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Newspaper redesign - from broadsheet to tabloid

Hi there,

My name's Tom. I'm a newcomer to these forums, and I've come in search of advice.
I work as the news editor of a weekly newspaper called the Harrogate Advertiser, which is about to make the change from broadsheet to tabloid. It has been a broadsheet since 1836, so it's a pretty big deal.

Beside the simple change of size, it also means a complete design overhaul. I have only been a page designer for 18 months, so this the first major redesign project I have been involved with, which is massively exciting, but filled with headaches. I design through trial and error, since I have no training, so when I hit something I think looks great, I'm delighted, but I also can't think myself out of design problems because I'm not familair with a lot of the basic principles.

Anyhow, I was wondering if I could post the odd PDF here and ask for input. I'll attach one now as a current example.

For reference, I use InDesign (we only have CS2, which is a bit of a handicap) and have no access to Illustrator or Photoshop.

The page I'm linking is set to be the front page of the Weekend section, which contains arts and entertainment stuff (theatre, galleries, music, cinema, and a lengthy what's on listings section). I'm pretty happy with the way the top half of the page looks, and I think I have to stick with the fonts (Futura Bold and Times New Roman regular for the headlines, Times New Roman Bold for the logo and "inside" furniture, and Times New Roman for the body text). The lower half of the page is supposed to be four plugs for inside content and a larger plug for the food and drink section - but I can't seem to make it look anywhere near as classy as the top half. Please forgive the fact that I've used the same plug/photo repeatedly.

If anyone has any advice or pointers on where I'm going wrong, I'd be really grateful! As a reference, I have also linked the front page of Weekend as it currently looks, pre-redesign.

Thanks - and a Happy New Year to everyone,

New design draft: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/18355501/Harrogate Weekend new.pdf

Old (current) design: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/18355501/Harrogate Weekend old.pdf
apart from these;.....

line underneath main image needs to align with the bottom of the main image, align content in text box for main image so there is less white space above it or just make the box smaller, align the "inside" title to the left as it just makes for easier reading, obvious alignment issue in the perk up your fridge item...

I like it. I take it from the use of different styled boxes at the bottom you are experimenting? If not then personally I don't like it, I would use one style (my preference is the first style) then use this for the other boxes but make a small change such as using a different colour.
I really like the overall design, it's simple and modern. However I'm not sure on the choice of font, (Futura Bold) but as you said you think you may have to stick with these so there's not a lot you can do with that unfortunately. Is the font choice the clients, as you could show them some alternatives which could change the design of the page. I like the colour choices and the general layout of page. Needs some tweaks here and there, alignment of boxes, fonts etc but otherwise good design. Have you had any feedback from the client?
There’s a few things that would probably look better a bit re-sized and re-aligned, but all in all I like the new layout. I do agree with HGC though, try some other fonts if the client is willing to give them a shot.