Sunday, May 15, 2016

Brochure Preview

As I said on the podcast, I like to play Show and Tell.

Someone properly in business would wait until all three outlines for the classes were completed, but I feel that in a world full of internet it is silly not to get feedback.  It is equally silly not to recognize that I rely on the good wishes of others and as such, it serves us both to be forthcoming and direct, rather than push to be as impressive as possible.  If I am impressive, that happens because I am flexible and vulnerable, as well as dedicated and passionate.

So, here is the first "brochure" for the first class that I proposed last week.  What do people think?

Too bright, too flashy, there's a spelling mistake in the second column, a word is missing (there probably is but the grammar check doesn't catch it and I can't see it).  Perhaps it is too icy cold, perhaps too wordy, perhaps not clear enough.

I think it is encouraging.  But I can always stand a little criticism (after all, the content provides that a DM should promote trust and enable the players).

Now, there should be a podcast today but we're having a few technical problems.  My Soundcloud account is, apparently, limited in minutes.  I would never have started in Soundcloud if I'd known - I presumed that because it was Google-run, it would work like Youtube.  Nope.

So we're adapting the fifth podcast to run on Youtube.  I hope.  I'm told we should have it up tomorrow.


Following the discussion in the comments below, I'd like to suggest this as an alternative:


Maliloki said...

I'm gonna get nit-picky and speak as though "you should do this" because that's the only way I can get through this comment without sounding wishy-washy, so feel free to ignore/not post this.

-Change the title/header font. It looks like Comic Sans, which should never be used/makes it look high schoolish.

-Everything above the "Class 1: Presentation" really isn't needed on this page if people are going to access this page online from some sort of "hub page". If it's going to be in print in your area, or given out at conventions or something, put that information on the cover/back cover/a page giving a brief overview of all of the classes you're offering.
--That said, under "DM Tutorials", you don't need "Describing". Just starting with "Online Classes..." is fine.
--"DM Tutorials" and "Class 1: Presentation" (if you keep both on the page) look as though they are the same size and are competing for attention. One should be made larger than the other.

-Personally, I would take "Class 1: Presentation" and combine that in a section with the "Preparation" and "Strategies" sections as they are the most important parts of the page. Possibly giving them their own horizontal section. Maybe "Strategies" on the right and "Preparation" on the left. Then you could have your two columns further describing the class below that.

-You can probably remove the first sentence in the "What's Special" and "Fear of Failure" descriptions.

Doing any/all of these may require some more graphic design tweaking to make it "look right" afterwards.

Or you can leave it as it is, because it's completely functional right now.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I do strongly appreciate these words of advice, Maliloki.

Comic Sans was chosen because it is friendly and because I found about thirty examples of other brochures obviously using the font because it is friendly; it is a very common font for education - which, I must add, is the purpose of high school. Other fonts can be cold, unfriendly and off-putting; using a friendly, "high schoolish" like font is unthreatening and therefore more easily embraced. Never say "never should be used" - all fonts serve a human purpose.

Likewise, the sentence structure, introductions, use of the word "Describing" and so on are friendly and promote a feeling that what will happen is 'easy to understand' - being very economical with words is very good for journalism but it is very poor for encouraging people to feel comfortable with content that is reaching out to them. None of the choice in words or the additional sentencing is without thought. It is measured and designed to be reassuring. I'm quite comfortable that it does not appear amateurish, since I can point to many university course introductions on line using the same language.

I am not sure that the two headings are 'competing.' What matters is that both are immediately understandable. But I will think about it.

I have looked long and hard at the Preparations/Strategies issue you bring up. You're right about that; but the alternative (and I tried the one you suggest) looks very mucky.

The image is designed for Twitter and other internet sites. It needs to be self-explanatory.

Jens D. said...

Up front: I'm in the middle of becoming a print media business administrator (was a media designer/book seller before that) and it's stuff like this they teach us. So I have opinions.

I have to agree with Maliloki about the Comic Sans. It's bad style, unprofessional at best. Friendly or not, it has been used to death in the nineties and using it today shows several things, from a media design point of view: your age (or at least when your taste of things got fixated), your level of expertise (as in, none) and what you not used to generate it (as in, professional products like indesign, inkscape or illustrator ...).

Using transparencies is another sign like that. Transparencies are difficult to use in print productions and digital products still try to imitate print productions to a degree. You calling this a brochure (a clear hint to a print product) with the result showing no resemblance of what a brochure looks like, is also quite telling. Using transparencies is a sure sign that you are not aware of this.

Blue is not a good color to chose here. Green might be better, using color with intent would be the best (which means using no color is an option). Avoid busy backgrounds. This looks as friendly as a moving glacier.

