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If you hire a designer and refuse to accept their guidance, it is less likely that they did a poor job designing than you did a poor job of hiring.
Be well, Chuck
Have you seen my InDesign Ideabook?
315 template files in 19 different categories -- Everything from brochures, newsletters, and direct mail to packaging, calendars, and books (one CD works with both Mac and PC). Use two or three files and you'll pay for the entire book and disc...
Meet illustrator Dan Craig
This is a rather tortured description, but I think of Dan Craig's illustrations as neoclassic paintings with (in many cases) a wayward sense of humor. By that I mean, the precision and beauty of his work provides the perfect springboard for making fun of it.
Craig's illustrations for Findlandia Cheese for Barton F. Graf 9000 were recently highlighted in Adweek... Here
Craig's portfolio at Berstein & Andriulli... Here
For people who want to design--but can't get started...
Learn to write headlines.
I recently came across this wonderful two-page newspaper ad by Schwab and Beatty Advertising credited to Victor Schwab and dated 1958. It is titled, "100 advertising headlines--and why they were so profitable."
For a headline to be effective, to paraphrase, it must be read by someone who is interested in the subject and promise the reader a worthwhile reward for reading it.
Lot of what is said here is as true today as it was fifty-plus years ago. Thanks to the Lawrence Bernstein and InfoMarketBlog.com for providing the scan and transcribing its contents.
The headline is a play on one from the list, "To people who want to write--but can't get started."
The original, illustrated two-page ad (1.1MB PDF)... Here
The transcribed text... Here
If you use this link to buy your type from MyFonts.com...
You won't pay any more but I'll get a kickback
and will be one step closer to getting that English manor house. Here
What is the critical piece is missing from many websites?
People and their stories.
How can a small business compete with its big competitors? By showing us people and telling us their stories.
Why might I pay a little bit more for a product or service? Because I know the players and I identify with their story.
Below is a link to the "About Us" page of a website that reminds me of the importance of this point. When I want to buy something from a new source, I always look around to find clues about who (or what) I am dealing with. I want to avoid, whenever possible, the robotic aggregators created by people who seem intent on remaining anonymous.
There is no right way of getting personal (thank goodness), and this is just one organization's attempt to present its story. But it tells me that the folks who run it think of themselves as something different and special and I like the idea that they're attempting to tell me why that makes a difference.
Does it work? You may never know. But I can't see how it hurts. With literally millions of ways to purchase goods and services on the web, you've got to understand that a sleek, easy-to-use, nicely designed store is only the minimum requirement. If you're selling the same type of stuff as the next guy, you're going to have to do things that set yourself apart. Introducing real people in real places is one way of doing it.
BTW, I love the idea of showing photographs of real stuff in a real warehouse. It makes me want to see some pictures of the people.
About Us from the Madison Art Shop... Here
Armor and ballet shoes.
Perhaps the most difficult thing a designer does is assert their solution without seeming to demean the ideas and input of others.
Design is opinion and stating and defending opinions is very dicey stuff--at once, armor and ballet shoes.
I purchased Canon EOS Rebel T4i Digital Camera...
With a 18-135mm Lens a few months ago. It's a terrific tool that I recommend heartily. Here
Graphic design and the rise of simplification
As we have discussed in recent weeks, the design world is experiencing a new trend, for lack of a better, all encompassing description, lets call it the rise of simplification. Here is an interesting, useful take on defining what some are calling flat design and an explanation of the principles behind it.
Carrie Cousins of Designmodo.com on defining "flat design"... Here
And on flat design principles... Here
In case you missed it, here is an earlier post about flat design... Here
Designing a web experience for "senior citizens" (ugh)
It is time to begin shifting our thinking about people over 65 and the web (Earth to marketers: Pigeon-holing consumers as "senior citizens" will come back to bite you-to many it is a derogatory term).
What got me thinking about the subject is a summary of a Nielsen Norman Group report titled Seniors as Web Users. The tone of which seems to tag most older users as somehow unable to handle changes in color (seniors easily lose track of where they've been), no less navigate a complex user interface.
