Selling a nutritional therapy education within a few pages
I was recently tasked with designing the (digital and print) prospectus of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (ION), with an intended lifespan of three years.
In conjunction with the rebrand of ION (that I led) a new prospectus was required.
The prospectus is the number one tool the Institute has to sell it’s courses to customers. It is a print and digital product, that is given out at events, in post, attached in emails, downloadable from the internet, etc.
Previous iterations were built upon by various designers using various concepts and styles upon the original design from around 2012. This resulted in a prospectus that was not cohesive, difficult to manage, and a large file size (over 15MB for a 30 page document).
Here is the print prospectus, please continue reading to see how it came to be:
Output mediumPrint, Digital
I was instructed to produce a new, blank-sheet version that:
Could have the basic structure, design, and paper format used for three years, only requiring text or image content updated to keep it current/fresh
Was lightweight in file size (with a target of 5MB)
Would have the content fit within 50 (custom-sized) pocketable pages
Could be updated by any designer, internal or external, without issues (e.g. pagination runover, text overflow, etc)
Constraints and opportunities
As with any undertaking there are constraints and opportunities, which if navigated well, result in a better product. Being a non-profit educational charity the journey to a good design is a little more scenic, such as navigating a basic print budget, conforming to charity standards, having a larger approval chain-of-command, etc.
For this project the chain-of-command was split into three categories:
Competitor analysis and surveys
At an early stage of the project we looked at prospectus offered by other nutritional therapy providers, diploma colleges and universities. We found out that:
University prospectus were the most polished, with nutritional therapy providers the least
Nutritional therapy providers were almost always single page, A4
Nutritional therapy providers were setup for print and conformed poorly to digital platforms
Nutritional therapy providers were always very text heavy
We then surveyed attendees on some of the in-person open events to understand what they expect in a prospectus, what they would like in a prospectus, etc.
From these activities I was able to draw up conclusions. Some of the accepted include:
Going to a compact paper size (245 x 175mm) – also applied to the open event folder pack. This arose from observing most open event attendees were female, visiting after a work day, and carried minimal luggage (mostly small handbags or slim laptop bags). By compacting the size they were more likely to pocket the open event pack and take it home. It would also differentiate ION from it’s competitors
Using a “magazine” editorial design approach rather than a “catalogue sales” approach. This would result in logical, clear information presented in a clean grid, utilising all space as efficiently as possible
Using double page spreads rather than single
Using accurate scientific images to subconsciously inform readers of the strong academic foundations of the courses (this can be seen throughout, for example, on the cover)
Providing a local map, rather than regional, with information of the nearby high-street so attendees can plan other activities (e.g. where to eat, get cash, etc)
Provide some blank, lined pages so people can make notes
The prospectus utilised the concepts developed for the rebrand, namely the “layering” and “snap-to-edge” systems for composition and layout. More detail is provided in the ION rebrand webpage.
Due to the compact nature of the design it was imperative the text was at a suitable size to be easily read. I also had to consider the spine of the prospectus, which was larger than usual.
As well as the body text, the document contained supplementary information. This was:
Key facts on courses
Extra differentiators from competitors
Links to webpages that contained extra info
This led to a 3 column grid on the page, which all regular pages followed (excluding contents page, chapter page, map, etc). The inner-spine column would be smaller than the other two (equally spaced) columns and be used to only accommodate quotes, which would be in a larger font size. When needed, the outer columns would accommodate the key facts, extra differentiators, and links.
The key facts would be placed on block coloured in ION green, the differentiators in blocks of muted gold, and the links in block of dark grey. These blocks will not differentiate in location so they are always at the tips of the reader (being on the outer column) and consistent:
To further aid navigation case study pages were highlighted, with accent colours in green, royal blue or purple depending on the personnel (for ION staff, ION alumni, and students respectively). Lastly bullets were mainly used in text-dense pages, and were made large so they stand out and provided an easy entry into the page.
Fonts used were (the new default ION body font) Calibri and Kepler (the new default ION heading font).
I wanted to increase the specialness of the print version and the most effective way to do this (without any print-finish budget) was to adjust the paper weight and finish.
With help from the printer we settled on a matte finish for the complete prospectus, with a 300gsm cover stock and 140gsm internal paper stock.
For in-person open event attendees the prospectus would be accompanied by A5 fliers, study documents, A6 postcards, business card and a pen; all of which were bound in a small paper folder.
For the digital version I followed standard design procedures to make it as lightweight as possible. I added interactive elements (such as bookmarks, jumpable contents, links to video, and links to further reading on the site).
ION uses the platform StudentCRM to capture customer data and measure their recruitment activities.
Since this redesign was made live on the site/produced in print, ION has seen a significant uptick in the number of prospectus requested by people. Pre-COVID, print copies had seen an approximate 30% increase in “take homes” during in-person open events (the average attendance rate of an in-person event is around 28).
Statistics taken in May 2021 showed digital copies had seen a much higher increase, with a jump in average yearly downloads from 818 in the first year to 1667 this year, a 103.79% increase.
Total downloads in the calculated period were 5201. These have been verified against the document publishing platform (Yumpu), which showed a view count of 5253 – well within the 5% error threshold.