November 11, 2010

Do you have trouble getting colleagues to invest in your creative vision?

This is a great topic for all designers, and I'd like to say I wrote the eloquent headline and next paragraph, but it was actually written by a member of my LinkedIn Group, In House Designers, (Thanks Marcy).

Do you have trouble getting colleagues to invest in your creative vision?

Does this happen to you? A colleague asks for you to design something to meet the needs of their department. You use your expertise to do just that, but as they have no creative, design or marketing background they tear it down into something that simply pleases their taste. They have the final say but you know that what they want doesn't meet what they need. I am often frustrated because I believe I can articulate well the reasons why their ideas will make the marketing efforts useless but yet they don't listen and I end up delivering a very sub-par end product I'm not proud of. Would love to hear any comments/feedback/experiences...

By Marcy, LinkedIn. Link to Marcy's Site and Blog

My Response

I've been in a company where that was an issue, and not for the reasons you'd think. At first I was the only guy, in a company that did trade shows and a magazine for the scrapbook industry. I always felt like some of the women I worked with trusted my technical skills but weren't sure I had what it took to design something that would appeal to women.

Honestly though I've had some problems with this throughout my career. Here are two things I have found that have helped me.

1. People think that what designers do is based on a whim or mood, they see no science behind it. Show them the science, eye tracking studies, color psychology, anything to show them the method behind your madness.

2. Have a strong brand and a document to back it up. If you have a strong brand and a document that tells them what the corporate colors, corporate fonts, what you can and can't do with the logo, like size and what it can be placed on, you eliminate a lot of what they can complain about. A detailed brand doc lets you point to something and say, "Can't do it, it's against the brand!". Of course you should probably say it nicer than that, lol.

Armed with those two things you'll have an answer for just about everything.

October 10, 2010

InDesign Print Booklet Issue Solved, Thanks Adobe

I was having an issue with Adobe CS5 InDesign's Print booklet function. First off though I should explain Print Booklet to those of you that may not be familiar with this tool. Then tell you why you might have a problem with it too, and how to fix it.

What is Print Booklet:
Print booklet let you take your InDesign multi page documents and print them in Printer Spreads. For example, I have a document with a finished page size of 5.5″x8.5″. The document is 8 pages long. I want to make a PDF in printer spreads with the page size of 11″x8.5″, two pages per sheet so I can fold and staple it. When it's in Printer spreads the first page will show me page 8 and 1 and the second page will show you page 2 and 7 and so on.

Here's the problem:
When I go to Print Booklet in Indesign CS5, on a MacBook Pro running OS X 10.6.4, and try to make a PDF file the page rotates the wrong direction. You can't make a PDF from the print window, or export to PDF from Print Booklet and there is no PDF printer in Indesign CS5 on OS X 10.6.4. The only way I can see to make a PDF from Print Booklet is to make a Postscript file and use Acrobat Distiller to make the PDF. I'm using the printer, Postscript® File, with the Postscript Printer Definition (PPD), Device Independent. That's where the problem occurs, there are no page rotation controls for this Printer. It looks fine in the preview, but the PDF page is always vertical with a horizontal image on it.

Adobe Tech Support Answer:
It took jumping through a few hoops to get to a higher level in Adobe's Tech Support System, but when I got to the right person they were great.

The reason PDF printer doesn't install with CS5 on Mac OS X 10.6.4 is a security setting on the Mac side. There are talks going on to resolve the issue.

Fix 1:
Edit the Adobe Distiller settings to force the page to rotate in the right direction. In my case this is a good fix for me because all my pages are 11″ wide x 8.5″ tall. The path is, Settings>Edit Adobe PDF Settings…, at the bottom of the first page that opens is Default Page Size. In my case I reversed the numbers and it fixed my problem. I then saved the settings with the word landscape on the end of the settings name. If your doing a lot of different size pages and having this issue you'd have to make a new settings file for each page size.

Fix 2:
This is the fix I was looking for. I loaded the PPD for Adobe PDF 9. The file is ADPDF9.PPD. Here is a link to download it from InDesign Secrets. Open the Indesign Folder in applications, go to the presets folder and make a folder called PPDs, put the file, ADPDF9.PPD, in that folder. That was what Adobe tech support told me to name the folder, I'm not sure it has to be that name but I bet it does. I restarted InDesign, went to print booklet, edited the print settings, and picked Adobe PDF 9 from the PPD drop down list. This PPD lets me edit the rotation, and page size. A better solution if your dealing with different file sizes.

Problem solved.

August 11, 2010

Apple made me a Fanboy

Customer service is a wonderful thing when you come across a good example. I had a customer service experience with Apple recently that explains why they are rapidly becoming the number one computer company.

