Layout and Design for Publishing via the Print
Design for Print
Long before the Internet evolved to make publishing via
the Web a reality, designers were focused on designing for print:
- Postcard and business reply mailers
- Greeting cards
- Business forms
- Newsprint: Newspaper broad sheets and tabloids
- Corporate-image pieces (such as annual and interim reports)
- Marketing and market-support materials
The typical reader public has no appreciation for the
considerations that should be indigenous to this publishing arena, including
but not limited to:
- Who is the target audience, and how does the difference in authored
content and length impact copy fit and design?
- Should the tone be formal or informal, corporate or personal, persuasive
or to-the-point factual?
- What kind of paper stock is best suited for the targeted result
and means of distribution? What ink and colors should be involved
four-color process, spot, varnish and will dye cutting
- What typeface(s) would work best, would most effectively complement
the tone of the text being conveyed?
- What kind of shelf life should we expect for this piece? What kind
of quantities would be warranted?
- Who will need to be involved in the planning and development stages,
who will be previewing and proofing, and how many people will need
to sign off at each stage before we can move on to the next step?
- How much is budgeted vs. how much will what is expected likely cost
to produce this printed piece? Are there adequate human and physical
resources available to accomplish it in the time frame permitted?
The above are just a handful of considerations often requisite
in such an undertaking. And nowadays, it is increasingly presumed that:
Designers Usually Wear Many Hats
Remember when publishing/design departments included a separate typesetter,
designer, paste-up artist, and even a separate key liner? Then someone
in pre-press was involved in camera and film work and other for manually
stripping separations. On and on, gradually over time, we are seeing
more being done by fewer people. (Often the print designer gets to develop
the Web site as well needing to master, or at least exhibit competence
in, complementary but clearly opposite design disciplines.
From Traditional to Their Digital
So, although today's tools are digital, I do not consider myself merely
a technician just because I design primarily on the computer. The Web
is littered with sites built by technicians and, I must admit, most
of their technical skills likely exceed mine. But I am far more technically
oriented than the vast majority of graphic designers who can't troubleshoot
their computer system, install RAM modules, or even configure software.
But they may well be more skilled graphic artists than I am.
In graphical terms, I consider myself more of a designer
than an artist. After all, I began in the creative profession, not as
a graphic artist, but as a writer. Corporate America is notorious for
its underappreciation of writers, believing that any professional who
sits behind a desk can write. That increasingly led me to pursue what
I knew most white-collared executives (i.e., suits) could never claim
to be: designers. However, some tried to lay claim to that as well,
if only because they could leverage their position to impose their designs
on those who knew better. But if they truly thought they knew design,
why did they not know of the renowned Jan White?
Subsequently, my need to understand the underpinnings
of all things I stay involved with led me into the endless world of
geekdom. I'll never be the ultimate geek, either, but I believe that
I have accumulated, with this collective experience, a rare integration
of skills under one cranial roof.
Therein lies my coining of what I consider my particular
While I might not represent the acme (zenith?) in any one of the aforementioned
disciplines, I have grown up in all of them, to varying degrees, enough
to appreciate the importance of their lack of exclusivity when it comes
to the finished piece. That is, writing (particularly in professional
applications) seldom can succeed apart from presentation or packaging.
Yes, today's "Digital Design" must also be "Integrated
Communication depends on design and the medium in which
it is conveyed. They cannot be considered in isolation, but are each
components of the communications project as a whole and
all should play a compelling and critical role in the shaping of that
The interrelationship of the written word with
the medium and the design considerations particular to that medium
can never be ignored.
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