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.
Christo Maritz, the owner of design agency Infestation and founding member of Open Design Festival Cape Town says our country is proving to be a strong contender in the design arena, with Cape Town as the driving hub.
Cape Town has grown from a quaint artsy city to what it is today – an international design Mecca, which now attracts prominent design ambassadors from key design countries around the world. The stage was set 20 years ago with Design Indaba, which first established a place for South Africa on the world design map, introducing the rest of the world to our design talent and waking the talent within. Continue Reading →
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 →
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
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
Over 350,000 people representing 60 different cultures attended the London Design festival, and everyone who visited experienced it differently. With over 300 events throughout the festival, all exhibiting design that is an assault on the senses, there are limitless opportunities to experience design.
Being a South African, and seeing the creativity through the cultural lens of someone accustomed to different styles, budgets, timeframes and context, provides an entirely unique perspective on the festival.
Juxtaposition of Traditional vs. Modern
London design is all about marrying old with new. London is a city with a huge amount of history, you can see this in its century old buildings and art works. Old brick structures next to new glass buildings. Traditional art next to experimental design. The Victoria & Albert museum, which served as the hub of the festival (pictured above), provided an excellent platform to showcase the English style of contrasting old with new.
Culture vs. Culture
South African design uses juxtaposition as well, and in an entirely different way. Popular South African design celebrates our different cultures that live and breathe within the nation; Xhosa and Zulu and Afrikaans are put next to each other to create eclectic, colorful design.
Pure Design vs. Contextual Design
South African and London design differ in fundamental ways as well as in the aesthetic.
English graphic designers are primarily male, while South African’s are mostly women. In London, design is viewed as academic as much as it is creative, where as in South Africa, the theory behind the design is not as valued as such. London design is incredibly considered and planned out whereas in South Africa style is eclectic and diverse and messy in a good way.
The largest fundamental differences between the two lie in the resources available to each country. This is the most shocking difference that a South African will notice at the London Design festival. Everything is done on a blue sky scale. Designers have huge budgets and long stretches of time to explore and experiment. It’s not unusual for a designer to get funded for a year at a time to explore a design concept. The Candela pictured below was a huge exhibit, using traditional and cutting edge materials to show the standard unit of luminous intensity on a large scale.
In South Africa the luxury of time and budget to create massive projects like this do not exist, designers must often work out of very small budgets with little time. This results in the use of resources in an out-of-the-box creative and innovative way. The majority of South African design focuses on using materials and budgets towards solving societal problems. In a country with a developing economy it is important to use limited resources to advance economically, socially or politically.
In London design exists for designs sake; in South Africa most design cannot exist without a purpose. South African design is always full of meaning and context.
All of these fundamental differences can easily be seen when looking at how the different styles each manifest themselves. England with pure, clean minimal design aesthetic and South Africa with contextual, raw design.
Circular Influence of Design
London design may be very different from South African design but it’s inspiring to see how we can influence each other despite the differences. For years South Africa has looked to the rest of the world as leaders in design. The large-scale, innovative designs in London have and will continue to inspire us. But now it’s time for London and the rest of the world to turn to South Africa for something they may be missing – meaning and context behind every design. We have seen this borrowed by the maker’s movement and in the changing goals of the D&AD to focus on sustainability through design (The white pencil award). We hope to see it throughout many new design projects across the world. Design inspiration has come full circle. South Africa is being looked at as the next, fresh, inspiring design capital. The London design festival showcases striking design but it also shows us that we can all influence and inspire each other.
By Nix Harwood and Shelby Szuba
Write a blog about your first month in Cape Town? It may sound simple, but trust me, it’s easier said than done. Where do I start? What do I talk about? How can I fit this into a few hundred words. Well I thought I’d give it a try.
Twentieth of February saw me leaving my comfortable home in Rotterdam, taking two planes, and 20 hours later I arrived in Cape Town. Here I was, on a continent, in a country and having touched down in a a city I had never been to. Daunted? Not really. I was ready for this adventure and to explore a different part of the world, and anyway, it’s not like I hadn’t done something like this before.
To be frank, the city is still growing on me. There is a lot I have to get used to and working full-time didn’t make that easier on me. But that said, I have had a chance to experience some pretty great events so far like the Love and Light party at Nelsons Creek and the Holi One at the Grand Parade. Great music, great people and compared to back home, cheap beer, what more could I ask for?
Back home, everything moves fast; you have to walk fast, bike fast and if a train or bus is even a minute late, people are already getting upset. But what I’ve noticed in Cape Town is that everything is easy going, particularly when I’ve been to places like the Waterfront, Old Biscuit Mill and walking around Green Point. They’re all relaxing, there’s good food and a great vibe that tells you to slow down and enjoy the here and now. It feels like no one is in a rush here, which makes it is way more inviting and gives you a sense of calm.
The Infestation Internship Experience
But let’s get to why I’m here: my Infestation internship. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked in on my first day, but it’s all been very exciting. Being around a great bunch of people who are open and willing to teach me anything is a great feeling. The work is varied, and Infestation jobs do not go on for too long, which keeps it fresh and challenging. I have enjoyed every minute of my time at the agency so far, and am looking forward to the next four months of learning, laughing and making!
If anyone has any tips for things I should do in Cape Town, they are always welcome!
Written by Anna Sinnige