Kyoorius Designyatra 2012 – The Divide

This is probably the most “exciting” post I have ever done. Simply because it has so much digital, design and learning packed in it. From 30 August 2012 till 1 September 2012, Kyoorius – ‘Where Creatives Meet’ organised a brilliant 3 day design event called Designyatra . This was the 8 edition and theme for this year was – “The Divide” This year they had an additional day dedicated to understanding the divide in the digital area of design – The Digital Day. The entire 3 days featured some mind-blowing and amazing creatives from Adobe, Google, Microsoft and Nokia. Besides these tech creatives there were many other designers and entrepreneurs too. Since I am a big fan of design and digital media, there was no way I was missing out on this event! So bags packed and I headed to Goa for Digital Day 2012 – The Divide ! The conference was organised by Kyooruis at the Grand Hyatt | Goa. Digital Day was the first of the 3 days of Designyatra. This special one day dedicated to digital, boasted some of the best in the industry –

Before I get into the details of who said what and why, first a loud applause to Kyoorius for the kickass setup and detail put into the entire branding and design of the event. I loved every bit of the passes and stationary provided.  Great design and creativity put into everything right from the badges to the notebooks. Kudos. Anyone who was there that day would agree to the fact that they can’t remember every single thing that happened because it was way too awesome and action packed. Listening to each of these speakers talk was pure joy. The day started with an opening note from Mr. Rajesh Kejriwal – Founder Kyoorius Magazine after which the ever so energetic and lively Debbie Millman took over the show. First up – Robert Wong !

1. Robert Wong – Chief Creative Officer | Google

“He made us cry with that dear Sophie video. Can you believe that ! “

Robert without a doubt was probably the funniest guy on stage. He very safely begun by dedicating a fair part of his presentation to why you should keep your wife happy. Soon he shared how he was into accounting and landed up in Google simply by designing some Gmail shortcut stickers for the keyboard which later back fired. Robert being a part of the Google family gave us an inside perspective of how Google is trying to out do themselves everyday. He focused on how it is important to do something that makes life simple and enriches it. He played a series of videos that highlighted his team’s work at Google for various products. He said –  spend 99.9% of your time MAKING, to do good things that matter ! He even spoke about how Google sold and marketed a browser – Chrome (Which everyone thought was not possible. I mean seriously, who sells a browser to the user ?) Also showcased a new product of Google – Exquisite Forest and spoke on how the video was designed for Google’s Glass Project. The best part of Robert’s presentation was – every video he showed us had so much emotion to it. They were real stories of real people and how Google was transforming lives. It wasn’t some creative guy making shit up.I personally loved the Dear Sophie Gmail video which is a true story of an engineer working at Google. Apart from that the Chrome Speed test and the Exquisite Forest videos which were interesting, another really touching story was the – It gets better video -” Beginning with one inspiring video, Dan Savage used the web to create the It Gets Better project–a movement that has generated thousands of uplifting videos that give hope to teens.”  He also spoke about how they did a hangout with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. It was Google and the real world connecting.  Robert also said – “I don’t like to make ads. I make demos and documentaries.” Robert really rocked the show and it was a great start to the event. I really love the note on which he ended his presentation – “Make the World better, Do EPIC shit people ! “ – That’s Robert for all of you ! (Completely unrelated, the T Shirt I got at the event happens to be designed by Robert! Yippee!)

There were many videos he shared. but I can’t remember the names of all of them. Here are a few .




2. Sander Ejlenberg – Creative Director | Ice Mobile & Muse

” customize + personalize = awesomize your brand interface via mobile and digital.Mobile  “

Sander was amazing. He had so much to offer in terms of design and storytelling with digital on the mobile platform. He presented some of his work with Ice Mobile and Muse. We heard a lot about how the mobile interface was the key  to the unified experience.  I clearly remember this piece of work he showcased  for ABM AMRO Mobile Banking – ” Together with ABN AMRO IceMobile developed Mobile Banking by ABN AMRO. With the Mobile Banking application you can check your balance, transactions, view and make transfers via your mobile phone. The service is primarily available as an app for iPhone and iPad, and will very soon be available for Android and Blackberry.” Some really important points he focused on were,  how important an interface is while establishing an enriched user experience. He also mentioned about how its important for brands to market and story tell using digital and mobile content in today’s world.



3. Aapo Bovellan – Director Brand Marketing | Nokia   and

    Bruno Maag – Creative & Managing Director | Dalton Maag

” What do you guys smoke ?  ” Bruno to the Bengali folks !

This was another really interesting and yet surprising presentation. By the end of this session by Aapo and Bruno, everyone had new-found respect for Nokia. It begun with Aapo speaking about what went into establishing a unified and personal branding for Nokia. Right from their product design to their packaging. Some key points by Aapo were – Make a product, you love yourself. Focus on doing your own thing. A lot of solid points by Aapo on how Nokia believes they are the first mobile and how they stay unique to it. 3 points I really loved were –