Just from looking at this, I get no idea what you want with it. No intent, just bad colors and typeface. But interest starts with looking at something (not even with reading), so you might want to think about what you want to show here. If you'd, say, use a AD&D layout and the AD&D logo, people would instantly know what was happening or at least get a clear message about the content before they even started reading ... You want that message and maybe a logo before you do anything else.

If this were for a free service, I'd have said nothing. But you want money for the service you offer, so your advertisement should look it. And I have to disagree, it does look amateurish. Sorry to say it.

Go to and experiment a bit with your main heading. Maybe go for something more classic, something with serifs. Read about types before you do anything else. Simple structures are always better. Remember that what you teach is an analogue art, so you might want this somewhere in there (text is not only reading, it's seeing pictures, too).

Here is some great (and free) advice on using typefaces:

Many things are a matter of taste, but you are aware that there are things that are a matter of expertise and layout is one of them. The advice I just gave is solid (if incomplete) and something I would charge money for (and actually did on occasion).

One more thing about cross media publications: you have a core and that's your intent, some consistent elements (like a logo and a typeface) and your content, the rest you optimize for the medium you are going to use. Having one thing, like the "brochure" above, being published as-is in every media outlet you chose, shows a lack of dedication in communicating what you want to do. And that's a bad thing to communicate if you want to teach something ...

You might also think about search engine problems with this, as search engines treat pictures not as text. So you post this and no one will find this after the initial launch.

There is more, but I should skip it. If you want more advice on this, I'd be willing to help. So just contact me :) There are other, more competent people out there you could ask, of course.

I don't care if you publish this comment or not, but it would be nice to hear back if this was helpful at all, even if you do nothing with this but reading it.

Jens D. said...

I'm sorry. There is no ill will here and I understand this as constructive criticism. This early in a project you can change a lot without losing anything but time. Later on you will lose money with a bad presentation. So right now you might want to think about your intent, maybe a logo or some sort of symbol that represents what you are doing and is easily remembered. Then you select typefaces for the feel you want to generate. Don't assume people will like what you like, inform yourself how typefaces are seen in general and take what you can live with. Than you make a composition of all those elements, with the media in mind you want to use. So it could be several concepts. By using the same typeface (if possible) and the same logo (or close variations) you stay recognizable in all of them. Think about having a pdf instead of a picture for people to download, think about a professional presentation in e-mails ... Handle this with care in all it's aspects and you should be good. That's why corporations have corporate design and corporate identity. It works.

Alexis Smolensk said...

So I might want to go with something more classy and professional, like these:

I see.

Well, I don't have any artwork that I can legally use, but I shall go look and see.

Jens D. said...

I actually like the round table thing. It's not pretty (mainly because of the die ...), but it gets the point across. Too fiddly for a logo, though. The Dungeon Masters Guild is a good example how a corporate design works. You see it, you know what's it about and variations of it are recognizable in every form. That picture with the guy and the kid could work in an pr campaign, if you have a strong logo to go with it and use anything but an official product. The public domain could be a good place to start. But it's best to have an idea first and go from there. "The Tao of D&D presents: Smolensk's Gamemaster Tutorials" or something like that (if you want it associated with your name and I think you should use it ... not sure you'd be allowed to use D&D in there, though). Would have to think a bit more about it. But I could look for examples, if you want me to.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Point taken, Jens D.

Towards that end, I've added a second proposal on the post above, below the first.

Jens D. said...

Way better. Seriously, I like it. Colors are pleasing, you have that Asian thing going that comes with the blog ... Good, good.

When you use italics for the typeface you use in the main texts, the big R and the H remain almost straight. So maybe take another, similar typeface where that isn't the case.The typeface for the text below "Learn how to ..." could be a point or two bigger so that it sticks a bit more out.

Small things: The frame isn't full on the right side and the picture is a bit blurry, so a sharper version of that picture would work well here. The motive is, as I already said, great. You also need to get rid of that signature that picture has on the lower left side ...

I like that you are very clear in the main head line. All you need to know is there. Still not sure if you are allowed to use D&D anywhere in this advertisement. You ought to check this for legal implications, since you earn money with this.

One last thing: if you structure the parts of that first seminar with numbers, you make the transition between blocks easier. 1. Strategies 2. What makes us a DM? and so forth (is the "'s" there on purpose?).

I think the whole thing is already quite improved. You now have a theme, the main heading is clear and you have plenty of room to add a logo or signature, if you happen to come up with one (lower left corner, a bit above that signature would be a good place to go, I think).

Oddbit said...

I like the new one.