When we were at SND, some of my favorite pages came from The Times of Oman. I thought, “wow, I’m so lucky to have such an interesting publication for my field notes.” While I was not disappointed with The Times of Oman’s design, it definitely didn’t stand up to my expectations after SND. But mostly because, knowing little about effective news design, my expectations were unreachable. I wanted every page to be as creative and fun as the pages I saw at SND. I wanted them to do fun things with type, fun things with color, fun things with images. But for a publication that runs daily, one people depend on for serious news, that’s just not possible. Sure, you can have a few creative pages in less serious sections (The Times of Oman generally puts them in “Extra”) but for the most part text and image needs to be straight forward. If it’s not you’re going to overwhelm your reader…and that’s just not any fun.
That is just one of many lessons I learned throughout the course of this class. And with each lesson I could better critique The Times of Oman. So rather than praise it for it’s interesting pages, I can now make informed judgments about its use of photography, illustration, color, typeface, grid lines, etc. I have found that The Times of Oman, overall, does a good job at creating a clear and consistent design. It keeps things in line when it needs to, but knows how to have a little fun when it doesn’t.
The Times of Oman does most of the things we learned this semester well. Their use of the grid is easily decipherable and keeps everything in the right place. I could always tell where the story continued. Their use of color is consistent, creating an identity between issues and between sections. Their use of illustration, especially on the “Extra” pages is beautiful. The furniture is all there and works well together. Things like folios and jump lines are always in the same place, the same weight, and the same color. They typefaces they chose work well and are readable at the size they chose, etc.
The Bad and The Ugly
I was disappointed in The Times of Oman twice this semester. Once while writing the field notes for photography and once for the website. Although The Times of Oman does illustrations well, they lack in good photos. Most of the photos I have seen throughout this semester, even the large photos clearly meant for display, are lackluster. They tend to use only one or two of the devices we learned in our photography lesson when a truly good photograph should use several. The photos I shared below are a few of the only good examples I’ve seen this semester. The website disappointed me because it didn’t do very well to continue the publications brand online. It also didn’t show good understanding of space. Everything is crammed together unnecessarily since the Internet gives designers unlimited space.
Overall, I was pleased to work with The Times of Oman this semester and am glad that it didn’t turn out to be the most perfect publication. The Times of Oman clearly has some design gems and has won at SND before for its creativity, but also has some flaws. Through critiquing this publication, I was able to learn from both the good and the bad and could recognize the ugly.