1. Understand who you really are.

2. Make an original product.

3. Have a focused identity.

I really enjoyed the Nokia Pure view  short film. At some point I remember, Aapo saying Nokia made the best maps. I really wanted to see the look on Robert’s face at that moment. (CCO at Google) Soon Aapo was joined by this amazing dude – Bruno From Dalton Maag. And then this was a deadly mix. We were just taken on this amazing trip with the new Nokia typeface – Nokia Pure ! Oh man it was amazing to see and understand the effort and design process that went into the new Nokia type face. It was mind-blowing to see how many different languages it supported and will in the near future. Nokia was really living up to the line – Connecting people. I remember Bruno spoke about how they were building it for Gujrati, Tamil, Hebrew, Arabic etc. What I clearly remember was Bruno saying – ” When it came to Bengali, we had a lot of struggle. I mean seriously what do you guys smoke ?” Bruno spoke about how challenging it was to build the new type to support Bengali at first. Similarly what political challenges they faced in China and similar religious barriers they had to overcome in other parts of the world. On a whole the entire presentation was really amazing and filled with some kickass facts about Nokia ! Oh also these Dalton Maags they gave us are just amazing. The display some client projects and also the new Nokia Pure Typeface. At the end Nokia did us proud.

4.Nic Roope – Founder & ECD  | Poke (UK)

” Digital has really become big now. But in the process, we have managed to piss everyone off  “

Nic was simply so fucking interesting ! And I am not exaggerating that even one bit ! He may come to look as a stern and serious guy, but hey,  he is a really great person to talk to. I think he showcased some of the best digital media projects during the entire day. His projects had not only a digital aspect but a balanced feed of digital, design as well as technology put into play. Most of his work with Poke was really innovative, kinda out of the box. He spoke on how digital has become a medium to share and how simple it is to tap its potential if done right. He highlighted how sometimes you just go with an idea and make it big. I really enjoyed the work he showcased. They had a creative as well as a funny edge. Some of the projects were an advertisement for Diesel Eye wear, Phone Fund for Orange and a never-ending web page !

Here are a couple of them :


5.Rodney Edwards – Principle Design Manger | Microsoft

” The design idea needs to be bigger than the design team !   “

Finally Rodney gets on stage. I was really looking forward to hearing him speak about Microsoft’s new direction in design and branding. Rodney took us through a series of images that explained Microsoft’s new design philosophy. He explained how Microsoft was moving into a direction to unify all its products with a common visual identity. Three points I really loved about his presentation was

  • “Take pride in craftsmanship. Devote time and energy to small things that will be seen more by many”
  •  “Engineer the experience at every stage” Microsoft’s learning from  Apple
  •  The design idea needs to be bigger than the design team !   “

He did dive into how they were building the new Windows 8 UI and how the were trying to establish and enrich the whole user experience. A part from that,  a couple of previews of apps and layouts that they were working on for Windows 8 on tablets and hand-held devices. Since we had the opportunity to ask the speaker questions, I really wanted to get Rodney on the topic of Microsoft’s rebranding that just occurred.  I  tweeted the question to Debbie Millman and yippie ! At the end of the presentation Debbie put forward the question to Rodney.

Q:  Debbie : “Rodney what is the design philosophy that went into  rebranding  the new Microsoft logo and how has it been received – Jonathan  ”

Rodney explained that the step in rebranding the Microsoft logo was a part of unification of the overall brand and products. They aimed at establishing a unified identity with the logo and products. He also said, it was to make it more human.

6.Micheal Gough – Vice President Experience Design | Adobe

” You build a portfolio that will get you hired !”

Micheal Gough was the man of the evening. Without doubt the last but the best presentation by Micheal Gough – VP XD for Adobe. Micheal went down to the core of what drives a company like Adobe in building these cutting edges tools that help deliver in the digital loop. He was very honest in every word. He spoke about the creative cloud and how it would shape up in the near future. Also how it aims at making the Adobe softwares more available to the crowd. He spoke about how Adobe is trying to reshape and build better tools that will help cater to the growing and changing needs. He made a really lovely and inspirational presentation which I thoroughly enjoyed. But the best part was what happened after the presentation. Along with a few others, I had the opportunity to sit down with Micheal Gough and a couple of other from Adobe like Phil and Jay Dutta  and have an open conversation with them.

