Now that 2014 has dawned, many of us have recommitted to the standard annual resolutions. Perhaps, like so many others, one of your resolutions is to save money in 2014. Design budgets may feel like an indulgence, but don’t cut them out completely. Instead, check out our tips for managing a design budget. Good informational design makes the presented data and arguments easier to understand and retain, so instead of foregoing it, make a few small changes to make your design dollars work harder.

(If you get Bigger Law Firm Magazine, you saw our recent litigation-specific article, 5 Tips for Successful, Budget-Friendly Trial Demonstratives. If you don’t, click here for a free download of their December Super Issue to check it out!) 

1. Finalize Content

It is a common misconception that edits are largely quick fixes and speedy adjustments; the lion share of unnecessary hours in a typical project is generated by edits. When a design team begins to develop content layout, we first look at everything that needs to be on the slide. A timeline, for example, might be designed one way when it has 3 event markers and quite another when it has 10. By handing the design team only partially final content, you’re essentially asking them to design twice; once for the draft data and then again for the edits, which in some cases necessitate a complete re-concepting of the slide. Though looking at a mock up of draft data can be helpful to your process, if you’re looking to cut out some of the expense, waiting until your content is final is a great place to start.

2. Avoid Unnecessary Illustrations

Another common hour-packed request is an illustration of an abstract idea or metaphorical theme (we’ve discussed this before). While it’s tempting to supply your audience with a clever illustration of a traffic jam to represent clogged bandwidth or a cartoon sleuth to mark a clue-gathering activity, illustrations like these are often time consuming for the design team. Instead, consider using a high quality photo or some simple iconography to illustrate your point.

3. Collect Source Files

Content for one presentation can come from a variety of sources. When gathering content, make sure those in charge are supplying source files for items within their content blocks. For instance, when incorporating preexisting graphs or diagrams into a presentation, the source files (an Excel with the data, an Illustrator file with original art work, etc.), can save hours of work for your design team. Without these underlying files, your team will need to first remake the item in an editable format. Don’t pay to recreate the wheel.

As the new year gets underway, many of us recommit to using our money wisely. Great design doesn’t have to break the bank – help your design team come in under budget by making just a few small changes to your work flow; finalize your content, avoid unnecessary illustrations and supply the team with source files to the content within the deck. Remember, you’re paying a design team to help make your ideas and arguments more understandable, so whittle away the “extras” and let your team focus on great informational design of your core data and arguments.

Contact us to be pleasantly surprised by how much design bang you can get for your buck.