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Design Tips & FAQs

Starting a project can be daunting, however there are ways to make that process as smooth as possible.

Over the years I have been asked many of the same kinds of questions, and interestingly, as technology races ahead, the basic fundamentals do not seem to change!

Below are the types of questions I am regularly asked and my observations/tips on having a quality project delivered on budget and on time. Of course, if you require any further information, you are most welcome to make contact and we will happily answer your query!

Use the ‘+’ symbol to open up each question and answer 

Professional design is expensive — how can I save costs?

Yes, professional design is expensive and there is good reason for that!

Graphic design is something that is, sadly, easy to do badly, and even though you might think you are saving money by cutting costs, poor design will always backfire.

The average person is quite instictive and will not recognise why they respond negatively to a design. Often the response is simply: “I don’t really like it”. This will not make you money, bring in custom, or positively market your business.

However there is an easy way for you to get the best value for money:

Plan and Prepare

Simply put, time is money. The less pfaffing around a designer needs to do, then the faster that perfect result will be produced … and YOU will reap the benefits: in your pocket and in receiving something beyond your expectations!

Where do I start?

Plan — First of all, set aside time for a thorough brief, in person or by phone or online meeting. The clearer your vision, the faster and more accurate your design will be.

Ask LOTS of questions!

Often, thinking about the end result and working your way backwards will avoid the kinds of suprises that can hurt a wallet.

For example: Can you save money by choosing a realistic quantity? Will you be using digital printing or offset? Would spot colour be cheaper than process printing, and offer an equivalent, or even better, result?

If you require a web design, is it information based, for e-commerce sales or to display your portfolio?

What type of product are are you promoting/designing?

Books, magazines, web, stationery, advertising, point of sale, packaging — all require different treatments and requirements — and this is why you should pay for professional design.

How do I prepare?

Please: make sure you provide your designer with a finished manuscript or information. If you need copywriting or a draft needs editing, contact us and we can point you in the right direction. Needing major alterations halfway through the process, or starting a job without all the elements required, is like trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle without all the pieces!

The more corrections, alterations, and last-minute “changes of heart” that are made — for whatever valid reason — will still take time, and that time will cost money.

Make sure all illustrations and/or photographs are ready for production before you start the design process. For example, inserting a “missing” picture at the beginning of a book chapter can affect the next 50 pages!

Are the graphics going to be supplied as reflective art (such as original photographs) or digitally (scanned or purchased images)?

If you are working to a budget and plan to scan your own images, ask your designer for advice before commencing! Providing images that are not suitable for print is heartbreaking and time-consuming if you have to start again. Something as simple as a dusty scanner surface can ruin many hours of work, and scanning at too low, or even too high, a resolution will create quality issues.

Most designers are happy to give you whatever advice you need. If they are not — shop around.

My best friend's sister's eldest son has produced a lovely business card in Photoshop. Why has it printed strangely?

Okay. This next answer is important!

Microsoft Word is for text.
Photoshop is for photos.
Indesign is for print design.
Illustrator is for illustrations…

There is a pattern here, correct?

Therefore, the answer to the questions is: a business card is not a photograph!

There are many elements that are specific to a correct print-ready finish: resolution, raster, vector, bleed, trim, multiple pages, overprint, knockout, diecuts, varnish, imposition … yes, I could easily keep going! Again, this is important.

Talent is a wonderful thing: the fresh ideas that come from young designers is fantastic … I love it. However, a great idea and talent alone won’t help your material progress seamlessly into print.

Experience does matter.

I LOVE the design concept my best friend's sister's eldest son has produced for me. Will you set it up properly for printing?

It will be a pleasure… that is a great way to start a design brief.
Contact us today!

I have cut a lovely ad/layout/ photograph from a printed magazine. Can I get you to just copy this?

Actually, no. Commercial photographs are subject to licensing restrictions, and rightly so… this is how photographers earn their living. Intellectual copyright is a difficult thing for a designer to police, but originality and talent deserves respect, so “ripping off” another designer’s hard work is poor form.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” actually is at best, laziness, and at worst, theft.

All is not lost, though! You are welcome use something fabulous as “inspiration”.

Ask your designer to source legitimate stock photography and, if needed, provide samples of royalty-free themes or templates that might suit your style and needs.

I don't know what I want. Can you help?

No need to worry! If everyone was a designer, there would be no ePrintDesign! Its fine that you don’t quite know which way to turn.

In a client brief you will be asked lots of questions — which help build a clear picture of the best solution tailored for you, for print or for web. There are lots of elements to be taken into consideration: your market, your budget, your personal style, time constraints, even type of printing and production and finishing.

While still in concept stage, have a look around and take note of the things you like: logos, websites, advertising, tv … all these things will help. Photocopy, cut, download and print. There is nothing you can do that would be too silly! This will give your designer an idea of what your personal style is, and they will quickly see how to turn the different examples you provide into a design you love.

The client brief is all about YOU.

I'm not happy with the design I have from another designer. Can you fix it for me?

Of course. However, it is always the best course to try to resolve issues with your designer in every way you can before you decide to move on. Often an open dialogue and honest discussion can give you valuable insight into where problems begin … see questions 1 to 3!

It is often easier and faster (which affects budget) to ‘re-build’ than ‘re-pair’. This means that if you do move to a new designer your project mostly likely will be started again from scratch.

The invoice from my current designer seems inflated ... have I been ripped off?

Sorry to say this, but probably not. Graphic designers stay in business by providing quality work at a price that is competitive.

We rely on repeat custom to build a good reputation, so “ripping clients off” would not be sensible!

If you are particularly concerned, ask for an itemised account and examine it with a view to answering the first three questions on this FAQ page.

What are 'author's corrections'?

It may be that “author’s corrections” are the reason for the price blowout.

In publishing, part of the original quote will include something like this:
“Design and Layout will include two sets of proofs (preliminary and final) and allow for one set of proofreader’s corrections and checking.
Any author’s corrections after first proof stage [my emphasis] will be charged separately”.

Typos (general corrections) are spelling and grammatical errors that have slipped through from the final manuscript — the last chance for that final polish. These are factored in to the quote. Author’s corrections are chunks of modified text or pictures that alter the layout after first proof stage. This is an extra expense.

Can I make author's corrections?

Of course! We are at your service.

ePrintDesign’s policy is to provide feedback to clients during the course of their project. If anything looks like it is going to alter the finished price, we will let you know beforehand, along with possible alternatives, so you will be able to make informed decisions. No surprises! That is simply not good business …

Can I obtain a quote by email?

Sort of. We are happy to provide a design estimate based on the information we receive from you.

It is appropriate for a formal quote to be made and approved after a client brief… however the original estimate will certainly give you an idea of what to expect so that you can “plan and prepare”.

If you have questions about costs, you are always welcome to email us via the Contact page.