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How to apply User Experience to Design for Print

September 3, 2020

UX or User experience is a term we’ve all come to know and love through the websites we design and build today.  But where did it all start?

Well, it might seem strange but UX applies to everything that the consumer interacts with. 

Have you ever thought of why the indicator stick is on the column of the car by the steering wheel?   Ever thought why generally letterboxes are waist-high? Or why the sweets and gum are at the counter of a petrol station?   Well, its all user experience and it’s all be designed that way.  To make life easier.

So, in the context of design for print, the same UX rules apply as they do for websites.  The following info will help you create your design for print in a much more efficient manner. This results in a user-driven and results-driven approach.

Think like a website

Pretty much the best starting point is to think of a document much the same as you think about a website.  A company website has multiple pages, so can a corporate brochure.  A website moves you from one piece of information to another typographically and visually.  SO can a brochure. 

A website is designed to make you make act by picking up the phone or purchasing something. Brochures can also do this. Think of any piece of design for print just like it’s a website and you can’t go far wrong.

Layer typographic content

Its good practice when designing websites to have and to use subheadings, lists, and other grammatical devices.  If you’ve stumbled upon this blog then I’m pretty sure you’ll know what they are.

Well, a printed piece of literature should be treated just the same.  This is my personal take on it.

I believe that lets’ say, in the case of a 20pp corporate brochure, a user should be able to read the cover, read the 10 titles at the top of the inner pages, and have some idea of what the company does.

Then, if the start again, read the cover, read each page title and the intro paragraph, then they’ll have even more of an idea of what that brochure is about.

Layer the content, give bite-size chunks of information away.  In the same way, human attention span has shrunk to near nothing online, it’s the same in print so don’t forget it.

Make an impact

To make an impact on websites we use UI trickers.  These don’t always work in print so we can’t quite use the same practices, but that shouldn’t stop us, designers, trying to make impact on a page.  Think to yourself.  What do you want the user to see most? Where do you want their eye drawn? Where do you want to lead them to next? It’s all about understanding the reader.

Navigate through the document

Unless your document is long then typically we don’t see enough of this but just because it’s a static document, it doesn’t mean that we can’t have a ‘….see illustration on page 22’ or ‘Refer to index in the back of document’. More of this means more interaction from the user,  from the client, from the customer,  So go ahead and make sure you include relevant ones of these.

Don’t forget Calls to Action

OK, so a potential client has your document in their hands and they are starting to ready it.  So thinking like web, what do you want them to do.  Well, in my land of websites, I’d want them to fill in a form, click buy now or pick up the phone.   Ok. So we only have one option here, so let’s give it to them.

We should always remember why that piece of design in print exists in the first place. To make someone do something.  So go ahead and let’s do that.  Draw them to a phone number, give them a deadline, make them an offer, do something… Really do something to make them engage.

Remember this,  23 years ago when I started at my first role as a Junior Designer in a well known Nottingham Agency, one of my director’s clients said ‘print will be dead soon’.  Well. 23 years on its still here and if anything, it’s getting better.

If you’re interested in creating an informative and engaging brochure then contact us today. Our designers and writers have spent years honing their craft and will work with you to create a document that delivers time and time again.




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