We are well on our way into 2015, and at Infestation that means quite a few things. New faces, new services, new business… We’ve asked around the office for some of our team’s favourite new things in Cape Town, so here are a few suggestions on new places and things to experience.
2015 is a big year for us at Infestation. We’re busy with new projects, have new clients that we’re honoured to work with, are welcoming new additions to our Infestation family and are offering extra services, including Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC). We’re excited to be pushing the disciplines of design and digital even further – and with this in mind, we’d like to share our predictions for 2015, from harnessing human emotions to re-examining the role of branding in big business.
For a long time we did too. We know how long they take to create, how much effort goes into making sure every page is perfectly designed, every figure excruciatingly accurate and exactly how many rands it costs to produce. But we’ve never really known who actually engages with them.
That is, until we focused our publishing, brand and digital expertise towards the reinvention of the good old annual report from an old bogey printed item, to an online, mobile-friendly experience. Continue Reading →
For the past three months I have been lucky enough to intern at Infestation Design. Today, one of our art directors asked me what I learned interning abroad in Cape Town. She also wanted to know my thoughts on the differences between working in South Africa and where I’m from in the United States. At first, I didn’t know how to answer her. Now I know why. Continue Reading →
A phrase thrown around quite commonly when discussing websites, “responsiveness” has come to denote a website or application’s ability to adjust to various devices. For the most part, this translates to a website that scales to different effect with different devices and/or screen sizes.
But is the type of device that you use the only thing that should be determining your web experience? In an article published by Fast Company, titled the Future of Responsive Design, various other considerations are put forward as possible triggers for responsiveness. These include your current location, previous articles or pages that you have viewed, the time of day, the weather, and just about anything else that you can think of. But what do we utilize when designing a unique online experience? What matters to someone when they are browsing the web?
The most common, and admittedly fairly poor, example of this kind of responsiveness, in terms of catering to “individuality”, can be seen with online advertising. The ads that you see on your Facebook feed are specifically targeted at you. A machine somewhere latches on to a scrap of information about you, and suddenly, “oh, you’re a woman! I know! You must want to sell your eggs, right?” No.
For your entertainment, see some equally bad examples of “responsive” advertising below.
A better example of content responsiveness would be social media sites that cater almost specifically for the individual. You essentially create your own Facebook feed, by deciding who you are friends with, which pages you like, how much information you reveal, etc.
However much you choose to engage with content on a site like Facebook, one thing remains clear: the use of web page templates has become an industry standard. No matter how different your brand, product, or band is, each page looks exactly the same. Besides for the 80×80 pixel profile picture and the newer cover photo, your page looks just like everyone else’s.
So how do we strike a balance between content and viewer?
At the end of the day, good design is good communication. If your layout can adjust to the type of content you’re presenting, it will be more effective in communicating. You cannot expect a design to be as effective as it possibly could be when it hasn’t been considered in itself, but rather as an extension of the great big creature simply known as “your website”. A photo essay is not the same as an article about dog costumes, yet because of the nature of their content, you may find that similar elements become important to the viewer. Images, for example, would probably be the most important element of each article. Any other information is secondary, because all initial impressions rely on the imagery.
Doubtless, incorporating these considerations into your design requires time, effort, and money, three notoriously elusive commodities. So what do we do, as a small South African agency without access to a lot of first world tools?
We sit and carefully consider user experience, content hierarchies, and what it means to effectively communicate. Being in situations where technology or limited resources discourage you from your goal, while challenging and frustrating, also forces you to focus on the most essential aspects. What is the key message? What is the easiest, most effective way of communicating that message? How does that message change depending on who is receiving it?
At the end of the day, we often have to make due with what we have. Although the future of responsiveness as proposed in the original article seems like something that should be fairly obvious, implementing such ideas is often a far-off reality for the majority of the world. It then comes back to the designers and other creative problem solvers to break the mold of what we think we can do, providing solutions instead of problems.
By Mea Jordaan
Infestation in collaboration with Tsai Design Studio have been selected as a top sixteen finalist for the Public Art Competition launched by the Western Cape Government. The artwork will be installed on the newly established plaza, corner of Dorp and Long streets, within the WCG precinct.
