Buckle Up! How to manage your project to completion, even when sh*t happens.

In anticipation of the #LondonBookFair, I am publishing a meditation on #ProjectManagement.

We all go into project planning, fresh-faced and excited to begin. I call this the “New Car Smell Phase” of the project. Unfortunately, it does not last. What follows depends on the parameters of the project, the key stakeholders, and the project team. Some projects cruise to completion, others are a death march to nowhere. What determines if a project is a pleasure cruise or a death march? Planning and flexibility. 

If you think about project planning as a road trip, you will agree that you need a destination, directions, GPS, and reservations (hold my sunscreen).

Deciding on your destination.

Before you begin your successful project/road trip, you will need a destination, or final outcome. More specifically: agreed goals, solid objectives, and clearly understood success metrics. No matter how carefully mapped out, no project will proceed exactly to plan. In the fog of development, perspectives will shift, new options will be considered, and sh*t will happen. In this environment, it is critical to remain flexible and adapt to the changing landscape, which is why having an agreed definition of goals and establishing what success looks like are essential components for any project. They enable you to navigate a project’s changing requirements, while staying true to the substance of your agreements.

If you take time to plan, the investment of time on the front end will repay in high dividends as you work through the project.

YOUR DESTINATION (What you need to define your project goals): 

1.    Project goals: What is this project meant to achieve?

Why is this important? Project goals give the project team a long-term view, motivation and focus needed to complete the project. By describing the goals of the project in clear, concise language the members of the project team and all stakeholders can be clear as to what the project is meant to deliver. The project goal provides a true north which can be used to reorient when changes are requested simply by asking “does the change support the project goal of X?”

An example of a project goal for a website:

"Visitors must be able to register for the conference."

2.    Define the objectives: How will goals be achieved?

Dividing a project into components helps with planning.

Examples of project objectives for website:

  1. Landing page with conference information

  2. Link to registration

  3. Registration page

  4. Transaction

3.    Define success: What are success metrics?

“Success metrics” are a means of measuring the success of a project. The metrics that your project uses to define success is dependent on the goals for the project. For example, if your goal is to increase sales then you’ll need baseline stats of where your sales are now in order to compare them to future state outcomes. You will also need to determine a time frame for assessing success: How long after the project is completed will you begin to compare your sales with your baseline? 6 weeks? 3 months?

Other useful success metrics might based on productivity. Targets like reducing the amount of time it takes to get a product to the market or reducing the cost of production. Again, you’ll need a baseline to establish what the current state is to have a means for comparison.

Examples of project success metrics for website:

  1. Website will load quickly.

  2. Conference registration will increase 15% over previous year.

  3. 30% reduction in calls to the help desk, related to website issues.

Now you have a clear project destination!

Once your project has a destination, you’ll need directions, a GPS  system, and a reservation for somewhere comfy to stay (ideally with a pool!). We’ll discuss how to develop these critical aspects in the next installment.

 Until then, get out your maps and start planning!

Linda Secondari

Linda Secondari is an award winning Designer and Creative Director with more than 20 years of Design Strategy and Branding experience specializing in the publishing space. Linda is currently Creative Director for the Global Academic Business at Oxford University Press where she manages the Design Strategy Group, a team of 40 Designers and Art Directors split between OUP's Oxford, New York, Toronto, and Delhi offices.

Linda and her award winning creative team are responsible for the Design development of over 3,000 print titles a year as well as many digital products. The team also engages with content areas at the Press in ideation and visioning exercises to facilitate collaborative engagement between key stakeholders in the development process for products. 

 

Five Questions with Creative Director and Book Designer Linda Secondari by Copyright Alliance

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From Copyright Alliance, original post can be found here: copyrightalliance.org/ca_post/book-designer-secondari/

This week we would like you to meet Creative Director and Book Designer Linda Secondari. She is the Principal of Studiolo Secondari

1. What was the inspiration behind becoming a Creative Director and Book Designer?

I love books; I love the combination of words and images. I love making the complex understandable; I love making order out of chaos. I love working with really intelligent people.

2. What do you enjoy most about the creative process?

I love solving problems. To me, that’s what Design is, problem-solving. Need a way to communicate your business’ value to its clients and potential clients? A good brand package can help you solve that problem! Want to get your book into the hands of readers? A great book cover can help accomplish that goal! Need to make complex information understandable? A gifted text designer can solve for you!

I love it!

In my career, I have had the full gamut of problem-solving opportunities. I’ve designed book covers and interiors, brands, and ad campaigns. I’ve also designed systems and processes that allow for effective and efficient design development and communication on a large scale. Oxford University Press, where I worked for nearly 10 years, published 3000 titles a year, that’s a lot!

