Systematic chaos Editors are always a bit shocked when I say that I would like to put some systematic chaos on page one. Chaos has a negative connotation. But, like a pinch of pepper in soup, chaos, in small doses and carefully controlled, adds energy and zest to a publication. The front page is a mirror of what happened the past twenty-four hours. Chances are it was not an orderly fare of events. A front page that is dormant does not reflect this well. So how does one provide systematic chaos?
Avoid perfectly rectangular architecture. Modular design can be helpful on inside pages, but don’t over apply it to the front. Wrap one major story around another one, allowing for two stories to be above the fold. Sometimes, in our efforts not to make headlines clash, we sacrifice energy and movement. Have one photograph dominate, and sprinkle the page with a few smaller photos (not too many.) Add a dash of light color where the reader least expects it or add a story that the reader is not likely to expect on the page, and give it an italic headline. Mix serifs and sans serifs, preferably from within the same family of type. Create templates to “plan” systematic chaos. That is what makes it systematic: it is controlled, with a purpose, planned to be that way. 80
A place for everything, almost: Who says one cannot have attractive pages that are busy? The Hamburg Morgen Post shows that it can be done well. We kept the edgy, newsy, in-your-face approach to tabloid news, but organized it so that a sense of hierarchy and some order prevailed.