#19 Value analysis and graphic design

Value analysis identifies and selects the best alternatives for designs, materials, processes, and systems. You repeatedly ask “can the cost of this item or step be reduced or eliminated, without diminishing the effectiveness, required quality, or customer satisfaction?”

In other words, value analysis is a method of optimization. It requires creativity. It consists of 5 components: combination, simplification, elimination, standardization, and substitution. Below are some examples from my career as a designer. Naturally, value analysis can be applied to many disciplines besides design.

COMBINATION
Case study: Speeder postcard
Combining two direct mail components

My first experiment with this direct mail concept had a theme of an instrument so fast the user got a traffic speeding ticket. The term “Speeder” stuck. A Speeder is an oversized postcard with an integral tear-off reply card. It is built around two critical dimensions. First, the maximum postal regulation return card, and second, the maximum postcard dimensions for first-class presort or standard presort postage.

Streamlined to save money
The postcard is built for automated mail sorting (machine-ready design). Address imprinting is done at a mail house with inkjet. This printing and perforation implement low-priced card stock and smaller printing presses. If you have a good mailing list and a good product offer, the Speeder completes the success formula.

SIMPLIFICATION
Case study: eBrochure web publishing
Would you like your product information distributed faster?

Sometimes you can’t wait on the turn-around for printed materials. eBrochures get your product information to qualified sales leads faster than ever. An eBrochure electronic file is viewed on-screen as a single-page scrolled message. eBrochures are much easier to read than cluttered websites and less cost than printed material. Your potential customer gets the concise product message in full color with the click of a mouse.

Not a website.
You probably have a website. But eBrochures allow you to create a specific message for a targeted audience. That message goes directly to your contact; no surfing or navigation required. eBrochures do require a host server somewhere on the planet.

Focused message.
Like print brochures, eBrochures send your undiluted product message, with no website distractions. The scrolling format invites your readers to progress through your product information — no page breaks, no navigation, no interruptions.

Faster paperless message production.
An eBrochure requires no film, no printing, no shipping, no color key, and no hi-res photography. But you still get full-color text and images, and fast delivery.

STANDARDIZATION
Case study: Catalog sheets (slicks)
Without standardization, four-over-one catalog sheets really can’t save you any money or grief.

In this competitive world, there exist print houses specializing in “bad” printing. It’s called “gang printing”. My photographer friend calls it, “The G-word”. Why would a photographer think so poorly of gang printing? Gang printers usually own a huge press that loads an extremely heavy roll of paper. This is a much larger-scale operation than your corner sheet-fed print shop. The gang printer processes many print jobs at once by “ganging” up the art. All the image contrast tend to be reduced when this happens. That’s why the photographer’s sigh. Their beautiful images are “washed out”. To the normal viewer or reader, this would not be noticeable, of course. But photographer’s are a special breed.

So what’s the gang printing advantage for you?
Cost-saving. Multiple print sources. Competitive pricing. Standardization. Catalog slicks are the choice when you can’t afford to print a multiple-page color catalog. Slicks can even be printed in relatively short-runs (500 pieces). You can look bigger than you are on that new product introduction or trade-show booth. Instant credibility. Just don’t tell your photographer.

SUBSTITUTION
Case study: Tabloid newsletter
Newsletters are a great credibility booster.

But what if you don’t have the budget for printing a conventional 8-page 2-color newsletter? Instead of spending 40 cents per copy, how about a nickel?

A nickel a copy! What’s the trick?
Newsprint! While some may scoff that newsprint appears too disposable for building credibility, please remember the page size has grown from 8.5 x 11 inches to 17 x 11 inches. Double the print real estate. And it is an easy self-mailer. Images are easier to come by because newsprint only needs lower resolution (140 dpi). It also means using larger images, too. And for a few hundred dollars, you can get 10,000 copies. Wow! That is significant ROI. There are so many positives to this format for delivering information, it deserves higher consideration.