Making it work
How Wild Apple, as designers, play their part in the packaging process, for educational publishing. Including some key points to bear in mind, to ensure repeat business and a healthy client/supplier relationship. We feel the same considerations are transferable and applicable to any service provider, whatever the market.
Keeping on schedule
Work schedules are an essential part of any project management, ensuring all parties know what is expected. Schedules should be agreed upon at the beginning of a project, to ensure individual service providers can plan their own work & organise resources.
Here at Wild Apple we pride ourselves on consistently hitting deadlines, sometimes with dates that seem unreasonably tight. But, we are constantly mindful that schedules can often get impacted, so we always look to address these pinch-points, ahead of time, to make sure projects stay on track. A degree of flexibility is often required and if you can adjust to these instances, within reason, whilst maintaining the quality and standard of work, it will strengthen relationships with the rest of the team. Within our crew we nurture time management skills which helps towards making us more effective and efficient as a service provider.
Sticking to the budget
Nailing down the budget is, in our eyes, often as important as nailing down a schedule, ensuring everyone’s expectations are the same.
Here at Wild Apple Design we try to keep things as straightforward as possible, and this is reflected in our rate-card. Having operated in the publishing environment for many years, we have a good instinct for realistic budgets over a variety of project types. If the project has multiple facets we will often set a fixed fee for a specific number of proof stages, based on the total number of pages in the book. Any further amends are then charged at an agreed extra fee. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of in-house checks, PDFs and pre-flighting, which all form part of the overall cost, whether they are included in the page fee, or charged as extras.
Good communication is an important component in project management, allowing work to progress smoothly and on time. It ensures team members are in sync with project goals and understand exactly what is expected of them. It also helps build trust so everyone works better together, from project start to finish.
Here at Wild Apple, we find; Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Email and the good old phone call, are our go-to forms of communication between project members. Whether that’s a one-off reprint correction, or a multiple-level scheme of work, we endeavour to keep our clients informed of progress through regular updates. Communication is the key to achieving and delivering projects within budget and on schedule. We also find it useful to assign one member of the team as a project point of contact, ensuring consistency, clarity and efficiency in communication.
Active listening is worth a mention. Listening to your client and ascertaining their exact requirements, be that; budget, design requirements, or the overall aim of the project, can save time, improve efficiency and ultimately help meet your client’s requirements, or even better, exceed them.
Adaptability & Flexibility
These are two essential skills which often get suppressed by time or budgetary constraints, but they shouldn’t! The ability to be flexible is an essential part of teamwork and although is often a two-way street, will be greatly appreciated by your client and may well help you stand-out from the crowd.
Our team at Wild Apple pride themselves on their flexibility, but we also believe in honesty and openness, flagging any concerns, as early as possible, so the client is aware of any time or financial impact. We work with our clients to find the best solution for the problem at hand.
Clients will often look for quality assurance, a provider that can deliver all of their needs and provide a product which meets, or exceeds, their expectations. ‘Quality assurance’ is the maintenance of a desired level of quality in a service or product, especially by means of attention to every stage of the process of delivery, or production. A reputation for such, is built on many things, such as; your project portfolio, any past business relationships with the client, how ‘easy’ you are considered to be to deal with, and quality of work.
At Wild Apple we conduct peer checks on every project. Our project management and communication ensures quality, as our team are predominantly designers. So production and development issues can be identified quickly, saving the client time and money.
Within the arena of publishing, these are skills the supplier is expected to possess, in order to provide the product or service:
It’s important, as designers, that we possess the skills and knowledge to produce work which meets expectations, not only of the client, but also that of the end user. Also from a technical stand point, it’s important we provide the files and assets to industry accepted standards, so that printers and/or digital developers have the work formatted and supplied correctly.
From a digital literacy standpoint, it is expected that as suppliers you are familiar with any programmes and packages. The format is often discussed in the initial project outset and within publishing there are certain programmes which are commonly utilised.
Knowledge of the market
Within educational publishing this often extends beyond the awareness of design trends and current market expectations, to that of the end users needs. This knowledge often takes into account the age and learning styles of the reader, subject matter at hand, and any cultural specifications.
As a designer it is your remit to add creativity to the clients project, and is often a case of nurturing their ideas and manuscripts into a product that hits a number of pointers. These may include; legibility, clarity of information, impact and market appropriateness, to mention but a few. We often find ourselves using our creativity to find solutions around a problem. It is also important on occasions to inform the client of what is and isn’t possible, which helps to keep their expectations realistic.
We hope this blog goes some way to highlight the thoughts and considerations, we feel, are essential assets of being a designer and supplier within educational publishing and the packaging process therein. It would be great to hear your thoughts and we would be happy to have a conversation about your project needs - We are always happy to help.