This was the real fun part. I must say Micheal loves telling stories. And I wanted to hear more, even after the session ended. Micheal gave us a brief of how he landed up with Adobe. Starting his career in Architecture and then moving on to design with a sports news channel and other places. He also did a stint with Nike and later joined Macromedia and ultimately Adobe. He shed light on how we must follow what we want to do. Measure our capability and make wise decisions. He explained how he took up the creative director job at Nike and left it. Simply because he felt he couldn’t do it. We shouldn’t go by the job title and designation but follow what we want to do – Micheal’s advice.  We even asked him a couple of question. I remember someone asked him what kind of tools were developed by Adobe for managing and visualizing data. Micheal explained that currently Adobe isn’t heading in that direction. He also spoke about, if someone plans to step in that arena he has got to be good in numbers, and design to correctly interpret and present data. Someone else asked him on how Adobe predicts what is going to be the next best tool while developing their products for the digital world where change is a constant factor. He explained, Adobe can’t predict but they keep advancing and build better tools. They innovate while at the same time upgrade their existing platforms. He would make that sad simley face every time someone went near a topic that involved Flash. (Something very close to me – Micheal Gough) He spoke about how Adobe is building some new and wide range of tools based on HTML 5 technology. It seems pretty exciting ! He focused on how the creative suite tries to improve their tools and build better ones. A surprising statement he made was Adobe is working on some open source tools !  My goodness. Just imagine ! To which someone promptly replied – ” Will illustrator be open source ?” Micheal  – “Haha, Illustrator and Photoshop never.” He also spoke about how Adobe is trying to integrate illustrator and Photoshop to help cross-platform work process. While he spoke about how they working on some new HTML5  based tools I asked him why is Adobe still selling Dreaweaver when they have successfully launched Muse, which essentially does the same thing but quicker. He explained saying just because we made a new tool, we won’t chuck the old one out. Plus a lot of money is made on the sales of Dream weaver. He said, the Dreaweaver team doesn’t sit silent. They will not wait for another software to out beat them, but in fact will find ways to out beat themselves before someone else. Which makes completely sense. He strongly supported the notion of experimenting and learning from mistakes. He said, there was a time when Adobe tried to integrate all the creative suite products into a single software and failed miserably. He said, however we learnt from it and continued developing. Mistakes help you decide better. Build better.  The point I really like about the Creative cloud was what that Micheal explained – When we need to fix a bug or tools in a version of a software, it takes 18 months to release a corrected or fixed one. However  with the creative cloud we can provide the new fix as soon as it is ready. Plus the cloud in the future will help several creative to collaborate and work on projects. Meeting and listening to Micheal was a delight and a memory for me. Before we departed I also had a quick word with Jay Dutta – XD at Adobe. It great talking to him about what kind of designers Adobe hires and how they work. As I describe this evening – An Adobe overdose ! I personally am a big fan of Adobe and work with so many of their softwares. Recently I started a series of review sessions on the new Adobe Creative Suite CS6 on my blog as a part of the Adobe User Review Program. Having an opportunity to sit with these folks from Adobe has given me a lot to think about.

At the end of the day, I would say this was an awesome event. I learnt so much. I left Goa with a head filled with so much inspiration after meeting hearing these amazing folks. I don’t think I slept that night. What I loved was that every speaker spoke on conquering the divide via unification rather than going into detail about the divide itself. Having a chance to meet folks like Debbie Millman, Micheal Gough and Sander Ejlenberg is bucket list stuff for me !  Debbie deserves a huge round of applause for hosting the event so well and connecting the audience with the speakers. It was great meeting a lot of fellow designers and creatives. One thing is for sure, next time I am staying for all the 3 or more days Designyatra 2013 will have to offer. Great job by all the speakers and the Kyoorius team.

To know more about the event –

  • Website – designyatra.com
  • Twitter – twitter.com/designyatra
  • Facebook – facebook.com/kyoorius
  • Hastag – #kdy12
  • Instagram – #kdy12
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CS6 Review Session – Episode 1

Hello and welcome to the first episode of the Adobe Creative Suite 6 review sessions. On April 23rd 2012, Adobe made the big announcement of the upcoming CS6 upgrade. It’s been close to 4 months since then. While designers and tonnes of other user waited impatiently to get their hands on the new upgrade, many wondered what was the new upgrade and was it worth the buck ? I have migrated from CS5.5 to CS6 and I have one word for you – REMARKABLE. Adobe has really packed a punch in CS6. With some major upgrades and new tools, Adobe has rolled out a  fleet of digital tools that push the creative boundary even further within the digital and print loop.So the big question is should I move to CS6 ? Is the upgrade worth the price ? This is what the review session is aimed at. Episode by episode we will dive in deeper into a few selected softwares from the Adobe Creative Suite Master collection 6. We will run through everything good and bad about the CS6 softwares. Most importantly, anyone can follow these reviews. It’s not from a testing or technical point of view, rather from a user point of view. So buckle up and dig in.

What will you find in Episode one ? 

  • What CS6 has to offer compared to CS5 – Same tools new look ?
  • What are the technical requirements for CS6 – Should I worry ?
  • Cost and new softwares in CS6 – Value for money ?
  • Visual aspects of CS6 – Eh, why does CS6 look so different ?

 

This episode we run through the look and feel of CS6 leaving aside deep and major upgrades in tools and features. We analyze the new branding and visual appeal that Adobe has put into CS6. Along with that from the next episode  we will start  reviewing  new features in Adobe’s Photoshop CS6 and Illustrator CS6. So tune in and don’t miss on any.

1. What CS6 has to offer compared to CS5

As compared to CS5, Adobe CS6 Creative Suite Master Collection consist of  11 updated softwares and 2 new softwares. Most of the previous softwares have undergone some major changes, while a couple have had minor tweaks. We will also look into 2 new softwares that Adobe has bundled into the Creative Suite Master Collection CS6.

Softwares included in CS6 Master Collection :

  • Photoshop CS6 Extended (Updated)
  • Illustrator CS6 (Updated)
  • InDesign CS6 (Updated)
  • Acrobat X Pro
  • Flash Professional CS6 (Updated)
  • Flash Builder 4.6 Premium Edition
  • Dreamweaver CS6 (Updated)
  • Fireworks CS6 (Updated)
  • Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 (Updated)
  • After Effects CS6 (Updated)
  • Adobe Audition CS6 (Updated)
  • SpeedGrade CS6 (New)
  • Prelude CS6 (New)
  • Encore CS6
  • Bridge CS6
  • Media Encoder CS6

Here is a preview of the softwares included in the Creative Suite collection

So what the CS6 offers is 11 major updates and 2 brand new softwares – Speed Grade CS6 and Prelude CS6. To understand more of the CS6 upgrade checkout product page.

