Top 10 Tips for Non-Graphic Designers

In times of financial difficulty, one of the first departments to have its budget cut is Marketing.  The job of putting together advert designs or brochures can fall to a Marketing Manager or Assistant with little or no knowledge of what it takes to put a solid layout together.  They might be armed with Adobe Creative Suite, but often it’s a case of ‘all the gear and no idea!’  

Similarly, small businesses often have someone juggling marketing, sales and who knows what else because it’s preferential to hiring a dedicated resource.

Let’s assume you’re in that position, but your boss has granted you some budget to get your design work outsourced.  It can be tricky when putting a project together to understand what your graphic designer really needs from you. But you can actually plan a lot in advance, which will save you both time and money as a result, keeping that boss of yours happy.

So here’s our top 10 musts for non-graphic designers:

  1. First up when you’re thinking about sending images over, make sure they’re high res and bear in mind the print bleed. You will lose around 3mm of image after printing and trimming, so if there are bits that you really want to see, make sure they are not going to be too close to the edges.
  2. Research the type style (fonts) you would like to use in advance. Do you want a serif or sans serif style? Bold or handwritten? Establish what kind of tone you want to set for your work and pick a typeface that reflects it.
  3. Think about sizing. Plan out how big you want your type and images to be – get the idea across at the start and it keeps it all nice and easy.
  4. Colour is very important, so remember to provide specific Pantone references if you have certain colours in mind. Then, you can be assured it will be right.  If you’re not sure with this, your graphic designer will be able to help you.
  5. Get super specific – if you want your brochure to be folded in a certain way just spell it out. Designers like specifics, and so do printers.
  6. Save your work as a PDF.  This is the best form for designers to work with.  Adobe InDesign has various presets to help you export your work to PDF.
  7. Think about what style of paper you would like your finished project to go on. There are varying finishes including matte & gloss. Which would you prefer?
  8. Time is of the essence so plan your project from your deadline backwards and add days for contingency.
  9. The most important tip of them all: PROOFREAD your copy, read it repeatedly and get your colleagues to do the same. You don’t want mistakes and neither does your designer.
  10. If you have to make any changes let people know as soon as possible, and remember – once you’ve signed off a proof, if your work comes back and there’s an error you missed while proofreading, that’s your fault – not the printer’s!

Doing the above will ensure a faster turnaround, a happy relationship between designer and client, less time/money wastage and a better quality of work.


72dpi v 300dpi

What does ‘high res’ actually mean?

High res, or to put it properly, high resolution.  It’s one of those terms we all think we understand, isn’t it?  We’ve heard it often enough and seen it written plenty of times, but when it comes to actually finding high res images, do you really know what you need to look for?

Why DPI/PPI is important?

Checking an image’s DPI (Dots Per Inch) or PPI (Pixels Per Inch)* is the most important and easiest way to check your image’s quality. You can do this by going into the ‘image properties’ option on your image viewer.  In Photoshop, this is done by clicking ‘Image’ on the top menu and then selecting ‘Image Size’ from the drop-down menu.

If you’re designing for print, the optimum size you want to go for is 300 DPI for print images. By using that as a marker, you can rely on the fact that your image will be sharp and therefore suitable for print.

If you go lower than that, your picture will not look as great as you want it to. It will come out blurry and pixelated, like the example on the left in the image I’ve posted. This is because there won’t be enough pixels per inch to fill out the image frame, so the computer essentially smudges the image to fill the space.

To put it into context, web images are generally sized at 72 DPI, this is because this low resolution works well on screens and it’s small size helps web pages load faster. For printed images you need to go bigger so it can be bolder.
It’s no good thinking “My image looks big enough on screen, it should be fine” – this is the elementary mistake we’ve all made, and it just doesn’t ring true – the image appears large on screen because it needs considerably less pixels to make up the picture.

* Don’t be confused by the terms DPI and PPI – they essentially mean the same thing, it’s just that some designers or printers will use one term rather than the other.

Take High Quality Photos

The quality of cameras in smartphones is improving all the time.  But since the lens on your phone’s camera is generally pretty small, it will never take in as much information as a good old SLR camera will.  As a result, using a decent SLR camera for your project will always give you far superior photography results. The knock-on of this is it makes your designer’s job far easier, and your work is done quicker and for less cost – bonus!

When in doubt, take photos on your camera’s best quality setting as a result.  And if you’re buying stock photos, always get the largest version of the shots you want.  The smaller ones are cheaper, but the smaller they are, the more you’re limited with what you can do with them.

Changing Image Size

It’s also important to remember that even if you have a high resolution picture and you want to change it’s size, this will affect the image quality. Even if you have a perfect sized 300 DPI snap, if you decide to increase it by 300%, the resolution will actually fall to 100 DPI, so always bear that in mind.
Put your design needs in the hands of the experts – get in touch with CWDmedia today!