The word ‘culture’, which used to strictly apply to things like art galleries, symphonies and cheese, has entered the mainstream workplace. It’s a buzz word that makes even the word ‘content’ look underused. People on trend-watch associate culture with start-up greats like Apple and Google. Today culture is even trickling into the corporate world, with “Chief Culture Officer” as one of the business buzzwords of 2015. Yet just like the culture behind a good brie, culture has always been there in the creative agency world. This doesn’t mean that agency cultures are always good, nor that culture is all about having a kickass espresso machine or lunch-time yoga classes. Yes, creative spaces definitely make creative people more creative, yet that’s not all there is to culture.
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.
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 →
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
“What are you doing for 2014?”
It’s the question everyone is asking, particularly with the spotlight on Cape Town as World Design Capital. This year is brewing and bubbling with anticipation and expectation. With everyone either waiting for things to happen or scrambling to make things happen, we believe there is only one way to see the change you want; lead the way.
So with the Happy New Year wishes fading fast, let me tell you what Infestation will be doing in 2014…
We plan on turning all those exciting new projects into visual reality. Many of the jobs we started last year are beginning to see the light. They excite us because they have challenged us. Keep an eye out for them as they emerge. Some – like the new website for CapeNature and Skybound rebrand – are visible already. Others like the “Better Living Challenge” from the Cape Craft and Design Institute and the Greater Tygerberg Partnership rebrand are still taking shape. Whatever the project, we are looking forward to sharing our ideas with you.
Internally, it’s very much in with the new, and chances are you’ll be meeting and working with many new names and faces. What that means is some new exotic spices being added to the mix. And who doesn’t like an added kick of flavour? For our clients, it means we can now offer more services in-house, like PR and direct-mail strategy.
Since 2001, infestation has hosted many interns and this year will be no exception. The only difference is, with the focus of WDC2014, we are getting a lot of enquiries from abroad. In early February we are welcoming an international intern from Holland and graduate from the highly acclaimed design school Willem de Koning Academie in Rotterdam. If you know of anyone wanting to intern or take up residency, let us know – this is THE year!
Thanks to our collaborative and creative space, our hot-desks have also taken off. This is the second year we are sharing our studio with like minded entrepeneurs and industry experts. So if you or anyone you know wants one of the hottest desks in Cape Town, let us know and we’ll be in touch.
Infestation’s Official Cape Town Design Guide
Now, we can’t talk WDC2014 without mentioning our yellow plans for the year. We have been privileged to be part of this incredible journey since bidding in 2010, and we continue to stay involved whether it’s through the Creative Sessions or Cape Town Design Network. We even have our very own officially approved WDC project, the Official Cape Town Design Guide. Sign up to get news the minute we go live!
If you want a flavour of what the different projects are all about, I can recommend attending one of the eight pitching sessions: 30 short entertaining inspiring pitches per night.
Please stay connected, either through Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter and take look at what we’re doing – our website has it all. We’re really happy to say our experience in digital has given us a competitive edge, but we’ll let our work speak for itself.
Wishing everyone one hell of a yellow year!
P.S: Take a moment to read this article by Business Day on the rise in tourism Cape Town is experiencing. We’re hoping to give those visiting our shores an insight into Cape Town design with our Official Cape Town Design Guide.