Documentation in Experiential Graphic Design

In environmental graphic design, documentation refers to the design phase dedicated to communicating the design intent of the graphics program to sign fabricators for pricing and production.

In the documentation phase, the design intent is conveyed through a series of drawings and documents, including sign location plans (exact locations where signs will be installed); message schedule (master inventory list for the entire program); design drawings (illustrations of the signs graphics and hardware, also called working drawings or design-intent drawings); and technical specifications (instructions to the sign fabricator).

Designers use a wide range of tools to create documentation packages, from Excel spreadsheets and more sophisticated databases such as Filemaker to rendering programs such as RevIt and Sketch-up and design software such as CAD and InDesign. Documentation is a crucial stage of the design process, as it will determine how closely the finished product matches the designer’s intent. Effective documentation requires extensive collaboration among designers, clients, fabricators, and suppliers.

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