Browse our articles
for inspiration and information when thinking about your design project.

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

> Get your copy right

Or....”How to drive your designer crazy and drive up your design bill all at once!”

Supply your designer with the copy for your project, then make a bunch of changes and resupply it after they’ve begun work. Better still, keep making more changes as they go along. Then watch what happens....

You begin to sense a slight change of demeanour in your designer when you email with more rounds of changes. His/her replies are a little on the short side, somehow not quite as cheery as usual. After the third or forth time, he suddenly blurts out that he’s just spent several hours fixing the layout from the last lot of changes and that this is going to stuff up all his hard work and mean another day or so of fiddling.

Then, once it’s all happily off to the printer, you get the bill. It’s several hundred dollars over what you had expected! Outraged you call up and give him a piece of your mind only to be politely told that you had well overrun your allocated three hours of author instigated changes requiring many additional hours of the designers time.

When a document, brochure, book, or magazine is designed, all elements have to be considered carefully from the outset. If the goal posts suddenly change - with new sections of copy and others deleted - it can be quite a task for the designer to re-gig the whole thing to get it working again.

For example, suddenly the images you wanted on the page don’t fit anymore because there’s too much text. So the whole page has to be reworked to somehow make it all fit in a dynamic, attractive and effective way, that is in keeping with the overall design. The only workable solution might be to make the font size smaller and this requires the designer to reformat all the text. So he spends more expensive time making sure the ‘ragged right’ edges of blocks of text are uniform, that there are no odd single words or sentences left on their own at the top of text columns, and then has to readjust the font sizes of the headings so that they are not too large for the new body text size. Or it might mean flowing text on from the page it had been on, to the next already designed page - which now also has to be re-worked. In short, it has a snow ball effect.

Some revisions are of course unavoidable - especially with projects overseen by Boards, Committees or Government. If you think this is likely with your project, discuss this openly with your designer when you first meet so they can build into your contract room for a few rounds of changes. Many design contracts specify an included amount of changes and time already allocated, so that for these you wont incur unforeseen costs. Three rounds of author instigated changes taking up to one hour each, is quite a common inclusion in design contract.

If your designer is charging you an hourly rate, ask for an approximate estimate of likely design time and ask for progress reports when the allocated time is close to being used. That way you stay informed and don’t end up with a much larger than expected invoice.

The best policy is to wherever possible provide your designer with completed copy - rather than a first draft.

Jacquie Sprott

 

> Planning your brochure

A brochure is an important ingredient in the marketing strategy of most businesses.

A brochure adds a personal touch. It’s something your customer can take away with them. It can add value to your service or product before they buy - which will help you in your sales endeavours.

Brochures support other advertising campaigns (eg your newspaper ad, your radio commercial or your web site). And they're another way to keep your business/service visible and in front of your potential customers.

So once you've seen the benefits, your next step is to begin planning. Here are some ideas to assist you to create a really effective brochure.

1. Who are you addressing? Write the content to address your target audience. Don’t just toot your own horn...think about who they are and what they’re after. Write it from your reader’s point of view. Tell them about how your services can benefit them.

2. Be clear about the purpose of your brochure. What is the message you want your audience to receive? And what do you want them to do once they're read the content? Include a 'call to action' - and make it both attractive and easy for your audience to do.

2. The brochure’s function: Consider how your brochure will be used in your overall marketing plan. Is it to be displayed in a point of sale stand? Will it be used as a selling aid during a sales pitch? Is it something you’ll be leaving behind with a customer after a meeting? Is it to be sent to potential customers in response to inquiries? The content needs to reflect the brochure's purpose/use. What you put in a point-of-sale brochure will be different to one you use as a selling aid with pitches.

3. How does it fit in with your overall marketing strategy? Avoid replicating what you have in your other advertising. Use a brochure to give more details than say your newspaper advertisement. Try addressing your customers' concerns using dot points to show how your product/service can help them.

4. Motivate the reader to look inside. A well designed, visually appealing cover page is a start. But to really grab the reader’s attention and to motivate them to pick it up and open it, they need to quickly get the idea that there is something of particular value inside. Graphic Designers sometimes use visual tricks to this end. Or you might ask them to look inside for a special offer, or to read about special events.

5. Make the format original. Unusually shaped brochures attract more attention. They're more expensive to print but if you have the funds, consider a unique shape. French Stick shaped for a baker? A parachute for a skydiver? A mouse for an IT person...? Be creative!