2. What are the technical requirements for CS6

A major question on everyone’s mind. Will the new upgrade survive on my existing system conifg and specs ? Well surprisingly the new CS6 does demand for a more advanced and strong configuration, but works relatively fine with the old chaps too. To get a complete list of the technical specification required checkout the adobe product tech spec page.

What’s my opinion on the system requirement for CS6. Don’t worry too much. If you are working on Windows, your major concern should be your RAM, Disk Space and Processor. Okay you can worry a little bit.

  • Processor : 64 Bit Required but  32 Bit also works. Pentium4 or AMD Athlon 64 processor with 64-bit support and Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Phenom II processor required for Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Encore;  Core i7 processor required for Adobe SpeedGrade CS6. In simple words, it works best with a 64 bit processor. 32 bit guys, don’t feel bad.
  • RAM: CS6 requires 8GB RAM to truly enjoy its full potential. However, you don’t need to break your piggy bank to change that RAM. 32 bit guys, it works fair enough with a 2 GB RAM. However Adobe suggest a 4 GB  RAM for 32 bit. For the hip 64 bit guys, 4 GB RAM is ok, but a 8GB RAM is awesome.
  • Disk Space: So how much disk space do you need ? To quote adobe – “14.5GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash storage devices). Additional disk space required for disk cache, preview files, and other working files (10GB recommended).” Yes the installation does take a lot of time, but its worth the wait.

I am currently running the Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection CS6 on my laptop which has an i3 Processor and 4 GB worth of RAM along with 500 GB disk Space. Works perfect and smoothly.

3. Cost and new softwares in CS6

So how does the new CS6 Master Collection cost ? The all new CS6 comes in at a whooping Rs. 1,76,436‌‌ for a complete fresh set. Where as upgrading will cost you  Rs.35,665‌‌  So go ahead try out the new CS6 softwares for a free 30 day trial or purchase it at –  Adobe Store  For student discounts look at – Purchase . Also note worthy is that the Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master collection integrates with creative cloud services and the digital publishing suite.  Moving on lets look at what CS6 had to offer in terms of completely new.

  • SpeedGrade CS6 : I had no clue what SpeedGrade was until I read this and played around with it for a while. To put it in simple terms, what Speed Grade basically does is – Provides powerful color grading capabilities in order to render high quality output for any device. It’s a little hard to really explain how complex and sophisticated it really is. To get a better understanding download the trial and checkout this feature guide – View Honestly this is something for only the big boys as of now. It’s pretty complex to get around with. But it has some really cutting edge features and enhancements that take it to a whole new level. It however has a tight requirement as compared to the other softwares :
  • Intel Core i7 processor with 64-bit support
  • Microsoft Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 (64 bit)
  • 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)
  • 1GB of available hard-disk space for installation

Checkout these tutorial in SpeedGrade to get a larger picture of what it really has to offer : Tuts  &  Video Tuts

Prelude CS6: Another software I had no clue about. To be honest I really haven’t had the time to dig into Prelude as of yet, however the basic use of it is to streamline your production task.  For those impatient to find out more, jump over to the feature page. Maybe in a couple of future episodes I may just do a small review on it, after using it myself. Its basic requirements are :

  • Intel Core2 Duo or AMD Phenom II processor
  • Microsoft Window XP Professional with Service Pack 3 or Windows 7 with Service Pack 1
  • 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)

4. Visual aspects of CS6

To begin with Adobe has given most of the softwares a major change in appearance not only in terms of new UI elements and buttons, but also a new set of interface backgrounds, splash screen and icon sets. Hell of a lot of visual changes !

Icons

To begin with Adobe has whipped a brand new set of  icons for the CS6 softwares. I you look closely each software icon color is derived from the color wheel and slotted into specific locations. Adobe clearly wanted to build a set of icons that stood out on a desktop with any kind of background or wall paper.  Personally I love the new icon colors. They make the desktop look more vibrant.

<image credit : View>

Splash Screen

Not many pay attention or bother about the splash screen. But I do. I really love how Adobe puts in so much effort in designing their crazy splash screens. For those who yet have no idea what I’m talking about. I am referring to the small box that appears when you open an Adobe software. Yes, that is called a Splash screen. Now Adobe has gone to great lengths with the design of the CS6 splash screens. I do like them but I think they over did it. Personally I loved the CS3 Box and CS5 Geometric splash screens. The new CS6 splash screens are a little to abstract for me. Here is a small preview of what the CS6 splash screens look like :

Adobe puts in a lot of effort into branding their products. To understand the full nature of their branding process, check out this interesting article on the Adobe Blog. On similar lines, Adobe has put in a lot of design and new changes in the looks of individual softwares. Right from mouse pointers to tools in the workspace, Adobe has gone a great length to give the CS6 collection a new look. As we review the individual softwares, we will have a quick glance at what these softwares have to offer in terms of visual and interface changes.

So that’ about it with Episode 1. We have had a quick over view of what the new CS6 has to offer and how far has Adobe gone to brand the new softwares. We have also had a quick overview of tech specs and the 2 new additions to the Master Collection.  Since this is the first episode I have kept it simple and brief. From Episode 2 we dive into individual softwares and see whats awesome and whats not so awesome. Do remember to tune into the next episode of the Creative Suite Review Sessions. Also feel free to drop any feedback, suggestion via a comment below.

