Tricks of the Trade in Adobe CC

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As designers, we use Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign nearly every day. But how well do we really know these programs? Adobe is constantly adding new capabilities, but we tend to resist change. It’s easier to keep doing things the way we’ve always done them rather than tackle the learning curve of a new tool.

I’m going to highlight three of my favorite Adobe features that I’ve discovered recently. If you’re unfamiliar with them, I hope you take the time to try them. You may be pleasantly surprised by the increased efficiency of your workflow.

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Cost: Free, but you must sign in with an Adobe ID
Availability: iOS devices, Download it here.

This companion app is a game-changer for designing mobile web pages. It uses Wi-Fi or USB to mirror your Photoshop design onto your mobile device. Make changes confidently while viewing your design on its intended device. Any changes made in Photoshop will update in real-time on your mobile device. You can link multiple devices at once, allowing you to work across a whole spectrum of different formats.

Do you create your website mockups in Illustrator instead of Photoshop? No problem. Simply place your design into Photoshop as a Vector Smart Object, and edit the Smart Object in Illustrator. Easy peasy.

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What a great tool – I can’t believe I didn’t find this earlier. Recolor Artwork allows you to quickly reassign colors in even the most complex art. Sure, you can use Select -> Same -> Fill Color, and then change the color, but this way is so much faster. Besides, the Select -> Same method doesn’t play well with stroked objects. Recolor Artwork will preserve your strokes.

Here is a great tutorial that explains the tool more in-depth (you can skip to 1:50).

Recolor Artwork is great for consolidating a group of nearly identical colors into one color. I also use it to find the closest Pantone swatch to a color I have created in the computer.

 

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Say you are typesetting columns of names, addresses and telephone numbers. You probably want them to stick together as units. You don’t want those chunks of information to break across a column. I used to correct this manually with soft returns, but that was a terrible practice. If anything changed, my manual corrections would be knocked out of place, causing additional problems.

The Keep Options in the Paragraphs panel is the answer. There are a multitude of options here. In this particular example, I used “Keep with Previous.” Now, my column breaks respect the chunks of information that should stay together. This function was vital in creating a 50+ page directory.

Watch the video below to see this function in action. Tutorial here.

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Prejean Creative Tells You Why – Upper and Lower Case

The terms “uppercase” and “lowercase” have interesting origins that date back to the early days of the printing press. One of the earliest methods of printing involved painstakingly arranging pieces of metal type to form words and sentences. The raised type was then inked and printed.

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All those tiny pieces needed to be stored and organized, so typographers used special wooden boxes called cases. As Grammar Girl has noted in her excellent blog, by convention, the capital letters were stored in the higher, or ‘upper,’ case, and the smaller letters were stored beneath, in the ‘lower’ case.

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Even though our modern type now resides in the computer, not wooden boxes, the terms ‘uppercase’ and ‘lowercase’ persist.

Image credit (top): Wikimedia Commons

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8 Tips for Successful Video Marketing Campaigns

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Keeping up with the latest trends in marketing is a constant battle. Things change almost daily, and what is hot one minute quickly becomes cold. As digital platforms vie to outdo one another and capture a larger audience, marketers are often struggling to master one tool before having to move on and learn the next.

Video Marketing – The Proof is in the Numbers
One trend that is spreading rapidly across all platforms, and with no sign of fizzling out, is video marketing. Between January and December 2015, 654.7 million videos were uploaded by 66.7 million users to more than 30 video platforms with 2.8 trillion views.

Other video marketing statistics emphasize the growing trend.

Video Marketing statistics infographic

The Numbers Prove Necessity. Now What?

So what does it all mean? It means that companies must consider adding video marketing campaigns to their marketing strategy mix. But, simply posting a bunch of videos across digital platforms won’t produce results. Pay attention as we offer 8 tips for executing a successful video marketing campaign.

1. Create strong content. Videos should have a purpose, whether that is to tell a story, give a tutorial, answer questions, etc. They should focus on the audience and engage viewers with content they want to receive. Audiences want to hear stories, not just product pitches. Include people in videos to add a human element to your messaging.

2. Have comprehensive creative and content plans. Video marketing is part of the overall advertising strategy. As such, creative and content plans are necessary to ensure the video adheres to brand messaging. Plans provide structure to and control over the development of creative and content.

3. Create a detailed distribution plan. Knowing where to place the videos is crucial to success. A company’s website is a good starting point for distribution, as it can be referenced. Creating a YouTube channel is a great way to have videos hosted online. Beyond those, there are a plethora of digital platforms, necessitating the creation of a distribution plan that narrows in on where to reach the target audiences.

4. Set measurable goals. Creating video for the sake of creating video isn’t efficient. Before starting a video marketing campaign, be sure to set measurable goals. Once the campaign is running, consistently review the analytics to see what content audiences are responding to. Use the analytics to adjust the campaign if necessary.