6. Add value to your customers. Make your brochure one that people will want to hang onto. Consider including information that they can refer back to, so your brochure stays in front of them for longer, keeping you in their mind. Maybe it’s a really great recipe? Or a tips section on your area of expertise.

7. Avoid long cumbersome paragraphs. Chunk the information down into concise dot points and use headings. It needs to be easy to read - you’re not writing a thesis here.

8. Avoid clutter. Jam packed isn’t necessarily better. A cluttered page will tend to overwhelm and repel. The eye needs areas of negative space to rest in so it can digest the busy parts. Think carefully about the purpose of the brochure , keeping the information to simple points that communicate concisely. Much more attractive to read!

9. Think carefully about your headlines and sub-headings - people tend to scan these before deciding to read the details. Make them engaging.

10. Is it going in a brochure stand? If it’s one of those where only the top third is visible, the front page needs to be designed with that in mind.

11. A brochure doesn't have to cost the earth. Before you employ a designer spend some time preparing. The more you do your groundwork the less time your designer will need to spend on things like redesigns to accommodate content changes

12. It really is worth the investment in a professional copy writer. They specialise in writing for a commercial audience and know how to write for a brochure as distinct form a website, a magazine article, or a press release. It's a skilled job and for the best outcomes it's well worth investing in.

13. Unless you are a graphic designer yourself, it's really not a good strategy to knock up your own brochures. They tend to look amateur and poorly designed - not a message most businesses want to convey to the potential customers. A well considered and professionally designed brochure communicates that you don't cut corners; that you value excellence. Something many customers will appreciate.

14. Your logo and images are generally a part of the brochure design. Make sure you have an EPS (or vector) file of your logo - as it will reproduce better than a JPEG file. You can access stock photography on the internet - prices range for a couple of dollars to a lot of dollars! We can help you to find suitable images - but to save time and money search for them yourself - buy make sure you buy high resolution files.You may want to consider contracting a Photographer - especially for your high end design projects.

Jacquie Sprott

 

> Does your logo do what you really want it to?

An effectively designed and utilized logo can contribute to your organisation in a number of ways.

> It will establish name recognition or brand identity
> It will reinforce advertising and marketing efforts
> It will easily remind your audience of who you are and what you do
> It will help position you in your marketplace
> It will capture attention quickly

A great logo will have a few essential features...how does yours rate?

Is your logo unique? A good logo won't be confused with other logos by customers.

Is it functional? It needs to work well when reproduced either small or large. It should work in both full colour and black and white. Does it print well on a variety of surfaces?

Does it make use of basic design principles? A professionally designed logo should have well considered attention given to use of space, colour, form, and clarity. Simplicity is often of key importance. Too much complexity can detract from its effectiveness.

Does your logo represent your business/product? The style of your logo should be easily identified with what you are marketing. The 'personality' of your organisation or product needs to be communicated.

Jacquie Sprott

 

> Humour in Design

The best advertising material does more than just telling the viewer what you have to offer and how much it costs. It needs to somehow become memorable to your audience.One effective way of doing this is to employ humour as a communication tool.

Think for a moment about TV or cinema advertising you may have seen lately. Do any really stand out? (In fact can you remember any at all?) There are two sorts that tend to stick with me; the immensely irritating and the clever funny ones.

Do you remember that Pepsi Light advertisement, where a young woman in an office lift thinks the hunk of a guy in there with her is asking her out? She starts to chat to him but suddenly realizes he's on his mobile arranging a date with someone else. We feel her embarrassment then find relief with her as she opens a Pepsi and makes light of it. The unexpected embarrassment makes us laugh - as so often embarrassment does. We laugh to release the tension of the moment, dwelling for a bit on that fine line between pleasure and pain!

If we can have an emotional impact similar to this with the viewer then we have their attention and a chance for our message to stay in their consciousness for a while.

The underlying techniques of graphic humour are basically the same as those used in other media. There needs to be a balance between the element of surprise and the viewer's ability to 'get it'. If it's too obscure with the connections hard to make then the viewer will be left frustrated. Not a good start to getting your message across. On the other hand if it's too easy - with not enough surprise - then it will be weak and not so engaging.

Real wit has commercial value. It can captivate your audience, helping to build the community around your service or product. If the humour intrigues, then the viewer will stay with it until their curiosity is satisfied. They'll become involved in getting the joke. Then they'll feel a sense of achievement - that warm feeling when 'the penny drops'. Allow your audience to feel satisfied with their own cleverness in getting the joke - making the connections - and they are more likely to be receptive to whatever else it is that you want them to know about.

Generally we like the experience of having our spirits lifter and our imaginations touched. The brain likes it. So we take notice and the experience becomes memorable.

