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Courier face-lift set to debut Friday
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Call it a face-lift, a transformation or even an "Extreme Makeover: Print Edition" — the Coastal Courier will unveil a sleek, new look Friday.

The changes, our first design overhaul since 1995, aim to deliver information in an easy, clean and straightforward manner, according to Courier publisher Mark Griffin.

Managing editor Hollie Moore Barnidge has been sampling and tweaking fonts and graphics for the past year in anticipation of the redesign, which we hope will offer content in a more appealing manner.

We’ll also be integrating more data visualization, or ways to tell the story beyond text, with charts and graphics that are more appealing to the eye and use spatial comparisons to demonstrate the information.

Readers also will notice great changes to our First Glimpse section on page two, where our calendar will be pared down to the basics to accommodate more entries.

"That way, more people can get their listings into the calendar, because it is a free feature and a very popular feature," Barnidge said. "We want to see everyone who wants to get something into the paper be able to do that so that maybe they can increase turnout for their events."

Instead of featuring recurring church-related activities, such as Wednesday Awana gatherings, in the main calendar for each edition, those items will be moved to a single religion calendar in our Sunday papers.

And while we’re making our product more user-friendly, we will add some new content features that will give readers a chance to become more involved with our publication.

On our editorial page, we’ll commend a positive contribution, event or move in the community with a proverbial thumbs-up and show our disagreement with something not so great with a thumbs-down.

The lighthearted feature allows people to make their voices heard with more of a platform than Sound off and without the full commitment of writing a letter to the editor.

Some of the items will come from our staffers, who frequently hear feedback from residents while interacting with the community, and others will come directly from readers, who we encourage to chime in.

"What I think is really interesting is that sometimes readers will feel differently about the same event," Barnidge said.

Each week, we also will publish a tightly cropped or abstract photograph of a location or landmark within the county, and the first reader to correctly identify the object will win either a free one-month subscription to the Coastal Courier or an additional month added to an existing subscription.

These two new features allow readers to become more engaged in our publication, and we hope they will foster our relationship with the community and give us a line in on whether we’re meeting readers’ needs.

"We encourage readers to let us know what they think about our redesign and their views on stories we write," Griffin said. "It really helps us improve and deliver the news and information people in our community want."

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