Everybody knows, or better, everybody should know that design trends change constantly. For better and for worse maybe, but what five years ago was hot, is today probably outdated. Designers are often frustrated that people doesn’t follow that quickly and easily stick to the good old times. Yes, sometimes it’s good that we don’t get thrown from one to the other design side. Common sense and positive evolution lead to lasting results.
But sometimes you have to change drastically. I pay my ultimate respect to them who do so. That person who made the ultimate decision, who believed in that new style, whithout knowing for sure that the world will follow. It’s a major risk, because you can’t precisely predict the success of it. USA Today made that big move, in a combined effort, changing their printed newspaper design and their website. I would say: luckely they did it together.
While designing we often say it, but they did it well: they created ‘AIR’. That was the first thing I saw. It sounds stupid to ‘design air’, but these days it is so important to get rid of stressful, compact pages where people like to squeeze in as many messages as possible. The designers of the new USA Today understood that very well, combined with big images and challenging colours. They even changed the way they write, trying to tell real stories instead of giving facts. They give people another feeling, a positive experience, no matter how you want to read the news. I must admit: I like it. They upgraded the value of a printed newspaper and at the same time they developed new digital products to attract the online audience. A cross media approach well accomplished.
But… although I can be happy about their result, the question remains: will there target audience except these changes? From a big distance, I don’t have an alaysis of the USA Today public, but when you make big changes, you will always have some nice resistance. When people buy a newspaper, they will always see the old fashion style of other competitors. So what do they do? Will they pick a new style of news or will they choose for a USA Today 3.0? And the target audience of USA Today are not only their readers, but also the big spending advertisers. Do they follow the new path? That’s why my respect is huge for these kind of big changes. Newspapers struggle to survive, so hopefully good efforts lead tob etter results. It feels good, it looks nice, but I really hope that they don’t count on that big gray group of elderly people.