Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In Praise of Paper

I get a lot of mail inviting me to attend seminars and other events. I'm sure you do too. Lately it's been to attend the HOW Design Conference (http://www.howconference.com/ehome/index.php?eventid=17015&tabid=23071&). I received several invites. A few I passed along to staff members, and the rest found their way into a recycling bin.

All except one.

What was different about this one? Not the message. Not the design. It was the paper.

The post card was printed on Canaletto Grana Grossa Bianco, 78 lb. cover stock by Gruppo Cordenons.  This uncoated stock has a subtle texture that intrigued me. That choice of paper in a moment took me back to earlier days as a student discovering the wonder of paper, and the value paper brings to a design project.

We're used to seeing items printed on various weights of coated stock. It's nice to see your work printed with a gloss or dull varnish. It's also nice, if the job warrants, to use a paper that helps the customer 'linger' a little longer. If it's been a while, take time to review your paper samples.  Well chosen, an uncoated texture stock can save your client money and provide a tactile experience you can't get online.

If you are a graphic designer living in the Chicago area I encourage you to check out the HOW Design Conference.  The opportunities to learn from top speakers and network with peers is great!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Interactive magazine design

There has been an explosion of e-book creation activity. Everyone is watching to see how publishing business models are impacted by the trend—some with anticipation, some with apprehension and/or fear. Change is coming to our world and it effects how we and the next generation will learn how to read and communicate. Before we look to the future let's look at where we've been.

A few years ago magazine publishers began to look at how to use the Internet to expand their reader base. Websites sprang up based on the magazine brand. Some publishers found subscribers wanted the experience of their print counterpart, and magazines using page turn technology were born.  Users wanted more from this experience and publishers began to ask, "what if?"

One early entry in the PDF magazine model was InDesign Magazine, published by CreativePro.com. The magazine was instrumental in creating buzz about Adobe InDesign. When Adobe included the ability to add videos in PDFs, InDesign became a great way to get it into a PDF. The magazine, created using InDesign, included videos.

As I grew more comfortable with viewing magazines online I started using one of the digital magazine delivery services, Zinio, http://www.zinio.com/.  In 2008, Zinio offered magazines and books for download to the desktop. Today, magazine purchasers can also download publications to their iPad, iPod, and iPhone devices.  Magazines for Android devices can't be far behind. Zinio offers a number of free sample magazines for download.

Here's a spread from Layers Magazine. Readers can zoom in to read text, and the magazine frequently included hyperlinks to designer and advertiser sites.

Other magazine producers began to give users a more unique experience. National Geographic produced an interactive version of its issue on Water. It's cool to watch a magazine cover rain before your eyes, with sound of thunder, text, and the familiar yellow NGM branding finally appear.

Last year a traditional magazine, Smithsonian, produced an interactive version of the print special magazine on 40 things you need to know about the next 40 years. Some articles included Flash video presentations.

One more magazine publisher takes user experience to new heights. VIV magazine creates a rich interactive experience from the articles to its advertising. Here's an example. This article gives women the opportunity to visualize sunglasses and hats on a model.

What does the future hold? Who knows? One thing is certain: the new world of digital publishing can be an exciting place for talented designers working with gifted editors, programmers, and usability experts. Let's get ready to get in the game.