Elements of effective design - Ron Johnson Society for news design quick course

By: Khoa Tran

It was great meeting designers from different university and especially had Ron Johnson, Director of Student Media from Indiana University Bloomington, as the speaker. The panel made me think about The Signal design package as a whole. Because we are a tabloid newspaper, our paper is very different from a tradition like IDS newspaper. They are very clean, simple, and straightforward. Their designs are not colorful or detailed oriented does, but very attention-grabbing. Their graphic are solid even in black and white. They are very consistent in style. After this panel, I think we have a lot going on, something very extra. He emphasized throughout the panel, “Design is not decoration! Content is first. Design is silent.” 

What good designers do:
- Advocate for readers: content and budget meeting, plan each story ahead. He said “It’s okay to have a good long story. We don’t need to cut down words.” Jump can be useful for a long story. Jump can go online too. Flexibility for writers more than designer, because we are journalist designer. 
- Understand how visuals introduce stories: work with photographers to get good photos. Have a strong dominant photo to grab attention. No need extra design.
- Tap the elegance of simplicity, in both form and function.
- Value packaging, white space, alignment and grids: graphic to navigate for jumps.
- Designers are journalist. Know news judgment and when to break the mold. Make a sacrifice to give up story for another break news story.

I also had a mini-critique with Ron and Rob Schneider, creative director at Dallas Business Journal. 
- Great graphic elements from centerspread.
- Negative space is needed
- Always leave graphic on the right then textwrap for legibility. People read from left to right. 
- Try not to pass the text near the centerspead margin. 

After the panel, I think the production team need to bring up some change to keep a consistent style through the next semester. And we will work on planning the each page one by one to get the visual idea plan out and how it supposed to look.