3. Can you take us through your process, and elaborate on how long it is?

No matter what the design project, I approach all of them in the same way.

  1. Research: I start with research. I research the subject matter if it is a book cover, and I’ll read whatever text the publisher supplies and augment that with other references.

  2. Competitive analysis: Then I look at the competition and the ecosystem, where will this design live? Who will it live with? If it is a book, what else will be on the bookshelf? If it is a brand, who is the competition? What is similar? What is aspirational?

  3. Identifying things of interest: Through these two stages of the initial investigation, I usually begin to feel a tickle of creativity in the back of my head. I might find an image that is particularly powerful, an artifact that speaks to me. I will begin to list the words that have meaning for this particular challenge. I might begin to create analogies. This product is like X. And then I will investigate the visual language of X. Once I get that tickle I am usually close to putting down sketches, either on paper or in InDesign.

  4. Sketching: I love typography so I will begin to load fonts that speak to the vision I have defined through my research. Once I begin laying type down, I feel more focused on my solution. I iterate a lot. I tend to have lots of pages in a document or lots of versions of the document. I print things out so that I can see them and tape them to a wall to look at.

  5. Take a break: I also need to take time away from the process. I force myself to get up and out and take a yoga class or walk around the block. Sometimes I need to leave the work for a full day. Once I know I have “fresh eyes” I return to the work, and I often see things that I didn’t see when I was in the thick of it. I repeat the process of working and leaving and working some more until I feel like I have something I can share with the client for feedback.

  6. Share and be prepared for feedback: Once I have shared the concepts (I try to never share more than five, and three is typically my magic number), I try always to be open to feedback. I think it is important for designers to understand that what we do is a craft. It is not fine art. We do our creative work in collaboration with our clients, and we need to be able to produce successful outcomes for both our clients and ourselves.

  7. Revision: If I can leave my ego behind and listen to feedback, I find it often improves my work. Once I have incorporated feedback, I resubmit my work for approval; sometimes the feedback loop goes on for several iterations (depending on what kind of product I am designing).

4. What is the biggest misconception about your line of work?

That design is effortless. A great design should appear effortless. I mean it should look like it just exists, and that there is no other alternative to what has been designed. But to get to that point takes a lot of effort.

5. What is your best piece of advice for fellow creators in your field about copyright and how to protect themselves?

First, work for reputable clients. Companies and people that respect the value of your work and their work. Make sure you have solid agreements and contracts. If you provide your own agreements, make sure they are well-considered (the Graphic Artists Guild’s Handbook for Pricing and Ethical Guidelines has a lot of great information in this regard). Sometimes it is worth getting a lawyer to set you up with a good contract that you can reuse.

In recognition of the 2018 World IP Day theme established by WIPO – Powering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity – we are honored to feature and support female creators during the month of April.


Linda Secondari

Linda Secondari is an award winning Designer and Creative Director with more than 20 years of Design Strategy and Branding experience specializing in the publishing space. Linda is currently Creative Director for the Global Academic Business at Oxford University Press where she manages the Design Strategy Group, a team of 40 Designers and Art Directors split between OUP's Oxford, New York, Toronto, and Delhi offices.

Linda and her award winning creative team are responsible for the Design development of over 3,000 print titles a year as well as many digital products. The team also engages with content areas at the Press in ideation and visioning exercises to facilitate collaborative engagement between key stakeholders in the development process for products. 

 

Book Talk! Judging a Book by its Cover

Linda Secondari was invited by the University Press of Kentucky and the UK College of Design to give in the Farish Theater of the Lexington Public Library talk about book design with a particular focus on the Association of University Presses' Annual Book, Jacket, and Journal Show.

UPK_AUP_Book_Design.jpg

Linda Secondari

Linda Secondari is an award winning Designer and Creative Director with more than 20 years of Design Strategy and Branding experience specializing in the publishing space. Linda is currently Creative Director for the Global Academic Business at Oxford University Press where she manages the Design Strategy Group, a team of 40 Designers and Art Directors split between OUP's Oxford, New York, Toronto, and Delhi offices.

Linda and her award winning creative team are responsible for the Design development of over 3,000 print titles a year as well as many digital products. The team also engages with content areas at the Press in ideation and visioning exercises to facilitate collaborative engagement between key stakeholders in the development process for products. 

 

Aldus Manutius & the Paperback

The dolphin and anchor device, symbol of the Aldine Press

The dolphin and anchor device, symbol of the Aldine Press

Aldus Manutius (c.1450–1515) was the father of modern publishing. Born near Rome, he moved to Venice in the 1490s, where he formed the Aldine Press. The Aldine Press premiered an immensely popular new format well-designed editions of the secular classics Manutius called libelli portatiles, or portable little books because they easily fit in the hand of the reader, the first paperbacks.