Jacquie Sprott

 

> The benefits of 'green' printing

Did you know that the quality of recycled paper has improved greatly in recent years?

There are now beautiful recycled papers appropriate for most print needs. When you’re next ready to swing into action with your latest print job, spare a moment to consider a few simple choices you can make - to lend a hand to our ailing environment.

Both the paper and the printing industries are required to meet environmental standards - some doing more than others. Happily these days there are more options when it comes to using ‘green’ paper. As well as using recycled fibre, there are now ‘green’ processes and certifications for paper companies and printers.

Other papers have additional environmentally friendly features. There are papers that use alternative plant fibre such as cotton, sugar cane, seaweed and hemp. There are chlorine free papers - in which the whitening process does not release harmful dioxins into the environment.

Some papers are produced by companies that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council - which promotes responsible management of the world’s forests. And some are certified by the Program of Endorsement of Forest Certification - which promotes sustainably managed forests using an independent third party to provide certification.

Others apply Environmental Management Systems to their manufacturing - which require them to report on their environmental performance. And then there are the Australian made/imported considerations - reduce the carbon footprint by buying local products.

The ideal choice of paper from an environmental perspective, are those that have significant recycled content, are elemental chlorine free, and that are produced in Australia by environmentally certified companies.

Here’s a few facts and figures about recycled paper...

1 tonne of virgin printing paper uses about 24 trees: recycled paper reduces this consumption of forests.

Recycling diverts used paper from landfill, which incidentally releases methane gas as it breaks down - a greenhouse nasty.

Recycled paper uses around 90% less water in production.

Recycled paper uses 60-70% less energy to be produced than other papers.

Recycled paper tends to be a little more expensive than the basic ranges but well within the price range of other specialty stocks. When you compare the environmental impact of the non-sustainable production of paper, it’s a pretty easy choice to make really.

Jacquie Sprott

> Design Glossary

A short glossary of weird, wonderful and confusing design jargon and tech-speak!

FILE TYPES:

JPEG (JPG) files - short for Joint Photographic Experts Group - is a file format used to compress the size of an image file. Image files are typically photographs or other files made in a software program like Adobe Photoshop. There is some reduction in the quality of these files but this can mostly be addressed by using a high quality setting when creating the file. Digital cameras usually save photos as JPEGs. They are generally used by designers to keep the size of a file down. On the Web this allows for faster downloading of images in browsers.

TIFF - or Tagged Image Format File. These are image files but are larger in size and higher in quality than JPEG files. Designers much prefer to have these supplied to them by photographer's as they allow for a higher quality when printed.

PDF - or Portable Document Format Files. These are files that can be opened by any computer that has Acrobat Reader installed. You can make them in some programs by using the 'save as' command. Acrobat Distiller can make them as well.They can be created for different uses with either higher or lower resolution. That is, there are low quality ones (smaller file size) and high quality ones (larger file size). Some printers want files provided as PDFs made using their specific settings.

EPS - or Encapsulated Post Script Files are a type of graphics file that are made using vector image data.

AI files are made with Adobe Illustrator software.

PS files are made with Adobe Photoshop.

VECTOR images are made with illustration software such as Adobe Illustrator or Freehand. They use a mathematically calculated way to plot accurate lines, curves and shapes. They can be resized without compromising the quality of the image or text. Logos - for this reason - are usually designed as vector images.

COLOUR TERMINOLOGY:

There are a number of terms commonly used by designers and printers that are useful to understand:

RGB (Red, Green, Blue) describes the colour set up used for screen and online purposes.

CMYK refers to the colour set up for files that are to be printed. The letters stand for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. These are the basic colours that printers mix to produce all other colours.

SPOT COLOURS are single colours made from a formula which are sometimes used instead of or as well as CMYK colours. They are especially useful when a corporate colour needs to be printed very accurately. They are sometimes used for single colour print jobs - which can be a cheaper option than full CMKY colour printing.

PANTONE colours are those in a commonly used colour matching system. They often used to select Spot colours and can be accurately reproduced via their formula.

DUOTONE images make use of a gray scale and one other spot. This can be a cheaper alternative to CMYK printing, but give greater richness than black and white only printing.

GRAY SCALE images use only a scale of black that simulates a range from white through grays to black.

GRADIENTS are areas of gradual transition from one colour to the next. Design software can produce gradients that have many colours and move from top to bottom, side to side, on angles and from the centre of a shape outwards.