Many designers and creative people prefer Apple Macintosh computers. I count myself as one of them. I'm on my fourth Macintosh, I own an iPod and we have an iPad in the house. My Third Mac, a MacBook Pro, was a bit of challenge. It had two screens replaced, an airport card, (Apples Wi-Fi card), and a logic board, (mother board) and there may have been something else that I have forgotten. All of these repairs took place over a two and half year period. Finally it was going to need a second logic board and I contacted Apple. They listened to my story and looked at the repair history and decided that I had been through enough and offered me a replacement. Not just any replacement though, a brand new MacBook Pro with the new unibody. Same ram—but it's newer and improved, same speed processor—but the cache is bigger, same speed hard drive—but twice as big because they don't sell them as small as my old one, and my matte monitor—which had to be special ordered. I was ecstatic, needless to say, but then they did something I never expected. They prorated the 6 months left on my extended warranty toward the purchase of an extended warranty for the new laptop. SO I have a brand new computer with a three year warranty.

On a side note, I don't know if you believe in extended warranties or not, but mine saved my butt on this computer and if there is anything that is going to get some abuse, it's a laptop.

It's this type of service that's going to keep me coming back to apple every time I need a new computer, or anything else Apple. I've been eyeing that Apple TV for a while now, just need a really good freelance design job.

July 06, 2010

Dropbox, you gotta love free stuff that works!

Okay I am pitching something that will benefit me, (it will get me a little more free space), but I'm really doing it because it's just a really great product. When I sent my computer in to be repaired recently I had Dropbox set up and had access to my critical files on the loaner Mac I was using, my Phone, and my wife's iPad.

If your not using Dropbox your missing out. It is a syncing tool and it is one of my favorite things a friend at work has told me about, (Thanks Brannon). Let me tell you what it does, and then if you want to try it and you click this link we both get a little extra space.

It sits on my Apple menu bar and in the menus on my Mac. I can grab things like links, photos, notes and toss them in my dropbox and I will have them on my Android Phone, iPad, iPhone, other computes, windows, Mac, Linux etc. It's cool, but that's not the best part.

I use 1Password, (another favorite program of mine), to manage all my passwords and secure notes. I put the 1Password database file in my Dropbox folder. So every time I add a password it is automatically updated on my my phone etc. Cool huh? Anything that saves to a file or database that you set the location of can be set up this way, CDfinder, possibly iTunes and iPhoto, but I haven't tried.

It also gives me a separate folder for people to come grab stuff from me, like files for a client or printer. I hardly use my FTP site anymore. I don't think it lets people upload to your Dropbox, my FTP site would go away if it did that.

Okay here's the best part, 2gigs for free, more if you sign other people up. I love this thing. Sign Up!

Oh, if your already using it, be sure to go hit the "Getting starting" link from the website, you might get a little more space for free.

May 10, 2010

Be smart when using intellectual property

All designers use the creative property of others, we have to, time and budget constraints don't allow us the luxury to sit for hours and draw, or head out with camera in hand to find the perfect photo for our ideas. But do you always read the small print on those user agreements? You should,  others intellectual property is something that needs to be respected.

Here are some excerpts from a few samples of the fine print., excerpt from the standard user agreement:
Do not:

use or display the Content on websites or other venues designed to induce or involving the sale, license or other distribution of “on demand” products, including postcards, mugs, t-shirts, posters and other items (this includes custom designed websites, as well as sites such as

Have you ever used an iStock just to show placement on a product image on your website?

MyFonts.comexcerpt from the standard user agreement:
Service Bureaus: You may send a copy of any Nick’s Fonts font data along with your documents to a commercial printer or other service bureau to enable the editing or printing of your document, provided that such party agrees to delete the font or fonts from his/her/their system upon completion of your project.

Is your printer deleting your fonts after your job is finished?, excerpt of EverythingIsInStock's user agreement
6. You MAY use my stocks as drawing references, however I expect to be given credit all the same.

When you do an illustration do you credit every resource you used?

Most of the time when you download fonts or images from the web you'll see something like; Free for personal use or Not for commercial use. Remember, just because it's for personal use doesn't mean you can't contact the creator and buy a license.

Be sure to read the small print, give credit where credit is due, and don't be afraid to contact the creator or webmaster to ask questions.

February 23, 2010

Operation: Twitter Automation, not autopilot, but a time saver.

I mentioned in my post, Searching Through Web Content, Part One of Three, RSS Feeds, that I search through a lot information looking for things to post to my LinkedIn Group, In House Designers and my Twitter accounts, @YourArtDirector and @IHDesigners. Well it just became too much and I had to figure out a way to automate it.

