Presenting & Displaying Work in a Digital Workflow

I hope this doesn’t come across as a stupid question; I’m just looking to see how some other people approach this issue. I seem to have a conundrum with easy answers, but none of them seem ideal at the moment.

On one hand, I remember in school everyone had an “analog” workflow – pencils, markers, etc. on paper. As a result everyone had work that could easily be pinned up at their desk, which I’ve seen/heard mentioned as a positive thing for working environments. And when presentation time came, we generally were presenting off of boards, which was a good way to manage lots of people needing to present and allowed browsing before or after presentations. You could also have smaller details and text, since the resolution of a printer is about 30 times that of a projector.

Now, on the other hand, I’m working digitally, which has its various advantages for sketching and graphic layouts, etc. And aside from prototypes and 3D mockups, all our client presentations are done with a projector, which does allow us to present a variety of information well to multiple people. This also allows us to quickly and easily add or change content – right up to the meeting if need be. The digital workflow also results in fewer things we have to physically store, everything is easily shared, and we don’t “waste” paper for every sketch we make. But you can’t pin up your work without printing solely for the sake of pinning it up (or having dozens of digital photoframes), and with a PowerPoint only presentation there’s nothing that stays up the whole time and the resolution is crap for small details compared to print or personal monitors.

So for everyone out there working digitally (at least partially), I have a few questions for you:

  1. How do you “pin up” work in progress around the office? Do you just print off a few favorite sketches for the sake of potential discussion & inspiration and discard them later? Do you do the same with mood boards, etc?
  2. When you present to outside groups (clients or other departments, higher-ups), is it all projector or do you use printed material as well? If you print things, is it big for the whole group or letter size for the individual? Do you see a benefit from this?
  3. When discussing ideas internally, do you print off a wall of sketches for discussion or to do the post-it thing, or is it kept digital on a projector or monitor?
  4. Do you have any other tips for bringing a digital workflow into the analog world?
  5. Do you have any tips for making an all/mostly digital workflow more accessible to others without making it analog?
  1. When things need to get printed, they are printed. Usually if necessary we will print the slide deck and then go through it in powerpoint format, but have the sketches pinned up for reference at a glance. Mood boards also get printed in large format and usually mounted to some big 4x8 foam boards that can be moved to whatever conference room or brainstorming area necessary.
    2: When working with teams that aren’t local, the netmeeting/powerpoint is important to get them to understand what is being shown. If they are local it’s all just put up on a projector/TV.
    3: Print off then marked up with post its and sharpies.
    4: Buy a good workforce printer
    5: There were times when you could use software like Portfoliowall that were meant to bridge this gap, but I just think they were never as effective as flat out pinning stuff up which is why it was killed.

Worked at a place where they did not want us to print anything. They had big flat screens in all the conference rooms that linked to the network, people logged in, then accessed the presentation they wanted to show. Yeah, I know big pain, especially for those old enough to remember the analog ways.

so you save paper but buy liquid crystal and burn energy…

I’m an advocate for printing in our studio… pinning up, spreading out on a giant table, I like to draw on everything with sharpie as we discuss… you get further faster. When we are cranking digitally I check in about every 45 minutes to take a look at things, and have everyone print every 3 hours or so…

Print it. The screen limits your space or time. The wall does not.

Printing every 3 hours? I’m curious, how many people and how many pages is that? I imagine that depending on the stage in the process and the project, this would vary. Sometimes I get in a groove, and can’t stand someone tapping me on the shoulder all the time. I guess if I’m a junior and need constant supervision, it would be different.

I’d rather work off of shared space, “the cloud,” and enable anyone in the office (or working in another office) the ability to browse my working folder and open up / peek at any files throughout the day. If they notice something they like or don’t, THEN interrupt me.
Last, at a time when it makes sense (middle/end of the day, end of the week), print everything off, pin it up and go from there as said.

That is in the early ideation and iterative concepting stages. Better to be collaborative, zoom out and bounce ideas around at least twice a day at that point.

Benny, what you describe is a little too digital big brother for my style.

It’s not that hard technically to share files, but theres something said for a folder full of thumbnails vs a wall full of ideas. Sometimes seeing designer A’s sketch next to Designer B’s will yield idea C, and you won’t get that from the time needed to browse a few folders.

Paper is a cent a sheet and lets face it, not all of us spend all day sketching. I spend more paper on notes and other things I want to write out then I probably do on pinup printouts.

If you’re going to use a sheet of paper for a drawing, or use a sheet of paper for a printout it ends up being the same paper used.

I guess it’s good to see the consistency in replies. It seemed like just printing was the way to go, I guess there is just this “go digital” momentum in my head that I have to fight sometimes. I was also hoping for some other cool solution, but as Cyberdemon pointed out the demise of PortfolioWall is perhaps an indication that there currently isn’t a better technological solution, and maybe won’t be for a while.

I do like Bennybtl’s idea of working off a shared space, though (maybe still work locally for performance, then manually or automatically copy to the shared location?). It seems like it would allow more asynchronous working and allow some real “heads down” working if you needed it, as long as at short enough intervals you got together for “heads up” collaboration time. And I find when I’m alone I can browse & work fully digitally pretty effectively, though it depends on the situation. But I can see where digital really falls down in group situations, or if you really need to (literally) take a step back and look at the big picture.

Now when you present outside the design group, and are in the same location (so besides net meetings), do any of you use printed boards? Or is it all projector?

Thanks for everyone’s comments so far.