Over at The Digital Nirvana, there is an interesting article on how to avoid costly document design issues through the application of guidelines.
Penned by Richard Losch, the article looks at using guidelines for effective communications. Losch is a founding Partner at R3D2 Consulting and advises commercial printers, in-plants, outsource print and mail providers, and fulfillment companies.
Our experience has proven that taking time to develop a communications plan and guidelines upfront can avoid issues which result in delayed or ineffective and costly communication. We suggest taking a holistic approach to include production and distribution as well as document design.
We suggest that the communications plan and requirements needs to be done by a cross functional team including the communication owner, the information designer and the production and distribution team. This team needs to define the:
- Communication goal (primary and secondary if necessary)
- The timing from information availability to distribution
- Channels and media intended for distribution
- Resources and tools available for creation and production
- Document size
- Use of information design
- Approval and review process
Careful consideration of these elements can assure that the primary goal, for example, presenting a bill and getting paid quickly, does not get lost in a promotional effort to cross sell. It can also lead to a strategy to manage page counts, thus using less paper and reducing materials costs. At the same time, adding messaging to transactional documents based on space available without increasing sheets optimizes postage cost value.
Losch has a lot more and talks quite a bit about the importance of testing and the use of an "effective change control procedure." Doc thinks you should check it out.