PRINTING TERMINOLOGY:

DPI (Dots Per Inch) refers to the number of dots within a square inch that make up an image. DPI is also referred to as 'resolution'. If you are asked to provide a high resolution file', this generally means that it would need to be made up of a minimum of 300 dots per inch.This resolution is what is needed for images that are to be printed. 'Low resolution files' are generally used no the web and only need to have 72 dots per inch. You can alter the DPI in Photoshop. But generally your designer would do this.

PROOFS are printouts that approximate as accurately as possible what the final output from a printer will be.

OFFSET PRINTING is a common form of printing where the image is transferred from a metal plate to a rubber blanket or roller and then applies layer of ink to the paper. Most printing is done this way with the exception of digital printing which is often more economical for short print runs.

DIGITAL PRINTING is a method of printing that transfers the image directly from a computer to the paper via the digital press. There are no printing plates involved and instead of inks a toner based system is generally used. Digital presses can be very sophisticated and produce very high quality work. They are a great option for print runs of up to about 1000.

GANG PRINTERS are printing businesses run a number of jobs at once on their large press. Often they will print on a particular kind of paper at certain times of the week and run all the jobs that need that paper together at the same time. This makes them economically competitive. The downside is that the printer will not be able to adjust colours on the press to fine tune your particular job. This means that occasionally the colours are slightly out.

STOCK is the industry word for paper/cardboard/and other material you may want to apply the print to.

COATED/UNCOATED STOCK Coated paper has a fine clay coating that makes the paper smoother and less absorbent. It can have different degrees of gloss. Uncoated paper has different qualities: it is more absorbent and produces a softer matt effect with colours often appearing less vibrant. When printed it needs a longer time for ink to dry.

RECYCLED PAPER is paper that has either all or some content sourced from pre-used paper products... a big environmental tick! They tend to be a little more costly, but many are particularly beautiful and there is more and more variety available. Their prices are within the range of specialty stocks.

BLEED is the term used to describe the area of artwork that need to extend outside of the page layout area. It is usually required by printers to be between 3 and 5mms. This gives the printer a working margin when trimming the page so as to avoid white edges where images/colour are meant to print right to the edge of the page.

TEXT TERMINOLOGY:

COPY refers to the written words that are generally provided to designers to include in your project.

FONTS are a set of characters than are designed to work together in a style.

TYPEFACE refers to a series of related fonts. A typeface might have a bold, semibold, italicised, wide, condensed, thin, and other versions of a font.

KERNING refers to the space between letters. Designers sometimes adjust this spacing to assist with readability.

LEADING is the vertical space between lines of text. Again, designers like to fiddle around to get this just as they want it

SERIF refers to font styles that 'have feet'. For example Times Roman.

SANS SERIF fonts do not have feet. For example Arial or Helvetica.

WEB TERMS:

There are so many of these but here are a few common ones...

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language which is a cross platform system for programming web pages.

HYPERLINKS or LINKS are electronic connections between one web page and another. So when you click on a link another page - or area of the same page opens in your browser.

CSS - or Cascading Style Sheets - are templates used by web designers that tell a web page how to display different elements on the web page.

CMS - Content Management Systems - are programs that allow the owner of the site to make some changes without having to go back to the designer. Joomla is one such system. The down side is that they can be expensive and difficult to learn how to use...and it is often cheaper and more convenient to get your web designer to manage to maintenance of your site instead. Generally CMS's are only good for making some text changes, perhaps for uploading artilces, and for adding/deleting photos.

KILOBYTE (KB) is a unit of computer storage that contains 1024 bytes of electronic information.

MEGABYTE (MB) is a unit of computer storage that contains 1024 kilobytes of electronic information.

GIGABYTE (GB) is a unit of computer storage that contains 1024 megabytes of electronic information.

SPIDERS and ROBOTS are software programs that search engines utilize to visit websites. They check the content and links so that they can find your site when someone does a search.

KEYWORDS are carefully chosen words and phrases that web copywriters use in your website. They are the kinds of words and phrases that people looking for your website are likely to put in a search engine search (eg Google). Spiders and Robots seek out these words when a search is done thereby directing the viewer to sites with those keywords. They are an important aspect of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) refers to practices which improve a websites functioning so that it will more easily be found by search engines. The aim is to improve the ranking of the site in search results.

DOMAIN NAME is the exclusive name that identifies a website. The one you are viewing is www.redrippledesign.com.au

URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the address for the website. The Domain Name is a part of the address, but it also contains information about the type of communication language the site uses (often written as http://) and when the page to be viewed is not the home page of the site, it will also contain the pathway to the page (eg http://www.redrippledesign/articles).