There’s more to it than meets the eye: A lesson learned in front page newspaper teasers

Teasing is not easy, in my opinion. At the beginning of last semester, The Asbury Collegian ran one large block of teasers at the top of the front page. On occasion it looked alright, but in general it clashed with the style of the page and proved to be an eyesore.

Here’s one example of our earlier teasers.

Then the idea came to use via May May Barton, the design advisor for the University of Kentucky’s student newspaper, to ditch the big block of “tease” and instead break it up into smaller more attractive graphics.

When we tried it the next week, our new style looked wonderful. I felt like it gave the design more air and did a much better job of communicating our inside content: It was also easier for me to match the front page “look” since I was now the one designing the teasers.

At first it was wonderful to be able to tease more. However, my new responsibility soon taught me that teasers are not as easy as they may seem. There’s something about that rectangle of white space that is not easy to design. This was especially true since I did not always design the individual elements of the teasers. Instead I would commission our photo editor or graphics editor to create either cut outs or graphics that I would then format on the front page. Sometimes that would leave me with odd shapes to work into a tease.

Another problem I had to work through regarded the timing. Because the teasers were lower on my priority list, I tended to put them off until the end. This meant that at 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. I would begin frantically searching for the best articles in our 8 page newspaper to tease. And a love/hate relationship was formed.

Since then, I have expanded the role of teasers on our front page. Insane? Not quite. Once I was able to recognize the problems and work through them, I discovered several very good reasons to add even more.

1. If the front page is the “face” of a newspaper, then shouldn’t it present more than just the news? After all, we have great feature, opinion and sports articles buried in the paper that, previously, had to compete for one of the two tiny spots on the front page. For goodness sakes, if you have great content, show it off! And what better way to do it than a cute teaser?

2. Teasers aren’t just about benefiting the other sections, they also add value to the front page. Before I added the bottom row of teasers, which includes an index, it wasn’t uncommon for the front page to be crowded with way too much gray text. There are other things I have worked on to brighten up the front page, but one of my favorites is the bottom teasre. In fact, the eyes are naturally led to that bottom row due to the sidebar we call the “Campus Pulse.”

Here’s a look at our new design.

There are still days when I groan when it comes to teasers. I do have a greater appreciation for them, though.

One more thing I should mention: The actual “how to” of teasers is different for each newspaper. The Wall Street Journal tends to have a large banner style tease at the top of their page while other newspaper lean more toward this style shown here in the Asbury Collegian. Be aware that teasers can look very awkward if you don’t spend time researching and designing. Eventually I’ll probably end up posting some examples of what I consider to be awkward teasers. It shouldn’t take me too long to find some. They run rampant these days.


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