I’ve never designed for print before a month or two ago. I’ve enjoyed learning some of the details–I didn’t even know what a spot color was and I’ve been running a creative agency for five years. How’s that for being disconnected?
I have to admit there’s something about holding something in your hand that you designed, whether it’s a brochure or a business card. The feel of the paper, the colors, etc. There’s nothing quite like it. However, I’ve also learned why it’s undoubtably better (by better I mean easier) to design for web.
Because you don’t lose money by making mistakes.
I’m sure all you print designers are just going to laugh at me because you already learned this lesson years ago and it’s so basic for you, but after doing web design for seven years and then suddenly doing some print work I just didn’t comprehend how absolutely vital it is to be good at doing press checks.
All it takes is the tiniest error and suddenly the client wants $500, or $1,000, or $2,000 taken off of their invoice. If it were a website you would just take five seconds and correct the error, but once something is printed that’s it, it’s done.
I got out of one mistake on a project by luck, however. I had been working on a file in Illustrator and there was a single line of small text on some letterhead. I couldn’t tell but there was a small outline around the text. It looked fine in Illustrator but when it got sent to film the outline made the text disappear entirely. The people making the film didn’t notice that this line was missing because the overall design of the letterhead looks ok without it.
When I did the press check I also didn’t notice the line was missing. I was just looking for things that were wrong, not missing altogether. But of course the client did notice. “Hey, I’ve got 3,000 sheets of letterhead here with that tagline missing.”
Luckily, all we had to do was output the film for that one line (cost – $20), and then we just ran all the letterhead through again and printed that one line, and the printer was nice enough to do that at no cost to me.
Another important issue is to make sure you have your quantities right. We had a client that we swear told us to print 500 of a tri-fold brochure. As you know, printing 500 tri-folds might cost $2,000, but printing 1,000 of the tri-fold only costs $100 more. But if you print two runs you have to pay $2,000 twice.
Well, we told the printer to print 500, so they did. Then the client says “We asked for 1,000.” As far as we know, they didn’t, and we got into a big argument. In the end we split the bill, so we paid about $900 and the client did too. Needless to say the client doesn’t talk to us anymore because of the argument and the extra cash they had to pay out. My designer still claims they only asked for 500, but that’s the trouble with clients, even when they might be wrong you still end up trying to make them happy.
Of course with a website the quantity is 1, so this is a non-issue once again.
In the end I’m not saying web design is better so much as it is just a lot less stressful and you don’t have to pay so much for the tiny mistakes.