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The Art of Getting What You Need from Designers

The Art of Getting What You Need from Designers

By Elizabeth Gooding, Insight Forums on April 27, 2023

The demand for the first Designer’s Guide to Inkjet back in 2014 was driven by printing companies even though the main readership was designers. That’s because the interaction between printing companies and graphic designers can have a big impact on the efficiency and profitability of both.

If you are in the print business, particularly in direct mail or other graphicly intensive segments, you need to work with designers.  To make that work profitably, there are 3 main things you need: 

  • Clean, efficient files

  • Clear communication of job requirements

  • A shared understanding of the expected result

This trifecta is true for any print process, but there are additional considerations for digital print, and specifically inkjet. Digital printing allows personalization and versioning. If not set up properly, personalization can slow down processing. With high-speed inkjet presses, any slow-down can have a big cost impact.

For inkjet, heavy coverage or simply inappropriate media selection can require press speeds to be reduced, gum up finishing processes, or in a worst-case scenario, stop production. Some forms of post coating and embellishment are not compatible with some forms of inkjet at all.

Even if everything runs efficiently, since inkjet produces very different results based on the media used, a shared understanding of expected results from the start is very important.

They won’t know if you don’t tell them

Production problems are hard on your staff and they are also hard on your customers. Unhappy customers means lost sales. This in turn can demoralize your sales team. To break this cycle, you, your customers and their designers need to be on the same page.

Even designers experienced in inkjet environments, still need to know about your specific inkjet environment. Keep in mind that designers may not have digital printing expertise or possible any print expertise at all.

If you want good files, efficient production and happy customers you have to give to get. We go into a lot more detail on this in the latest Designer’s Guide, but for now – here are some top tips for getting what you need from designers:

  • Provide print samples on available media at the speed you will actually run in production. You can run these at the tail end of other jobs when loading new media

  • Ensure that the samples you provide show key design features like graduated font sizes, inverse print, fine images, and solid color blocks so designers can objectively see differences from one media to the next. Pretty pictures may show off your capabilities, but on their own they won’t help designers make good decisions.

  • Provide your preferred standards for file and image formats, color space, and job specifications such as gutters, bleeds and finishing.

  • If the customer needs to match brand colors, provide tint book samples on the relevant media so that they can select the CMYK recipe that they feel most closely matches the target (or their intent for the design.)

  • Make sure to clearly communicate any compatibility issues between print, media and finishing that may exist. For example, a certain paper can’t support coverage over a certain level.

  • Also provide designers with a template of the job description information that you expect to receive from them before estimating (or at least running) the job.

Sometimes you don’t have the opportunity to interact with designers before they have developed their materials, but the more standards that are available for them to find, and the earlier you can start the conversation, the more likely it is that everyone will get what they need from the interaction. 

The bottom line is, you get what you need from designers when you give them what they need to understand the process. Come to the May 4 live thINK Academy class to learn what you (and your customers) need to know about designing for inkjet! Register now!

What You (And Your Customers) Need to Know About Designing for Inkjet

Thursday | May 4, 2023 | 2:00 pm EST

Drawing on the book, “Designer’s Guide to a New Generation of Inkjet,” this live thINK Academy class will help print service providers understand the key intersections between the workflow of a graphic designer and the workflow of a print operator and how to use that knowledge to drive more profitable business and valuable customer relationships. Printers need designers to understand how to deliver clean files that achieve expected results. Designers need resources from printers in order to provide complete information for proper estimating. This class will cover:

  • The what and why of getting what you need from designers

  • Working with designers on color matching

  • Creating an estimating checklist for you and your design customers 

  • Design education resources to drive more profitable business