The Independent has consistently distinguished itself with innovative graphic design and prominent use of photography, often forcing others to copy its ideas. It is regarded as having sparked a freshening of newspaper layouts in the 1980s, while in 2003 it became the first paper to produce both a broadsheet and "compact" version, becoming compact-only in 2005 - a successful appeal to cramped commuters that caused The Times and The Guardian to follow suit.
In 1996, editor Andrew Marr introduced a radical overhaul of the paper, with a new concept for the front page that was described as both "brilliant" and "barmy", and unlike anything that had been seen before. In the 21st century The Independent has become known for its highly unorthodox and eye-catching front pages, which have often relied on full-page images or graphics rather than traditional headlines and written news content.
It received the "Newspaper of the Year" award in 1987, its first full year of publication, and by the end of 1988 its circulation had risen to more than 400,000. This success led to the launch of the Independent on Sunday in January 1990. In 2004 The Independent was again named newspaper of the year in recognition of its "constant and brave" editorial stance. Featuring journalists and columnists from across the political spectrum, the paper is generally regarded as centrist, taking idiosyncratic views on the free market, social issues and culture.