6 Tips for Designing Top-Quality Materials

May 7, 2014 | Graphic Design

Print materials are great for promoting information about your company. Your audience will get to know who you are and what you can do. Your website is likely where your audience will find your business. This is your location. Print materials can help them get there.

While print and digital design share some fundamentals, their overall differences must be understood. Both mediums have the ability to impact your audience. Here are some ways to improve your design with print materials as well as explain differences between the two formats.


Audience Experience

Viewers have different experiences with print materials compared to digital. With print, your audience is led from one page to the next, while through web or digital, the audience scrolls or clicks with user-friendly navigation. How can you enhance your audience’s experience with print materials? It comes down to layout, typography, color, paper stock, and other design elements. It is your layout as a whole. Convey your message by making sure your design speaks to them through an excellent experience.


Color Type

The output is what counts. Should you do print materials in RGB or CMYK? The rule is very simple. RGB/HEX is for web, while printing also works with ink jet, large format, and digital. CMYK is for print only, including offset, web press, and digital. The digital printer has progressed in that RGB can be printed, and offset printers can use spot colors to get a specific swatch. Though digital can print both CMYK and RGB, don’t mix them in your designs. The printer can get confused and make colors appear off.


Fluctuating/Non-Fluctuating Designs

We graphic designers need to meet the audience needs of commercial marketing. Therefore, you get one shot to get it right, whereas web designing fluctuates. A very important piece of the process is knowing how each element in your design will translate to the final print. Though a printed piece can go through several stages of proofs, once it is printed, it is final. The only way to change anything is to reprint. So, get it right the first time. This leads me to my next tip:



Though this has nothing to do with designing, I feel that this is very important whether with print or digital. Do you think your final product looks as nice if you have a big fat misspelled word? The quality automatically plummets. Even if it’s a hassle, put time into checking spelling and grammar. With digital or web, it can always be fixed, though mistakes and inconsistency look very amateur to your audience. But print materials must be error-free the first time.


Working Within Your Limits

When designing with web/digital, remember that monitors are in different sizes, and the browser adapts as needed. Though every medium can have its restrictions, to be a great designer you need to work with what’s been dealt. What suits web platforms won’t necessarily work for print. Likewise, some elements in print may not appear the same on screen. Use the canvas you’re given and design within those restrictions.


Image Quality

For print materials, the highest image quality is desired. Preferably TIFF files should be used because they don’t lose compression, giving perfect image resolution, which is needed for print. On the other hand, JPEG files are ideal for web. PNG files are good for both. Take note that PPI (pixels per inch) is your image’s true resolution from pixel based applications. More pixels means more detail. Don’t resample a low-res image; you will only be making it larger and much, much worse. This is a problem when you are given a low-res image (72 PPI) for web and are expected to use it as a high-res image (300 PPI). The largest an image can be is preferred. You can go down in size without losing quality. Also, DPI stands for dots per inch. A higher DPI has more ink dots and gives more accurate color.

Be a master at what you do. Stay current with changes and make sure everything you do is top-notch.

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