If you’re reading this in print, you’ve probably noticed that today’s INDY is a little different. The pictures are bigger. The type is cleaner. There’s more of what the designers call “white space.” And, yes, eagle eye, we are using the serial comma. (Actually, we’ve chucked many of the old-school AP guidelines in favor of our own in-house stylebook.)

The idea is to make the INDY a more enjoyable and engaging reading experience, something both more aesthetically pleasing and functional. What you see here, of course, is very much a work in progress; as an industry friend once told me, the day you launch a redesign, you’re about 60 percent done with it. And so this design, like all such designs, will evolve as we figure out what works and what doesn’t.

But I’m nonetheless enormously proud of the work our team has donein particular, our design department: art director Maxine Mills, production manager Skillet Gilmore, and graphic designer Christopher Williams.

I’d like to take a brief moment to walk you through some of the changes we’re making, as well as some changes coming down the pike in the months to come. For starters, we’ve modernized Backtalk to reflect the fact that much of the feedback we receive comes through our website or on social media.

But if you’ve got something to say, we’ve got space for you, too. Starting this week, we’re unveiling a reader-generated column called Soft Return, where you can opine on whatever (local) thing is on your mind. (In 400 words or fewer, please; we don’t have room for your dissertation.) Think of it as the INDY‘s old Front Porch column, except in the back.

Some other changes: Triangulator is now a two-page spread, packaged together with the Peripheral Visions cartoon and a new column we’re calling tl;dr (that’s short for “too long; don’t read,” in case you don’t speak Internet), a place for us to crack wise about the week’s headlines. After the news section you’ll find a feature well, a collection of our longer stories. In the food section, we’ve created a food-events column. In music, we’ll have starred record reviews for the first time in ages.

The music calendar, meanwhile, will have shorter, pithier blurbs. The online community calendars for arts and culture events will be bigger than ever, while in print our arts calendars will be more curated and selective, offering cultural connoisseurs a more focused tour of the best our diverse and thriving scene has to offer.

That’s really just the beginning. The biggest changes we have in store this year are designed to increase the INDY‘s presence in Raleigh. This week we’re opening a new office on Wilmington Street in downtown. We’re currently interviewing for another Raleigh-based staff writer. (Interested? Hit me up.) And come this spring, we’ll be rolling out two distinct editions of this newspaper, one targeted to Raleigh/Cary and the other to Durham/Chapel Hill, each with its own columns, covers, and features, a bifurcation intended to provide readers all over the Triangle with unique, in-depth hyperlocal content. (You’ll still be able to catch all of our stories at INDYweek.com.)

Here, by the way, is what isn’t changing: our commitment to producing the best alternative journalism we can, to effecting change through storytelling, to shining a light on things that might otherwise linger in the dark.

We’re just a little prettier doing it.