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Web Design and Desktop Publishing for Dummies

Overview

Ever since the desktop publishing revolution in the 1980s, people with access to computers and printers could produce their own newsletters, flyers, brochures, and marketing materials. Today, the revolution has gone online, and even the smallest of companies can create a viable Web presence.

Just having a Web presence doesn't cut it, though -- you want to have a good-looking, effective Web site that gets your message across. That's where Web Design & Desktop Publishing For ...

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Overview

Ever since the desktop publishing revolution in the 1980s, people with access to computers and printers could produce their own newsletters, flyers, brochures, and marketing materials. Today, the revolution has gone online, and even the smallest of companies can create a viable Web presence.

Just having a Web presence doesn't cut it, though -- you want to have a good-looking, effective Web site that gets your message across. That's where Web Design & Desktop Publishing For Dummies comes in. Author and marketing consultant Roger C. Parker introduces the fundamentals of design for both print and Web documents, and he gives you the tools and knowledge you need in order to make dynamite publications, either for print or for the Web.

Jam-packed with information and illustrations, Web Design & Desktop Publishing For Dummies includes

  • A no-nonsense introduction to professional design, no matter what your level of experience
  • Dozens of before-and-after illustrations that demonstrate how to take your pages from mediocre to outstanding
  • The Use of Color For Dummies, a full-color guide to using color effectively
  • Advice on choosing and using fonts and typography, including specialized Web techniques
  • Editing Newsletters For Dummies, a bonus section to get you started making professional publications
  • Tons of ideas and practical advice for every kind of publication
  • Tips on which software programs and Web sites can help you the most

Whether you're making a Web site for fun or a price list for customers, you can have your publications looking great in no time when you keep this handy reference beside your computer.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764501395
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/1/1997
  • Series: For Dummies Series
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 326
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction

Web Publishing Enters the Mix
Who Do I Think You Are?
How This Book Is Organized
Icons Used in This Book
The More Things Change...

Part I: Perspective: Design as Marketing

Chapter 1: The Dollars and Sense of Good Design
What Is Design?
Six steps to success
How Design Adds Value to Your Ideas
Design attracts attention
Design adds value to your message
Design enhances readership
Design simplifies
Design provides selective emphasis
Design provides organization
Design provides unity
Design helps set your message apart
Design speeds production
Design saves money
Design, income, and job security
Design and personal satisfaction
Chapter 2: The Universal Tools of Design
Think First!
Give me Space
Printed space
Online space
What Type Are You?
Color
Printed color
Color on the Web
Visuals: Those Thousand-Word Pictures
Graphic accents
Simplicity
Contrast
Computer Hardware: What Do You Need?
Computer
Monitor
Modem
Desktop printer
Other useful hardware devices
Storage and backup devices
Scanners and digital cameras
Software: Putting Words and Pictures Together
Word processing programs
Page layout and Web authoring programs
Drawing programs
Web browser
Image editors: Give Grandma a beard!
Extra added attractions
Service bureaus and commercial printers
Internet Service Provider (ISP)
Keep on Moving and Grooving
Chapter 3: Web versus Print Publishing: A New War of the Worlds?
Web versus Print -- Which Is Better?
Advantages of traditional media
Disadvantages of print
Advantages of the Web
Disadvantages of Web communications
Choosing Print or Web
The "purchase" or decision-making cycle
Who and where is your audience?
Amount of information
Timeliness
Media and the Perception of Your Message
When the Web works best
The role of e-mail
Chapter 4: Image-ination
Projecting an Appropriate Image
Creating the right image
Analyzing your image
Repurposing Your Message
Paper-design on the Web
The Web-document look
Mastering file management

