Jun 2016

Finding Solutions Through Design Automation – Kim Paul, Production Director

In a traditional office environment, the key to successful business is to meet the demands of increased workflow by working more, working faster and working harder. At Red Letter, we use a slightly different formula when finding solutions… we work smarter. We have a passion to succeed by evaluating old and new processes.

In an effort to meet the needs of our clients, we turned our focus to design automation. Through the use of advanced technologies, we have found successful solutions that would typically result in strained budgets, resources and manpower with a traditional design workflow. We are able to compile large amounts of data into custom-designed templates to produce high-quality work at an even higher volume with data-driven layout.

The Benefits of Design Automation

  • Reduces Effort to Create Individualized Designs
  • Decreases Future Production Time and Costs
  • Reduces Labor Intensity
  • Eliminates Manual Text Entry During Design
  • Increases Accuracy and Decreases Revisions
  • Automates Revisions with Data Source Updates
  • Simplifies Version Updates for Design Adjustments

We have implemented a few different design automation techniques. The time we spend on projects has decreased while the amount of work we are able to produce continues to grow. As shown below, these processes have proven to be invaluable on multiple levels for the agency and our clients.

The Processes

Linking Spreadsheets in Adobe® InDesign®

Adobe® InDesign® has some great built-in tools to help with automation. We are able to link data that is maintained with a simple Microsoft® Excel spreadsheet. Our clients, account executives or project managers can make adjustments to their spreadsheets and those changes are updated quickly and without error through the “links” palette. Changing every text entry in the design is as effortless as updating an image. This process has saved countless production hours on projects like sales brochures, pricing guidebooks and television lineups – making time-consuming projects more affordable. Most importantly, the improved workflow allows more time to focus on our client’s branding and marketing goals, which is essential for the success of a communications agency.

EasyCatalog Plugin for Adobe® InDesign®

In 2015, we were facing two extremely large projects with very short deadlines. The EasyCatalog plugin for Adobe® InDesign® was the solution of choice. We are extremely excited to be one of the few companies in the U.S. to offer the use of EasyCatalog to our clients.

Project One

Complete redesign of 2-sided information tags for 1,500 products

We challenged ourselves to find a solution that would not compromise the redesign of the tags. We are now able to create both sides of the 1,500 tags in a few hours. Information and image changes in the design are updated effortlessly through EasyCatalog.

Project Two

3 versions of a 300+ page interactive catalog with pricing layers

The learning curve on this project was extremely high. The plugin didn’t provide a solution for the interactive pricing layer. Through resourcefulness, we were able to break through the limitations of the plugin to develop a solution. In the end, production time of the catalog decreased by 35% in the first year. Tedious, manual entry of each product was no longer necessary. As we implement more structure and better uses of this process, the savings during production time shows significant increase.

Red Letter continues to look for improvements and realize new and effective solutions to perfect our workflow. When you are faced with a challenging project, know that we are in the business of solutions by working smarter. There’s usually a better way and we’re here to help you find it.

Want to learn more about how we leverage technology to find solutions for our clients? Contact us today.