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DIGITAL • CREATIVE Tuesday 23rd September 2014

DON'T GET IN A PIXEL

by Ben Parer

DON'T GET IN A PIXEL

Why choose digital?

There are many reasons why you would choose a digital platform over printing. While nothing will replace the tactile impact of a printed product (check out the beautiful magazine you’re holding) there are ways to create that sense of surprise and wonderment through the digital medium. ‘Going digital’ also delivers some clear benefits which include:

  • Reduced production and delivery time
  • Flexible pricing solutions
  • More engaging, detailed, evolving and enhanced content
  • Social integration, interactivity and an immersive customisable experience
  • Easy distribution: publish ‘everywhere’
  • Analysis of interaction

Deciding what to CREATE

After defining your target audience, budget and strategy the next task is to decide on your audience touchpoints. Here are some of the digital offerings and their various pros and cons:

Websites

Still the ‘Godfather’ of digital marketing. Deciding to produce a website to complement or as the main delivery platform requires it to work in a multi-device distribution society. That means one thing – responsive design. Good design constructed in a responsive manner is at the heart of universal accessibility and means the same content works on your phone, laptop, desktop or tablet device whether you’re looking at it standing up, sideways or hanging upside down on a bungee rope. It’s a platform with endless possibilities but remember that your audience needs a (good) internet connection…

PDF

Adobe Acrobat’s ubiquitous product is widely used and for a reason.It’s adaptable, can deliver scalable levels of quality versus document size, vectors and fonts render perfectly and it is widely supported across platforms and devices.It can provide rather simple interactivity, like page jumps or bookmarks, image swaps, buttons and work with video. Other dimensions of interactivity are possible but cracking Adobe’s use of javascript requires specific expertise.

iBook

Apple’s iBook technology is, unsurprisingly, built with some pretty funky features that are relatively easy to implement and are a joy to use, encouraging playfulness and interactivity. The compatibility with standard technologies like HTML5, Javascript and CSS3 means generating bespoke whizzy widgets should be fairly straightforward for web developers and assets can even be leveraged if you’re building a website as well – if you develop it in the right way for the website then you can also use it on an iBook. The obvious drawback for iBooks is that they are restricted to the Apple environment and won’t work across other platforms.

Apps

Apps designed for a specific purpose and platform, are a pleasure to work with and simple for a user to understand. The best Apps allow you to take advantage of a phone’s inbuilt capabilities like geo-location and accelerometers to deliver an enhanced user experience. Apps were all the rage not so long ago, but recently the passion for them has waned somewhat. This is because you tend to have to spend as much if not more budget on maintaining the app’s system software upgrades. You also have to develop complete apps not just for multi- platforms, but also take into consideration each system or phone version of that platform. For example, iPhone  4, 4S, 5 and 5S would all require bespoke versions. Apps face the added hurdle of requiring approval through the various proprietary app stores which are then required for distribution, this adds to time and cost.

Web apps

Sitting somewhere in-between a website and an app are web apps. These are effectively websites designed using technology like HTML5, Javascript and CSS3. They can work though all of the various browsers and can also be ported to all the various devices using software like Adobe’s PhoneGap.It’s not quite as simple as a one size fits all approach to the design as certain attributes require a little consideration, but the development and maintenance cost is minimised. A good example of a web app is Amazon’s where the website and the app on your phone operate in exactly the same manner.

Presentations

Pitching and presenting are a key part of business and while it’s possible to get reasonably adept with platforms such as Powerpoint or Keynote, it’s too crucial a part of business development and marketing to not involve your creative agency at some point.

Which platform are you on?

Whatever you create it’s likely that your audience will be viewing it either on their preferred device or on the one that is currently available. In the personal digital framework we have four main viewing devices: desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones with the hybrid ‘phablets’ thrown in for good measure.

You’re likely to have to deliver to all these devices while taking into consideration all manner of other technical aspects from Google’s Kit Kat browser quirks to Acrobat’s security flags.

Take an integrated approach

When planning your marketing, great savings can be made by integrating content and delivering complementary products.

Making them easy to update through Content Management Systems (CMS) with information stored in a single database allows content to be fresh and means you don’t run the risk of having compliance issues or the boredom that stems from having to update the same content multiple times.

You don’t have to recreate all the content either, think about integrating other current web content into your deliverables using XML feeds.

Dynamically generated pdfs delivered from cloud-based websites, updated on a CMS used by multiple users and viewed on devices like iPads using GoodReader with content seamlessly linked to a website create a gratifying user experience.

More importantly it’s excellent to apply to a large portfolio and will save you lugging around an armful of paper documents.

Enhanced content

No matter what you create, content is king. Digital content enables you to use a variety of engaging content that ranges from immersive and exciting to the practical and helpful. Listed below are some of the content that can be utilised:

  • Video
  • Advanced images
  • Galleries
  • Animation
  • Multi-page
  • Data capture
  • HTML 5
  • Widgets
  • Music
  • Accelerometer
  • Geo-location
  • Augmented reality

Analysis

One of the distinct advantages of digital is its ability to easily generate analytics including:

  • Unique traffic
  • Analysis of interaction
  • Geo-location
  • Device information
  • Traffic sources
  • Viewing duration
  • Download numbers
  • Pageviews
  • Referral sources

Advantages

  • Interaction analysis
  • Flexible pricing
  • Scalability without scalable costs
  • Evolve content
  • Engaging interactivity
  • More detail
  • Social media integration
  • Easy distribution
  • Customised experience
  • Publish everywhere