Two Err is Human.

Sometimes we learn the hard way that June 6th does not actually fall on a Saturday. This normally wouldn’t be an issue if Saturday, June 6th  hadn’t just been printed (with a super-cool spot varnish, I might add) on 1,500 invitations that are currently en route to black-tie gala invitees. This is how I learned anyway. The story may be a little exaggerated but in my early career it felt that catastrophic. I DIDN’T CHECK THE CALENDAR…UGH! Galas don’t usually get a huge following on a Tuesday, in case you ever wondered.

It’s every designer’s nightmare. Spell check didn’t catch it. Six people looked at it and STILL. We missed it. I call this overexposureitis. It can happen. I will spare you the details of the recent South Bend, Indiana billboard debacle advertising their public schools, but just know my heart ached for all parties involved. It was a reminder to all of us to check our work.

The truth is it happens to the best of us. In December I got an email promotion from Kohl’s advertising their “Doorbuster Memorial Day Sale.” And just last week I got the latest One Step Ahead catalog (every overprotective new mom’s favorite) only to see that they had misspelled “First Look: Sun Smtarties™ 2011″ right there on the cover. I am pretty sure that the higher ups at Sun Smarties were a little bitter about that one.

But still, I can totally see how it happens. We all get so caught up in meeting and exceeding deadlines that the finer details can sometimes slip through the cracks.

Here are some easy solutions for designers and clients keep from becoming their own cautionary tale:


2. Get a fresh set of eyes (or ten) on the project. Bother another designer for five minutes to look at your work. Pull Jim out of sales, Pam from reception and Ted from accounting to give it a look-see. Chances are that the two, too, to, your, you’re, who’s and whose that spell check didn’t catch, fresh human eyes will.

3. Read the copy aloud. It may seem tedious but you’d be amazed at what jumps out at you. Taking the time to do this has saved my hiney countless times.

4. Turn it upside down. Literally. Turning a layout upside down can make inconsistent leading, paragraph spacing and even kerning hop right off the page and smack you in the face.

5. Call the telephone numbers. Telephone numbers are some of the biggest pitfalls and spell check offers zero help in this department. So pick up the phone.

6. Email the email addresses. Click on the web addresses. At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, I am required to include this. People tend to check a web address but not the email. And if you’re worried about bothering your client, trust that that pesky email or telephone quality-control check is way less of an annoyance than 2,000 misprinted business cards.

7. Make sure June 6th is a Saturday. Take the two seconds and check that the days of the week coincide with the dates you reference in your project.

8. Put a process in place. Proof approval stickers work well. Include a checklist that more than one person has to bless… before the client sees what will be their final proof approval.

9. Involve the client. Design and the creative process is a partnership. We all have the same goal of producing the best possible solutions. Give the client a checklist to work through and sign off on themselves. Proof approval forms are an essential part.

11. Go team! It’s a team effort, this business of ours. Enlist the skills of your team to help ensure quality.

12. Sometimes screwing up royally serves a purpose. When we know better, we do better. I love this quote by John Powell: “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” I can say with certainty that I now know when June 6th is!

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