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Note: BW gets an extreme make over.

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Redesigning a print product is a contentious affair.

Some 16 months ago, Publisher Sally Freeman announced her intention to freshen up Boise Weekly's look. Since then, the project has been both the most benign undertaking of the year and the most important, as an industrywide slump forced staffing changes while we simultaneously rolled out a new Web site, inaugurated first-ever supplements, and then radically changed Best of Boise.

As we evolved from "tabula rasa," which is where Art Director Leila Ramella-Rader began the redesign process, we went through several awkward stages. We considered striking long-standing elements; we exhausted ourselves debating the merits and detriments of content delineation into Arts, Screen and Food vs. the umbrella title of A&E; we waxed philosophical about what Boise Weekly is and how to best represent that in our design.

When the choices seemed too difficult, we consulted our readers using a "tell us what you think" questionnaire. Turns out Boise Weekly readers were as divided as we were.

Ultimately, we've arrived at a product built on the bedrock of what BW has long been, and then added a clean sweep of the pages and a solid infusion of multimedia.

On Page 4, you'll notice an abbreviated table of contents sidled up to a prominent guide to what you missed in the last week at boiseweekly.com. If you're only picking up the paper, you're missing half of what Boise Weekly has to offer.

However, the redesign actually begins on the cover. Because we've committed to showcasing the work of local artists on our cover, we carefully weighed changes to it. The new cover is a hybrid, in which the art takes center stage while allowing the limited migration of editorial content.

Further back, in A&E, you'll notice an extended Picks Page, which gives more space to the worthwhile events. We've also replaced the Top 7 with a "find of the week," which might be anything from a new cocktail to a noteworthy trail. Sprinkled into the 8 Days Out event listings, are reviews on books, shows and anything deemed notable.

A few weeks ago, when I told columnist Bill Cope about the impending changes, he expressed his hope that the new look wouldn't be cartoonish. Quite the opposite, I assured him. The new design represents a maturity in BW. As the paper approaches its 18th year, we're happy to allow the angst of our teen years to fade into the past.

Rachael Daigle

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