I came to this project late in the game. It had been floundering for three years, languishing in a prison created by entrenched positions, power struggles and resentment. I won't bore you with the details ... I arrived as a fresh face, unencumbered by history, and ready to put this to bed.
My first step was to interview all the stakeholders. To my surprise, everyone wanted very similar things. So as I started in on the designs, I made sure to focus all my language on outcomes, kept the conversation away from the personal and always on the product.
My experience in dealing with editors allowed me to speak their language and translate their vision to the layout. The previous version had the most atrocious clip art and editorial was adamant that it stay. Moving the conversation away from the art, I had them talk about itsfunction. They wanted to break up the text and add humour and colour to the pages. I suggested we find some art that could be repurposed to our needs, creating the feeling without creating clutter. I met Hazim Jalil through iStockphoto, bought some illustrations there and commisioned the rest.
Being a reference book, it required quick and easy navigation by the reader. I colour-coded the chapters and text elements so that every usage could be instantly identified.
The text contained inconsistencies in its information architecture, providing a clear set of rules to editorial moved my changes from personal opinion to functional decisions. If one item had to be changed, all similar items would need to be changed too ... all small scale changes were checked against the big picture.