All posts in Digital publishing

table mountain

Cape Town-based design agency INFESTATION recently did a photoshoot to capture the front cover image for the Cape Town Visitors’ Guide 2016…

With the shoot taking place at Bo Kaap Kombuis restaurant in August Street, the images were specifically planned to feature a reflection of Table Mountain in the glass of the upstairs section of the restaurant.

That’s not as easy as it sounds to get right, with this shoot in question spread out over seven days after scouting, including all the indecision and weather calls.

INFESTATION has produced the guide on behalf of Cape Town Tourism for the last three years. Here, Sam Bainbridge, Art Director at INFESTATION, tells us what went into getting ‘the shot’… Continue Reading →

annual_report_tablet

We all want a greener, more sustainable world, yet the process of going green still seems to instil fear in some people. Good designers, on the other hand, embrace the move towards sustainability. Not only does green thinking lead to creativity and innovation, ultimately it’s good for business, which to us means happy clients.

Take annual reports, for instance, which are both a legal requirement and an eco-nightmare. After all the work, money, paper and ink that go into printing them (not to mention all the printing of proof copies prior to the actual print run), they mostly end up in the bin. They have served nobody – neither client nor recipient nor environment. Continue Reading →

Gutenberg

In the mid 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg invented what would become the engine that powered the Age of Reason, bringing reformation, science and critical thinking to the masses. Movable type was no new idea, but it was a first for a perfectly ripe Europe. No professional discipline, or any aspect of society for that matter, were left untouched.

With knowledge and education democratised, ideas and collaboration spread and within two hundred years we were in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. Without the mass production and distribution of information by means of print, our modern reality could simply not have come to be. Continue Reading →

CTT_BlogFeat_head

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 →

Skeuomorphism and the online user experience

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.

Looking ahead

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.

 

By Sam Bainbridge

paper studio

It’s been a busy year for us, and with it coming to a close we take a look at a few of the fantastic Infestation projects we’ve had a chance to be part of, and share with you some of the work and clients that have kept us inspired throughout the year – from dressing Cape Town Airport to welcome visitors to our World Design Capital to rebranding one of SA’s biggest online accommodation booking sites.

SKYBOUND CAPITAL
Branding & Strategy

When one of our favourite clients gave us the challenge to rebrand their international investment company, we had our work cut out for us. The challenge was to produce a credible brand in a predictable visual market that would stand out above the rest. By positioning Skybound Capital as the artisans of investing, Infestation put together a consolidated multi-platform brand experience that spoke to their core values and business strengths, helping them better tell their story to their clients.

CAPE TOWN TOURISM
Design and Publishing

Our recent work with Cape Town Tourism allowed our strategic decisions and design to benefit all who visit, live in and work in our beautiful city. With the 2013 Cape Town Tourism Annual General Meeting, we were thrown into the fast-paced mix of presentations, annual reports, visitor guides and campaign shoots, ensuring that visitors will benefit from the work put in by this amazing team of people so evidently passionate about their city. Look out for the latest Visitor’s Guide sporting a double cover. Thanks to photographer, Russel Smith, and his team for their beautiful cover photography showcasing the best Cape Town has to offer.

You can read more about our work with Cape Town Tourism here.

OPENSTREETSCT
Design

OpenStreetsCT is a citizen-driven initiative, working to change how streets are used, perceived and experienced. When we were approached by the Open Street Cape Town team to design a t-shirt that embodies everything that is OpenStreets – there was plenty to work with. From skateboards and coffee to music and general happiness, the t-shirt became a fusion of elements that spoke to the celebration of OpenStreets.

SAFARINOW
Branding & Strategy

The travel industry is rife with overused visual metaphors. SA’s biggest online accommodation booking site, SafariNow.com wanted to carve a unique space for their brand and we were able to deliver an identity that communicated their Number One status producing a modern personalised on-line brand that speaks directly to their audience.

You can read more about our work with SafariNow here.

HOW TO BE A DESIGNER
Design Education and Publishing

Asking the question “Want to have a designer future?”, we had the opportunity to put together an informative booklet for the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI), educating young people on the different avenues that form part of a designer future. Using trendy illustrations, it analyses specific design careers, and matches its attributes to different characters and their accessories. Bright, bold and captivating – a design future brought to life.

WORLD DESIGN CAPITAL AIRPORT BRANDING
Branding & Campaigns

With World Design Capital 2014 expecting visitors from around South Africa and the world, our airport will play a vital role in welcoming guests to our design city and as such, Infestation was asked to design large sections of the Domestic and International Arrivals walkways with World Design Capital (WDC2014) branding. This is one of the first activations – sponsored by the City of Cape Town – that has brought the reality of World Design Capital to our citizens, with artwork that highlights a few key projects and showcases how design can transform people’s lives.

You can read more about our work with World Design Capital here.

*To take a look at all the other Infestation projects we’ve done, check out our portfolio.

Digital publishing 1

(Or in other words, what exactly is Digital Publishing?)

Without trying to unpack an answer to this question by applying mathematics , consider that the string would be as long as it is, from where it started, to where it ended. Or you could say it is twice as long as half its length. Whichever way you looked at it, this riddle still seems largely unquantifiable, right?

This sort of grappling with a string that has no end, is much akin to our quest in early 2012 to get a handle on Digital Publishing – the deeper you seem to dig, the more answers there seem to be – you just need to know which one to pick.

It is largely accepted that the term ‘digital’ is associated with the intangible, the untouchable, the changeable, whilst the association with ‘publishing’ is of something having mass and matter, a physical product that occupies space.


How then, you might wonder, did the phrase ‘Digital Publishing’ become such an oxymoron?

Not only is the acquisition of knowledge in this area a bit like floating a paper boat on the Vaal Dam, more pertinently, there is a veritable rabbit hole of information you will fall through, trying to do just that. By scrabbling through our own Warren, we began to uncover the issues in more detail, so that some of the deep magic behind it, has become understandable, quantifiable and useful for all.

Digital Publishing demystified, if you will.

Watch this space for a series of posts dedicated to Digital Publishing, where we will start to unpack the pivotal issues with you.

This episode of trying to debunk digital printing is the first of an Infestation series. Please feel free to add your perspectives, give feedback or ask any questions relating to this topic.

By Sam Bainbridge