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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Digital design for learning – Part I text formatting

Whether you are an educator, doing layouts for corporate training or just giving someone directions there are ways to format text and layout to actually get better retention of the materials. In this two part series I am going to go over some tips for getting the best results with your education design.

We are going to discuss text formatting and layout ideas for education. You can apply these ideas to any form of educating because the rules don’t change based on end use.

Using common design elements like bold, underline, and colors can make important elements stand out more. Vital elements might be included in a paragraph of explanation text, highlighting will distinguish these elements while keeping them in the right context to explore further.

In addition to standing out this important text is more visible for important directions. Let’s look at an example from my book “Your New Business Logo”. Since this was a crash course in Adobe Illustrator tools for beginners I wanted specific terms found in the program to jump out.

This example in Chapter 2 showing how to open a new file highlights the actual terms found in the program:

"Click on File located on the left, then click New from the drop down menu. The New Document box will open, just click on OK and we will run with the default settings. "
Notice File, New and OK are bold with a color. If you followed along in the program you would see these are what you need to look for in the program. Yet none of these words would make sense taken out of the sentences they are in so the text highlights are making the vital direction more visable.

Other ideas to enhance text could be using CAPS and altering text sizes. I tend to apply CAPS to chapter titles and even topic headings. Any information that is a mandatory need for the success of the training could be made larger, signaling vital exposure.

You may choose how you highlight content whether it is underline, bold, colors, CAPS and size based on the amount and type of content you are formatting. You can mix and match techniques as needed. The only caution I add is apply it consistently throughout your learning piece so the user can quickly master the format and focus on learning.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Envelope Sizes

I discuss designing for a #10 sized envelope in the ebook Your New Business Card, but wanted to reference other envelope sizes.  The #10 sized measures 9.5” x 4.125” which is the standard business size, but some businesses might want branded envelopes in additional sizes.  For example envelopes might come in handy for announcements, catalogs, and even window envelopes for billing. 

This site has a great reference of envelope sizes http://www.designerstoolbox.com/designresources/envelopes/.   

It shows a visual, gives standard dimensions and even available variations. If the standard is not the best option for you that is ok.  You can choose a size that is most appropriate and apply what you learn to those dimensions.  In choosing an envelope I want to remind you that what you plan on fitting into the envelope must be smaller than the actual dimensions of the envelope. I know it is common sense but a detail easily forgotten.

Envelope selection should also take into consideration additional costs for postage and slightly higher cost for custom printing.  If it fits into your business needs then it is worth the additional cost. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Business Stationary

Business stationary usually consists of letterhead and an envelope.  I have my letterhead set up as a template so I can add it to any more official digital correspondence, but if you have a lot of printed correspondence then it would be good to have printed versions.  You could then insert any printed letterhead into your copier or printer to get a clean official looking communication.  It is your choice how you use a letterhead and if you would even use an envelope but every business needs to have a branded look to all communication.

You can learn how to create your own business stationary in Adobe Illustrator in Your New Business Card which also covers developing coordinating letterhead and envelope.  There is a discussion on postal regulations to consider for envelope design and some ideas on how to layout your business stationary with step by step instructions to layout all in Adobe Illustrator.

It is hard to get inspired to create business stationary for even experienced designers.  I suggest looking at examples of your competitors, and other professional examples to get your creative juices flowing.  I am posting a couple links I found with very creative designs.  Yes, some might be a bit much but all this creativity will certainly kick your vision into high gear for your own design.

Check out:

Whether you are just going to use your letterhead digitally or have it printed having that fully branded look will be a solid professional way to present yourself and what you have to offer.

Next week we will dig into envelope sizes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Business Card Inspiration

Business cards can be dropped easily and can be saved in a holder or scanned into a digital file.  Regardless how you share them every member of your business should have one. You never know where your next sale can come from so arm your team to be walking billboards for your business.  If you think about it there is no cheaper way to have a printed branded element for your business that you can actually leave anywhere.

To read more about designing your own business card check out Your New Business Card to learn how.  This ebook will walk you through building your own custom business card, going over types of cards as well as coordinating business stationary in Adobe Illustrator.

The hardest part about starting any creative project is getting that vision of how you want your card to look.  As technology has gotten more advanced business card designs have become more diverse.  The approach you take depends on your type of business, budget and expected use.

Researching what your competitors are doing can be a great source of inspiration.  Really anything you can take in could spike an idea to the direction you might like to take with your card design.  

I found some great links that might help inspire your business card design:

Of course some of these examples might be a little over the top but they sure get the ideas flowing.  I mentioned in the book and will reiterate that sticking with a standard sized business card is the best route to take since it is more cost effective to have printed and it will fit in a standard sized business card holder, which means it won’t get lost. Remember the point of your card, it might be just having you customers find you easily so making a card to accommodate that is priority.

Next week we will look at business stationary examples.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Your New Business Card

Finally I finished Your New Business Card. Full of great design ideas, even more than the last book but still having the easy step by step directions to walk you through building your own business card, and business stationary. All is posting this week to retail sites!  More details coming soon.