Monthly Archives: January 2009

Ever hear “Why Can’t …” from your graphic design clients?

A few months ago I started this blog but had no idea what to write about on a regular basis. Everyone told me I needed a blog so here I am. The one thing I wanted to make sure was that the information had some relevancy to what I do, which is graphic design, web design and email marketing.

I spent some time during my Ketchup Week to think about what I wanted to write about. I searched the Internet for ideas and read a bunch of other blogs. I then watched a video called Three Obvious Sources of Great Blog Posts You Haven’t Thought Of. So I took Michael’s advise and low and behold came up with some ideas.

What I discovered is that I get a lot of questions from clients about various design topics. Sometimes as designers these questions frustrate us but I think it is part of our job to educate our clients. I can say first hand that a little client education goes a long way. I have decided that my blog will primarily answer questions that I’m asked by clients or business owners about design stuff and sometimes marketing stuff too.

If you’re a designer and just want to send your clients a link to this blog instead of explaining things yourself, or if you’re a business owner or marketing professional that work with designers, I hope you find these posts helpful. Please feel free to ask me questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.

So here we go.

This is a frequent question I get.

Why can’t I use or alter the work you have done for us on my office PC?

Graphic Design SoftwareJust like every other industry, print and design has its standards. The vast majority of page-layout and design is done in software called Adobe InDesign or Quark XPress on Apple Macintosh computers. This is what all printers are tooled-up to accept. The reasons for this are historic (and a little controversial), but it means that unless you have this software you will not be able to take the files that a professional designer has created for you and make changes or print them on your office PC.

Also, Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Excel and Publisher are not recommended for any type of print production. microsoft officeThese programs were not designed for a commercial print production workflow. The output from these types of files is unpredictable. Using files from these programs may result in additional charges by the printer due to fixing, or resetting. Most word processors are device dependant programs—meaning they are specific to one computer and printer—so that as soon as you put the file on a different computer everything changes.

There are other industry standard software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I have heard business owners say; “Hey we have Photoshop, let’s just have our designer create everything in Photoshop so we can edit the files ourselves later.” Don’t get too excited, Photoshop is a very powerful tool for design, however it has a very specific purpose, and page layout is not one of them. You could create a brochure in Photoshop but you wouldn’t want to. It’s like mowing your yard with a weed eater. Yes the grass will be shorter but it will take you longer and guaranteed the result will not be what you wanted. Ask any mechanic and they will say, to do a job right you need the right tools. I think you get my point; Photoshop is a great tool but not the right tool for every project.

For the business owner I want to remind you why you hired a professional designer in the first place. You needed to announce or sell something, amuse or persuade someone, explain a complicated system or demonstrate a process through visual communications. Graphic design is a creative process that combines art and technology to communicate ideas. The designer works with a variety of tools both software, hardware and things that don’t come in a box, like innate creativity, the understanding of marketing and problem solving skills in order to convey a message from a client to a particular audience.

You made the right decision to hire a graphic designer so stick with it. You may think you can save money by making changes to your brochure, ad or other marketing collateral, in-house. Or hand it off to your new intern to give them something to do. You’ll soon realize that not only did you not save money but also the initial investment made to have the work professionally designed is squandered because the effectiveness of the piece is diminished.

For the designer, if you’re asked the question, why can’t I use or alter the work you have done for us on my office PC? I hope I have armed you with some simple answers to present to your client.

I’d love to get your feedback on this post or questions that you have about the design industry.

Thanks for reading.