The many contributions to the art of printing made by Aldus Manutius include the first italic typeface, which he created with the type cutter Francesco Griffo. Italics were intended to mimic the humanist handwriting of the day. His work in developing the roman typeface devised for a 1496 book by the humanist scholar Pietro Bembo — the inspiration for the modern font Bembo, still treasured by book designers for its grace and readability.

Erasmus,  Adagia (1508)     Denarius of Titus, 80 AD (obv: IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M; rev.: TR P IX IMP XV COS VIII P P, dolphin and anchor)   Lent by the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Erasmus, Adagia (1508)

Denarius of Titus, 80 AD (obv: IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M; rev.: TR P IX IMP XV COS VIII P P, dolphin and anchor)

Lent by the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Although books were popular and in demand Manutius' finances were often unstable. He quarreled with his punchcutter, and he was forced to defend his work from both detractors and admirers. His attempts to secure his innovations against imitators are important moments in the history of copyright. To that end, Aldus Manutius devised a trademark to identify his books in the marketplace. The trademark was based an ancient Roman coin given to him by Pietro Bembo.  The symbol of the dolphin and anchor served as the model for this device. The inscription which reads ‘Make haste slowly’ was a favorite saying of Augustus and a slogan of Manutius'. 

Denarius of Titus (80 AD)    HCR9525 RIC 26(a)   Lent by the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford  A coin identical to this one was given to Aldus by Pietro Bembo and served as the model for the dolphin and anchor device. But although ‘Make haste slowly’ was a favourite saying of Augustus, there was no association in Antiquity between the image and the motto. Rather, this coin was struck in honour of Neptune – an attempt to appease the god following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii in 79 AD.

Denarius of Titus (80 AD)

HCR9525 RIC 26(a)

Lent by the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

A coin identical to this one was given to Aldus by Pietro Bembo and served as the model for the dolphin and anchor device. But although ‘Make haste slowly’ was a favourite saying of Augustus, there was no association in Antiquity between the image and the motto. Rather, this coin was struck in honour of Neptune – an attempt to appease the god following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii in 79 AD.

To learn more about Aldus Manutius:

The Bodleian Library's online exhibition celebrating the 500th anniversary of his death
http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/whatson/whats-on/online/aldus-manutius#gallery-item=

A Tribute to the Printer Aldus Manutius, and the Roots of the Paperback By Jennifer Schusslerferb. 26, 2015
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/arts/design/a-grolier-club-tribute-to-the-printer-aldus-manutius.html?_r=0

Linda Secondari

Linda Secondari is an award winning Designer and Creative Director with more than 20 years of Design Strategy and Branding experience specializing in the publishing space. Linda is currently Creative Director for the Global Academic Business at Oxford University Press where she manages the Design Strategy Group, a team of 40 Designers and Art Directors split between OUP's Oxford, New York, Toronto, and Delhi offices.

Linda and her award winning creative team are responsible for the Design development of over 3,000 print titles a year as well as many digital products. The team also engages with content areas at the Press in ideation and visioning exercises to facilitate collaborative engagement between key stakeholders in the development process for products. 

 

Boo! Happy Halloween!

Alphabet of Death by Hans Holbein the Younger

Alphabet of Death by Hans Holbein the Younger

The Alphabet of Death composed by Hans Holbein the Younger between 1523 and 1525 is the companion to Holbein’s The Dance of Death created in the same period. The artist was working in Basle at the time where the Reformation was underway. Holbein’s sympathies to the reformations’ aims and ideas are evident in the illustrations.

The spooky initial caps were meant to be lessons on the brevity of life and the weakness of the flesh. We think they are a perfect typographic meditation for Halloween, the spookiest of days!

B: features two death-figures, a dog, and the pope.
O: or drop cap, Death leading a terrified monk.
Q: (modified to be a second O) Death is disguised as a monk with a nun following quietly along — in contrast to the monk.

To read more about this Holbein masterpiece: http://www.dodedans.com/Ealfabet.htm

Linda Secondari

Linda Secondari is an award winning Designer and Creative Director with more than 20 years of Design Strategy and Branding experience specializing in the publishing space. Linda is currently Creative Director for the Global Academic Business at Oxford University Press where she manages the Design Strategy Group, a team of 40 Designers and Art Directors split between OUP's Oxford, New York, Toronto, and Delhi offices.

Linda and her award winning creative team are responsible for the Design development of over 3,000 print titles a year as well as many digital products. The team also engages with content areas at the Press in ideation and visioning exercises to facilitate collaborative engagement between key stakeholders in the development process for products.