Seamless Connectivity: Elevating Packaging Design Efficiency through API Integration

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If you work in packaging design, you will be familiar with the fact that efficiency is not just a preference—it’s a competitive necessity. As design processes become more complex, you will experience a growing need for seamless connectivity with other systems. This is where the transformative power of API integration enters into the picture, as it elevates packaging design efficiency to new heights.

The Imperative of Connectivity in Packaging Design

The complexity of modern packaging design involves collaboration among diverse stakeholders, integration with workflow systems, and adherence to compliance standards. The traditional siloed approach falls short in meeting the demands of today’s fast-paced design environment. This is where API integration shows up to the party, as technological bridge that connects various components of the design process and enhances overall efficiency.

Understanding API Integration in Packaging Design

1. What is API Integration?

API (Application Programming Interface) integration is the connection between different software applications in a transparent manner. It allows these systems to communicate, share data, and work cohesively without manual intervention.

2. The Role of API in Packaging Design

In the context of packaging design, API integration enables the Artwork Management system to connect with other crucial components of the design workflow. This includes collaboration tools, project management systems, and even external databases.

3. Elevating Efficiency

Why does it become such an important tool? API integration eliminates manual data transfers and the need for multiple platforms. It ensures that data flows effortlessly between systems, reducing the risk of errors and accelerating the design process.

The Impact of API Integration on Packaging Design Efficiency

1. Streamlined Workflow

API integration streamlines the entire design workflow. From initial concept to final approval, the interconnected systems ensure a smooth progression without unnecessary delays.

2. Real-Time Collaboration

Collaborative tools integrated through APIs facilitate real-time communication and feedback. Stakeholders can seamlessly collaborate, providing instant feedback without the need for constant updates or meetings.

3. Version Control Mastery

API integration ensures that version control is centralized and synchronized across all connected systems. This eliminates version conflicts and ensures that all stakeholders are working with the latest design iteration.

4. Compliance Assurance

In industries with strict regulatory requirements, API integration helps in maintaining compliance. Data can be automatically validated and synced with external compliance databases, reducing the risk of errors.

Implementing API Integration in Packaging Design

Ok, I am sold! What do I need to do to get API Integration in place? – you may wonder.

1. Identify Integration Points

Identify key areas in your design workflow where integration with external systems can enhance efficiency. This might include collaboration tools, project management platforms, or databases containing regulatory information.

2. Choose the Right API

Select APIs that align with the needs of your design process. Ensure that they offer the necessary functionalities and are scalable to accommodate future changes in your workflow.

3. Seamless Integration

Work with your IT and design teams to ensure a seamless integration process. Testing and refining the integration are essential to guarantee a smooth workflow.

So, connect, integrate, and witness how the power of API elevates your packaging design efficiency to unprecedented levels.

Version 1.1….version 1.1_new….version 1.1_final

Created with Midjourney

Document versioning is an essential aspect of packaging design, as it ensures the accurate tracking of changes made to the design from one iteration to the next. If you have ever received or sent an email with a subject or a filename that reads something along the lines of “Version 3_final_final”, then keep reading.

Version Control

Version control is the first aspect of document versioning in packaging design. It involves keeping track of all changes made to the design, including modifications to text, graphics, and other elements. This helps ensure that all stakeholders can identify the latest version of the design, reducing the risk of confusion and errors. When I say identify, I mean it. It is not just about downloading the right version, but about being able to uniquely identity a file by just looking at it.

By using version control (keep on reading, we get to the main course soon), the complete creation and modification process is properly tracked. This is particularly critical in highly regulated environments such as packaging design for pharmaceutical companies.

Version Numbering

Version numbering involves assigning a unique version number to each iteration of the design. It is not really relevant HOW the number is defined. Some companies prefer to use a combination of numbers and letters (Version 1 revision A, Version 1 revision B), while others prefer a more straightforward model based on integers (Version 1, Version 2). We do prefer a mixed approach with 2 versioning digits: Version.Subversion. This allows us to track easily major revisions with the first digit and feedback rounds with the second (1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2). The version number NEEDS to be included in the design itself in a way that can be printed. This allows port print identification of design versions which will be critical in the event of a product recall or an audit.

By using version numbering, designers can easily identify which version of the design they are working on, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring that everyone is working with the same version. This also helps with traceability, as the version number can be used to track changes and identify the origin of any issues that may arise.

Version History

It is also important to keep a record of all changes made to the design, including who made the change, when it was made, and why it was made. The link between the version history and the design itself is made via the version number. For every version number, there has to be a historic record of changes and change requests. If you rely on emails, papers or phone calls for this… should read this.

Version history is critical at the Quality Control stage or the workflow when someone needs to validate that the changes made are what was expected and nothing else was introduced by mistake.

I don’t wanna

Many teams are reluctant to implement a printable version control system. This can be due to fear of being perceived as a team that needs more than one iteration to get it right. However, when multiple version 1s exist on a given system (email, shared folders, wetransfer) the risk of printing the wrong file becomes a very serious concern. No auditor in its right mind would ever pass a packaging company that does not implement version control from conception to printing.

