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#179: For Those Who Do Their Own Graphics

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, November 19, 2009
Updated: Thursday, November 19, 2009
Knocking out graphics work products has become so easy with desktop publishing. Is there any reason why we can't save a lot of money by doing this ourselves?

There are a lot of things you can do yourself. Remember that "just because you can doesn't mean you should." Your clients can make the same argument as to why they don't need your services - after all, there are lots of books and software tools to develop a moderately competent looking business or marketing plan. Similarly, there are some incredibly powerful software packages, as well as an increasing foundation of design and production literature and guidance. But the production function now in your hands excludes the perspective of an experienced graphics designer. They can see what you can't and are up to date with new practices that are not embedded in any tool.

Tip: This issue is too complex for a tip, but here are a few suggestions about graphics if you do like (and can) do a lot yourself. First, stick to good design elements and keep it simple. Overreaching in self-design is painfully obvious. Second, choose a good source of stock images, like dreamstime, iStockphoto and fotolia (there are a lot of places, many of which sell the same photos), or Getty or Corbis for more unique images. Third, plan your color scheme carefully so that the visual feeling hangs together. For example, Adobe's free Kuler is a great color design tool . It is amazing how much more professional your products look with a coordinated color scheme. Finally, consider how you present data (if you are a consultant, you are likely communicating results of some analysis). You should be aware of the work of Ed Tufte and Stephen Few are sound design guides. When you have armed yourself with these tools, reconsider your decision to forgo at least a consult with a design professional.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting colleagues  data visualization  learning  presentations  roles and responsibilities 

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Alan Headbloom says...
Posted Friday, November 20, 2009
Mark, you hit the nail on the head with these words: Your clients can make the same argument as to why they don't need your services.

My wife is an artist and has helped me improve lots of the graphics for my materials and presentations, but when I needed to change my brand a few years ago, I hired a marketing/design firm. The results are amazing, and I have no regrets about the money I paid them. Every time I give out my business card, I am proud of it (and tickled by the usual responses.) Self-designed materials, by contrast, look cheap, cluttered, and unprofessional--not the type of image we're looking to project.
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Mary Adams CMC says...
Posted Saturday, November 21, 2009
I'll chime in with an alternate point of view. My thinking on this changed after reading Dan Roam's Back of the Napkin (he also has a great blog).

Roam encourages us to just start drawing simple pictures. It is a powerful way of communicating. In some ways, the simplicity makes the ideas more accessible.

A good example of this approach is the UPS commercial with a guy at a white board.

There is a time and place for highly refined graphics. But don't think that's the only way that you can use visuals.
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