El Universal: Color Field Notes

I have to say, the use of color throughout El Universal really very pleasantly surprised me. My previous posts about El Universal have indicated that the paper is pretty standard and expected, and not very innovative. This is the first time that I really feel very good about what the paper is doing, to be honest.

There’s a main color palette: a navy-ish blue, a bold red, a simple beige, gray, black and white. This main color palette is, like many of the things I write about when I’m examining El Universal, very standard and traditional. It works, and it works well, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. It’s serious and fairly neutral, which is often important in a newspaper, especially in the News section. And the News section is really where El Universal sticks to its main palette. The body copy is black, as are the headlines. Black is easy to read, so the choice is justified, as readability and legibility of content is one of the most important aspects a newspaper designer should be thinking about.

Blue is used for organization, as in the nameplate and certain boxes and bars. It’s noticeable, of course, but it’s integrated seamlessly into the rest of the page that it feels as natural as the black body copy. The red, however, seems to do something a little different. It draws attention to pieces of content that might otherwise be missed, or that are additions to a main bar. For example: pullquotes. The quote marks are red, helping the reader see the pullquote first, read it first, and be subsequently drawn into the story. Page numbers and the beginnings of cutlines are also in red. Check it out below:

PressDisplay.com - El Universal - 17 Mar 2013 - Page #1

The sports front was a little jarring to me, as suddenly I was looking at a big, bold, bright yellow headline. It felt like it came out of nowhere, and I didn’t really like that. I know this sounds contradictory to the beginning of this post, but it’s later sections that I thought broke the main color palette in a very good way. Sports just didn’t really do it for me. Check it out below:

PressDisplay.com - El Universal - 17 Mar 2013 - Page #29

The Espectaculos section, which appears to be an Arts and Entertainment section, broke style even further by even more dramatically playing up display headlines. Headlines and deks all get color — orange, for example, which wasn’t used before. But it works. The orange has a similar vibrance to the red in the news section, and doesn’t feel negatively jarring like the bright, bright yellow in Sports. This section also uses colored screens behind some of the body copy, adding to the section’s unique identity and personality. Check it out below:

PressDisplay.com - El Universal - 17 Mar 2013 - Page #37

And then, in the same section, I got even MORE colors that deviated form the main color palette. But again, this section did it right. The colors all have similar vibrancies and work very harmoniously together, so it’s very pleasing to look at. And the colors are used to separate sections, like theater, exhibitions and television. And the promos at the top of the page are also colored, but again, in a palette that works for the section, as it’s so much artsier and innovative than traditional, like the news palette. Check it out below:

PressDisplay.com - El Universal - 17 Mar 2013 - Page #51

And photos — wow! I again was so pleasantly surprised with how colorful some of the photos were. Before, I’d really only been noticing typical photos, and it seems that the A1, for example, just doesn’t use photos in the same way as the rest of the paper. But because the color in the photos is so strong, even pages that don’t use much color elsewhere feel very, very colorful. And the travel section, for example, uses photos heavily (as it should) to add the appropriate color to illustrate the destinations highlighted in the articles. These colors are exciting! They make me want to pack my bags right now and hop on a plane. And that’s what they need to do. The colors need to draw the reader in, make him or her stop to read, and make him or her excited to travel. I’d guess that if for some reason a destination was being reviewed negatively, the colors would not be so inviting. Check it out below:

PressDisplay.com - El Universal - 17 Mar 2013 - Page #24

PressDisplay.com - El Universal - 17 Mar 2013 - Page #57

One last thing to note: EVERY PAGE HAS COLOR! I wish we had this luxury with FPA, because when it’s used well, color can really be something very special.


Cheryl Seligman