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From Concept to Completion. Creative Advertising and Graphic Design Services.

Top 10 Things Designers Hate: Number 3

A simple but important part of any working relationship is respecting each other’s time. We think most people totally get that! But this particular issue still comes up every now and then, so this week, let’s talk about how much designers hate….

3) Last-Minute Changes

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Every designer has had a client wait until at or after the deadline to request a color change, a text-rewrite, or even a complete overhaul of an ad. These last-minute changes are often accompanied by, “oh, it’s just a little change, it shouldn’t take you very long,” or the dreaded: “I need it by today.”

Of course, clients often don’t realize how long a given change is going to take. Something that seems simple, like replacing the copy, can actually be time-consuming because it requires the text to be sized and formatted to fit in the same space as the old copy. A change like, “could you just add a photograph?” isn’t a matter of just sticking something into the ad. A designer needs to find the right image, get the client’s approval, and make sure it’s the right size and resolution to look good with the rest of the ad. stop-the-press 2

Sometimes, as with ads printed in magazines or newspapers, there is a hard deadline for getting the ad to print. That can mean the designer has to work overtime to get the ad in on time. If you’re printing a brochure or a magazine and want to make a change when it’s already at press, you can end up wasting paper (oh no! the environment!) and you may be charged by the printer for the time they’re not able to use the press because of you! Nobody wants that!

All these last-minute changes can be avoided if you build your schedule with a little buffer-time—and stick to it! Then you’re happy, the designer’s happy, and look: this puppy is happy, too!

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

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Top 10 Things Designers Hate: Number 4

So far in this series, we’ve covered too much text, reading the rate card, and talked extensively about fonts. The latest designer pet peeve ties in to a similar issue to the one we ran into in post number 5—just because it looks good on your computer screen does not mean that it will look good printed. The number 4 thing designers hate is:

4) Low-Resolution Images

Artfully pixelated image courtesy of

Artfully pixelated image courtesy of

Resolution in digital images is measured in something called “dpi” or “dots per inch.” The standard dpi for something you want printed relatively large is 300 dpi or more. That means there are, quite literally, 300 little dots of color in each inch of the image. On your computer screen, these dots are called “pixels.”

Often, clients will send us an image that they pulled from Google or Facebook, without paying much attention to the image’s size. Then, they’ll ask us to “blow it up” or “make it bigger.” The problem is, while we can stretch something to be much larger on a computer screen, this does not increase the number of pixels in the image—it simply makes the pixels (or dots) larger. This stretched image may look fine on the computer screen, but when it gets printed there’s a good chance that a smallish image will come out grainy and unclear. And no one wants that!

If you’re using stock photography in your ad, it’s often better to let your designer source the images for you. We’ll know what to look for to make sure the image will come out nice and clear in printing. Then you also avoid issues of “borrowed” images that we covered in Things Designers Hate Number 9.

If you are searching for images for yourself, keep an eye on the number of pixels in the image. Google image search shows the size of images in number of total pixels. If an image is 300×300 pixels, then that image will be 1×1” at 300 dpi when printed. If you enlarge that image to greater than 1×1” when printing it, it will come out blurry.

This sad puppy is 1600x900 pixels. That means the image can be printed as large as 5.3x3 inches without any degradation of the image quality. He’s sad because you tried to print him 10x6. Image courtesy of

As you can see circled in red on the right, this sad puppy is 1600×900 pixels. That means the image can be printed as large as 5.3×3 inches without any degradation of the image quality. He’s sad because you tried to print him 10×6. Image courtesy of

You can use this information as a rule of thumb when searching for images online. Say you want to use an image that will eventually be printed in a magazine on a standard 8.5×11” page. You would need the image to be at least 2550×3300 pixels to get a resolution of 300dpi.

Finally, clients will sometimes copy all of the images they want to use, paste them into a Word document, and send that document to us. Please, for the love of that adorable puppy up there, do not do this! Pasting images into a Word document can lead to re-sizing in order to fit the image on the page, and can cause compatibility issues between computers with different generations of Microsoft Office, or between Macs and PCs. Always save your images separately and attach them directly to the email. They can be saved as a JPEG, PDF, TIF, or PNG file, but they must be saved at high resolution, at the size you want it printed or larger. That way it will arrive in your designer’s inbox the same way you sent it: nice and big!

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Top 10 Things Designers Hate, Number 6: Speaking of Fonts…

Welcome back to our Blog series, “Top 10 Things Designers Hate!” We’ve covered ads with too much text, “Borrowed” images, reading the rate card and, most recently, the impact of fonts on your advertisement. It’s hard to over-emphasize how much fonts affect your ads. So, speaking of fonts, our number six thing designers hate is…

6) When You Don’t Embed Your Fonts

Imagine this familiar scenario: You have a font you want to use. You type up your copy in Microsoft Word, save it as a .docx document, and send it to your designer. Unfortunately, your designer doesn’t have that font on file, which means that when the document is opened on your designer’s computer, it defaults to some other font…like maybe Wingdings 3.

