Shawn Welch, manager of Printing Services, recently attended the 2016 Graph Expo in Orlando, Florida. Graph Expo provides a showcase of the latest in design, printing, and communications technologies and also offers an array of educational opportunities. Shawn chose to attend seven informative and inspiring sessions, all focused on helping Printing Services offer University departments the most beneficial services, all provided with the greatest efficiency and in the most cost-effective manner.
Highlights from the conference included:
- Gordon Rivera, GRC Industry Lecturer, Cal Poly SLO, spoke on specific implementation strategies for Lean/Six Sigma in the printing industry. Printing Services is currently in the process of implementing the Six Sigma methodology into our operation. This session provided an in-depth analysis of productivity metrics for printers, including formulas for measuring defects, yield, price of conformance/non-conformance, and process capability. Six Sigma is playing a major role in improving process efficiencies within Printing Services.
- Several sessions focused on strategies that traditional print service providers can implement to expand their scope to provide greater relevance as a full-service communications provider. These sessions served to reinforce the importance of Printing Services’ mission to provide “a comprehensive range of quality services that address the University’s full scope of communications needs”. Recent additions of video production and augmented reality (AR) services complement Printing Services’ already strong graphic design, web design, large-format printing, digital printing, and offset printing services.
- Several panel discussions featured representatives from “in-house” printers and focused specifically on strategies for in-house providers to increase their value to the parent organization. As a service of the University of Minnesota, Printing Services is squarely focused on providing the greatest value possible in the field of communications. These sessions provided exciting confirmation of the value of our work and also inspired to further improve and expand our services to most effectively meet the needs of the University.
Two Printing Services designers, Sysouk Khambounmy and Julie Longo, attended the 2016 UCDA (University College Designers Association) Design Conference in San Antonio from 9/24–27. The 46th annual conference provided them with opportunities to get an in-depth look at the issues facing designers and communication professionals, both in and out of educational institutions, and gain inspiration for better collaboration. One of the recurring themes talked about in 3 days of breakout sessions was how to reach a younger audience with so many mediums to consider: Print, Web, Social Media, or all of the above?
Is Print Dead?
The most often asked question revolved around the relevancy of print: “Is Print Dead?” Daniel Dejan of Sappi Paper, in his presentation, Haptic Brain, Haptic Brand, addressed this question by citing several studies* that show how important touch is to humans. Ink on paper stimulates four different senses: touch, visual, smell, and sound, as in the sound of pages turning. Electronic media stimulates two main senses: touch and visual. Sound comes into play when the viewer watches videos. With the majority of the conference-goers’ main audience being young people who seem “plugged in” now more than ever, the concern was how to ensure their print projects would not be overlooked. Dejan cited research that found people ages 18–24 love direct mail when it’s personalized because it validates the sense of self.
The importance of this becomes clear when considering, for instance, the difference between designing to captivate someone who dreams of becoming an artist vs. someone who wants to be a scientist. While personalization and variable data is nothing new, the caveat is that in order to be really effective, direct mail must incorporate some form of interactivity whether it points to finding further information in a URL, on social media, or a video link. Adding augmented reality, which embeds links and video into printed publications that can be scanned with a mobile device, guarantees the viewer is more likely to engage with print with all of their senses. How effective is combining print with interactivity? Dejan answered this with a statistic:
84% of online catalog sales are a direct result of an initial interaction with the print version of the catalog.
So, be assured, the idea that print is dead, is dead.