A New Year Design Manifesto

springtime landscape

Here’s a list of resolutions to help you start out designing a successful New Year:

I WILL print less, digitize more…In this age of green, we can only move to greater use of online e-publications that have little impact on the environment. That does not mean that we should abandon print completely, but rather we should use it were we can have the greatest impact. Such effective uses include annual reports, car catalogs or product brochures and some direct mail pieces.
I WILL produce sustainable events that employ digital invitations, reusable directional signage, recyclable tableware, hand-printed nametags. Attendees might also be encouraged to use ridesharing or alternative fuel vehicles to reach the event.  Include commute options with the invitation.
I WILL design for cell phones, tablets and desktops with responsive design that adjusts to the device.
I WILL not print 2-color materials. Four-color printing gives so much more bang for the buck especially with the widespread use of digital printing.
I WILL design with clean, uncluttered and simple layouts with lots of white space.
I WILL use infographics to display data and I will skip the boring charts, graphs and tables. No one reads them.
I WILL refuse to use clipart.
I WILL refrain from using stock photos that have not been customized or altered. This consists of modifying photos so that they are unique to your publication or website.  This prevents them from reappearing in another publication and avoid the use of a stale prefabricated, canned image.
I WILL try to use PowerPoint less frequently for my presentations. In my opinion, it is dated and trite. I will try other programs such as Adobe Keynote or programs such as Adobe Muse to provide interactivity. Simple talking points with a few visuals are often enough. Why put the audience to sleep? If I do use PowerPoint, I will limit my presentations to five words per slide, and I will not repeat what is already visible on the screen. Try something new and original.
I WILL design websites that are informational and functional, rather than complex works of art. The days of websites driven by special effects and animated graphics are long gone.
I WILL create communications that show diversity and inclusivity in the use of photos.
I WILL strive to create publications that have a localized feel to better tie products and services to the community
I WILL strive develop publications which promote giving back to the community or that have a charitable component.
I WILL print on recycled papers using vegetable-based inks.
I WILL, I CAN AND I PROMISE to create better and more enriching communications.

Make 2016 the best it can be. Art makes life livable.

Marketing Materials are More Effective When you “Paint” with Your Content

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

This week I met an interesting landscape designer who creates drought-tolerant gardens with a wilder more natural feeling. While we were discussing a new garden at my home, she made a very interesting point. She arranges plants or as she says, “I paint with plants.”  In short, she creates a visual masterpiece by painting with the subject matter.

With respect to corporate communications, we basically paint with a non-paint medium. As designers, we paint with puzzles and pieces and patterns. You can try this by finding a natural resource that is related to the theme of your product or service and then “painting” or designing with it to give a lush feel to your publication.


Here’s some elements that provide great design enhancements:


Continue reading

How the Printing Industry Has Become Environmentally-Friendly

By Harlan West, Design and Marketing Pharlanwestblogphotorofessional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Printers have moved from being detrimental to the environment to being very supportive of the recycling movement.

RollsofpaperpaperWhile at a press check this weekend for a job on the web press, I was actually reminded of how much large commercial printers do to promote recycling and sustainability. In fact, the printing industry is one of the biggest adherents to recycling. First and foremost, most printed products today are printed on paper stock made from recycled paper pulp. In addition, the printing industry has moved away from using colored papers due to the difficulty and added cost of recycling these papers. Today, the large amount waste created from printing during the make-ready stage and bindery stage is typically collected, baled and compacted into a block and then sold to companies that make products from paper and printing waste.

Paperpaperon-pressIndeed, the printing industry gets an undeserved bad wrap for being environmentally unfriendly. In all actuality, most printers today print on papers that are made of recycled fibers and they send the waste from the printing process, otherwise known as “make-ready” as well as the used metal plates off to be recycled.  Nearly 60% of printed publications today are printed on paper made of recycled fibers. By using recycled papers and planting new trees, the printing industry is taking essential steps to reduce the deforestation of our earth.

The great thing to keep in mind is that paper is not only biodegradable but it is also recyclable and reusable.

As stated in our blog post, Paper Adds Weight to Your Marketing, there are a wide range of recycled, environmental paper choices. Using these papers helps to demonstrate a commitment to our environment. webpress3There are 100%, 80% and 30% post consumer fiber choices as well as 50% alternative fibers/50% consumer fibers. These papers are Processed Chlorine Free (PCF), FSC® Certified (meeting the mark of responsible forestry), Green Seal™ Certified (a minimum of 30% post consumer fiber with mill processes and packaging that are environmentally preferable) and Carbon Neutral Plus (helping to reduce carbon emissions with a commitment to conserving the environment).

Printers also help the environment by:

  • Eliminating excess ink use by performing precise calculations
    to reduce the amount of wasted ink
  • Using soy-based or vegetable inks
  • Using more digital printing presses instead of offset lithography
  • Recycling rags and clean-up materials
  • Complying with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
    mandated regulations

So next you visit a large commercial printer for a press check, ask to see how they are reducing their carbon footprint. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.


If your company needs an innovative newsletter, annual report, creative consulting or print management, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com.

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundreds of publications for both print and online purposes.