Part II: Web Marketing and Design

Chapter 5: Web Site Realities
Establishing "Web-Spectations"
Weaving Your Way onto the Web
Choosing Web Publishing Software
HTML (or not)
Code Shy versus Code Savvy
Word processing programs
Entry-level Web layout packages
Web site management packages
Page layout programs
Art programs
Other programs
Six Steps to a Winning Web Site
Planning your site
Creating your site
Testing the links
Maintaining immediacy
Following up
Promoting your site
Chapter 6: The Architecture of Web Design
Getting Your Blocks in Order
Background
Words (text)
Avoid centered headlines
Avoid ALL-UPPER-CASE heads
Visuals
Links and navigation tools
Logos
Feedback and response
Basic Web Design Principles
Think small
Think horizontally
Avoid snaking columns
In Control versus Out of Control
It all depends on your point of view
Text in graphic form gives more control
Chapter 7: Making a Splash with Your Home Page
What to Include on Your Home Page
Theme
Identification
Position statement
Links
News
Contact information
Housekeeping information
Counters and "last updated" information
The pros and cons of image maps
Advantages of image maps
Disadvantages of image maps
Splash Page versus Home Page
Chapter 8: Building Continuity and Change into Your Web Site
Elements of Consistency
Background
Text
Consistent placement of logo and navigation links
Theme, title, and department heads
Visuals
Building in Variety
Color coding your Web site
Varying column width and placement
Repeating the Standard

Part III: Print Design for the Millennium

Chapter 9: The Basics of Effective Print Design
Elements of Print Page Architecture
Headers (and footers)
Logos and titles
Headlines
Subheads
Body text
End-of-story symbols
Initial caps
Visuals and captions
Sidebars
Footnotes and endnotes
Elements of Page Layout
White space: Your secret weapon
Columns
Grid
Graphic accents
Type: The Medium for Your Message
Design
Style
Weight
Width
Letter, line, and paragraph spacing
Special characters
Your Image in Print
Chapter 10: Newsletters: Up Close and Personal
Why Newsletters?
It's All a Matter of Timing
The Parts of a Newsletter
Nameplate
Folio information
Table of contents
Regular columns or department heads
Headlines
Kickers and blurbs
Bylines
Subheads
Body text
Jump lines and article jumps
Visuals
Captions
Pullquotes
Logo
Masthead
Address label area
Choosing a Grid for Your Newsletter
Choosing the right column layout
Making the right typeface decisions
Managing Cost- and Time-Effective Production
Defining Your Newsletter
What will be in each issue?
How many pages in each issue?
Will the layout be horizontal or vertical?
Planning Precedes Production
Thumbnails
Copyfitting
Assigning articles and authors
Tagging copy
Fine-Tuning Your Newsletter
Rewriting headlines
Managing widows, orphans, and line breaks
Dealing with too much text
Dealing with too little text
Simplify and add typographic contrast to nameplates
Adopt a consistent headline style
Unify subhead and headline text
Reduce paragraph spacing
Adjust type size and line spacing of body copy
Eliminate unnecessary text wraps
Eliminate unnecessary graphic accents
Organize the table of contents
Chapter 11: Brochures and Ads that Tell and Sell
Choosing the Right Format
Planning Your Panels
Front panel
Inside front panel
Inside panels
Outside back panel
Saving Money on Brochures
Three Easy Ways to Create Better-Looking Brochures
Use bleeds
Add white space
Consider lists
Creating Awesome Advertisements
Chapter 12: Proposals, Reports, and All Those Forms
Making the Most of Your Word Processor
Adjusting margins to shorten line length
Fine-tuning line spacing
Manipulating letter spacing
Adding contrasting subheads
Working with headers and footers
Adding introductions, conclusions, and summaries
Placing visuals
Adding covers and separator pages
Problems with Forms and Applications
Room to write
Logical organization
Meaningful headings and space for details
Problems with Instructional Materials
Chapter 13: The Impact of Paper, Ink, and Folds
Important Paper Characteristics
Size: From start to finish
Color: Setting the stage
Texture: The feel of it all
Coating: A well for ink
Weight: A matter of substance
Bulk: Size without weight
Stiffness: Standing straight
Opacity: Can you see through it?
Grain direction: Go with the flow
Availability: Can you get it for me Tuesday?
Do Not Fold or Spindle -- Unless You Read This First
Folds
Die-cuts
Perforations
Gatefolds
Foils
Designing with Ink
Making your photographs pop!
Adding emphasis to photographs
Using bleeds
Picturing duotones
Considering costs
Combining Techniques

