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Adventures with Design

Within the last couple of years, I have been lucky enough to be the recipient of opportunities to design and develop collateral in my various non-profits and actual job. Design presents a unique challenge for to my skills portfolio.

Computers and talking to people come naturally to me. It is very easy for me to walk into a room and please a crowd, and getting a computer to do what I want is a simple matter of launching it out the window  taking the time to sit and plot out what I ask of it. Design on the other hand is a whole other ball game.

The Struggle:

Alright first off, graphic design can use or uses many different programs. If you're unlucky you have to use MS Word. MS Word is Satan. S.A.T.A.N. You want to write a book? MS Word. You want to write a paper, or futz around with word art? MS Word. Design a pamphlet/ bookmark/brochure? For the love of God, it would be more productive to glue your cat to your face and show your boss a video of it than to use MS Word.

Unfortunately, I have had, on more than one occasion, to use MS Word to build something that is on point and doesn't look like your pal the 90s said they'd only need to crash at your apartment for a week, and then didn't leave for three months. This is a struggle for many reasons, the first and most important being that Word doesn't use CYMK, so printing is already an issue, and that makes your printers very unhappy. Second, word doesn't really understand how text placement works. It understands a text box, but god help you if you want that text box to do anything fancier than sit in a corner. Three, Word does not use layers. Layers are a godsend, and since Word is Satan, then of course it does not incorporate layers.

If you have to use Word, then I recommend only using versions 2010 and newer. Microsoft added a few tools to make basic design a little easier, like grid lines. Grid lines really help. I recommend only using MS Word for basic things like flyers, or reports. You could make a pretty nice report with the charting capabilities. For flyers, don't change the background color of the page, printers will not recognize what you did, and sometimes Adobe won't either. Just make a text box and fill in the background. Yes, it's annoying, but it should be okay if you send it to the back. See below for an example I built of a fundraising flyer.

As you can see, I managed to make it work using a combination of text boxes and word formatting. The faded color of the main image is actually a text box. I had a great time trying to make sure that the overlay was opaque enough. Printing this one was the biggest issue, and luckily we only had to make 300 of them, so we just ended up doing it in house.

The real issue with Word and me is that while I normally get great satisfaction from building something, Word makes the process so miserable that by the time I'm done, I'm just morosely tired and hate looking upon my creation, akin to the feeling of getting your newborn to sleep, but filled with the awful realization that they will wake back up if you move, so you just sit there uncomfortable and red eyed from lack of sleep just counting the seconds of quiet you have until your baby wakes up and punches your eardrums.

Anyway, tune in next week for another installment of Adventures with Design!


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