SF Chronicle Redesign

Randy's picture

The San Francisco Chronicle rolled out a redesign yesterday. I don't know any of the details about who did what, or what they are now using (Archer for section heads and subs). The old design was one I often lauded in these forums, especially the sturdy elegance of Parkinson's Electra adaptations. From a type perspective, I'd have liked to see them update their headline sans and call it good. Now it feels like they did a trendy typographic mashup with no cohesive style. Nothing wrong with the individual types they used mind you; I'm sure this largely just my reaction to change. It will be interesting to see the broader reaction and how it evolves. In the mean time... Michael Phelps smoked pot *wow*

cuttlefish's picture

The IOC has already determined that pot is not a performance enhancing drug.

cuttlefish's picture

But yes, I'll pick up a paper and have a look at the new design choices.

kentlew's picture

You can grab a PDF of the front page of the new design over at the Newseum's Front Pages section.

Looks like Farnham for both headlines and text, Antenna for sans, and Archer for section heads, et al. Some interesting choices -- as you say, Randy, a bit of a mash-up.

Seems a bit less serious and more lifestyle oriented than hard-hitting news.

-- Kent.

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

Today's Front Pages is a great resource, Ken! Thanks for mentioning it.

kentlew's picture

Sorry I was too lazy to link. Thanks, Ricard. ;-)

Miss Tiffany's picture

Archer definitely feels out of place, IMHO.

cheshiredave's picture

I like the use of Archer in the section heads, but I feel like it clashes with Farnham where they've stuck the two together.

I also think they've misused Farnham for the big bold headlines. On the main head of Sunday's front page, the combination of somewhat loose leading and jamming it up against the photos to the left looks really clunky to me.

I'd like to see them use a lighter weight of the Farnham for the headlines (and possibly a slightly larger type size to compensate) and let the idiosyncrasies of the face shine through. Also, the mix with Archer for the kickers might work better if the two faces were more similarly weighted. The bold Farnham works better in smaller headlines -- the leading looks like it's the same as in the larger headlines -- perhaps it just works better smaller.

Down10's picture

The choice of typefaces don't bother me nearly as much as the ragged-left columns, separated by rules running down the length of the body.

Ugh, did they actually want me to read this? It's not a serious redesign at all, and reader response has been mostly disgust (as far as I can tell from the SF Gate comments). For a paper that mostly prints wire stories and drastically reduced their number of writers, the redesign is a classic example of fixing the one thing that wasn't broken.

Oh, and the newsstand price is now 75¢ a copy. Draw your own conclusions.

Down10's picture

Some of the older readers are complaining that the new type is set too small. Are they sure they want to lose their subscriber base?

cuttlefish's picture

Some older readers will complain that the type is set to small if it's anything less than 18 pt. I wouldn't want to alienate a core customer, but they probably weren't happy about the type size before, either.

mica's picture

Their website hasn't caught up to the paper as it still shows the old nameplate:

Compared to the new one in print:

My initial reaction is along the lines of Ken that it's less newsy feeling. Pictures of columnists are larger, makes it feel like an LCA (Less Content Alert) is on the horizon.

I find it hard to judge something like this until I've read several issues, but it is hard to put aside your initial reaction.

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

My initial reaction is along the lines of Ken

My misspelling of Kent's name is catching on, I fear.

speter's picture

How about spelling it Ken(t)?

kentlew's picture

You mean like Luc(as)? Uh . . . nah, I'll pass. ;-)

mica's picture

Sorry - I thought this was the "Kent Lew Name Redesign" thread. :-)

My dad doesn't have any vision problems, but as an avid reader of just about everything, he commented that the SF Chronicle is now harder to read.

Miss Tiffany's picture

@cheshiredave - I think the reason that Farnham doesn't seem to work is because it allows no contrast with the flag. I still don't think Archer was the right choice. I appreciate it, but not in this instance. Can anyone confirm if they used display or text? If they were using a sans instead of Farnham or a less formal serif Archer might work. Even still, the flag is old school blackletter and I'd argue it still wouldn't work.

scottsullivan's picture

not saying that I know anything at all about the art of newspaper design.. but as previously stated.. Archer just seems really awkward on those section heads..

- Scott

kentlew's picture

Tiff -- Do you mean text or display for Archer? Are there different cuts? I thought Archer was one-size-fits-all.

The Chronicle is using both Farnham Display (heads) and Text (text).

Regarding the heads: I can't help but think that the overall look might have been stronger and a tad more serious if they had commissioned a custom, slightly narrower version of Farnham specifically for headlines.

But, I'm not looking at the paper in hand, and it's a bit unfair to judge a newspaper from a PDF.

-- K.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Kent - No, I was asking about Farnham. I agree, a narrower width might've done the trick.

Yehan's picture

I think the overall feeling is that despite all the money they've spent licensing what are in general, nice looking fonts, the design in general is a let down.

Some more pics up at ISO50's blog see them for yourself, along with more comments, here

tamye's picture

My mother and I were just looking at the paper. She is a die-hard Chronicle reader and a fan of the paper, but she cannot stand the redesign. I'm surprised at how lightweight it appears now. Not impactful.

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