The Guardian was originally a broadsheet publication, but has since moved to a Berliner format. The February 1st issue uses a five-column grid, which is typical of the paper. However, the teasers in this issue use a three-column grid, not conforming to the five-column grid. Typically the teasers do not follow the five-column grid and have their own grid format, which varies issue to issue. The Guardian is a modular paper with a good amount of white space around the border of the page, but with little white space between items on the page (often text and photos are separated with rules).
The cover of the The Guardian functions as the entry point for the paper. It uses its nameplate, teasers, photos and headlines help draw the reader into the paper. The point of the cover is to catch readers’ attention and make them want to read more. Above and below the fold there are teasers, which lead the reader to the articles inside that are usually about major news stories (like this February 1st issue’s coverage of Edward Snowden) or entertainment news (like the February 1st issue’s article involving Jared Leto). The February 1st issue has teasers above the nameplate to emphasize these stories and garner reader interest, and also has teasers running down the side of the page. Most times there are teasers above the nameplate, and sometimes there are teasers both above and below the nameplate. Regardless, The Guardian usually makes their teasers big and bold to draw interest to them. While The Guardian definitely teases interesting stories, I think they overuse teasers (especially on the weekend), making them less effective because there are so many to look at. The Guardian also consistently features one large, vertically oriented photo on the front page, with smaller photos on the rest of the page. While I like the emphasis on one photo for the page, a vertically oriented photo looks somewhat awkward. It might be better to use more horizontally oriented photos (like in the January 31st issue). Also, I think it would help the design to have less text on the front page and more substantially sized photos than the small ones that accompany the “less important” text stories on the first page.
The hierarchy of the front page is determined by color, size and space. The more important teasers have distinct and different colors (for this issue, one has yellow text, one has orange text and one has red text, which is different from the other teasers that have blue text), which helps distinguish these teasers in the teaser hierarchy. The more important teasers also have larger text and photos, and are displayed at the top of the page above the nameplate. The main story on the page is given a larger headline and a larger photo, taking up most of the page, while the less important stories (either on the bottom or on the right side of the page) are given less space for the text and other design elements, smaller photos and a smaller headline. The rules help organize the page and help set a distinction between different stories. The “catchiest information” on the page is given more space, larger photos, brighter colors and a location higher up and more central to the page. Overall, the design elements used on the front page include the nameplate, teasers, promos, rules, photos and boxes of varying shapes. These elements help emphasize certain parts of the page, help separate different stories and ultimately help the reader find what The Guardian feels is most important on the page. Within each story, these elements provide hierarchy and organization. I think The Guardian effectively uses hierarchy to guide readers through the front page. I can tell what’s important and it all seems organized so I want to keep reading.
The tone of the cover is informed but fun. The cover uses bright, fun colors to create interest on the page. However, the cover also provides a variety of stories about different sectors of the community and the world, like politics, entertainment and family issues. The Guardian generally uses blue for the text or surrounding area of the nameplate, which helps create a friendly, familiar feel — you know that no matter what’s in the rest of the issue, you can always rely on blue near the nameplate. From the cover you can tell the rest of the publication will provide you with a variety of stories to appeal to your varying interests and informed pieces that will tell you what you need to know. The cover also shows that the rest of the paper will give you what you need to know, but in a fun, interesting way.
The photos and visuals are used to garner reader interest. The photos often show action or a familiar face (for example Jared Leto), both of which catch the reader’s eye. The main story has a larger photo, which draws the eye and leads the reader to the main story text.
Issue to issue, the covers are generally consistent. There is usually an abundance of teasers on the front page, most of the main story photos are vertically oriented, the nameplate is always associated with blue and the cover is always a five-column format (with the exception of the teasers above the nameplate). This consistency helps create familiarity with the readership. They know what they’re getting when they get an issue of The Guardian. However, The Guardian also changes certain design elements issue to issue (like the size, color and location of teasers), which creates some variety and interest for each specific issue.