This type of work requires a combination of creativity to develop a strong cover design and a visual theme throughout, along with a meticulous approach to checking over the content layout, iterations, and drafts, to ensure a clean final product.
This is why along with the relaunch of my Future Imaging site, I am repositioning myself as a white paper and collateral specialist.
I personally really enjoy working on white papers, data sheets, and collateral for the niche that I serve of tech, cyber security, threat intelligence, network security, and infosec teams.
Considering that these assets can determine how someone researching solutions then rates yours, they are valuable and there is a benefit to putting out refined and well put together docs.
Example white paper cover design - cyber threat intelligence theme
Developing cyber threat themes for high-profile individuals in the threat intelligence world like Levi Gundert is a good example of a white paper design. This properly considers the reader and provides them with an interesting visual to begin with, to want to register to download and then read more.
I actually read the entire paper and interviewed Levi for this piece, which gave me enough to run with to produce rounds of creative for the paper theme.
Example data sheet design - frontend application monitoring
As part of my ongoing work for LogRocket, I have designed various documents such as this data sheet. They wanted something clean and elegant that they could leave behind or follow up by email with.
White paper design process
A little more about the process I follow and software I use as a graphic designer for white papers:
For cover designs I typically comp up rounds of creative using Photoshop. Once the final white paper cover design has been approved only then will I create the final high-res with fonts laid out and bleed applied in InDesign.
This will be setup to be able to output to Web and Print PDFs – so from one set of changes x2 new docs can be output
I produce white paper layouts using InDesign (this doesn't mean I don't miss you Quark...). Rounds of amends are typically provided via the clients favourite task manager e.g. Slack, Asana.
For icons and illustrated elements throughout I'll use Illustrator.
In some cases I'll use a 3D application to render an object or extract technical illustrations to use as design elements and backgrounds.
I usually start working for a customer as a graphic designer for data sheets
I've run Future Imaging for 11 years now. Most of the work produced has come from solid relationships and referrals.
When a contact does need something, a lot of the time it is a document design initially that they have come to me with.
After the design of the first document the team sees the value and then comes back with more projects – presentation designs, website redesign etc., and of course more collateral.
Establishing a rapport
I'm actually more comfortable starting in this fashion rather than say pitching for a massive undertaking like a full website redesign, as I get to establish a rapport with the marketing team and in some cases the founders.
This sets a better precedent for working together as there's an element of trust that I am reliable and will consistently produce quality work – especially after they have a creative white paper design that they are already getting positive feedback and results from.
Documentation design: a good fit and the right weight of work
I didn't start off as a case study designer or a technical documentation designer. My background is in print and advertising design.
I started Future Imaging when living abroad in Montreal and moved the business back to the UK in 2011. I have since worked with tech marketing teams in the US and UK remotely from Exeter.
As mentioned at the start you wouldn't think this type of work is the most exciting or creative but I find it strikes the right balance of visual design and production for me, and the project sizes are the right weight of work for Future Imaging.
It's good to know what you're good at, and enjoy, right? Redefining myself as a specialist white paper and collateral designer means that I can jump into the next job with enthusiasm and produce a great piece of work. Right, back to it...