still maintain that most newspapers should consider a tabloid format and I am very well aware that sometimes more than cohones comes into the decision not to do so.

It would be inaccurate to describe the process undertaken at the Herald for the past year as a mere “redesign.” The term redesign implies purely cosmetic exercises, where typography or colors are changed, but nothing more. Read more


Good Indexing Key to Successful Publications

There are different ways in which a well-designed publication can use indexing:

through promotional units for main stories to the inside
through a specific summary of highlights (the news that the reader MUST not miss inside)
through a directory of sections, i.e. sports, classified advertising, opinion, etc.

Readers appreciate a newspaper, magazine or newsletter that is easy to navigate; pure design takes this into account as a top priority.

It is with indexes and promotional units that color can be used most effectively, to color key sections, or to guide the reader from one section to the next.

However, editorial hierarchy plays a role here; do not create indexes to decorate a cover or page one, to show off good photos or visuals.

Good indexes give the front of the publication a sense of hierarchy. What do editors think the reader should read first, second and third? If the reader only has 10minutes, what is MUST reading in this edition? Read more


Black on White, White on Black

From time to time one sees white type reversed over a black background. Some purists of design hate the technique and it is even banned in some newsrooms.

True, there is no substitute for the legibility of black type over a white background.

That said, it is also true that white type over a black background can look sharp, raise the presence of a quote or other elements on a page, and add a “visual” to a page where there might not be one.

Like all other tools available to the designer, reverses work best when used in moderation. A very large top- to bottom-of-the-page box, all black, with a long article set in white over it, will not be legible. In fact, it will look hard to penetrate — and few will enter it.

When used sparingly, and not repeatedly, white-on-black can be another efficient way to offer contrast and hierarchy for an item on a page. Read more


Italics Effeminate? Hardly!

Even editors who confess to being ‘visually illiterate’ (which is rarely the case!) have at least five minutes of conversation and opinion on the subject of italics. That suggests that a bit of slant to the right is more controversial than any other weight or style for a typeface.

At one point, perhaps in the 1950s, italics were mostly found in the women’s section of the newspaper. Fifty years later, thanks to the newsroom legacy syndrome, the rumor persists: italics are not macho enough — never use them for sports stories, never on hard news stories. And so, one still sees beautiful italics as decoration for articles about flower arrangement, new recipes for quiche, and the latest fashions from Paris.

It is time to give italics a bit of credit. Readers do not associate italics with a specific gender. They do not perceive italics as being less forceful — it is the words that make a headline strong or weak! Read more


Headlines in Color

Every designer and/or editor I have met has his own opinion on the subject of color headlines.

And so do I, of course. My preference is for headlines in black, 99% of the time. In the days before newspapers could reproduce beautiful color through photographs and illustrations, the occasional headline in color added a bit of visual excitement to the page.

However, today we can achieve colorful pages without colorizing headlines.

True, feature pages can benefit from a touch of color in a headline, and it can spice things up. More often, however, a page can run the extra mile with just good color images, and a nice, big headline in black.

The same applies to dropped capital letters, by the way.

All or a portion of this column was originally published in the IFRA newsletter. Read more


10 Universal Newspaper Design Myths, Debunked

My diary entries contain travelogues, agendas, and occasionally, the graffiti of design myths. I always write these myths in red, to make sure I do not forget them. I must have more than 150 that I have listed during 20 years of traveling, but there are 10 that have become the “Super Myths,” those that transcend nationalities, ethnicity, or language. I offer them as a checklist to see how many of them are part of your own myth repertoire: 1. Don’t run headlines next to each other. “Bumping headlines” should be ranked as the No. 1 design myth, especially in the United States. I am certain that more time is spent in newsrooms everywhere designing pages that avoid headlines coming together than actually writing better headlines. As a veteran of hundreds of focus groups that were shown pages with headlines that sometimes bumped, I have yet to hear a reader anywhere echo the complaint about “bumping headlines.” Of course, I am not an advocate of bumped headlines. Read more

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