Canadian Magazine Industry News
5 April 2010,     TORONTO
Xtra launches major redesign
The Xtra group of gay and lesbian community publications has launched a major redesign. The new look debuted in Toronto and Vancouver with the March 25 issue, following a successful trial launch with the Ottawa paper on March 18.
The new (left) and old (right) Xtra covers
The new (left) and old (right) Xtra covers

Freelance designer Lucinda Wallace, who worked at the publication full-time from 1994 to 2001 won the bid to design the new look in the fall. “Xtra really needed a makeover,” she says. “Aesthetically it hadn’t been redesigned in over a decade. It needed to be cleaned up in a big way.”

Xtra editorial director Matt Mills says design changes included expanding the area devoted to photography on the cover, as well as improving the images on the cover themselves.

A new body font, Chronicle Text was also chosen to allow for more text in the same amount of space, says Wallace. “The new font is specifically designed for newsprint,” she says. “It has an x-height that is more readable, the capital letters aren’t as tall as they would be in book publishing. It is a good font for newsprint because there isn’t as much letting between the lines.”

Replacing the logo, which included a stylized X was a major part of the redesign, says Mills. Each of Xtra's publications had a separate, distinct logo. A new simpler logo will now appear in all three city versions and allow for cover illustrations and images to be unmarred by the logo position, according to a press release.

Better linking the print and online editions of the publication was also a big part of the redesign, says Mills. One of the additions which help to create cross-platform brand activity is Roundup, a new front of book section says Mills. “The section includes some highlights of the publication as well as details on videos, podcasts, etcetera that are available online,” he says.

Also linking the website to the print version is the addition of web comments to the comments page, says Mills.

There is greater attention being paid to the consistency of accent colours with the new design, says Wallace. “The accent colours have been broken up into news and arts and leisure,” she says. “Chose red for news and blue for arts and leisure. It’s used in subtle ways, because we don’t always have full-colour pages.”

Xtra is published by Pink Triangle Press bi-weekly in Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto. It has a combined circulation of 79,000.

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