Part IV: Color and Graphics in the Electronic Age

Chapter 14: Communicating Business Information Visually
Is My Table Ready?
Deciding on software
Setting up information
Adding titles and captions
Formatting tables attractively
Using Charts and Graphs
Organization charts show responsibility
Communicating time and sequence
Improving Your Business Graphics
Chapter 15: Using Color on the Web
How to Analyze Web Color
What to look for when visiting Web sites
Working with a screen capture program
Working with Web Color
Exercise restraint
Choose the right colors
Limit yourself to a few signature colors
Be selective about background colors
Reduce the color depth of imported graphics
Choosing the Right Colors for Your Web Site
Working with default colors
Creating a custom palette
Importing or creating your own custom backgrounds
Selecting Colors for Your Web Site
Selecting colors for text
Choosing the right background colors
Choosing palette-related colors
Choosing colors for navigation links
Chapter 16: Making Printed Color Count
Color with a Purpose
Be Cautious with Color
Saving Money while Using Color
Using preprinted colored paper
Creating your own preprinted papers
Printing on colored paper
Forming 'colors' with black and white
Mixing and overprinting
Spot Color versus Four-Color Process Color
Spot color
Process color
Combining spot and process colors
Design Considerations
Choosing the Right Colors
Colors and backgrounds
Color and photographs
Saving color palettes
Chapter 17: Wild Things You Can Do on the Web -- but Should You?
Add Movement and Sound to Your Web Site
Advantages
Disadvantages
Use Frames for Better Navigation
Gain More Control Over Type
Assure Absolute Font and Formatting Fidelity with Acrobat
Use Forms to Encourage Visitor Feedback
Database Publishing
Other Web Presentation Media
Intranets
Chapter 18: Choosing and Using Visuals Online and Off
Photographs: The Real Thing
Illustrations: Style in Strokes
Custom
Clip art
Manipulating text
Picture fonts
Image Quality, Resolution, and Copyright Issues
Manipulating Visuals
Cropping
Silhouetting
Resizing
Manipulating lighting and color balance
Color depth
Gamut
Retouching (out with the telephone poles)
Other special effects
Placing Visuals in Print
Alignment
Dominant visual
Facing into the page
Borders
Captions
Shadows
Placing Visuals on the Web
Chapter 19: Typographic Refinements Online and Onscreen
How to Look at Type
The PANOSE principle
Baseline, x-height, ascenders, descenders, and other type characteristics
Decorative and script typefaces
Building a Workable Typeface Collection
Some Factors of Type in Print
Special characters
Using the right punctuation
Initial caps
Space and graphic accents
Paragraph formatting
Character Manipulation
Making the Most of Online Type
Which Type Format Should I Use?
Type1 fonts
TrueType fonts
Efficiency and Consistency: Using Styles
What are styles?
How to save time applying styles

Part V: The Part of Tens

Chapter 20: Ten Web Tools Worth Trying
Chapter 21: Ten Ways to Speed Your Layout and Production

Always Use Text Styles
Automate Your Styles
Use Keyboard Shortcuts
Make Friends with Templates
Customize Your Toolbar
Remember the Paragraph Dialog Box
Use the Pasteboard
Use Your Word Processor
Investigate Utilities
Prepare Thumbnails
Chapter 22: Ten Design Truths You Shouldn't Ignore
Respect People's Time
Keep Your Audience in Mind
Let Your Message Determine the Layout
Never Forget Your Competition
Emphasize Only the Important
Be Consistent
Keep Out Clutter
Avoid Ambiguity
Always Provide a Clear Call to Action
Repetition Leads to Acceptance
Chapter 23: Ten Design Mistakes You'll Never Make
Wimpy, Floating Initial Caps
Long Lines of Small Text
Two Spaces Between Sentences
No Subheads
Obscure Headlines and Subheads
Sans Serif Type for Extended Reading
Automatic Line Spacing (Leading)
Kerned Headlines and Titles
Layout Inconsistency
Uppercase-Only Headlines

Index

Book Registration Information

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First Chapter

Chapter 3
Web versus Print Publishing: A New War of the Worlds?