When nothing could be further from the truth. People now reaching the age of 65 are not a generation of clueless users-many are the folks who imagined the world wide web to begin with, who built the internet, who developed the codeing platforms, and invented the content management systems.
These were the first adopters and, in many cases, know as much or more about how technology works, what's new, and what's trending than many of their younger counterparts. Bill Gates, for example, was born in 1955, Walter S. Mossberg the WSJ technology expert is 66, Rob Enderle the renowned technology analyst is 58. Oracle's Larry Ellison is 68--these are not people we would consider out of touch.) Young or old, there are enthusiastic adopters and reluctant users, it just depends on where your interests lie.
For those reasons, from a marketing standpoint, I think we need to be very careful about treating these users like we would the generation before them those who, in fairness, did not use computers for a significant number of years before they reached the same age.
My point is the marketing community has long used age as the gold standard for predicting behavior. As we approach a time when most affluent consumers have spent much of their adult life on computers and online, we need to reconsider if categorizing computer users by age is as relevant as it once was.
Usability for Senior Citizens... Here
Graphic designers: Is your PDF printer friendly?
Here's the scenario: You've been asked to produce a flyer, poster, or other marketing collateral that will be printed by the recipient on an office or home printer. Many would urge you to make your PDF printer friendly.
What's printer friendly? It doesn't use large areas of solid color, ultra-bold and color-saturated headlines, large areas of background colors, and so on.
Here's an example of what not to do. I picked this piece at random and my intention is not to demean or embarrass those who produced it--we've all made the mistake of not remembering the context of everything we do.
It may seem like an insignificant issue, but here's what the August issue of Consumer Reports calls the inky truth: "Even the cheapest ink, at about $13 an ounce, costs more than, say, fine Champagne, while the priciest, at about $75 an ounce, is more costly than, say, Chanel No. 5 perfume."
Thanks to Jim Green for pointing to the need.
An example of an ink-hungry page (right side)... Here
From Consumer Reports: The high cost of wasted printer ink... Here
Learn virtually any software program...
I recommend Lynda.com... A huge library of top-quality, design-oriented tutorials. Click here for a 7-day free trial. Here
Graphic design and humor?
Robert Mankoff has been the cartoon editor of The New Yorker for over thirty years and is a student of humor. Here's an interesting piece where he tackles the subject of "Making sense of humor."
I'm going to take some of what he says (here and elsewhere) to see if there are ways of using his insights in graphic design. One point that might be translated to marketing communications:
For something to be funny it is both wrong and okay--both a violation and benign. The message is rude and the form is polite.
Robert Mankoff on Making Sense of Humor... Here
Bob Mankoff's blog at the New Yorker: The Cartoon Bureau... Here
Mankoff mentions Grice's Maxims... Here
Sometimes design is a struggle.
You take a few feet of ground and get pushed back.
If you're not tenacious and willing to defend your decision-making (with sound reasoning) you're going to be intimidated. And an intimidated designer is relegated to production.
A friend is asking,
"I'm trying to decide whether to buy a Mac or another PC. My only experience has been with a PC, so the Mac scares me. The pros for Mac: I've heard the Apple product is superior and I use an iPhone, iPad, and iPod. Other than that, I only need Internet, Email, Word, photo storage, and I'd like to be able to burn CDs. Is it overkill for me to get an iMac? I'm willing to take that step if it would be better in the long run, but don't want to take on way more than I need."
My reply... (And I'm hoping you will add your comments as well)...
If you have an iPhone or iPad, there's no question, get a Mac. The iPhone and iPad, to me, are just portable Macs--so if you like how they work, you'll like how the iMac works.
Word, of course, is not resident on the Mac when you buy it (though you can buy a version for the Mac--I wouldn't) but there is something called Pages that would open your Word documents and allow you to edit Word documents. You could also use Google Docs to edit those documents and have them available from any device by storing them online ("in the cloud").
Here's a great overview from Apple about making the switch... Here
I also wrote about the subject from a graphic design standpoint here... Here