Is There Always Time for Best Practices?

As a trainer, sometimes the content of the training course is dictated by the learner or the learners boss. Understandably companies may try to get as much covered within the training timeframe believing they are getting more for their money. This used to leave me in a bit of a dilemma. Do I teach best practices?

If the learner only wants to be able to edit an existing document, then why confuse them by insisting they always approach a new project in the correct manner? As a trainer, teaching someone who has never used or seen InDesign before is a responsibility. Explaining to them the value of learning the software in the proper way should be a fundamental part of any training course.

If a learner can see the benefits of best practices they are more likely to ensure they don’t take ‘short cuts’ once the training is over.

Showing examples of how a little bit of discipline at the early stages can save so much time is always helpful. Highlighting how best practices will create a more efficient workflow as well as improve accuracy and consistency throughout their project will encourage them to stick with it.

When teaching Adobe InDesign advanced courses, ensuring learners have an understanding of best practices means they quickly get up and running with InDesign’s more automated features.

As with any new knowledge, if you don’t use it you lose it. I always leave the learner with a simple lesson which allows them to consolidate their new knowledge and allowing best practises to become automatic in a very short time.

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Investing in training – does it cost or does it pay?

In recent times there seems to be less training being offered. When companies are streamlining their outgoings, training budgets are often the first thing to go. I wonder if this is all together wise. I recently delivered an Adobe InDesign training session. One delegate asked me if I could demonstrate how to achieve a feathered edge on an image. I showed him the process which took no more than a few seconds. His reply, “I spent over 3 hours the other day trying to do that, then gave up”. Who can afford to have any staff member trying something without success for a prolonged amount of time? Apart from the frustration of the user, this waste of time will no doubt impact on the day’s overall production.

Ensuring users streamline their workflow and work efficiently will also show an increase in productivity. Many of us are guilty of diving into a piece of software and muddling our way around it, then blaming the software when things don’t go as we’d expected. For example, has anyone actually ever done a Microsoft Word training course? Yet we all use it and get frustrated when ‘it’ deletes or moves things we didn’t want moved. Investing the time into getting to know the software, customising it to how you want to work and always using best practices will only improve your efficiency, accuracy and productivity. Time and money well spent I believe.

Finally, spare a thought for the ‘InDesign User’ who originally was the Communications Officer, Marketing Manager or Administrator who had a ‘flair’ and as a result has been mapped into the Graphic Designers role. These situations are on the rise as companies opted to outsource design and now see this as an expensive decision. Ensuring these people get the appropriate training will increase their confidence and show they are valued staff members worth the investment to help them master this software.

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