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Episode 2: Print Design with Digital in Mind, featuring Elizabeth Gooding

What happens when you design print communications with digital in mind? That’s what Matt Swain and Elizabeth Gooding, President at Insight Forums and the co-author of the "Designer's Guide to Inkjet" – among many other accolades – discuss in the latest Reimagining Communications podcast.

Pie charts can lead to new career paths:Years ago, we had a client come to us because one of their marketing groups was launching a new annuity product and they had already filed their communications in the different states, which is required for those types of products, and it had a pie chart on it. Oh, my God, a pie chart, right? My client went to their IT group and said, ‘Okay, what's it going to take to get this done?’ And they told him three years and $3 million – and they needed to get it done by October. They came to us to see if we could figure it out and we did. All of a sudden, everybody was calling us the Pie Chart People and saying, ‘We want you to design our statements,’ and we looked around and realized nobody was doing it.”  

Avoid getting to ugly by understanding your limitations: “It's really exciting to have people who want to get creative with their communications, but you need your designers and the company that you're working with to understand that there are regulatory constraints, design constraints, delivery constraints (whether it's print or digital, mobile, or a PC)… there are going to be limitations to the platform. If they don't understand that when they're designing it, you can spend a whole lot of money on something that never goes into production – and that gets ugly fast.”

The recipe for good communication design: “Make sure that the design you want to execute is going to work by starting with the content. Know what you have to work with before you begin. It's like cooking and knowing your ingredients, what you can make with them, and the tools available to you: ‘Am I doing it on a barbecue? Am I doing it on a gas range? Or do I only have an oven?’ It's the same thing with content and operational constraints, as well as regulatory boundaries. If you do a good job of putting all those together, the graphic design or UI design is at the end of the road. There's a whole lot of strategy, creative thinking, and reimagining communications that has to happen upfront.”

Updating the “Designer's Guide to Inkjet" for today: “The book was really well-received the first time and we're really happy to be able to do an update in 2018. There's a lot of new information about how designers should communicate with their print provider and understand both the opportunities that are available to them for personalization, versioning, potentially using additional colors beyond CMYK, but also understanding boundaries. For example, knowing what paper types are available to them because there's a lot of testing to make sure it's compatible with the Inkjet environment. Also, if you lay down too much ink, you're potentially going to blow up the finishing on the back end.”

The most powerful word: “I would say that one of the most powerful words for reimagining communications is ‘Why?’ It can be, ‘Why are you doing this? Why can't you do this? Why do you want to do this?’  Many times we will hear that something can’t be done and that’s when ‘Why?’ becomes powerful. A lot of times these things that supposedly can’t be done aren't as big as people make them out to be. Some companies like to try new things and be innovative and others don't.”

It’s not print OR digital – it’s print AND digital:Companies tend to look at print or digital, and they really need to look at print and digital. Some companies are pretty good about having the spectrum of saying, ‘I can turn off statements but keep confirms, or turn off confirms and keep statements.’ What you don't see is them reimagining those print communications to make it more likely for consumers to get them digitally… Like, a customer may just want the summary page in print to remind them to take action, a post card that says their statement is ready online, or a printed quarterly statement rather than monthly. It's not just about turning off paper; ideally, if they don’t give up paper, they get less. The benefits of getting customers to go online is stickiness and retention. Digital services – like bill payments, asset allocation services, retirement planning or budgeting programs, tools they may use online – helps keep them as a customer. There's a benefit to digital in its own right without just turning off the paper. The possibilities are just fabulous in terms of both print and digital and how to bring them together.”

To dive into these topics and more, check out our podcast, Reimagining Communications.