From the Desk of Pica9 CEO Kevin Groome:
Traditionally, graphic designers have done their creative work in the three dimensions of height, width and depth. But today, they’re being called upon to think in a fourth dimension: how their designs will adapt and adjust to different use cases over time.
For design purists, the notion of a design that adapts as users add, change, or select different content is foreign. Design, in their view, is an art reserved for those trained in its principles. And of course, that's true – up to a point.
But with today's dynamic templating systems, graphic design is becoming an ever more collaborative process. And the question is, how do you tap into the power of these capabilities, without sacrificing the soul of your work? How, in short, do you leverage the fourth dimension of design, without getting lost in it?
Here, from the front lines of our work with template designers are a few tips to help you strike that balance.
1. Know Your Limits.
When building an adaptive design, decide early on about how far the design will be allowed to stretch in response to local needs.Determine acceptable minimums and maximums for copy length. Define how your typography should adjust as the amount of content in the piece changes.
A good templating system will allow you to "what-if" your way through these crucial decisions, and do so in an intuitive manner that's similar to the way you work in layout tools like Adobe InDesign.
2. Define Your Data Sources
Most local marketers today want to build great looking materials in seconds. That means keeping hands off the keyboard as much as possible. Great dynamic designs make that possible by connecting layout elements to data sources of authoritative content --for headlines, product details, location information, offers, etc. And great templating systems come with powerful, intuitive content management systems built right in, to make building those connections efficient.
3. Insist on The Approval Loop.
Many newcomers to local marketing enablement hope they can "set and forget" their systems without monitoring individual executions. To be sure, a fully automatic approach can work—for some brands, some of the time.
But at Pica9, we love when our brand authorities use our built-in approval loops to to tweak local executions and really make them sing. When you save your local marketers from innocent errors, you do more than elevate the quality of the work. You also solidify relationships that are vital to your brand’s success.
4. Never Stop Learning
Some have feared that local marketing tools like ours would spell the beginning of a decline in graphic design as a profession.
But the truth is just the opposite: talented, visionary, and quality-obsessed design professionals are more vital to the health of their brands than ever. They've become the real-time leaders of brand voice and brand activation.
That's why at Pica9 we host continuing classes in dynamic design for all of our template composers, free of charge. It's a great way for us to introduce the latest innovations... in digital, in multi-language, in workflow and collaboration. And it's also our chance to hear and learn from the people who are carving out the future of the graphic design profession.
Learning and teaching, branding and selling, all at the same time – could there be a more rewarding profession than that?