I took what I had learned from searching through all those blogs and websites and automated it. I choose what I let go to Twitter automatically very carefully. If the site or blog becomes a constant sales pitch I drop it. I also follow some great designers on Twitter and use Google Alerts to find blogs and sites to automate.

First I use a program called SocialOomph. What it does is follow everyone that follows me, and rotates automated messages thanking them for following me. Why in the world would I want to do that? Following others is a fast way to get more followers. I use lists to follow the people I'm most interested in, the rest I glance at from time to time to see if I want to ad them to my lists. It took me about 9 months to get 400 followers. Now that SocialOomph is turned on it has taken me about a month to go from 400 to about 650.

I use TweetDeck to monitor Twitter. I used to use HootSuite, but I switched for reasons I will explain later. I use multiple columns in TweetDeck to follow my lists, direct messages, mentions and other things. One column is monitoring what I tweet so I can make sure the automation isn't getting too salesish. This isn't an obvious function in TweetDeck. Here's what I did to set up monitoring myself. I made a private list of all my Twitter accounts in Twitter, then in TweetDeck I made a column to watch that list. That's where I find my posts for my LinkedIn Group, In House Designers. It allows me to look at only the posts that have gone out in the last day. I can also use TweetDeck to schedule tweets for a time I want them to go out. I use that feature to send out things I want to Tweet about that aren't automated.

I use a site called TwitterFeed to do my automatic posts. I know a lot of people think automating Twitter is missing the point of Twitter, but I was spending two hours a night to search through RSS feeds and posting them to go out the next morning from 9:00am to around 1:00pm my time. Now I enter those same RSS feeds into TwitterFeed and they go out all day and night, which exposes me to a much wider audience, and I post more information. I was doing the same exact thing manually as I do now automatically only I'm doing it better. TwitterFeed also has some filtering you can use to limit some posts. Like I mentioned above, I mix in tweets about my company, products, trade shows, webinars using TweetDeck, but because I am growing my followers, the messages I care about are going to a lot more people.

Lastly I use to track clicks and make URLS smaller for Twitter. ties in directly with TweetDeck and TwitterFeed to shorten URLs automatically. I also have a widget in my browser's bookmark bar to quickly post anything I see while surfing sites and blogs. I also recently saw that has Pro in Beta now. It has more features and allows for custom URL shortening.

Best of all, all of these sites and programs are free. I could do the same thing, (except SocialOomph), in HootSuite for $20/month, which is why I stopped using it; I'm not making any money doing what I do in Twitter and LinkedIn. I do it to build resources for other designers and myself.

Take some time to set it up, watch what it is doing, so you don't become a sales tool for someone else. It isn't exactly autopilot, but it is a lot less time than it could be.

January 10, 2010

Searching Through Web Content, Part Three of Three, Google Alerts

This is the last of my three part post on Searching Through Web Content. The three parts were RSS Feeds,  Twitter and now, Google Alerts. It's taken a while to write this because between the second and third post I completely changed the way I post information to my Twitter feeds, @YourArtDirector and @IHDesigners. I still use these ways to find content online, but I am letting Twitter do the work instead of me. I'll be writing about automating Twitter soon.

What Are Google Alerts?
Google Alerts are a good way to get content delivered right to your inbox. Basically your telling Google to save a search and send you an email when it finds results. Google Alerts are still in Beta, but already it's a powerful tool.

Setting up a search
You have choices of the type of content you'd like to receive, news, blogs, videos etc. Then you can set how often you'd like to be notified—for example as it happens, once a day, once a week. Maybe you just want to see the newest information—you don't have time to wade through a giant list. You can limit the number of posts you receive in your email alerts.

Email is just the start of ways to receive Google Alerts. You can have your alerts come to your RSS feed reader. As I mentioned in part one, Searching Through Web Content, RSS Feeds, this is a good way to look through lots of content quickly.

You can receive your alerts as a CSV file, in other languages and as HTML or plain text. So customizing your alerts to fit how you want to work is very easy.

What can I use Google Alerts for?
Google Alerts are a great way to see who's talking about your company or product on the web. Just enter the name of your company, a product, a person or anything you need to keep an eye on. If you set it up to receive emails in HTML, like I did, it will look a lot like a google search result.

What does a Google Alert look like?
One of my searches is for "In House Graphic Designer". With this search I find a lot of job posts for my Linked in Group, Design Job List. A typical post will look something like this.

Journalist and IN HOUSE Graphic Designer Wanted (Midtown West ...
By admin
Journalists Wanted A weekly newspaper needs experienced journalists with strong writing background and unsurpassed editing skills, as well as very good organizational abilities. Minimum of 2-3 years of editorial experienced required. ...
Web Design Jobs -

You can see you can get a lot of info very fast and easy. So go to Google Alerts, set up a search and see what you find in your inbox.

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