Big document and report design

Big document and report design

I really enjoy putting big documents together. I like working with information, and I enjoy trying to find themes that run through it all and find visuals that work well and compliment what the author’s put in there.

I’m an avid reader and I like to make documents that work for readers first and foremost. If a report or a document is difficult to read (particularly over a longer period than a few minutes) then its debatable whether its worth the paper its printed on. Why make a document that people won’t actually engage with? Letter-spacing, line-length and font choice are what make the design easy on the reading eye and I wouldn’t progress to the layout stage without getting these elements correct.

White space is vital too. From a design perspective, white space is an important part of deciding where to place things, but its also relatively relaxing and therefore important for people who want to engage with a document for more than a second or two. A hectic, busy design will work against deep engagement. Book pages are seldom hectic are they?

Information architecture is something that should be nailed down early in the design process. The order in which people read things is arguably indivisible from the way in which they understand what’s there.

The artistic and illustrative elements (the pictures, the infographics, the art etc.) tend to come into the design almost by themselves when the layouts, the white space and information architecture are there. If the order of the information changes, then the content of the visuals may change too and that can easily generate delays and obstacles (which, it must be said, can usually be overcome, but it still takes time to do).

Colour makes an appearance around the same time as the visuals and, like all design, its an important thing to get right. Do you want cool colours or warm colours? Maybe greyscale (black and white in layman;s terms) is better – and maybe you just need to live with what we’ve done for a bit before you commit.

Anyway, I find these things genuinely interesting and I’m always pleased when someone gets in touch with a report, a document, a book, a layout or just an infographic. If you need some advice or you want to ask me some questions (about illustrations, costs, timescales etc.), feel free to do so here.