Leading designers have given a thumbs-up to The Independent’s new full-colour redesign which hit the newsstands this week.
The £1 paper advanced many of the features brought in by Spanish design firm Cases Associats in 2005, the designers behind the Daily Mirror’s recent full-colour revamp.
Michael Crozier, who worked on The Independent’s launch and has since redesigned the Evening Standard, Independent on Sunday and Press Gazette was complimentary about the new look.
He said: ‘As the original designer of the Independent in 1986 I think it’s amazing it has gone into full colour. I think it’s a fantastic improvement.
‘After the last redesign I thought it was very grey and the type wasn’t working – it was a bit too small to read but now it seems much more open. And as always in the modern world, the colour gives it a new dimension.
‘Often when new editors come in they don’t want people to think have done a whole redesign – but this is one.”
Crozier disagreed with the criticism that the bolder and more colourful paper, especially its tabloid-inspired feature pull-out section Life, has gone downmarket.
‘I would say it’s very old-fashioned to think that if you add more colour it makes you down-market. It simply reflects the world we live in.”
Simon Estersen, the former head of design at The Guardian, who lead the paper’s 1999 redesign, said The Independent’s new look was an improvement but said its late move to full colour made the changes somewhat less impressive.
Esterson, now design consultant at his own Esterson Associates agency and also art director of Eye Magazine, said it was a ‘very solid development of what they were doing already”.
He said: ‘It was what you would expect from the Cases [Spanish design firm Cases Associats] school of work. And Roger Alton is a fantastic editor.
‘When The Guardian was the first full-colour newspaper it was a thing to talk about but now it’s about catching up,’he said. ‘Full-colour is not a great selling point anymore.”
Esterson also said the redesign could not hide the fact the paper was lacking in resources when compared to its rivals.
‘The resources are spread really thinly and no amount of colour headlines up for not having fantastic photographs and not having really strong infographics.
‘The Guardian and The Times are both really starting to go head to head with photographs and infographics and the Indy is not quite there.”
Esterson also pointed out the formatting differences of the tabloid Independent compared to its tabloid, Berliner and broadsheet-sized rivals.
‘The difference between the Berliner and tabloid is that Berliner has tailored different sections. [The Indy]has a Life section in the centre spread and another section in the middle. You have to do some reassembling before you can read it.”
Editorial consultant Alan Geere, who has relaunched numerous newspapers around the world, was also broadly supportive of the new look.
He said: “It’s even more of a magazine masquerading as a newspaper, not that that’s necessarily a problem as long the readers know what they are – and aren’t – getting.
“There’s not much room for news up front with big half page ads on page four, five and eight plus a double page ad spread on 12 and 13. Even the smaller ad on page three looks big on the tinsy pages. And just one page of news briefs and mostly single subject pages means the story count is low.
“But…all this need not be a problem if the readers are in tune with the more thoughtful, in-depth, analytical approach. Ok, so it does look a little more downmarket with its read-me come-ons and cut-out pics, but so what.
“The Indy continues to be a readable antidote to the hectoring of the Telegraph and lecturing of the Guardian and let’s not even go there about the ‘where am I?’ Times.”