You’ve been sent an InDesign file — now what?

Dylan Smith

A community member recently faced a challenging situation. Her team was sending InDesign files (.indd, used for print layouts) for her to code from. Instead of the designers switching to more suitable software, her creative director insisted she watch some InDesign tutorial videos. She rightfully felt that working this way was inefficient, and that the onus was being put on her to convince others to change.

Jen Capstraw broke down the issue:

It certainly is possible for you to convert INDD to PDF and slice in Photoshop. But if there are edits, simple changes become a significant effort and you have to start all over from scratch: edit in INDD, export to PDF, reslice, etc. How much of an impact will extended email production time make? What does that mean in terms of $$$? This is how you frame an effective argument.

Tony Zupancic had a suggestion:

Ask them to walk you through their expected workflow, and sit down with them as you go through that workflow building an email. Physically show them the extra time it takes to use an InDesign file rather than a Photoshop file.

Mitchell Anderson added that “anything you can do to show the downside to the org as a whole tends to go over better in these types of fights than why it’s bad for an individual.” James Lamb supported this approach with a personal success story.

After I did this at a past job, they redesigned so a lot more was live text instead of graphics and the rest they delivered to me as cut PNGs instead of sending me the layered PSDs and having me chop. No amount of pushback worked, but when I showed them the process from my side, they finally got it and did way more to make my job easier and quicker than I could have even imagined possible.

Which file format should email designers be delivering instead? While Photoshop is still overwhelmingly popular, opinions suggested that it’s falling out of favour to tools purpose-built for digital design such as Sketch.

Do you have an opinion on the best tools to use for email design or development? Message me on Slack if you’d like to share your take in a future article.

Dylan Smith is a co-admin of the Email Geeks Slack community and a Senior Product Designer at Litmus.