To mark the 20 year anniversary of living in democratic South Africa, the Western Cape Government (WCG) launched this competition for an exceptional, permanent artwork that embodies, celebrates and reminds us of the 20 years of Freedom in our City and in our Country.
The concept of our work is rooted in the memory of the first democratic elections and the journey of casting our vote. Visuals of long winding queues and the symbolism of broken shackles is combined in a seemingly weightless column with a curved bench that offer seating on the plaza.
Visitors are welcomed into the space to reflect on their own journey and experience since 1994.
If you would like to see our work on permanent display e-mail the Western Cape Government at email@example.com and let them know your thoughts!
The question “Are you for – or against – flipbook magazines and why?” appeared in a publishing forum recently, prompting the desire to shed some light on how we at Infestation view publishing for, and in, the digital stratosphere.
There were well over 160 responses to the question, each person passionately adding their opinions to the ongoing debate – with many in support of the technology. In their favour, flipbooks were at one time the only easily-accessible technology for someone wanting to publish online. To date, many still believe this technology to be a viable option, since the possibilities that rich media adds to enhance the reading experience, is a definite plus.
The other reason for the fierce debate though, is that skeuomorphism is one of the last old -school vestiges lurking in the online wings.
The desire to emulate what we can touch, hold and smell in real life, still seems to exist in online publications, even though we’ve left it behind on most other platforms. This can possibly be put down to the fact that the reading needs of Boomers and Millenials have somehow smashed together to form an uneasy alliance, and while the Millenial still can’t figure out the fuss about print being redundant, the Boomers can’t envisage a world without it. So we hang onto ornamental design cues that were necessary in the original, but refuse to acknowledge that these structures are no longer needed. The cheesy sound of the page turning as we click to ‘flip’ the online page is a classic example of this redundancy.
People want flipbooks because it resembles the familiar. The fact that the mechanism doesn’t work that well on all mobile devices and browsers, gets overlooked. Ever tried reading a flipbook on your phone? After 30 seconds you will tire of waiting for content to load. You will also get horribly lost on the page while you frantically scroll around looking for where you left off at the bottom of the last column. And yes, for a user’s online experience, columns fall under the category heading ‘relic’ – useful in print, but not great on a mobile phone.
Not only is the user experience generally quite poor in Flipbooks, but search engine optimization is also difficult because most are still Flash or image-based at the core. Long-tail search results are harder to attain because, in most cases, not all text is available to search engines.
So where should digital publishing be focusing its efforts?
In truth, we need to first be asking WHAT needs to be communicated to WHOM, and only then figuring out the best mechanism or platform to do so. In other words, the medium is only a means to an end – whether this be a custom-designed white label app for enticing a tourist to engage with your business, a content-managed WordPress newsletter to keep your staff informed of the company’s activities, or an EPub aimed at selling a recipe book on Amazon. Each case warrants a tailored approach when publishing for an online environment, to ensure a greater user experience.
What’s all the fuss about producing publications that are optimised for mobile devices?
There are now three times as many mobile phones in the world as there are computers, and 66% of people get their news on mobile devices. Readz notes that 112.5 million adults in the US are expected to own a tablet in the year 2016. The tablet is a lean-back device: something you use when you have spare time and are relaxed, and is best for longer-form journalism. A recent Pew study showed that 73% of tablet owners read in-depth articles at least sometimes, including 19% who do so daily. The Association of Magazine Media also found that users with both mobile and tablet access, spend 23% of their time reading magazines on their phones. With tablets, that number is more than three times this, at 75%!
While mobile phones are for snack reading of brief articles in short sessions (like when you’re on the bus), mobile phones are increasingly a gateway to long-form articles. It is ironic then that in a recent survey in the US and UK, 60% of respondents felt that nothing could be done to make them read more often on their phones, with many saying a poor user experience as the reason.
So while rich media and cross-platform accessibility are two very important factors in the future of publishing, user experience should be the number one priority with those wishing to get content to market, and in turn, getting the market to engage and respond to it.
No wonder then that Flipbooks lost the original market share they gained – they simply stopped innovating the user experience.