5. Grab attention quickly, and keep the video short. Attention spans are short. Videos must quickly grab the viewer’s attention and hold it throughout the video. There are various schools of thought on the optimal length of videos. Keep in mind, as with any advertising, the quicker a message delivers content worth receiving, the more likely a viewer is to stay tuned to the messaging.

6. Optimize for search. Search engines tend to favor videos over written content. Make sure the content and keywords of the video are available to search engines.

7. Plan for mobile responsiveness. Mobile consumption of digital media is higher than that of desktop, 51% to 42%, which means that all videos need to be created with responsive design for optimized viewing on mobile devices.

8. Include calls to action. Videos should inspire viewers to interact with a brand in some way. Be sure all videos include a call to action that supports the metric goals of the marketing campaign.

 

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Prejean Creative Tells You Why – We Don’t Use Double Spaces

One space or two? Every time you put two spaces between your sentences, a typographer sheds a tear.

The origin of the double space between sentences probably lies with the typewriter, which used monospaced fonts. This meant that every character was the same width. Those have been replaced by proportional fonts, in which different characters have different widths.PCTYW-01

In the monospaced example above, a wide character (like “m”) takes up the same amount of space as a thin character (like “i”).

Monospaced type looks spread out and unbalanced, making it difficult to distinguish the separation between sentences. Adding an extra space was a logical way to make text more readable.

As PCs replaced typewriters, they abandoned monospaced type for proportional type. Not only is it more pleasing to the eye, but the characters are closer together, eliminating the need for the double space.

Chances are, if you learned to type on a typewriter, you add the extra space. Modern word processing makes this unnecessary. A double space is sooooo 1970s.

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Push the Digital Clutter Away and Notify Effectively

A Tip for Digital Engagement with Customers – Use Push Notifications
“How do I get the right message to the right customer at the right time?” This is the question that every marketer is constantly asking himself. And, the answer is always changing. As new channels of communication emerge, new tactics must be developed for reaching audiences where they spend their time, with information they want to receive. And, thanks to ad blocking software, it has become increasingly difficult to get users to view online ads, even those targeted to the user’s interests. In Q2 of 2015, over 45 million average monthly active users in the U.S. were using ad blocking software.

Significance of Push Notifications
Enter push notifications as a tool to send information from a company. Once a user agrees to allow them, businesses can use push notifications to inform consumers of information that may be useful to them, such as sales, coupons, new products or company updates. These notifications can link back to information posted on the brand’s website. What makes them so great is that the notifications can go through browsers, or directly through native applications. So, users can have the correct browser and/or native app installed on their device(s), and receive messages.

Let’s say “Lucy’s” is going to have a Labor Day Sale. With push notifications, when Lucy’s updates the sale information on its website, it will push out a message to customers. The notifications are a direct line of communication.

Push notifications have been proven effective. According to phunware.com, marketers estimate that open rates for push notifications is 50 percent higher than that of emails. This makes them a more effective means of communication than email campaigns.

Google Cloud Messaging
There is no doubting the benefits of push notifications: users choose to receive them, and they drive traffic to a company’s website. There are a number of APIs and third-party programs out there that send push notifications. However, Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) is a free service. GCM operates through Google Chrome, but companies also have the option to design a native app that will receive GCM push notifications, allowing them to reach customers who don’t have Chrome installed. Also, analytics can be viewed in the Google Developers Console, giving businesses valuable feedback on the effectiveness of the push notification system through their website.

Getting A Little More Technical With Google Cloud Messaging
To begin sending push notifications using GCM, appropriate Google Chrome service workers need to be installed on a company’s website, and the website must hold an SSL certificate (an https:// URL prefix). Once installed, when a user visits the website through a Chrome browser, the service workers are used by the browser to ask the user to subscribe the device to the website’s GCM service. Once accepted, the user will receive GCM push notifications from the site, through the GCM server, then out to the user’s Chrome browser.

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If a company chooses to create an app that pushes notifications to its users, it can still use the Google Cloud Messaging service. The developer will install the Google Chrome service workers in the backend of the app. Then, the push notification subscription is handled similarly to that of all native app push notifications. Consumers who install the app have the option to agree to receive push notifications during the native app install process. The users then have the ability to manage their notification settings (turn on/off). Native app push notifications are sent from your website, to the GCM server, then out to the native app holders.

Notifications can be sent from your website to both Chrome subscribers and native app holders in the same push, if you have added the necessary components to both. Information about the coding necessary to send the notifications from your website through the Google Cloud Messaging server is supplied by Google Developers.

Targeted Messaging
In the current digital marketing landscape, brands must have an online presence to stay relevant to consumers, but simply existing online isn’t enough. Companies must be able to communicate with consumers while they are interacting with the brand’s online resources. Push notifications allow a business to reach out to customers with messaging that they have elected to receive. The notifications are an effective tool that help businesses reach the right customer with the right message at the right time.

 

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