Web/Print Production Process
March 2002

Content Outline (a.k.a information architecture)

What is a content outline?
A content outline is a document that formally lists the objective(s) of a project. The objectives are based on the client’s needs. The content outline will ultimately be used as a guide, or checklist, for the client and Web/Print team to ensure that a project’s content and message stay focused and on course.

Why have a content outline?
A good content outline offers the following advantages:

  • serves as a reminder to the client and Web/Print team members of content discussions
  • there will be less misunderstandings since the issues had to be written down and agreed upon
  • ensure that there are fewer revisions since the project has been thoroughly thought through
  • different disciplines will have opportunity to give insight early-on which may steer the project away from pitfalls and towards unexpected opportunities.

Who’s involved?
From the very beginning, the client and all of the assigned Web/Print team members will contribute to a project. This process begins and ends with lots of communication. Whenever possible, members of the creative team should work together. Each needs the other. The client may involve him/herself as much or as little as desired. However, client involvements at check points are required.

Making a Content Outline

STEP 1: Content Creation and Identification
Everyone will come together to gain an understanding of what the client wants to do and how the projects fits into the larger goals of OPO. The project will be scoped with emphasis on message, audience, budget, and time constraints.

STEP 2: Content Organization
Once the broad objectives have been identified, it’s time to organize the content into their component parts. This is a place to document the discussions during the “info gathering” and “analysis” phases. Record the objectives, issues, and concepts that were discussed.

Design Script (a.k.a creative direction and design)

What is a design script?
A design script is an idea or strategy for communicating the material contained in the content outline. It may include metaphors, analogies, or other devises to enhance the viewer’s understanding of the material that’s being presented. There also may be more than one design script. Each potential idea will be presented in design-script format which can be thought of as a traditional design rough. The design script(s) will be judge by the client and Web/Print team by how well it communicates the content. When approved, the production team will move on and implement the design.

Why have a design script?
Design scripts offer the following:

  • a complete way to present a solution to design problems
  • enables the client and others to better visualize the propose design strategy and idea
  • serves as strawman to add and subtract as necessary to better communicate the content

Who's Involved?
Web/Print team members. In particular, the designer, writer, and programmer.

Making a Design Script

STEP 3: Brainstorm and Evaluation
Generating design ideas is really a matter of exploration and experimentation. Ideas and creativity can come from imagination or mistakes. For guidance, use the information in the content outline to define parameters and to judge how well your design solution fits the design problem. In the early design stages, never believe that we can come up with the best idea. We should always believe that we can do better. This mindset will move us beyond convenient, but often times trite, ideas into more creative ones. Consider that we spend most of our time executing ideas, that being the case, we certainly ought to make sure our ideas are worth execution.

STEP 4: Make the Design Script
There isn't a set template for a Design Script. A Design Script can take the form of sketches, storyboards, or any other means that effectively communicates the proposed idea. Design Scripts should encompass all decisions made for look and feel, writing, and functionality.

STEP 5: Critique, Refine, and Approve the Design Script
Judge the design for effectiveness (is the message clear) and aesthetics. In cases where there are gridlocks of opinions on aesthetics, the designer’s opinion should be granted more weight. Likewise, programmers should have more say about programming protocols, and finally the writer should be given principle authority on the copy’s tone of voice. After all, experience is golden.

The client, of course, has the final word when determining how well a product meets his/her audience's needs.

Decide which design script best meet all of the objectives.

  • Does the script communicate the content well?
  • Can the script be done within the time allotted?
  • Can the script be done within budget?


What is the Production Process

Who’s Involved

The Production Phases

STEP 6: Implement
The designer, writer, and programmer implements the idea.

STEP 7: Critique
Judge how faithful the final product is to the design script. This is a major checkpoint for the client to check progress. In the spirit of creative collabration, all members of the Web/Print are invited to offer their critiques on projects.

Step 8: Refine
Make any revisions deemed necessary.

STEP 9: Test/Review
What is testing and reviewing?