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Here are some Tips Of the Trade for both print and web graphic design for RV Parks and Campgrounds.
A few things that Chris Hoy learned along the creative marketing trail.
Pre-Press - what you do before you send your file to the press:
Before sending to the press, there is a checklist that I go through. Are all of the photos in print resolution at 300dpi? Never use photos taken from the internet in print. Are they in CYMK colors? If they are in RGB, the monitor can deceive you, and the expectant customer who thought their “blue” on their brochure would match their digital proof. How about crops and bleeds? Many presses like to have the image overrun the edge of the page 1/8”. Check to make sure the folds are in the the right place. If the brochure folds wrong, you will have a crooked and jumbled brochure. How about type too close to the edge? Of course check for spelling, grammar, and other proofing mistakes that may of been missed on the final. Always check the requirements of the press. What filetype? How big? How to upload? Are there spot colors? Will the colors separate properly? Are the color profiles adjusted to the press? What kind of press? Heidelberg, 9810?, Century? How about dot gain? Your dots will spread on uncoated paper - and don’t even get me started on paper. Pre-press. Very important, yet hidden.
When printing site map guides or RV park brochures, sometimes a 2-color option is more viable. A 2-color product is printed with 2 solid Pantone colors, along with various paper colors. The result is a clean, sharp, easy-to-read product that is less expensive than a full color print job. When preparing a product in 2 colors, it’s important to make sure that all of the artwork, maps, and ads are separated properly before sending to the press. This insures that all of the job will print, and you won’t have press problems later. Vector graphics print better for this application, however a clever use of duotones in your photographs in the right places can add a visual impact to your brochure. Also, make sure to choose Pantone colors that are not too light. If the colors are too light in the spectrum, like yellows, pinks, tans, ect, they will be hard to read as text.
I’ve seen that website before:
It seems like that the more advanced the web gets, the more boring it gets. Many websites now look like magazine articles - and they all look exactly alike. I’ve gotten to a point where I can predict what a website is going to look like before seeing it for the first time. Many web designers account for this as a trend, but there is a time when you must fight against the monster of repetition - and add some interesting design to your website. For one reason, it will help create a more solid brand for your campground or RV park. Just sprucing up the website with your park colors, or add more creative flair will imprint in the reader’s mind that your website, and therefore your park, is a more interesting place to stay. You can have creativity, and functionality together. Don't push the design over too much. I've seen seen websites on the other end of the scale as well - where there's too much art, and the site is cluttered and difficult to navigate.
Watch Load Times:
When designing web sites, a pointer that I must make is the load times. Many website designers these days don’t take account that even in the age of broadband, that you don’t starting loading the site with auto-play movies, huge, un-formated photos, and giant flash animations. 10 seconds is the absolute maximum in my book for how long a site should take to load completely, and 5 seconds for the site to show at least something. There are some sites that wait, and show nothing until it is loaded. If these sites are taking a long time to load, users will think that the browser is “stuck” and back out. One way I get around this is have the site show something to the user right away - show parts of the site being loaded right off the start - this at least shows that the site is not “stuck” or waiting. Test your site on different web browsers and different computers. Find a computer with the slowest connection, and use this as a guide.
Think about Hand-helds:
I am seeing more and more awareness of the hand-held market. These are your iPhones and Droids. Time and time again I discover a site that works great on all browsers for the desktop PC and laptops, but when you call it up on an iPad, some the websites does not work, or the shape of the site is more awkward in the small viewing screen. Graphics that are seen large on some sites may be harder to see when reduced - or may requite the user to “zoom in” a lot to see the content. A way to get around this issue it to test the site on various hand-helds, if you have friends that have a particular hand-held device, have them take a look at your site. There are also programs that can “emulate” a particular hand-held that you can test websites as well. Keeping the website simple in code can help as well - since there are so many mediums now, a simple site will look more consistent. You still can have elaborate graphics, and have a simple code design. Test first for compatibility and load times.
When you have a brochure or map created by a designer, there are many different programs that are used to make it. Mainly InDesign for Layout, Illustrator for maps and “vector” graphics, and Photoshop for photos adjustments, and web graphics. How these files are saved, and the graphic format they are saved in is very important, and will help you avoid problems in using the graphic or map in the future. If you have photos, make sure that you keep the original versions that were taken by the camera, and send copies to the designer. If your photos are down- sampled for the internet, and saved over your originals, they will remain in low resolution forever, and will never look good in a printed brochure. Maps and Logos should be in a .eps format, and created with a vector based program like Adobe Illustrator. That way, they can changed later, and are scalable.
The general rule is the smaller the photo is reduced, the higher the resolution it will go. Photos should be in 300dpi or above to print. Digital Cameras take these photos at 72-180 dpi, but they are very large in physical size. If you take a photo that is 15 inches by 11 inches at 180 dpi, and reduce it to 9 inches by 7 inches, you have enough “resolution scaling space” for a 300 dpi photo at 9 x 7. Internet resolution is 72 dpi, which makes it easy to place photos or viewing on the screen.
CMYK vs. RGB:
I get this alot - “The photo on my brochure is not as vibrant and rich as the photo on my website” The reason is the photo on the website is being seen on a computer monitor - with the colors of Red Green and Blue transparent light, where the colors from a printing press Cyan Magenta Yellow and Black are the colors of ink, with light reflecting off. My favorite analogy is a stained glass window. Light streaming through the window will make the stained glass look rich, vibrant, and colorful. If you block the light by putting a piece of cardboard behind the window, the colors of the window change, and look duller because now, the source of the light is coming within the room, and is being reflected off. Most good graphics programs “simulate” CMYK colors on a monitor. If you have a digital proof of your brochure or map, your designer should be showing you the proof in CMYK “simulated” colors, so there won’t be any surprises later when your brochure comes off the press.
My Brochure isn’t folding right!:
If you have a mult-fold brochure like a tri-fold, pay attention to how it’s set up. Most people will make all of panels exactly the same size. This looks great until it’s time to fold the brochure. The thickness of the paper is the culprit. Every fold “takes away” 1 paper thickness, which is tiny, but add them up, and one-sixteenth of an inch does make a difference. This will make one panel a little shorter, and the brochure will “bunch-up” and not fold flat. A way to get around this is compensate for the smaller panel sizes in the initial set up, or easier, just download a template from the press you want to print with.
Keywords in your website:
Follow logic here - any typed content in your website code is what the search engine robots use to find and catalog your website. Use meta-tags creatively, and logically. Describe you business, where’s it’s at, what service you offer - but if possible, don’t be too generic. It also helps if, in the code, to tell the robots how often to visit. What I like to do is on the opening paragraph on or main index page, I say, "X business is a...and describe what your business does. Keep it about 2-3 short sentences. That way, when someone searches on Google for your campground or RV park, the result will show your name, and what it's all about in the 2 lines of text that Google allows for. People home in you right away, even before they arrive at your site.
Know your brand:
In the old timey days (and today), brands were used by ranches to mark their cattle. Each brand had a graphic symbol that identified that ranch. Anyone who saw a herd of cows marked with that brand, knew who they belonged to. With your RV park and Campground, you should develop a brand. What is your park’s colors? Do you have a logo? What is your park’s design style? Is is “naturey”? Clean and contemporary? Lots of rustic down-home appeal? or Family fun-like? Once you have a “look” for your park, carry it through all of your materials. Your website should look like your brochure, which should look like your sign, which should look like your site map, which should look like your business cards. If you keep your brand consistent, your campers will recognize your park no matter where they see your advertising. Also keep in mind that if you have an established brand, any changes in the future, weather it be a logo or a design style, should be changed entirely throughout all of your marketing collateral.