You can also download this episode  :

Word (.docx)          PDF (.pdf)     

There is going to be a little break between this episode and the next set of episodes that follow in September. Do go through the upcoming schedule below and tune in for an interesting session with loads of resources to help you get started with CS6.

Upcoming Schedule

Episode 2 :    5 September 2012

  • 1. Whats new in Adobe Photoshop CS6 Part -1
  • 2. Whats new in Adobe Illustrator CS6 Part-1

Episode 3:     25 September 2012

  • 1. Whats new in Adobe Photoshop CS6 Part -2
  • 2. Whats new in Adobe Illustrator CS6 Part-2

By the Designer + For the Designers

 

Daily, we come across some really interesting  projects. But it’s not daily that we stumble across something unique and innovative. I happened to checkout 3 of these really unique and interesting Design projects. Not only were they related to design, but most importantly they were powered by so many designers.

Today to run a successful project online, you not only require sufficient resources and time, but most importantly what you need is – ‘ AN IDEA’ You have to set foot where no other has within the digital frontier. And that’s what these guys have done. They worked with simple ideas and built something amazing out of it.  What’s more amazing is that these projects are fueled by creativity and design not from a single source but from multiple creatives. It showcases a vast plethora of  skill, technique and styles. Thus not only a visual treat but a great place to discover new talent and new designers and inspiration.

Here you have 3 amazing projects I recently stumbled upon :

  • Creative Cards
  • Run Your Jewels
  • Gum Cards

#1 GUM CARDS

GUM CARDS is an ever-expanding set of limited edition, screen-printed trading cards focused on artists and designers who are rocking our creative industry and, in my humble fan opinion, deserve their own trading card. Each GUM CARD is a limited edition release of 250 plus 50 colour variants, hand-signed and numbered by me for authenticity. All GUM CARDS are screen-printed on double-thick, French Muscle-Tone Black 140lb. cover stock by the amazing crew at Mama’s Sauce in Orlando, Florida. Thick stock and bright inks. Heavy duty stuff. All GUM CARDS orders will be shipped in custom packaging I’ve designed myself. For added protection, each card will be inside individual plastic sleeves so no scratches happen in transit to your collection. On top of that I will be supplying some extra goodies like stickers, buttons, and of course gum. Yum! GUM CARDS was created, developed and designed by James White,Signalnoise Studio.

<image credit : http://gumcards.tumblr.com/>

#2  CREATIVE CARDS

“The main aim of the project is to create something astonishing, collectible and unique. We have invited 54 top digital creative ninjas and asked them to pick up one card each and make a design of it in their own style and technique. We are proud that there are such gurus as Joshua Davis, Shotopop, Brosmind, Your-Majesty and others. The one and the only requirement to the authors was so that the theme of their artwork should fit to the card they’ve chosen best and as a result we’ve got a deck of individually illustrated playing cards. Needless to say, that the project is now going the right way and reaching the goal rapidly. The decks will be released in a strictly limited edition by the end of April.”

<image credit : http://creativecards.cc/>

– Creative Cards

#3  RUN YOUR JEWELS

Run You Jewels is a digital media remix competition. Every two weeks, a different Provider (artist) uploads high-resolution files of an original piece. In week 1 : File is available for download. Submissions may be sent at any time up until Midnight EST on Sunday. In week 2 :Submissions are posted and voting is open. The submission with the most votes wins prizes and infinity street cred! SPECIAL VOTES — The Providing Guest Artist and Curator (Justin Maller) will each cast their own vote on their favorite remix.

•  Provider’s Vote – adds 25% more votes to the remix’s final vote count
•  Curator’s Vote – adds 5% more votes to the remix’s final vote count

<image credit : http://runyourjewels.com/>

 

Adobe Creative Suite CS6 – Review Sessions

Finally the long awaited announcement from my side –  “Ladies and gentlemen I give you –  The CS6 Review Sessions

The series of  post that start this August, are unbiased and personal reviews on Adobe‘s latest version of the Creative Suite 6 (CS6). As a part of the Adobe CS6 User Review Program I have the opportunity to fiddle and experiment with some of the latest softwares in the CS6 Master collection. This review session is broken up into 10 episode (posts) starting this August, with one review post per month.

These post will primarily be focused on Adobe’s print related softwares –

  • Photoshop CS6
  • Illustrator CS6
  • InDesign CS6

Apart from these I will also do a couple of sneak peeks and reviews on selected video, audio and web softwares that are a part of the Creative Suite Master collection. Everything from Premier Pro CS6 to Dreamweaver CS6. Since this is a personal review, my reviews are going to be limited to the softwares that I work with. Hence these post will tend to primarily focus on print with a dash of web and audio/video. Also a lot of changes and interactive sessions will be added along the way. After a couple of post I will also provide an opportunity for the readers to share their opinion and point of view to help build a little more interactivity and strengthen the discussion.

The most important part of the review is that it will be completely unbiased. We will hear everything from – Good, bad, waste and “I have no clue why would they put something like that ?” Be sure to tune in and be a part of the discussion.

Till then you can checkout some of the latest features incorporated in Adobe’s Photoshop CS6


Disclaimer
These review sessions are not Official reviews for Adobe’s Creative Suite CS6. They are my personal opinions. They are in no way sponsored or funded by Adobe. 


Anti Spec Movement – A personal Vendetta ?

