The Ottawa Citizen this week unveiled its first major redesign in years, kick-starting a new four-platform strategy across print, online, smartphone and tablet. “It’s the most profound look that we’ve taken yet at how we gather and disseminate information,” said Lucinda Chodan, vice-president of editorial.
The new approach was developed by Garcia Media, led by respected newspaper and magazine designer Mario Garia and art director Reed Reibstein; Gayle Grin, Postmedia design consultant and managing editor of design at the National Post; and UK-based Winkreative, which created the new masthead and brand design under the guidance of Tyler Brûlé.
Garcia said the redesign started with mobile. “We have to begin with the smallest screen,” he said. “We did not have a newspaper that was there to inspire what we do with the rest [of the platforms]. We threw it all out and started fresh.”
“Print is no longer the protagonist. It is not the main event,” said Garcia.
Take the new logo. While the old extended nameplate was designed to run across the length of the printed page, the new square shaped pillbox was designed with digital in mind. But it also benefits the print version by opening up more right-hand real estate, said Garcia.
The logo features a stylized representation of the Peace Tower, in a verdigris oxidized copper colour. “[The tower] is an elegant symbol that is redolent of what Ottawa is all about–politics, elegance, sophistication,” said Chodan.
Two type families lead the visual identity. Font Bureau’s sans-serif Titling Gothic FB is used for headlines and subheads; MCKL’s slab-serif Shift acts as a counterpoint. For captions and body text, Postmedia enlisted Benton Sans, Chronicle Text and Georgia.
Content across all platforms have been poured into three “buckets” — Ottawa (news), Context, and You — each coded by a different colour. As Garcia explains, a rich blue was chosen for News, a deep green for Context, and orange for You.
The website, ottawacitizen.com, is now responsive for viewing on smartphone, tablet and desktop, and was designed for “search-driven audiences” with straight news content, video, audio, interactive media and more.
The digital-first approach has also transformed the Citizen‘s editorial workflow. The process starts with breaking news blasts on social media and the website. Stories then graduate at the end of the workday to a newly launched tablet app edition (which drops daily at 6 p.m.) and the next morning in the printed newspaper, with more context and analysis.
Content will also be tailored to each platform according to the medium’s capabilities and the audience’s interests–for example, Chodan says the primary smartphone readership is 18-34, whereas tablet readers are pegged at 35-49. “People consume different information on different platforms, at different times of the day in different ways,” said Chodan.
Postmedia says two-thirds of its traffic now comes via mobile devices. And while the Ottawa Citizen is first out the gate, the majority of its sister publications will receive similar makeovers over the next year as the company looks to establish stronger footholds in the unsteady and ever-changing news landscape.