Give me specifications, please!

Recently, I have been doing some print work on a web project.  It’s fun: the clients are really nice and I’m happy with what we’re doing.  On the first print component I worked on, I asked which printer they were using so that I could format the files properly.  The client hadn’t yet chosen their printing company and said to just prepare the file and they’d get the company specifications later.

Even though I told them that there was no guarantee that I would get things right, they insisted that I get it done.  So, I designed the document, and showed them what it would look like.  When they were happy, I prepped the document with a 5mm bleed as is standard in printing to edges.  I explained to the client why, and they said, “No, remove the bleed”.  After another explanation, and no dice, I said, “Please ask your printing company about their policy on bleed.”

Their sales rep said, “No bleed necessary”.

The customer is right, right?

Finally I gave in, and produced the final print document without a bleed.  The next day, I received a forwarded email from their printing staff saying that the file was the wrong size. FINALLY I was dealing with someone who understood, and they sent me a specifications document.  In it: Bleed required (at 3mm). (Don’t even get me started on the fact that a printing company employs sales reps that won’t give people spec documents and don’t understand what a bleed is.  Grrr.)

What I learned from all this

  1. If you can, cut the client out of the printing conversation:  if you can deal directly with the printing company, knowledge that you have (and your client is paying for) doesn’t need to be transfered through multiple people.
  2. Show clients what the final version where they will see what it will look like, not the press-ready version.
  3. Get the specification document as soon as possible: often by the time the design is signed off, it’s urgently needed, so you don’t want to spend over a week changing things and learning how to upload them to your printer.
  4. Have your own printing company that you know and trust. That way, you don’t waste time figuring out how they do things!

How about you?

Have you got any tips for me to make printing jobs easier?

Client management


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