Even in this digital age, print collateral has its place. There are many conversations about the value of print happening right now. One website, created by Domtar paper, talks about how print and digital can effectively work together. Ensuring the quality of the print materials you decide to invest in is critical in presenting the right image of your company and your brand. Conducting a press check is a great way to make sure that what you designed comes out as intended. A press check allows the designer to ensure that the printing process is proceeding as intended. It occurs after the printing press is set up but before the final print run has started and is your last chance for quality assurance of your print job. Take the time to get it right. You’d be surprised at how often even trusted vendors make mistakes.
What to Bring to the Press Check
What to Expect During your Press Check
When you arrive at the print shop, your sales person or account manager should make you feel at home. Often, they have special rooms with a table or desk and comfortable chairs or a couch. A professional printer will offer you a coffee or tea, give you access to WiFi and (if you are reviewing multiple sheets) set you up with TV access and reading material. Bring your laptop and get comfortable, you might be spending a significant amount of time there. Depending on timing, your account manager may also give you a tour and tell you more about their services, equipment and capabilities.
Once your sheet (or form) is ready you may be brought into the press room and be given the opportunity to talk directly with the press operator. In other places your account manager will bring a sheet into the room you are in and put it under a lightbox with controlled lighting and listen to your concerns there. They will then liaise with the press operator to get your sheet approved.
Conducting a Press Check
Below is a step by step process to follow once you begin your press check. Once the operator or account manager puts the sheet in front of you, the first thing to remember is to take a deep breath and not be intimidated by the people surrounding you. Then shut out the chaos and noise and concentrate on the task in front of you. Do not feel pressured to give a quick approval. If you are speaking directly to the press operator, keep in mind that they are experts in getting the most out of the press. Respect their opinions and ask for their recommendations. But remember, you know your project and client best, so do what you think is right.
Number the sheets as you receive them so you can keep track of your progress. Be specific in what you want fixed and try to be thorough so as to try to limit the amount of sheets pulled (and time where the press isn’t operating).
Remember, if there are multiple sheets being printed, you can cut them out and make a dummy to check that all the elements align, check creep in the gutters and to give a general once over.
Keep in mind though that by the time you have all the sheets, there is little you can do if you find a problem.
Now that you’ve gotten the sheet(s) how you want them, have the press operator give you a fresh sheet. Bring it back with you so you have a record of what you signed off on. If there were any other changes that the operator was going to take care of after you leave, you can make a note on the sheet so you have it in case you need to refer to it when you receive your final job.
Any designer creating designs for print should know and understand this process as well as the basic principles of printing. Your efforts will have made all the difference in the quality of your final print piece and will affect the impression you leave your audience. That positive impression is well worth the time and energy that you’ve spent at the printer.
Once you get your final delivery, remember to say thank you for a job well done and pass on any positive comments from your clients or colleagues. Consider your printer a trusted partner in your success.
Athena Herrmann, is Design Director at Akendi, a firm dedicated to creating intentional experiences through end-to-end experience design. To learn more about Akendi or user experience design, visit www.akendi.com.
Akendi is a product strategy, user experience design and usability research firm. We are passionate about the creation of intentional experiences – whether those involve digital products, physical products, mobile, service or bricks-and-mortar interactions. We work shoulder-to-shoulder to optimize the experiences you deliver. Akendi Corporate Overview (PDF).
Experience Thinking innovation firm in Product UX Strategy, User Experience Design & Usability Testing for Companies: Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Canada.
T: +44 (0)20 35982601
22 Highbury Grove
London, N5 2EF