In This Chapter

  • Looking at the differences between Web publishing and print publishing
  • Looking at the similarities of Web publishing and print publishing
  • Choosing between print and the Web publishing
  • Finding out how the media and format affect the reception and perception of your message
  • Weighing the pluses and minuses of various media choices

With the current explosion of interest in the Internet, you may be tempted to focus on the Internet and neglect or eliminate use of traditional media, such as print and broadcasting. An effective marketing program must be based on the needs of your audience and your message, which most often requires a combination of new (online) and traditional (on-paper and over-the-airwaves) media. This approach means carefully balancing your time, budget, and staff resources and working hard to plan and implement a communications program that publishes both print and Web materials for your audience.

Web versus Print -- Which Is Better?

Contrary to what you may hear, no conflict exists between Web and traditional print media as far as their importance to your business or personal goals are concerned. Both have a place. Putting all your eggs in a Web basket is as inadvisable as spending all your advertising money in the newspaper and omitting customer follow-up or vice versa. You need traditional print media as well as the Web to succeed -- now and in the foreseeable future.

Table 3-1 lists some of the major differences between print and Web publishing, which I discuss in the sections that follow.

Table 3-1 Characteristics of Print versus Web Communications

Characteristic

Print Media Web

Tangibility

Yes, brochures and newsletters can be saved, shared, and reread. No, except pages that are printed.

Photographs

Expensive. Each photograph usually increases preparation and printing costs. Free. No penalty (except downloading time).

Color

Expensive. Color printing greatly increases project cost. Free. Use as much as you want.

Amount of information

Limited by type size and size and number of pages. Additional pages cost more to print and to mail. Unlimited. Web sites can be as large as needed without greatly increasing costs.

Flexibility

None. Once it's printed, it can't be changed. Printing additional copies can be expensive if you run out. Total. Web sites can be updated in minutes without charge.

Distribution costs

High. Costs increase as you print and mail additional copies. Low, usually just monthly cost of maintaining site at Internet Service Provider (typically $30­$100).

Reader comfort

High. Can be read when and where readers want. Low eye fatigue when correct paper and typeface choices are made. Low. Reading information on screen can be very fatiguing because of brightness of projected light and relative coarseness of text.

Control over appearance

Total. You choose the size, texture, and color of the paper on which your message is printed. You also enjoy total control over the typeface, type size, and line spacing of your document. Very little (but growing). Visitors to your Web site use screens of different sizes and colorcasts (influenced by room lighting). Visitors can usually control the typeface and type size used to communicate your message.

Control over distribution

Total. Hand or deliver your message only to those whom you want to receive it. Very little. You can't force people to visit your Web site.

Advantages of traditional media

Not everyone is Internet savvy, and not everybody wants to be. Omitting print media from your marketing program is likely to cut off a significant portion of your audience.

Traditional media refers to ads, brochures, flyers, newsletters, proposals, and support materials (such as applications and instructions) printed on paper. The primary advantages of paper-based media are familiarity, tangibility, and availability.

  • Paper-based marketing succeeds because your customers and prospects are familiar with it. They expect it. They know how to use it. Paper-based marketing also gives you the most control over the appearance and delivery of your message.
  • Tangibility refers to the fact that you can hold a printed document, save it, or carry it around with you. It can go where you go, and it's usually designed to withstand some normal wear and tear.

    If your publication contains meaningful information and is easy to read, the brochure that you handed out last month or the newsletter that you mailed two months ago may still be in your audience's hands. People can reread it at their leisure, referring to important details. They can read and discuss the material at home, at work, at the beach, or in their dentist's waiting room.

  • Print materials are almost universally available: You have many possible distribution points where your audience can obtain your message, such as direct mail, billboards, and handouts. Anywhere that people go, you can make your print materials available. In contrast, your Web site is available only to those who have access to a computer and who know how to reach your Web site.

Print is also a very focused medium. You can identify your various audiences, such as your best customers and prospects, and you can efficiently target your message to them. There's little waste circulation. You can deliver your brochures only to those who are interested in your product or service and who have visited your place of business. Mail the right message to the right 100 people, and you're likely to sell your product or service to a significant number of them.

