A big part of my process when it comes to designing pages is reactionary. When a great photo moves or a story just grabs me I get excited and I feel extra motivation and urgency to make the content look great - to make sure what I do gets as many eyes on the page as possible.
So when I looked at our budget today and saw that I would be designing a centerpiece written by the always brilliant Dianna Wray, I knew I'd have something special on my hands. The last time I worked on a story for Dianna, Charles Apple, a news design aficionado, said it was the best page of the day.
The story this time around wasn't about war veterans, but rather, the budget said it would be a fun piece focusing on a young woman who worked at Sonic as a carhop who still used rollerblades, years after Sonic required carhops to do so. What Dianna turned in, however, was so much more.
I won't spoil it for those who haven't read it yet (and you should), but I will say that the story is not so much about this carhop who loves her job, but more about picking yourself up after falling down.
It's hard to read the story and not feel a personal connection (I definitely felt one) so I immediately started of thinking of a way to give the story some visual punch and just some extra love.
I kind of hate the gimmick of putting a huge, crazy headline only to asterisk it to give it the exact opposite meaning, but felt it was kind of appropriate here. The story, though brilliant, isn't exactly newsy, so I definitely didn't want to play it straight. Dianna was also obviously having fun writing this story, giving it a very magazine-like treatment and I thought the design should reflect that.
I also love breaking up columns in funky ways and putting the reader at task to engage with certain stories so they can fully engage, thus the non-traditional placement of the subhead. Also, it wouldn't make sense to put an asterisk next to the hed and give it that punch of color if there really wasn't a challenge or payoff for the reader to actually look for a second where our explanation was.
Sometimes it seems like the hard days just pile up, but getting to design a great story really makes me happy. When the story you're designing sends you the message to get back up, no matter how bruised you are, that's just extra.
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