In November of 2013, The Independent revealed a much-admired new look and a change in ethos.
Gone were the bright colours and in-your-face headline fonts. We opted instead for sparing use of colour and pared-down headlines, intelligent use of white space to create a calmer atmosphere, and a stylish new body-copy font.
The re-designed front pages were smarter and classier. Stories on the news pages were more discursive and analytical — a reaction to the fact that “news” is no longer news by the time people have opened their newspapers.
In many ways, the re-design heralded a return to The Independent’s founding principles: classic use of images, agenda-setting scoops, brilliant reporting, and great foreign coverage — all without gimmicks. The response from readers was overwhelmingly favourable.
Ultimately, the aim of the re-design was to restore confidence in the brand and attract new readers. However, The Independent is not a stand-alone product.
Its content plays a major role in feeding the independent.co.uk Web site, and cut-down versions of its stories are used to produce its baby sister, The i, which now sells roughly 300,000 copies a day, bucking a trend that has seen print journalism sales declining.
Indeed, the success of The Independent, its Web site, and its sister newspaper are inextricably linked. The i’s significant commercial success in 2013 helps our industry tell a different story, one of hope and innovation that proves the British public likes the printed word.
The overhaul of The Independent’s design toward the end of 2013 cemented the notion that we can evolve in the face of challenging external circumstances. There is no sense in simply battening down the hatches and hoping for the best. Proactivity is our watchword.
On the digital side of our business, a major re-design for the Web site had been in the pipeline for several months and was timed to go live at the same time as The Independent’s print edition got its new look.
The designs played off one another, but the site’s look was not a simple replica of the print edition’s design.
While the Independent is a British brand, independent.co.uk has millions of users outside the UK. Of course, what looks good in print does not automatically work online in the same way.
The re-design of the Web site, therefore, had to be suitably tailored to project heavyweight, in-depth splashes, but also more shareable, fun stories, rich in video and images. The Web site is finding new readers and has additional goals but holds true to the core values of The Independent.