If you aren’t already aware of it, Lisa Hirsch over at Iron Tongue of Midnight has an excellent page with plenty of do’s and don’ts about how performing arts organizations should approach some aspects of web design. It is particularly useful in that it includes reminders for lingering items otherwise easily overlooked in modern web design.
One of my favs is the reminder against embedding pdf or doc files in place of actual content; or worse, requiring users to download them in order to access details.
Don’t make people open PDFs or Word documents to get full information about your site! I had to open a PDF recently to see what L.A. Opera’s ticket return policy is! For crying out loud, get that stuff on an HTML page where it belongs. PDFs and Word documents are major carriers of viruses; you don’t know who has what version of Word or Acrobat Reader; they are SLOW to open in some browser and on some computers. Don’t make people wait!
On the surface, it might sound antiquated but it regularly pops up when arts orgs encounter the difficulty of trying to replicate a print design layout on a webpage. All too often, they become frustrated and simply insert the original print document as page content but the better solution here is to rethink, edit, and insert the content into the page with a layout that works better for web medium.
Ultimately this is an excellent example of a lingering bear trap in that arts orgs keep the print and web layout design process mutually exclusive; as a result, they lose out on the benefit of maximizing both mediums with a single content source and end up spending more than they need in order to get everything to work.
More often than not, arts orgs approach the print process first and use designers that specialize in that format. As a result, the web platform gets the short end of the budget stick vis-a-vis trying to make the content work and the arts org ends up hobbled for the rest of the season trying to pound the square peg of print design into the round hole of web formatting.
In the end, you’ll be better off gravitating toward designs that work in both formats and to help facilitate that goal, here are a few pointers to get an efficient process up and running. Keep in mind, this list assumes that both your design and web providers are outsourced, but it is easy enough to make adjustments as needed if one or more element is in-house:
- Make sure you get them working together throughout right from the onset and throughout each subsequent stage in the process.
- Get input from your web provider when selecting a print design provider.
- Use designers that have experience in creating multi-use print and web content that works with responsive design standards.
- Don’t assume communication will happen on its own; you can help make sure everyone is on the same boat by using a project management account such as Basecamp.
- If you don’t have experience or aren’t comfortable serving as a project manager, hand over the responsibilities to the designer or web provider. Make sure both providers understand that this isn’t a reporting structure and you still make the final decisions but more of a convenience to facilitate efficiency.
- Make sure the process produces a detailed style sheet that you can use throughout the season to stay on brand.