Takeaways from the 2016 UCDA Design Conference

img_2953Two 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.

Additional Resources