Recently the global design community has witnessed a new movement. A movement called AntiSpec. Slow to catch on with many part of the design community, AntiSpec is a movement that is “supposedly” focused on saving designers from – Spec(ulative) work, which  is a cancer within the design industry. Recently when I stumbled upon this movement I was amazed by the initiative and a little confused after reading about it. But what exactly is this whole initiative ? Are Designers dying of Cancer? Are Designers not finding jobs? No.  Lets begin.

Well what is AntiSpec ?

AntiSpec is an initiative by Mark Collins from UK. He is the founder and constant source of updates for the AntiSpec movement. To really understand the nature of this initiative, we need to dive in slowly into this topic. As I mentioned earlier, it focuses on how Speculative work is a cancer in the Design industry. Well whats Spec work? Spec work – Crowd Sourcing – Spec competitions, they all involve  a single designer or agency working and designing for free in the hope of winning a project or reward.

In short and simple words, today a lot of online platforms provide opportunities for clients seeking design aid to simply tap potential designers and designs in the most easiest manner. All they have to do is pick a suitable site that host design contest, pay them a fee, host a competition to design the creatives they need. That’s the easy part.  Now here’s the deal. These sites attract thousands of budding and well experienced designers and artist. They participate by designing an entry and submit it to the site. In this fashion the client receives abundant entries and not forgetting tonnes of concepts and ideas. Well like any race, we have to have a winner. Eventually the client picks a favorite design and the design is awarded with a cash prize etc.

Understanding AntiSpec ?

Lets put this in numbers. 1 client, 1 competition, 2,00,000 designers active on the host site, 1600 designers participate in the client competition, 1 winner. The other side of the coin – 1599 designers lose. Client has received not only a winning design but also those 1599 losing concepts and designs. Expected right ? Well here’s where the AntiSpec comes into play. AntiSpec stands up for all those designers  who lose. It has a general message. DO NOT use these sites. Your efforts need not go unpaid. Regardless of the fact whether you a starter or professional, you shouldn’t work for free in this manner.

You’re better off contacting a charity and designing their website for free to add to your folio rather than pissing into the wind at a crowdsourced website. Become an intern. Contact your local design agencies. Freelancers and design agencies can explain to potential clients that they have a policy not to work for free. It is proven that clients can respond positively to the self-assurance that comes from an agency that isn’t willing to sell their soul. – AntiSpec

Being a part of  AntiSpec ?

So that is basically what AntiSpec is all about. Aims at creating awareness about the this growing trend where potential talent and hard work is being washed down the drain.  Just to get a little bigger picture here, do checkout the AntiSpec website – www.antispec.com

Currently the AntiSpec movement is supported by various communities worldwide and thousands of individual designers and artist. This movement is creating awareness and gaining a crowd gradually. They have got support from a lot of  sponsors like Media Temple , Invision and Behance . They main goals are :

1. Make the AntiSpec message clear and easy to absorb.

2. Gather thousands of designers to unite to help drive the message home.

Things you can do for AntiSpec: 

1 » Automate process so folks can add themselves [COMPLETE]

2 » Need links to existing articles on the web regarding spec work and crowdsourcing.

3 » Need some copy written for this website. [IN PROGRESS]

5 »Web badges of sorts that folks can add to their own websites to help spread the word and show support.

Under the AntiSpec scanner –

The AnitSpec tries to keep tab of such crowd sourced events. They have successfully archived a couple of site and past events that have had designers design for free. Here are some of them.

  •  The New York Times targets cartoonist to work for free – Read about it
  • You won’t find a self-respecting professional designer at 99designsRead about it
  • Penguin books crowdsource book cover for best-selling author John Green – Read about it
  • Obama supports job creation by launching a spec competition. Oh the irony. –Read about it
  • Paul McCartney & Rod Stewart Crowdsourcing Promotional Material – Read about it
  • 1stWebDesigner launches a spec competition – Read about it
  • CBC Television’s Gerry Dee wants a logo for his new TV show – Read about it
  • The Huffington Post, an AOL company, is seeking free design. Shame on them. – Read about it
At the end of the day, I ask myself.  So do I support this initiative or what ? Does this whole movement have a target or is just another  personal vendetta ?  Well in my opinion, the AntiSpec movement is more of an awareness campaign. Simply because it fails to draw a clear call-to-action. Ok so now that I’m aware of AntiSpec, I shouldn’t use sites like 99 designs ? Is that what it is about. I must admit, that this movement a right side and wrong side. Right side being it creates an awareness about the misuse of talent and also highlights other options to build a portfolio or find work without having a designer to sell his or her soul. Basically it portrays a simple message – Don’t work for free. But whats the bad site  ?  Well at the end of the day, a designer may submit a design to such crowd sourced projects out of his own free will.  AntiSpec suggest that even if you are an amateur, you shouldn’t try these options. I say WRONG.  Try these options. Yes you may not win, but it’s a mater of gaining experience. A lot of designers turn to these sites as a quick source of income. At the end of  the day, the site clearly states rules that there will only be 1 winner. Yet you have 1000+ designers participating out of own free will. And free will is something you can’t change or control. If designers want to , they will continue sending entries. But at the same time the clients too go wrong at one end. Don’t they have a heart? So many designs and ideas at their disposal and they reward only one ? But again each individual is aware of the facts!
So what do I have to say? Being a freelance designer for the last 3 years, in my opinion the AntiSpec is a good initiative to build awareness of the fact that designers need not sell their soul to grow and build their portfolio. And at the same time, I strongly believe this movement lack a call-to-action. All I’m going to say is, its a designer’s will if he or she wants to make her ideas and concepts available for free. You don’t have a say in it. But any designer who knows the value of his work and talent will never let it go for free. And when I say  ‘never lets it go for free’, it doesn’t mean it has to involve a cash reward.  But as I close this article here, I can’t help but think of the fact that crowd sourcing does enrage a large mass of people simply because it is taking away plenty of job availability.  Many who have supported AntiSpec has strongly expressed concern in regards to this subject, as more and more clients opt for crowd sourcing as it is cheaper, faster and more for a less price.
I support the AntiSpec initiative to bring about awareness, but I fail to understand the end stage of this movement. 

