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Impact of Electronic Technologies on Print: Creative/Designers

December 7, 2012
Is the glass half full or half empty? There are several ways of looking at the impact of electronic technologies on print, including: the relative impact on page volumes within a specific application, the impact of print loss within a specific application, and the loss of page volumes in total compared to other applications.

Unlike most parties in the print industry, for creators and designers of print, the impact of electronic technologies is likely to be of greater benefit than business loss for two reasons:

1. Shorter run lengths and greater frequency of print drive the requirement for more frequent designs and design updates, and

2. It opens the door to expanding creation and design services to a new, incremental business: web design.

NPES Electronic chart 1
[+] click to enlarge
The second reason is the most significant. As best told through the “Annual Report Chapter” in the “2011 PRIMIR Impact of Electronic Technologies on Print” study, annual report designers have benefited greatly from electronic technologies entry during the collapse of annual report printing. Annual report print volumes collapsed independently from any impact of electronic technologies; they were the victims of a result in changes in investment habits (e.g., mutual funds) and a decline in trust in the information found in annual reports (e.g., Enron financial scandal).

The decline in print demand, ahead of any significant impact of electronic technologies, caused the annual reports creators and designers to look elsewhere for business. The more successful ones transitioned their rich skills to website design and development. Many designers viewed this as an extension of their print business, but, more importantly, often as something new and exciting to challenge their creative skills.

Opportunity for Creators and Designers

NPES Electronic chart 2
[+] click to enlarge
Not all creation and design will transfer as seamlessly between print applications and electronic technology as annual reports have translated to company website design. Typically most image-rich applications are easier to convert than time-sensitive, data-driven applications, such as newspapers and magazines, or predominantly monochrome applications including journals, books and directories.

At the forefront of graphic-rich image applications are catalogs, marketing collateral, and direct-mail applications often deployed by small businesses with frequent turnover—resulting in the need for more design services. These are just beginning to be impacted by electronic technologies (see Exhibit 1).

The creators’ and designers’ eye for photography and image placement/positioning gives them a great advantage over website creators focused on programming and coding. While the tools are in place to allow self-service design, a professional’s eye will provide a level of quality unmatched by a layman. It’s akin to designing your own house without the help of an architect. The design may be functional, but not necessarily esthetically appealing.
 

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