We make more rounds to avoid mistakes…the Fallacy

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Have you ever heard from a client that the reason they make so many rounds or checks (and they seem to be proud) is to avoid mistakes in the final product?

I translate this as “reducing the probability of making a mistake” in the design of the packaging.

Well….let me tell you this:


Anybody that can do statistical analysis

Designing and creating designs for packaging materials, specially for food, retail and pharma, is a complex process that involves multiple rounds of designing, checking and refinement. One might expect that with each additional round of design and checks, the probability of making a mistake decreases. However, this idea is counter-intuitive and exploring the math clearly shows how more rounds of changes do indeed lead to a higher probability of making ANY mistake. Let’s check it out, it is not too complex.

The Setup

Let’s say that the probability of making a mistake when implementing a design is 1/10, or in other words, 10% of the times a designer will make a mistake. It does not matter if this number is realistic or not. More experienced designers will make mistakes less often than more experienced ones. The numbers do not affect the calculation and are only used to showcase the scenario.

Let’s also say, that we want to know that is the probability of making ANY mistake when making 1 design round versus 4 rounds of changes. In the first case, for a single round, the probability of making a mistake is set at 10%. For the second case, the probability of making ANY mistake after 4 rounds, we need a bit of math. Don’t be afraid, it is simple.

The Proof

The probability of NOT making a mistake on any given design round is 1 – 1/10 = 9/10 (so 90%). The probability of NOT making a mistake on all four consecutive design rounds is (9/10)^4 = 6561/10000 (so 65%).

To find the combined probability of making ANY mistake, we subtract the probability of NOT making a mistake on all four consecutive actions from 1:

1 – (9/10)^4 = 1 – 6561/10000 = 3439/10000 = 0.3439 = 34.39%.

So the combined probability of making ANY mistake if you execute 4 consecutive design rounds is 34.39%.

That is more than 3 times the probability of making a mistake on a single round. This is key, so clients can understand that a well-defined brief and instructions improve the odds of nailing the design in the first round, which then reduces the probability of making a mistake on further design rounds.

Fell free to send this proof to your clients so they start sending better briefs (including accurate technical specs).

The Perfect Artwork Request / Briefing

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Depicts a dartboard with red darts on it
Photo by afif-kusuma-RjqCk9MqhNg

What is an Artwork Request/Briefing?

An Artwork Request is the start of the journey for a design agency. It contains the description of work that needs to be done on a design so that it meets all the necessary requirements to be ready to print and produce. This is applicable to both new designs and edits, and covers the process until it has gotten the sign off from all necessary departments and external parties.

Your design agency/studio needs a good request so that they can translate those requirements into a good artwork version.

Why is a perfect artwork request/briefing important?

  • It guarantees that you, as a client, get what you are expecting from your designs
  • It will reduce the number of back-and-forth iterations to complete the project
  • It assures that the chance of error is kept to a minimum
  • It makes turnaround times faster

Sounds simple. But in reality, it is not always so.

Why is that?

The reality is that many of the people making change requests do not create their information themselves, but they receive it from a third party (or sometimes even fourth). Frequently in a different language.

Furthermore, the level of understanding and knowledge about design/printing specifics of everybody involved in the artwork process varies a lot: across organisations, across different roles, across countries. It is literally impossible to expect that every single person involved knows the same, and that they are good at translating that information into an actionable instruction.

When that happens, and not enough/clear information is provided, it is very easy to fall into a trend that leads to extra time to ask questions and get answers, and to obtain and provide the right details (measurements, keylines, logos, images…).

What is then the perfect request?

The perfect request is one that describes the changes required in a way that makes the outcome anticipated clear and agreed on by both the requestor and the executor, but also other parties that may need to get involved later (e.g. manufacturer).

The perfect request should cover 5 main areas:

  1. Product guidelines – becoming familiar with the client’s guidelines is a pre. All designs must follow these, so they become a hidden requirement after the first iterations with a customer, but nonetheless, a very important item to request at the beginning or refer to.
  2. (Manufacturing) technical requirements – any printer/manufacturer requirements are important to understand so that the artworks are not sent back for adjustments at the last step of the process.
  3. Key data – including the text, changes to this, and graphics that the artwork needs to include and any earlier mockups or open artworks that may exist.
  4. Keylines – attach these always to a request, as using a wrong one will require big changes to your artwork versions.
  5. Format specifications – dimensions and other details about the artwork.

Obtaining this information may require interaction between different departments. It may be best to ask the experts on each area to pitch in to your request so that you get the right information in one go. Also important to have one system where to collate it all, rather than letting it fly through emails and attachments. But we can talk about that another time!

The important thing is to establish a great collaboration between your design agency and your quality and/or regulatory teams. They, together, need to manage the workflow process in a way that brings an artwork from request to execution with the least amount of changes and time to market.

And this collaboration starts with defining what is for your company a perfect starting point, using the above criteria, and what information needs to be provided and by whom at the start of the process.

Do you already know what YOUR perfect request looks like?

Share with us your perfect briefings via:!

Zuriñe García