What you need is a Quick Response

Commonly known as QR Codes, quick response code is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode or two-dimensional code first designed for the automotive industry.  Well we had different plans. Today these little black and white guys are seen everywhere. Not only have they found purpose in different fields of application, but have also settled in comfortably in various form of print. From newspapers and brand identity to apparel and even cupcakes! But the question is,” How does one simply unlock the true potential of a QR code?”

To be able to harness true functionality of this medium, one simply needs to follow a set of rules and principles that form a basis to “effectively using QR Codes.” Most importantly, what one must understand is, regardless of the platform or media it is used on, QR codes have a sole and core purpose of linking from print to web. These tiny little fellas have gone from improving web accessibility from print, to even powering creative and defining mobile marketing campaigns.

How does it work?

To begin with, you need to know what a QR Code is and how it really works. Putting this is simple terms, a QR code has a link or URL within it, which can be read using an appropriate cellphone application commonly known as QR code readers. Using a QR code generator which are easily available online today, a URL is simply converted into a QR code and then downloaded in the form of an image. This image (QR Code )can then be used by printing it and scanning it with a reader from a cellphone. That’s how simple it is to create your QR code.

What exactly is it used for?

Pretty clear, a QR code is a link from the print to the web world. Gone are those days where one has to look and type a long and tricky link into his browser while reading it from a paper. With QR codes all you have to do is simply scan the link and instantly you are directed to the website via your phone browser.

Today QR codes are used for several products. With a common goal or reducing the effort to go to a website, QR codes have found a comfortable spot in the print, magazine, newspaper, business cards brochures and posters. Many have gone big and even used them as vital elements in planning campaigns driven by print media and social media. People have put QR codes on their resumes to even their jackets and other apparel. So if you are going to use QR codes, you need to keep these few tricks in mind. These can be used to design an effective QR  code not only for personal use, but also for your next big mobile campaign!

The 5 quick rules of using QR codes 

-Jonathan Pimento

I have used QR codes in a lot of print projects, and having received a lot of feedback and insight about its effectiveness, its safe to say – ” I goofed up 3 out of 5 times.” Hence I now give you the 5 golden rules in using QR codes. Hopefully you won’t make the same mistakes.

  1. Right media
  2. Target audience
  3. Location
  4. Ease of access
  5. Calculating your reach



  • Right media Firstly remember you are linking print to web. So please I beg of you, DO NOT use QR codes as display pictures for your brand or personal Facebook page or other social media platforms. Strictly print media. Keep in mind, your QR code needs to be printed to a certain resolution. If it is printed too tiny it may not work with the cell scanners and that could cost you a lot. Best way to play safe is print and test several times before you get your final product ready! Check your QR code with a couple of different and common scanners and reader. Preferably try  scanners  from an android device, blackberry, Symbian device and iPhone. Just to be a 100% sure. Also while printing them, be sure your printing process isn’t going to destroy the functionality. For example while printing your business card, using spot UV on the code may make it look really good, but are you sure it won’t cause a problem while trying to scan it ? Again my point – Trial and error. 
 
  •   Target & audience Decide the purpose of the QR code, the audience you are targeting and please don’t start putting it on everything. Reason being is even though a major part of the population over the world uses a smart phone capable of scanning QR codes, only a small portion of them actually know what it is and how to read it. Majority of its users actually discovered it by scanning these codes out of curiosity. So place you subject, target audience and then decide. If you are targeting the younger generation it would be a good idea to use a QR code, as they are more likely to know what it is. Similarly the most accessible media or visible for that matter could serve as an excellent host for the code. Make sure you don’t base your entire ROI on the QR code if you are not sure of your audience. Very often QR codes are ignored, simply because people don’t know what they are.
 
  • Location On similar lines location plays a crucial role. It doesn’t make sense putting a QR code on a billboard on a highway or as a display picture. Reason being, how on earth is the person in the vehicle suppose to scan a QR code up there at that speed? Similarly why would someone scan a QR code from the computer screen to view it on the cell? Wouldn’t it make sense to use a hyperlink in this case ? A better place to use a QR code would be a waiting area or lounge where bored passengers or travelers could scan these codes to discover some interesting puzzles or even read the online newspaper. It’s all about target and audience. In this case it was all about engaging and keeping the passengers busy and occupied. Similarly putting QR codes that link to a couple of games or puzzles on the boring looking boarding pass at airports could be a good idea. Many places even have a poster with a map to help tourist find their way around. They simply scan the QR code from the map poster  and their immediately the map opens on their cell indicating their current position. Innovative! 
 