Disadvantages of print

No medium is perfect. Print suffers from high preparation and delivery costs -- costs that inevitably increase over time. For example:

  • Paper costs can rise or fall depending on market forces. A recent shortage of paper that increased costs was followed by increased paper production that lowered them, but costs can climb again.
  • Commercial printing is labor-intensive; printers need a lot of time and training to transform your computer files into plates for the printing press, and printers must carefully monitor the presses while printing your job. As labor costs rise, your printing costs rise with them.
  • Distribution costs are high; for example, postal rates are a significant expense and are likely to increase.

Getting your message printed also takes more time than showing it on the Web. Imaging and outputting computer files, creating negatives for the printing press, running the presses, applying address labels, and delivering your publication all take time. Experienced newsletter editors routinely work 90 days ahead of the time they want their readers to read their message -- and even that schedule is cutting it close.

By way of contrast, the Web site you created this afternoon, or updated this evening, can be updated in minutes!

In addition, print is a "fixed" medium; you do not have unlimited space. A direct correlation exists between the number of words in a printed communication and the number of pages required. When brochure or newsletter space runs short, you must reduce the amount of information you communicate or add pages. And you can't just add a page or two as needed; in most cases, you must add a group of 4, 8, or 16 pages (called a signature). Adding pages not only increases your printing costs, it also increases your distribution costs. More pages mean bigger envelopes and higher postal rates.

Make a typographical error in a brochure or newsletter, and you must live with it until you reprint your brochure or until the next issue of the newsletter appears. Compare this situation to the Web, where the material that you decide to correct at midnight is posted and available to readers at 12:01 a.m.

Advantages of the Web

The chief advantages of the World Wide Web are timeliness and interactivity. Unlike print, you can update your Web page almost instantaneously. As information changes or new products and services are added, you can replace the old with the new that same day -- maybe even that same minute -- with no cost.

And you can include a link that lets your readers or customers send you their thoughts as they access your site. You can use your site for sales and marketing, for surveys and promotions, for customer service -- all instantaneously without extra charge.

In addition, the World Wide Web is a highly visual medium that enables you to get the full power of images and color instantly and cheaply. The extra cost of color in print means that the tremendous emotional power of printed color is simply beyond the reach of many firms and organizations. Color is integral to the Web, however, and if you can put up a Web site, you can get the full power of color at no extra charge.

Using photographs is another added expense when producing print documents, especially color photographs. On the Web, however, the only expense is in the time it takes your audience to download the photograph. You can include as many photographs as you like and make them as large as you like (within reason, however, as Chapter 19 points out).

You can add sound and animation to your Web site, and readers can control the flow of information by clicking on links. You can layer your message and vary its treatment depending on the character and depth of the information presented.

Information density, or the amount of information you can deliver in a communication, also differs between print and Web documents. Unlike printed publications, which have limited space, Web space is relatively free. Within reason, you can add as many pages to a Web document as needed because your document only exists as a computer file. Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide 5 or 10 megabytes of space, enough for at least 50 to 100 pages of text and graphics; as long as you're below their maximum size permitted at a given price level, they don't care if you come in with 18 pages or 80 pages.

Disadvantages of Web communications

The primary disadvantage of Web communications is that not everybody has access to them. Not everyone is computer literate -- or wants to be. So if you concentrate too much of your communication efforts on the Web, you may miss out on a lot of people who would find your message appealing. Other problems include:

  • People who own computers that operate at slower speeds or that have slow modems are likely to become quickly disenchanted with the Web and won't stick around while your message downloads. (Pages that are visually complicated, such as those with large graphic images, can take 2 to 5 minutes or more to download with a 28.8 Kbps modem, even more [as many as 10 to 20 minutes!] if the user is using an older, slower, 14.4 modem.)
  • Differences in monitor size can affect the impact and visibility of your Web design. Although professional Web designers typically have 17- or 20-inch monitors to design the Web page, most users view the Web page on a 14- or 15-inch monitor. This means type and graphics may be reproduced much smaller than the designer intended.
  • The type of Web browser used can limit monitor real estate -- the amount of your screen that can be used to convey your message. For example, when visitors access your Web site through some browsers (such as the one included with America Online), they see only a slice of your page instead of the full rectangle.

