Press Check

I’ve been in the throes of a massive product launch at the day job. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced, including working at a few magazines and a few .coms.

Over the past few years I’ve grown accustomed to the production flow of digital media. The process usually involved several levels of people, and underwent more tweak than a meth addict. By the time something launched, seldom did it resemble what was originally requested. There were enough voices and ill-defined notions of brand to derail the initial vision. Things were posted, pulled and edited in real time. Mistakes were almost always public. As they still are in the digital world.

The process for designing something to be printed on paper is almost like an afterthought compared to delivering a flash interstitial or a redesigned website. Things have gotten easier in the digital design world, but it’s nothing like clicking a menu item and having every file, every font and an instruction sheet all gathered and put into one folder. If you have the luxury of working with a service bureau, they usually catch any crap in your files and things are fixed before anyone sees the final product. And because the application you designed your work gathered all your stuff for you, 99% of the time, you are covered from making any huge mistakes. The process of matchprints, bluelines and at the press means there are several places where errors can be fixed.

The problem comes when you don’t have luxuries like service bureaus or producers or time. What you get from the press can’t be changed without huge expense. And if you are the only person looking at the final work, the pressure is substantially different than having the entire online team look over a feature design or a micro-site.

Multiply this by 30 and that’s what I’ve been up to the past three weeks. Everything is now being shipped and hopefully, work will settle into the pleasant din it’s been since I started instead of the caffeine-addled freak show starring yours truly.