USA Today Network Rolls Out Digital Redesign to 110 Websites

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The same page design and logo will unify USA Today Network sites.
The same page design and logo will unify USA Today Network sites. Credit: USA Today

USA Today's now-iconic blue point will soon be part of the design of more than 100 local newspapers' websites across the country.

Gannett, the owner of 110 newspapers in USA Today Network, is rolling out a digital redesign that will make papers from New York to California, Arizona to Iowa, all share a common template. There will also be a print design for USA Today, a newspaper already known for its vibrant design with visuals and snappy articles.

The new print paper is changing from five columns across the page to four, a new custom made font and more lively colors, according to Andy Yost, chief marketing officer at Gannett. The other papers in the group, which includes The Arizona Republic, Detroit Free Press, Des Moines Register, Desert Sun, Cincinnati Enquirer, will also share the same layout—they all keep their traditional flags, the way their names appear on page one.

"We thought it was time to do a design refresh, digitally uniting the USA Today Network and bringing together the local brands with national brands," Yost says.

The redesign mostly impacts the digital product, with all 110 sites sharing the same design, with the same logo style on their homepage, featuring the blue point. In fact, USA Today Network created 30 customized blue points, with imagery in the middle to reflect the local personality of the paper. The Tennessean, for instance, has a guitar in its blue point.

All USA Today sister papers will get a custom blue point. Credit: USA Today

The blue point was considered a bold design element when USA Today adopted it in 2012, putting it on its front page and adapting it daily for a new infographic.

Now, it will be in use across the logos of all the digital websites in the USA Today Network, and incorporated into the newspapers' mobile and social properties.

"With the badges, the intention is to unify the social and digital efforts across the board," Yost says.

The redesigned websites have been slowly rolling out this month and will reach all the properties by early next year.

The newspaper group is doing the unified look across the 110 properties in order to present a consistent offering to a advertisers. The USA Today Network has 125 million visitors a month across all properties, and ComScore's latest June rankings put the network in the top 15 of digital properties in the U.S.

Gannett, which releases its third-quarter earnings on Thursday, reported a $500 million loss in the second quarter. Total revenue increased 3.4 percent to $744.5 million as digital ad revenue edged up 1.3 percent to $99.5 million, print revenue fell 12.3 percent to $273.4 million and circulation revenue declined 4.8 percent to $273.4 million.

Meanwhile, the "publishing segment" of Gannett's balance sheet generated $692.2 million in revenue, down from $748.1 million the prior year.

USA Today Networks had 125 million U.S. visitors in June 2016, up from 107.4 million, according to ComScore.

Yost says the digital and print redesign work was done in-house by a team of 15 people.

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