Lurking in the background is the problem of Web capacity. Although the infrastructure of the Web seems to be holding up well, the chance always exists that the system will become overloaded when everyone tries to access the Web at once, say to proclaim Elvis Day. Sporadic outages do occur, and at certain times of the day -- typically, in the early evening -- getting online is difficult due to heavy traffic. If you rely solely on the Web to get the word out, you're putting yourself at the mercy of your local ISP or online service.

Another problem concerns on-screen reading. The ugly truth is that, given a choice between reading words printed on paper or words projected on-screen, few people choose the on-screen option (though many will print out your message with the intent of reading it later on good-old-fashioned paper). Computer screen text is simply not as sharp as printed text. Reading text on a monitor is just not fun, and it's more visually tiring because you're looking at words and images created by light projected at your eyes rather than words and images created by light reflecting off paper. On-screen reading is sort of like looking into the lens of a slide projector.

Navigation -- the act of getting from one page to another -- is also more difficult on the Web. Instead of simply turning a page, Web readers must read with the mouse in hand to click or scroll their way through a document. This further stresses the already overworked wrists of most computer users.

Finally, no central Yellow Pages directory is available for the Web. Although you can register your Web site with the various Web search services (for example, Yahoo! and AltaVista) that are used to find sites that deal with specific information, you have no guarantee that your target audience will be able to locate your Web site when necessary -- or will even know about it without some printed or broadcast communication that includes your site name. That's why your choice of domain address, also known as a URL or Uniform Resource Locator, is crucial to making it easy for prospective readers to locate and remember your Web site (see Chapter 5).

Choosing Print or Web

Both traditional and Web publishing succeed to the extent that they reflect the following characteristics:

  • Hierarchy: The most important ideas in your document should be immediately obvious, as should the ideas that are merely supportive.
  • Clarity: Design succeeds on-screen and in print to the extent it is transparent, focusing on the message, not the messenger (such as typeface or color) or the medium (adding useless animations or sound).
  • Chunking: Communication is enhanced when subheads and other devices are used to break long messages into manageable, bite-sized chunks.
  • Speed: Readers are in a hurry; communication improves when readers can quickly grasp your ideas and move on.
  • Image: Both print and Web communications benefit when colors and typography reinforce message content by arousing an appropriate response.

These issues are closely related, as described throughout this book. So how do you know whether to deliver your message in print or on the Web? Before you can make a decision, you must answer the following questions:

  • Where in the "decision-making cycle" are prospects going to encounter your message? Whether you're selling or telling, your audience at any given time is at various points of what in sales is called the purchase cycle -- which involves perception of need, information gathering, comparison shopping, and the final decision to make the purchase or act upon the information.
  • What are you "selling," who are your customers, and where are they located? Whether you're trying to get people to buy a car or use their seat belts, you must think like a salesperson and focus on your main goal.
  • How much information do you need to communicate?
  • How timely is your information?

The following sections cover these points in more detail.

The "purchase" or decision-making cycle

Your choice between print and online communications should begin with an analysis of where your customer or prospect is in the purchase cycle -- a cycle that begins with "I think it would be fun to drive a Jaguar!" and continues to "Should I buy from Jones Motors or Jaguar City?"

For many organizations, the Web serves best as an introduction to your business or service. It enables you to presell your competence, your selection, and your approach to doing business to prospects you've never met. The Web requires very little investment by anyone; you don't have to spend money printing and mailing a brochure to strangers, and strangers don't have to invest in gasoline and automobile wear and tear visiting you, only to find that you're not right for them. At low cost, you can communicate a lot of information, and prospects can check you out, without commitment, from the privacy of their home or office.

As decision-making approaches, however, print communications become more important. Print communications are tangible; people can read, reread, and analyze your arguments and share them with others.

Who and where is your audience?

