As SproutLoud’s Implementation Manager, it is my job to guide new clients in how to use our marketing resource management system for effective marketing. When I take a new client through the implementation process, one of the first discussions that we have is regarding templates. Templates are essentially interactive images that represent a piece of marketing material. Templates help to walk users through customizing specific areas of the design.
When reviewing the templating process, one of the most important things that we always keep in mind is that the system’s end users, local small businesses, are not graphic designers or IT experts. With that said, I encourage the brand to guide their users each step of the way. Following some basic best practices is a good way to begin to develop easy-to-use, comprehensive templates.
Here are three of the best practice tips:
Less is more, keep it simple. The more blank fields a user is asked to fill out, the more cumbersome the process becomes. The less complicated the process, the simpler and more inviting it seems.
Do not mark too many fields as “required”. Marking a field “required” means that the user will be forced to enter information before they can move forward. The only things that should be marked as required are the pieces of information that would upset the overall design if they were missing.
Use suggested text. Supplying suggested text for customizable fields gives the user helpful direction on what information should be used in that area. It also allows you to have better control of your brand by supplying the specific wording you would like used on the piece.
Remember, the beauty of using templates is that this offers a way to stay true to your brand while still allowing the user some (guided) creative freedom. Happy Templating!