Subscription-based digital magazines that are truly successful, are those getting the balance right not only in terms of publishing best-practice (content marketing, discoverability, successful advertising sales and hard-working subscriptions bases) but also focusing strategically on what is experienced by the user when they are reading, and how they absorb content in real time.
What we really should be doing, is taking a long hard look at the specific mix needed for each individual publication in order for it to successfully serve its niche in the market, and then figure out the technology needed to create it.
So your’re starting a new venture and it’s in need of a mark to express itself to the market, or your current logo is in need of some revitalisation. Then you’ve come to the right place. Here we’re going to show you a combination of the trends that we have seen in the past year (2014) as well as some we believe are going to make an appearance in 2015.
Type based simplicity
There are so many choices. Make sure not to underestimate the importance of selecting the right logo style from the above for your business, as every logo style creates a different mood and tells a different story. So before rushing into designing your new logo it’s best to first workshop your brand to determine what it is that you want it to communicate to the market.
by Anton Pople
We often have clients who come to us, asking for a quick social media strategy to reach their audience and get them thousands of fans, followers, likes and retweets. The perception is that, because social media platforms are so dynamic and hold so much attention, that getting attention is easy. In reality, it’s the opposite. The dynamism and constant engagement are what make getting the attention you want difficult.
We’d love to say that there is a one-size-fits-all strategy for reaching your audience on social media, but the truth is, there are only guidelines. The rest is about knowing and understanding your social media platforms and audience.
Before you think it’s all free – we’re sorry to say it’s not always. Facebook and Twitter have cottoned on to the fact that they can make money off your need to reach an audience. However, there are ways that you can ensure successful social media usage without breaking the bank, provided you tick the boxes below:
#1 Pick your Platforms
There’s a notion out there that your business needs to be on every platform, even obscure ones. In reality, not all platforms work for all businesses. To be consistent across a multitude of platforms requires time and dedication, and no one wants to see your brand on a platform where there has been no activity.
Our Advice: Have a strategy in mind as to what you want to communicate and choose the platform that best fits that strategy. Rather be great on two platforms than average on four. And always consider capacity.
#2 Know your Audience
When it comes to social media, understanding who your audience is and how your audience consumes content is key to growing your community. This could be anywhere from whether your audience wants to read articles, whether they want advice or whether they want to be entertained. This will determine what kinds of posts you put out and who your target is per post.
Our Advice: Look at your Insights, get to grips with what it’s telling you and begin to use it as a way of knowing when your audience is online and what posts they really enjoy.
#3 Have a Plan
In PR we call it the “spray and pray” when you send out a press release to every media regardless of whether it will interest them or is relevant to the publication. This doesn’t work well in PR and it won’t work for social media either. You don’t grow or reach an audience by posting irrelevant and therefore, seemingly uninteresting content. Those people posting pictures of cats? They have a plan. Those random lists of celebrities? That’s also a plan. There should always be a plan and strategy behind the kind of content you post and when you post it.
Our Advice: Involve your team in building a social media strategy that speaks to the various aspects of your business. Plan a content calendar a month in advance that will give structure, and don’t be afraid to dedicate certain days to certain topics – this will give people a reason to keep coming back.
#4 Generate Original Content
Original content is key to capturing an audience. The better the original content, the more engagement it’s likely to get and the further it will go. Consider someone like TravelStart, who invests in building great content for consumption.
Our Advice: Think about what you as a brand can offer an audience that no one else is. This may be tough, but once you figure out how to deliver content that stands out above the rest, you will see that audience grow. Bear in mind, you don’t have to empty your pockets for great content, you just have to be strategic.
#5 Create a Community
The power of social media network lies in the communities you create because if done right, a community will stand behind you, will vouch for you, will promote you without you ever needing to make a big effort. Work at creating this community by giving them things to talk about, that they can engage in and can even tangibly walk away with.
Our Advice: Make sure that your social networks come across as authentic and personable, and not corporate robots. People want to be part of a community where they feel like they’re interacting with people, that they’re being heard and considered in what you post.