The number and location of your audience should also play a role in whether you use print or Web communications. Are they in your same city or in another country? Are they likely to have computers and be Internet-savvy? Are they in big cities or small towns?

You should also consider the degree of involvement that you want to have with your customers (which is often a factor of the price of the product or service you're selling) -- do you want to call them by their first names? Will you see them again -- or ever? If you want to sell many relatively low-priced items to strangers who may or may not buy again from you, for example, using the Web makes a lot of sense because it requires less personal attention.

Print often works better when you're selling a relatively expensive, high-margin, personalized service to a smaller universe of buyers. In that case, sending a newsletter to maintain your visibility with your target market makes sense. Communicating health issues where you want to develop a trust relationship with your audience is an example of public service information that works well in a print format.

Consider two examples at opposite sides of the spectrum: a financial analyst selling investment services to millionaires versus a business informing employees about changes in how to file for health care benefits:

  • The financial analyst can benefit from an expensively printed brochure in an impressive envelope or presentation folder because the analyst's goal is to build a close personal relationship with a stranger, which can lead to "big money."
  • But an internal Web, or intranet, message makes sense for dispensing procedural information to employees about health care claims. The employees are already "sold," and the cost of printing a brochure just increases the cost of doing business.

Amount of information

The amount of information to be communicated is also a factor when deciding whether to use printed material or the Web. Printing and distribution costs for paper-based messages quickly rise as the amount of information increases. Each page costs more money, especially because pages are usually available only in signatures of four.

Yet, on the Web, you can communicate as much information as necessary to "sell" your message without incurring additional printing or distribution costs. This advantage makes the Web a cost-effective media for communicating complicated ideas to broad audiences, without concern for the "waste" circulation of those unlikely to be interested.

Timeliness

The Web is ideal for communicating late-breaking news. Like radio and television, the Web is a "plastic" medium in a constant state of flux. It takes just seconds to revise a file and post updated information on the Web.

This feature contrasts with printed publications, which are set in stone once they've been printed. Print a catalog, and you have to live with those prices until your inventory and prices are so out-of-date that you're forced to print a new catalog.

But the Web permits you to communicate in near real time with your audience. For example, the Washington State Department of Transportation has cameras along the interstate highways in Seattle. From anywhere in the country, you can use your computer to visually check out traffic conditions that are only one-minute old by clicking on the camera of your choice. This provides far more information than going to a local newsstand and buying a newspaper which couldn't possibly have information about road conditions that haven't occurred yet! (You can check out the current Seattle traffic conditions at www.wsdot.wa.gov/regions/northwest/NWFLOW/camera/vidframe.htm.)

Deciding whether to publish on paper or on the Web is not an either/or situation. Both Web and print have their place. Your job is simply to choose the right medium at the right time, choosing a medium appropriate for your market, the length of your message, and the timeliness of the information.

Table 3-2 provides a quick comparison of the best uses for print and online communications.

Table 3-2 Choosing between Print and Web Publishing

Media

Pros Cons

Web

Immediate; low cost; lots of information and color. Potential difficulty ensuring that prospects will visit your sites.

Print newsletters

Tangible, relatively low cost; hard to overlook; project an "editorial" as opposed to an "advertising" look; two- or three-month shelf life. Relatively long lead times for production, printing, and mailing.

Brochures

Long shelf life; good for communicating unchanging information. Long lead times for production, printing, and mailing; inflexible, hard to build in immediate incentives to act; usually requires quality production to be cost-effective.

Advertisements

Tangible; permit active buyers to comparison shop your business with others. Clutter; it's hard to make your ad stand out; even small ads can be expensive; little room to communicate much information.

Proposals and reports

Targeted to active buyers at decision making time; can be revised at the last minute. Size, paper, and color options are limited -- stores don't carry nearly the selection of papers that commercial printers carry; slow to print in quantity, especially when using color inkjet printers.

Back-up materials (instructions, applications, and so on)

Reach very important people at relatively low cost (employees and customers who create future business through referrals). Every form and memo communicates an image of the firm, enhancing its credibility or silently communicating a "you don't count" message. Often viewed as "overhead expense" rather than marketing opportunity; no direct and immediate relation to new business.

