November 04, 2006
Bad Design at the LA Times

Last week the Los Angeles Times revealed their new design. Here's a snippet of the press release:

The A section of The Times will sport an arresting new format beginning Oct. 22 aimed at providing a compelling snapshot of the day's most interesting stories via skybox spotlights and a bolder index on the front page, as well as expanding the use of larger headlines, photographs, color, and information graphics, such as sidebars, back story boxes, maps and diagrams. It also will include the Opinion pages, Monday through Saturday.

Well, as one of the rare readers of the newspaper every morning, I have to say, it sucks.

Every morning I walk outside and pick up the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. Even in this day of internet news, I still feel that for good in-depth reading, an actual newspaper is best. You might even see something that you want to read that wouldn't normally search for... *gasp*

What are there, eight or nine different fonts and sizes. Geez, what a mess. The LA Times does a great job with their photos and especially their graphics, but this plethora of typefaces is just plain annoying.

Take a look at the right hand side. Now, the bullet sub-heads are informative, but what's with the font change? The mix of sans serif and serif is strange. Using sans serif for headlines is pretty typical, switching to serif for the actual article. But why mix the two styles in the sub-headline bullet items?

Sliding over the the left side of the page, we find even wider use of the pull-downs in the newspaper design software. Left = ITALICS. Again, why can't their be a little consistency here? Does the italics mean something special here? Do italics mean 'don't take this article seriously' or 'salacious stuff here'?

On the next day, take a look at the right column. Yep, we are back to the sans serif/serif battle. But what's this, a question the in the headline? Really, news stories are supposed to be telling me the news, not asking me a question in the headline. This isn't talk radio trying get you to make an irate phone call, it's supposed to give me an impartial reporting of the news.

The second sub-headline reads 'Pink light, Disaster Aid'. What exactly is that trying to tell me? There is no verb or even an obvious connection to the headline. Are these supposed to be tags? Are the editors trying to trick me into reading the article or are they trying to inform me?

I love the newspaper, but I hope the LA Times revises this design choice and refocus on the news rather than trying to mimic web sites.

Posted by michael at November 04, 2006 12:51 PM


I am TOTALLY with you on this one, and I thought the exact same thing about the fonts. (No, I don't read the paper but I see them in 7-Eleven when I get my Mountain Dews.) The first issue I saw, I thought they were running a huge ad on the front page; that's how bad the font looks.

There's nothing wrong with trying to mimic websites. The problem is they're copying BAD web design.

Posted by: Mister P. [] on November 4, 2006 9:37 PM

Amen Brother Cruft, Amen! As a daily reader I'm also not a fan of their changes. Here's to hoping the changes become a bit more refined in the coming days/weeks.


Posted by: Little Kenny [] on November 6, 2006 11:23 AM

I'm with you, too. We take the San Bernardino County Sun, and I noticed over the last month a gradual change in what fonts they used; they started on the inside - you could hold up two pages and one would be the "old style" the paper used to have, and then across the fold would be the multi-font new style. Now they've joined the Times in making their front page look llike crap, too. I wonder why they did this?

Posted by: Cyndi [] on November 11, 2006 6:45 PM

It looks like the Baltimore Sun. And I DON'T MEAN THAT IN A GOOD WAY.


Yet another paper to stop reading...I'm down to the NY Times. If they add Sunday comics, I'm done.

Posted by: Carol [] on November 13, 2006 8:47 PM

WTF have they done to my paper?!?!

Posted by: Tara [] on November 18, 2006 8:41 AM
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