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Design Automation
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Design Automation

Converting data into information

Design and data have long been arch-enemies. When the Capital & Coast District Health Board wanted an address directory of services available for diabetes patients, it was an opportunity to marry the two. They had the data, they wanted great design but at a modest cost. Enter automation!

The first step was to standardise the fields of information that would go into the directory — organisation name, location and contact details, description of services as well as support category and region.

The client entered the data into Microsoft Excel as this best fitted their computing and staff resources. Acumen created a fully-featured and automated design
template in Adobe InDesign.

Typically, manual production of this type of directory would require hours of
laborious effort and thousands of mouseclicks. Because this directory would be regularly updated we developed an automated routine to cut production time and
cost by around 75%!

We converted the Excel data into 'tagged' data which told InDesign how to layout
the style of each line of information.

The process is very fast, and the results look fantastic and are 100% accurate.
We then added several indexes and tables of contents. Integrity of data is
important to Acumen because we want to add value to what our clients do and
not cause them extra work.

The directory is digitally printed and PDFs with full interactive hyperlinking are
placed on the web.

The key to successful automation is to have the content signed off at the data
stage. Then we can deliver a fast and cost effective result.