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5 Considerations in Preparing for Digital Publications

by Erik Loehfelm, Universal Mind / March 21, 2012

Note: This blog entry is available in English only.

Although the landscape for digital publication design is relatively immature, some expectations for interactivity and supplementary content are starting to emerge. As an organization or even as an individual preparing content for a digital version of your printed product, you should be aware of the current interactive tools and opportunities the medium provides to you. Here are 5 things to consider when authoring your content:

Grab It in the Field: Capturing Photography, Video and Audio—If you are contracting photographers to capture imagery for you, and their equipment and techniques are up to date, you’re in luck! Be sure to direct the photographer to capture video during the shoot in addition to capturing stills. It’s best to capture the video in landscape for most uses later, but that is up to the discretion of the creative director. A full-page portrait oriented video is interesting for the openings of stories and the cover, even if the video is only a few seconds long.While in the field, the capture of audio can also provide you with wonderful opportunities for interaction. Many inexpensive apps can turn your smart phone into a powerful audio capture tool. A simple app like Mic Recorder can be very effective in a pinch for audio capture while on location.Keep in mind that your readers may expect a bit more depth and coverage from your content in your digital version of the publication. You can provide them with expanded insight and detail by covering and capturing “b-roll” content or behind the scenes footage. If your contracted photographer is unable to capture this while focusing on the main imagery, have an assistant or an art director record elements of the shoot. Use professional gear. Use your iPhone. Use whatever you have! The more assets you can capture in the field the more opportunities for expanded interactive experiences on your readers tablet.

Know the Features of Your Publishing Framework: Most publishing frameworks today, have a standard set of interactive components from which to choose from; leverage them! Use them in creative ways. For example, in the Adobe Publishing Suite there is an interactive component that allows a user to scrub their finger back and forth over a video to control the playback. If you capture your video in slow motion or in a 360 pan around your subject, this interactive control is especially compelling. Another interactive feature typically contained in today’s frameworks is the slideshow component. With a slideshow and a bit of creativity, you can create interesting controls to show and hide content in your designs.

Word Art: Utilize All of Your Publishing Tools: If you have limited availability to immersive, animated or video content, consider creating some ‘text art’. In the hands of a talented typographic designer, Adobe After Effects can create amazing text-based animated artwork. Leverage these skills if you have them. If not, see what local art schools have in terms of internships in their animation departments. Pulling in young and hungry design thinkers to extend your static content is an inexpensive way to amp up your content.

Liven Up Those Charts and Graphs: Your infographics and simple bar and pie charts are begging for life! Look to broadcast TV commercial reels for inspiration on turning those assets into beautiful interactive communication elements. Consider making charts interactive by showing them in layers, allowing users to drill into the information. For example:

    • Show a map of the globe and facts about sales, performance, etc.
    • Create touchable areas for North America, Central/South America, Europe, Asia, Africa or whatever regions are appropriate for your data
    • When a user touches a region, cross-fade to a hidden chart of the detailed performance of that region into view
    • Give your readers a reason to explore your data in different ways and reward them with engaging interactivity

 

Accept the fact that you will need to re-layout your content: A print design is a great starting point for your publication, but the differences between consuming content in print and on a tablet are great. For an optimum reader experience, plan to re-set the content for your specific platform. If you’re preparing to distribute to more than one device, and intend to make the experience the best that it can be, you’ll need to consider creating independent version for each distribution platform. The promise of automated systems that design-once-deploy-to-many do not take into consideration the details of each platform like aspect ratio and display resolution. On iPad for example, a page should be designed to fit a 768×1024 container in portrait. An acceptable font size for body copy on iPad could be Helvetica 16 on 20pts. The same content for a Kindle Fire designed for a 600×1024 container could have a font size around 19 on 23pts. If the same design were to be used for both, the Kindle versions would be letterboxed due to the differences in aspect ratio and the font sizes would be too small to be easily read without zooming.

Digital publications are here to stay. They are an exciting addition and alternative to traditional publishing. Prepare your content with interactive features and custom layouts on your platforms of choice and you’ll delight your users with this new medium.

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Join SoDA in our first installment of SoDA’s Untapped Market Series where we will be discussing the Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) with Adobe experts. Forward-thinking marketers and agencies are redefining how we consume editorial content via tablet experiences – and Adobe is helping to facilitate that transformation.  For more details on the Roundtable discussion and to register for a spot, please visit:  http://sodadpsdmr.eventbrite.com/

 

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