#6 Be Responsive
Speaking of being heard, social media platforms are great places for people to ask questions, give compliments, voice concerns and, sometimes, complain. If someone says something nice, say thank you, if they complain, hear them out and find a resolution and if they ask a question, make sure you answer. Building your audience means showing them that you care enough to pay attention to them.
Our Advice: Always pay attention to your networks. Make sure to respond to your community. It doesn’t have to be immediate, but within at least 24 hours. A community taken care of is a happy community.
#7 Invest in Social Media
You knew this one was coming. As with anything these days, placing an investment in something means greater returns, so by investing a budget in your social media, you are guaranteed a wider reach and increase in audience, but with better targeting. Don’t be scared off by the word “invest”, what you put in is what you get out, you don’t have to have deep pockets to make your investment work for you – this isn’t the stock market after all.
OUR ADVICE: Start small and hone your targeting. Put in R150 to start and see the results, measuring your return on investment. Once you get steps 1-6 down, you will be able to invest wisely and get worthy results.
Right now, as you are reading this, someone is taking a selfie. Over one million selfies are taken per day around the world. The word itself has become so engrained in our society so quickly that not only has it been added to our dictionaries, but it has been named the word of the year for 2013.
51% of us have taken a selfie. If you somehow fall outside of that percentage, you have most likely at least participated in the world of the selfie in some way. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all entertained by the selfie. From celebrity selfies to selfie fails to animal selfies, we can’t help but look. Selfies on social media are 38% more likely to be liked or commented on than pictures not featuring a person’s face. The most retweeted message to date is (surprise!) a selfie.
It’s clear that the selfie epidemic is here to stay. The question is, what do selfies say about us?
Some credit the selfie with being the beginning of the end of the world. Narcissism is taking over and we’re all going to spend the rest of our lives staring into the front facing camera on our iphones. While I’m sure some selfies are only taken out of a desire to validate how good looking we are based on how many “likes” we get, isn’t it possible that there is more to the selfie craze than simply vanity? Are all selfies really all bad?
Selfies are about identity, too. In the digital and very visual world that we all live in, selfies are sometimes the best way to show who we are, what we’re doing and how we’re feelings. We often use selfies as a way to communicate, to connect across all platforms with our friends and family and even strangers. We use selfies to capture moments in our lives. Graduates take celebratory selfies with their cap and gowns. We use selfies to locate ourselves. Would you rather send out a picture of some famous scene that has been taken millions of times or make it your own by turning that picture into a selfie?
Some have gone as far as to proclaim selfies as a genre of art. Selfies have changed and evolved like any other art form. Their roots can be traced back to the self-portraits that Rembrant obsessively painted in the early 1600’s. The first ever photographic portrait was taken in 1839 and it was, in fact, a selfie. If that is art, who’s to say our modern selfie isn’t? And if the selfie is art, it could be the most prevalent popular genre EVER.
Today we have limitless possibilities to make selfies creative and innovative. We can edit our selfies in any way we can imagine- airbrush, filters, faceswap, and on and on. It’s not an abnormal sight to see someone holding a camera on a stick. Go Pro cameras allow us more flexibility to stretch the traditional frame of the selfie. Time lapse apps allow us to combine daily selfies to show how we change and evolve as people from day to day. And if you haven’t seen the epic around the world selfie, you’re missing out.
Selfies capture our daily lives, they record our moments of happiness, they serve as evidence of our adventures, but most importantly they provide a medium for us to share who we are with the rest of the world. And isn’t that what art is all about?
If you’re not entirely convinced that selfies will one day be celebrated as art worldwide, then you can at least admit they can be a lot of fun. At infestation we figure, if you can’t beat them, join them, right?
At the London Design festival this past weekend, the team at Infestation had some of their own fun creating art out of selfies. Christo and Nix experimented with panoramic selfies, 360 degree selfies and more. Check out some of our favorite pictures below.
Click on the classic selfie image of Christo and Nix to see the cool 360 effect!
You can see here how easily selfies can be turned into a creative medium. Nix and Christo used selfies to show how they were experiencing the world around them at the London Design Festival. Think about it- what do you use selfies for?
By Nix Harwood and Shelby Szuba