Dave Riensche, Art Director
Ever on the hunt for better processes, the VP of Client Services and I recently agreed that our presentation methods needed a little improvement.
And I literally mean just that; a little improvement. The methods we utilized to present our creative prowess to eager clients (chomping at the bit to be reassured that the money they had spent on a yet-to-be-invented solution was well worth every penny) worked well in most cases. Specifically, we usually presented concepts in person (and still do). When that has not been an option, presenting concepts online has usually worked quite well. There have been, however, rare situations where antiquated software or unique system settings would create rather confusing review experiences.
Client A receives link to Temporary Site B, where they have the opportunity to view static images (JPGs) representing the concepts for the Client A future website.
(Creative-type and Project Manager-type on the phone with Client A)
Client A: The type looks very small. What size is it?
Creative-type: It's 12 pixels, a standard size for body copy on the web.
Project Manager-type: Yeah.
Client A: Is that similar to 12 points?
Creative-type: It's the same size.
Project Manager-type: That's right.
Client A: But it's so small.
Client A: I mean, so, incredibly, small.
Client A: REALLY small. So small that I can hardly read it.
Project Manager-type: ...
Client A: ...
Creative-type: Okay, can you be more specific about what you're looking at?
Client A: I'm looking at the image you sent.
And so on. Without absolute control over the medium by which clients see the work prepared for them, it is impossible to predict what they might see. And who can blame them if what they see looks, uh, undesirable.
So, what could we do? We talked it over, discussed absolute control over what the client sees, went on a Pinky and the Brain tangent, then came to the conclusion that we needed a universal program that would be easy to adjust the settings for. Absolute control was not an option, so we set out to determine the next best thing.
After some investigation, our program of choice was Reader by Adobe. Almost everybody has a copy of Reader installed on their computer these days, even if roughly 20% of the public doesn't know it's called Reader. (You know, the PDF viewer.) If a client didn't have Reader installed, it's a pretty quick on-the-phone-walkthrough to help them install it, and the price is right (free).
The only problem with sending PDFs out is that there's this funny little thing called resolution. Not just monitor resolution, but there's also a resolution setting inside of Reader. The problem with this setting is that it often is not set to 72 ppi (pixels per inch). Proper graphics for the web are optimized at a resolution of 72 ppi. Logically, when we design website comps, we design them at 72 ppi. Reader's default resolution is often somewhere around 96 ppi. When we create a PDF out of a 72 ppi image file, and someone with Reader set to a resolution of 96 ppi views the same PDF at 100%, well, it's hard to explain, but 100% is not 100%.
This may sound like a serious flaw in our near-absolute-control plan.
Changing the resolution of a particular installation of Reader is actually quite easy, however. Not to mention changing it once is all that's required. So, rather than give up on utilizing what is probably the most commonly used and cheapest image viewing program out there, we opted for education. We created a new cover page format to attach to every PDF we send out. The directions are simple:
1. Go to Edit > Preferences.
2. In "Page Display" change the Custom Resolution to "72."
3. Click "OK."
Not only does this ensure that everyone viewing the PDF has the opportunity to see it at the correct size, but it also doubles as a cover page that keeps track of review phases and project progress. Even if a client adjusted their settings months ago, the cover page is not redundant, since the main information at the top of the page operates as version reference.
You'd think with this simple solution we'd give ourselves a hearty pat on the back and call it good. Not so. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, we are ever on the patrol for more refined processes. If you have a method that you figure just might be superior, please leave a comment and let me know. Just don't damage my ego. We creative-types are all ego.