Media and the Perception of Your Message

A great deal of your success in communicating with various audiences, including customers and prospects, is based on their frame of mind when they encounter your message. Here are a few observations on this topic:

  • Popularity and trendiness: The Web is quickly becoming a mass medium. Under-$200 boxes that connect the Web to a television set are becoming increasingly popular. If you are marketing to today's "hip" buyers and professionals, you may be perceived as old-fashioned and out of the loop if you do not have a Web presence and are unavailable for previewing when Web-savvy prospects make their "first cut," checking out the Web sites of firms selling the product or service they're interested in.
  • Control and image: Because the Web gives you less control over the delivery of your message than a print document does, establishing an emotionally charged image based on color, texture, and typography can be challenging.
    • The online user can change the colors and may not have the right monitor or fastest modem to see your visuals in all their glory.
    • The computer screen itself seems cold and unemotional. People can't read a computer in bed or at the beach -- unless they have a laptop, of course, but that's not warm and fuzzy.
    • Your message on the screen of a computer has no weight or texture. The same message beautifully printed on a thick, glossy paper, bound between heavy covers with an embossed logo and varnish applied to the photographs, presents a far different image. A finely printed brochure reflects a tangible commitment that even the most appropriately laid-out and colored Web sites cannot equal.
  • Comfort: Readers are likely to be more comfortable reading a print communication in their hand than staring at a computer screen. This factor is likely to influence their acceptance of your ideas. Readers are more likely to be accepting when they're comfortable, especially if the communication "feels right" and they can view quality photographs without waiting for them to download.
  • Printed versus printed-out: Web site visitors can always, of course, print out your documents, but this is rarely satisfying. Backgrounds are typically not printed when you print Web sites. Color and image quality on Web sites are unlikely to be as impressive as a printed page, and strange things can happen -- such as type disappearing from one side of the page for no reason. People usually print out home and office Web pages on inexpensive paper, which further degrades the quality of the document compared to a professionally bound publication. Finally, most home and small office color inkjet printers are extremely slow, and supply costs are high.

In short, print communications work best when your market is presold and when quality, image, and the ability to direct your message to a few key prospects are more important than timliness and the amount of information you want to communicate.

When the Web works best

For most businesses, the Web works best for preselling customers and prospects. The Web is ideal as a low-cost way of introducing yourself and establishing your competence and professionalism to large audiences that you may not otherwise be able to reach. The Web provides an excellent introductory medium because you can communicate in color and employ photographs as well as sound and movement. Here are examples of business uses for the Web:

  • Architects can profile staff's qualifications and show photographs of completed buildings.
  • Consultants can describe previous case studies and offer valuable free information that establishes their credibility.
  • Retail stores can promote their selection, product guarantees, and service capabilities.
  • Service businesses, such as advertising agencies and public relations firms, can introduce their key staff and describe their philosophy.
  • Government organizations, like parks and recreational facilities, can post directions, fees, hours of operation, rules, and regulations.

The Web also can help businesses and organizations maintain close links with customers and others by offering a low-cost, basically free way of instantaneously communicating the latest information. Businesses can post their latest inventory and prices on the Web and include enough information so that visitors to the site can judge for themselves the product specifications or your qualifications; they may also see recommendations from past customers if your site has a forum for that information.

The role of e-mail

E-mail should play a major role in your marketing efforts.

Consider e-mail the glue that ties print and the Web together -- your Web site should provide you with the names and mailing addresses of prospects who want follow-up print communications (such as brochures, proposals, and detailed information). Your Web site should include frequent e-mail links to you, making it easy for Web site visitors to establish a dialog with you so that you can better identify their needs and consider how you can best satisfy those needs.

Forms, described in Chapter 17, make it easy for Web site visitors to indicate their concerns and describe the products or services they're interested in. By analyzing the forms your Web site generates, you can identify patterns of interest as well as fine-tune your Web site's content.

E-mail helps you identify your prospects and establish close relationships with them -- relationships that you can follow up by using traditional print media as you deepen the relationship.

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