Monthly Archives: May 2013

Let’s Get Visual!

I’m going to tell you the worst-kept secret that you already know. Nobody likes to read anything anymore. Well, not anything that is just a wall of text. We’re all guilty of scanning a document instead of reading every word or sharing an article after just reading the headline. Nobody is proud of it, but with the sheer bulk of content that is produced everyday, we have to get through all of it somehow.

All of the most digestible information we encounter now has enormous visual pieces coupled with it. Think of every infographic you read, every photo with a caption, and video you can play while multitasking. You learn much more from these visually captivating pieces than from walls of text similar to this post (but I’m breaking up this content with pictures, so bear with me).

Social media provides a great platform for watching how people consume information. We started off with blogs that were hundreds––if not thousands––of words long. We then moved to Facebook, cutting people’s word count by at least half, and then to Twitter, keeping our count to 140 characters or less. Now, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Tumblr are allowing for content sans words, replaced by images, audio, and visual communication.

But just because we are truncating what we write, does that make it more effective? It sure seems that way. Here are some stats:

  • 44% of social media users are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures (as opposed to other types of media)
  • Facebook photos get at least 7x more likes than links do
  • Pinterest, a completely visual social media channel, has grown by 6000% in the last 8 months
  • Images are the most clicked-on content on Twitter
  • Recruiters spend more time looking at a user’s LinkedIn profile picture than anything else
  • More than 6 billion hours of YouTube videos are being watched per month
  • Flipboard, a visual news app, was the #1 application when the iPad launched
  • Images are processed 60,000x faster than text by the human brain

So are you prepared? Content is still king, and visual content requires originality and thought. Make sure everything you post has something engaging to look at.  Visuals will cut through regular marketing speak, and original visuals can even stand out from other media of the same ilk. So charge your smartphone and grab your camera––you have some work to do!

Author: Zack Smith

Managing: Production vs. Digital

When you are providing management oversight in this industry, it shouldn’t matter what type of job it is, correct? Well, that’s very far from the truth. When the company shifts from a production (print) environment to a digital one, project management has to take on a whole new role. Let’s start with some basic differences between production and digital.

The end result of a production job is tangible––you can touch it, see it, feel it. Also, you are generally on the same page with the customer or vendor when you agree on the paper, color, quantity, size, and binding. The proofing, or verification, phase is straightforward because you––and the client––can touch it, see it, and feel it.

Digital jobs are intangible. These jobs are generally process implementations, computer programming and software development––things you don’t touch, see, or feel. These jobs are usually something new for the customer or an upgrade to an existing system. Although customers know what they want, their needs are conveyed in general terms. The verification stage becomes a testing phase where clients may decide that it’s “not exactly” what they meant, or decide that something “a little” more is needed. At this stage, you will also encounter differences in opinion––for example, when you agree with the client that you are going to provide documentation, does that mean a “how-to” user manual or a “blueprint” to rebuild the program from scratch? This is where the real negotiating usually comes into play, but proper planning can avoid this pitfall.

There are five basic project management phases: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and completion. These phases should be followed for any type of project regardless of the final output. The planning phase is probably the most critical for any project and ensures that both customer and vendor agree on the final output. In a production job, planning includes negotiation and agreement with the client on the paper, color, quantity, size, and binding for the final product. In a lot of situations, a sample or proof is created so that there is no misunderstanding––again, you can touch it, feel it, see it.

When you are dealing with an intangible deliverable, the planning phase needs further expansion. The creation of a sample or proof is generally not feasible, and the final output will not be realized without a majority of the work being completed. Therefore, “enhanced” planning  is required when you have a project in the digital arena. You will need to create a detailed, step-by-step approach from concept to completion. In addition, you must avoid using general terms (which could lead to divergent expectations, as illustrated in the documentation example above) and be as specific as possible about the final product, as well as its limitations. You can’t read the client’s mind, so you need to be more inquisitive and document what you discover so that both of you can “see” what the client meant.

Author: Tim Murphy

Top Tech in Movies and Television

Much of today’s technology was seen in movies first––it makes you wonder how much these movies have influenced designers.

Devices resembling the iPad have appeared in many movies throughout the years, including 2001: A Space Odyssey (whose HAL was a precursor to Siri) and Star Trek with its PADD (Personal Access Display Device).

Cell phone–like items have been seen many times over, most famously as Star Trek’s “communicator,” but in the 1956 science fiction film Forbidden Planet, those aboard the United Planets Cruiser have phones attached to their belt buckles. And in more recent times, Jim Carrey’s character in The Cable Guy predicted we would have a phone, computer, television, and game-playing device all in one.

Minority Report has a scene with gestural interfaces, as well as other user-interface innovations, in front of transparent screens. In the same scene, there are also flexible and transparent displays!

Minority Report UI Innovation analysis from Philippe DEWOST on Vimeo.

Which other Hollywood inventions have become realities? What other ones would you like to have in real life?

Author: Susan Hallinan