Heeding Reader Feedback, Hartford Courant Reverses Redesign

courant.bmpThe people have spoken, and they liked the old Hartford Courant, before the paper’s hasty redesign last summer in the wake of significant staff cuts. And the paper has listened, reverting to the traditional horizontal placement of the nameplate and scrapping the wee “.com” that the redesign had appended. “The horizontal nameplate really gives us more flexibility for story play and more variety from day to day,” Melanie Shaffer, design director at the Courant, told Poynter Online’s Sara Dickenson Quinn. “(The vertical nameplate) just started to seem a little limited—not a lot of options for how to play the page.”

In an online poll described by Jeff Levine, the Courant‘s new senior vice president and director of content, as “not scientific,” readers were asked to weigh in on three possible front-page designs, including one liberally accented with a hue that we’d describe as “USA Today Blue.” Almost 95% of readers favored a return to a more traditional layout. Many respondents used the poll to provide additional feedback to the paper, weighing on issues ranging from the positioning of features, local news, and Dilbert (a staple of the business page) to the reformatted TV listings. More than one commenter mentioned the Titanic and deck chairs. “The masthead is the least of your worries!” advised commenter Al. “You should concern yourself about the paper’s content—ever since you featured a front-page article on Outhouses, your paper has gone downhill.”