Wingdings: Cute on dogs. Not on your ad. Image courtesy of

Wingdings: Cute on dogs. Not on your ad. Image courtesy of

The formatting you worked so hard on is ruined, and your designer has no idea what you were trying to send. Time to start over.

All this trouble can be avoided by the simple process of embedding your fonts. What does that mean?

“Embedding” fonts means including the font you want to use as part of the document when you send it to your designer. This can be done quite simply: often, when saving ad document as a PDF you will be prompted to embed the fonts. That’s about as easy as it gets!

If this doesn’t happen (like if you’re using an older version of Word or Adobe Acrobat) you can follow these simple instructions here or here.

And voila! This simple process avoids confusion and keeps communicating with your designer clear and efficient. Everybody wins!

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Top 10 Things Designers Hate #9: “Borrowed” Images

Welcome back to the top 10 Things Designers Hate-and how to avoid them! Last time, we looked at ads with too much text! Today we’re looking at:

9) “Borrowed” Images

You found this picture online that would be perfect for your ad! We agree that it is really nice! The only problem is, it doesn’t belong to you. Most images online are created, and therefore owned, by someone else. There are exceptions to this rule, but it can be tricky!

Look, a handy flow chart! Image courtesy of

Look, a handy flow chart! Image courtesy of

In most cases it is best to assume that taking an image straight from the web and using it in your ad will infringe on copyright, and is therefore illegal. When you can, try to use images that you own, like photographs of your business or the products you sell. You can also work with your designer to generate a graphic or find a (public domain) image for you!

If there’s something you found online that you just can’t live without, it is sometimes possible to reach out to the owner and try to pay for its use. But if you want something that really stands out and says “you” to your clients, it’s generally better to use something unique.

This issue sometimes leads to the instruction, “I want it to look just like this other ad, but don’t copy it! The same; but not too much!” We want you to have what you want—but designers are artists, and they won’t be happy to copy other artists’ work. Plus, copying another business’s ad concept can get you into hot water with websites like this one, which pokes fun at “copycat” ads.

Instead, figure out what it is that you like about the image you want copied—is it the colors? The use of certain techniques like line-drawing? Talk to your designer about how to incorporate these elements into a brand-new design that will be specific to your business!

This Jeep ad is a great example of a unique, creative ad that uses images belonging to the company! It also sticks with our #10 rule: minimize text! Image courtesy of

This Land Rover ad is a great example of a unique, creative ad that uses images belonging to the company! It also sticks with our #10 rule: minimize text! Image courtesy of

Elsewhere on the Web:

Wishing you a magical holiday

Sometimes simple is best. That is why we like the Wells Fargo outdoor board and claim this as Friday’s “Advertising That Works!” And sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. What do you think of this billboard created by DDB advertising agency?



Today is Poinsettia Day!


These well-recognized flowers were officially declared a symbol of Christmas by an Act of Congress in honor of Joel Roberts Poinsett, who died on December 12, 1851. Poinsett was the first Ambassador to Mexico. Poinsett brought this colorful plant back to the U.S. and grew the plants in South Carolina and gave them out as gifts to friends.

How to take care of a Poinsettia

The best time to buy a poinsettia is near Thanksgiving. When choosing a poinsettia pick one with little to no yellow pollen in the center. Freshness is hard to judge by just the red leaves. Give your poinsettias a bright location. They don’t like to be too wet, and with too much watering they could die. Don’t set your poinsettia near a heater, yet they are very sensitive to cold so wrap them up on the way home from the store. Did you know the poinsettias are the most popular plant grown in greenhouses?

Advertising Testimonials

If you have great feedback from a happy customer or client, you can use their testimony to boost your business. Adding a testimonial to your brochure, website or advertising can add validity and selling power to your service or product. Testimonials build trust, help buyers overcome skepticism, and give your sales unbiased recommendation.

What Makes a Good Testimonial?

If you have ever had a customer tell you how much they value your service or product, then ask them for a testimonial. Don’t over edit the message, but don’t be afraid to change the grammar and how it’s said. Use testimonials that fit, don’t ever fake it. Don’t be afraid to encourage specifics from your client. For instance, if your client saw wonderful improvement by using your product or receiving your services, then ask what specifically caused the improvement. Let the users be the “stars” and not the service or product itself. Try to avoid using word like “best” and “easy” as they don’t really add validity. Be sure to ask your customer if you can use their feedback for a testimony.

How to Use a Good Testimonial

If you have a testimonial from some one notable or even a celebrity, don’t be afraid to use that as your entire advertisement. If you have endorsements from unknown people then don’t make it the main focus. If you have many testimonials, try dedicating a page on your website. If you only have one or two, use them in flyers, postcards and ads. You can use call-out-boxes or before and after pictures. There are many ways to handle a good testimonial. The best endorsement is word-of-mouth. If you have a customer telling others how wonderful you are, what could be better than that?

Give us your feedback on how you have used testimonials from customers.