Print designers need to adapt for digital age
Eva Csernyanszky explains how publishers may make the leap into digital publishing
Print design often follows a complex design and editorial workflow process – with the end goal of generating compelling and informative magazines, newspapers, catalogues and product guides. With the rising popularity of mobile devices and tablets, designers are now challenged with creating both print and digital reading experiences. To do this, designers frequently hand off design assets to an online team, which results in an online experience that fails to convey the same aesthetic and brand qualities inherent in the original print design. All too often, the brand experience is lost in translation.
As digital publications appeal more to younger, techno-savvy consumers, what this means for print designers is that they have to adapt to the times – or risk dying out. Print designers, especially those who have been in the industry for more than a decade, and who perhaps were reluctant to go the web route because of coding, will find the transition to digital publishing quite easy as emerging tools automate the process to a large degree.
While solutions from vendors such as Twixl media and Aquafadas offer seemingly more attractive initial pricing structures, in my experience the reporting services and hosted online tools offered by Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite cannot be beaten – especially for larger publishing houses.
Adobe’s cutting-edge software opens up a brand new communications medium to South African advertisers and publishers, enabling them to publish digital content with an interactive dimension on tablet devices such as the Apple iPad, Blackberry PlayBook, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Motorola Xoom.
Using Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite, layout designers can add interactive elements to a client’s message. Traditionally, the consumer’s experience of an advertisement would be a static image with a tag line, but digital publishing provides an opportunity to draw the user into a product by bringing the ad or entire publication to life, allowing him to navigate through the content and choose his own experience.
This offers advertisers, in particular, the chance to break through the advertising clutter currently bombarding consumers on a daily basis, and even keep readers coming back for the experience. The immersive nature of the experience makes the user feel more connected to a brand, which in turn creates more brand loyalty.
This has been corroborated by studies carried out at the University of Connecticut in Stamford, USA, which have shown that those who engage with a brand in this way have a heightened awareness of that brand afterwards.
It’s still layout
Simply told, the process starts with Adobe InDesign CS5 or CS5.5. Extensions and plug-ins, which are free to download from the Adobe website, provide designers with the tools to create, preview and bundle digital documents for mobile devices and tablets.
The key components are the Overlay Creator panel, the Content Viewer for Desktop, the Folio Bundler and the Folio Producer, which is an online tool available for Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) account holders only. The Overlay Creator enables designers to directly insert interactivity into layouts destined for tablets.
Interactivity includes panning and zooming of images, panoramic views, 360-degree rotation of objects and the integration of HTML5 content and more.
The Content Viewer for Desktop, an Adobe AIR-based application, enables designers to preview layouts and interactivity before outputting them for publication, while the Folio Producer panel provides DPS account holders with access to the full range of online hosted services of the Digital Publishing Suite.
Choose a version
Making the choice between the Professional and the more comprehensive Enterprise Digital Publishing Suite account will depend entirely on the scope of a publication’s distribution – and whether or not the online services for managing, selling and distributing a digital publication to online market places such as the Android Market, BlackBerry App World and Apple iStore are required.
Subscribing to a DPS account can be a tough decision, especially for smaller organizations, as the upfront costs seem extravagant at first, due to the fact that account fees must be paid a year in advance before a single online publication is sold.
However, one only has to examine costs of printing and transportation of the printed product (and consider the additional advantages of distributing the content digitally) to realize that these may far exceed the the initial investment.
While there are significant differences between print and digital publications, choosing a digital medium has definite advantages, not only to the bottom line. Digital magazines consume no paper, ink or chemicals, nor do they end up in landfills. Today, only a small percentage of printed publications are recycled from home, according to the Magazine Publishers Association.
Contemplate that a magazine of 68 pages, offering a small circulation of 20 000 copies, for example, would consume around 12 tons of paper, with transportation adding to the environmental burden. Furthermore, digital magazines can be indexed by leading search engines, providing an additional way in which to draw new readers to the publication.
Digital magazines are simple to update, can be viewed online, downloaded for off-line reading or archived and retrieved for future enjoyment. Long leads times are a thing of the past, too, as digital magazines can deliver breaking news faster than most print publications.
Should either of the available account types not suit, organizations can take advantage of a newly introduced ‘agency model’ now on offer from Adobe Solution Partners such as Realm Digital in Cape Town.
This model is well suited to advertising agencies who wants to use DPS on behalf of their advertising clients, who service multiple corporations, publishers or clients or printing companies who offer DPS services on behalf of multiple publishers.
(At the time of going to press, Adobe had announced the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite Single Edition which, according to the company, allows freelance designers and small design firms to publish interactive content on the Apple iPad. With a fee of US$395 per application, Single Edition offers an affordable and flexible end-to-end workflow for the publication of brochures, highly-visual books, annual reports or personal design portfolios as an
application for the iPad. – Ed)
Folio Producer Service
The Folio Producer Service facilitates the upload of the .folio publication file to the online account to assemble and reorder content, add .folio article metadata and refine the final .folio file as it will appear in published form on tablet devices.
An Enterprise account offers the Viewer Builder Service to create the branded look-and-feel of a distinct publication, and the Distribution Service stores and hosts the digital content and distributes it across tablet devices and desktops, as well as seamlessly notifying readers within the branded Content Viewer when a update or new content is available for purchase or download.
The E-commerce service, also for Enterprise account holders, facilitates the sale and distribution of content from the publisher’s website or through online marketplaces.
The final offering, by no means the least, is the Analytics Service, a tool highly valued by advertisers in that key data reports, including total ad views and customer engagement with interactive content, can be viewed at any time to measure the effectiveness of ads and reach of the publication.
You also have to consider that online market places will charge for every download in addition to paying for the bundles of downloads bought from Adobe, and Apple retaining a significant 30% of revenue from sales – but global reach should make that lighter to bear.
With local magazines already signed and many more in the pipeline, all that remains is to take the creative leap by getting in touch with your regional Adobe partner and ensuring that your content remains innovative and accessible.
_Eva Csernyanszky – Friends of Design Academy of Digital Arts
Reprinted from Enjin magazine with permission.