  • Ease of access –  Similar to what I just mentioned about locations, you must not use QR codes in places that are hard to find or difficult to scan. Many have even had QR codes printed on their jackets and T-shirts. But ask yourself – How easy will it be to read a QR code of a strangers clothes or for that matter how awkward would it be for the person wearing such a T-shirt. Basic principle, stop putting these codes on everything. Think how accessible is it ? Secondly not a supported idea, but yet need. Add the link in words somewhere around the QR code. This point completely destroys the purpose of the QR code being there but, the reason is not everyone knows how to read a QR code yet. Many avoid this for a good reason, but sometimes you may just have to use it. At the end of the day ease of access is also a priority. So depending on the kind of audience you target, a QR code may or may not be the best option. 
 
  • Calculating your reach  How many people actually scanned your QR code ? Wouldn’t it be nice to know that. Well there is one slight problem. It’s not easy. One would argue and say probably by accessing a websites backend one can easily get a count of mobile views for the site. Agreed. But how would you know which of those views are directed via the QR code and which were directed by manually entering them in a phone’s browser. There is a simple solution to that. While creating your QR code, say for instance for http://www.examplesite.com I use a link shortening application like  bit.ly create an  account and now create a customized link for it – http://bit.ly/2lkCBm Why all this struggle. Well if we use the shortened link in place of the actual link, what happens is, we can track the actual traffic and click rate of this link from the bit.ly dashboard. Hence calculate the effectiveness of the QR code. The only major drawback of this is, most of these scanners or readers display the link before it re-directs the cell browser. In such a case the user is provided with a horrible link like this http://bit.ly/2lkCBm rather than http://www.examplesite.com So whats to be done? Well, its left up to you. My suggestion is depending on the use, choose your options. If it were a  QR code for  business card that’s directs to your personal site, I would say sacrifice the statistics. I would rather have someone look at jonathanpimento.com than  http://bit.ly/2lkCBm It would leave a memory at least. On the other hand say for instance you have a campaign and you want visitors to view the details on the campaign website – http://www.campaign.com/archives/2012/vote-for-me In this case it would be a better option to use a shortened version of the link. Any way, the user would not be interested in memorizing such a long link.
 

Now lets look at a couple of successful and creative QR code powered campaigns and products:

1. Posters at Denver International airport

Posters at Denver International airport makes use of QR codes that on scanning  leads to crosswords, Sudoku puzzles and books for all the travelers out there.

2. LEGO Poster

 

LEGO created a smart poster using a concept that really clicked.Who doesn’t love Lego?! Mytoys.de launched an intuitive outdoor QR campaign whereby they constructed large QR codes out of Lego, and placed them inside advertising displays. The codes were placed in areas that received high levels of traffic from passing families, and inquisitive consumers who scanned the codes were directed towards the company’s website and their products.

3. TESCO Shopping 

Tesco put up a number of posters on the Seoul subway scanning the code below the item adds it to your online shopping basket. Easy and convenient. Taking shopping to the next level.

4. Menus

Scanning the code on this menu from a Radisson Edwardian Hotel will take you through to a video of the dish being prepared. Interesting  way of engaging your dinner.

5. Resume /CV

A fantastic way to stand out from the crowd, scanning the code takes the user to a video of him giving his resume in his own voice. Innovative but may not be such a versatile idea.

6.  Cleveland Museum of Art

Some savvy museums and art galleries have been quick to realize the potential in QR codes for enhancing user experiences. Art galleries such as The Cleveland Museum of Art place QR codes next to exhibits to direct visitors to online or audio tours, or to provide more in-depth information.

7. Starbucks

Stores like Starbucks are using QR codes to streamline the way they interact with customers. Rather than waiting in a long line to pay, customers can now integrate their pre-loaded card and their phone app to pay more quickly, as well as learn more about the products and stores.

8. Trains in Germany

QR codes can take customers to real-time updates anywhere where there is a constant flow of information, for instance, train stations, bus stops, department store sales, live events, restaurant specials or airline booking. Frankfurt, Germany recently introduced smart posters in train carriages, which provided commuters with travel information, transport connections, special events and points of interest, as well as special offers for travel card holders.

9. Santa Tag

Retailer JCPenney allowed customers to add a personal touch to their gifts. When you purchased a gift from any JCPenney store, you received a “Santa Tag” with an accompanying QR code. By scanning the code, the giver could record a personalized voice message for the recipient. The the giver stuck the code on the package like a gift card.


10. Betfair Football QR Code skydiving bet



In this innovative campaign from Betfair, they combined a giant and inventive QR code, with a viral video campaign. They used 2,000 footballs, 8 glamorous assistants, and 5 hours to make a huge QR code. To prove it worked they also had someone skydive from a plane overhead and scan it on their phone.

12. QR Code art in NY

If this isn’t the most spectacular use of a QR code(s) then I want to see one better! This appeared in New York and is a fantastic combination of art and guerrilla marketing, quite aptly celebrating an artistic pioneer.

And

this what I meant when I said ” Don’t put it on everything!!!!!!”

Anyways , hope this post did good. Feel free to add your views or suggestions, even corrections below in the comments. Remember, it might just be the next big element in powering your idea or concept. Good luck.

Design in Charity

Does design play a role in  charity?  

Why would you need to consider design if you plan to bring a change, make an impact. reach out? The idea is simple. The people (target) whom you plan to help, need you (initiator). But the people(source) whom you are looking at for help, don’t really know about you or your plan. Now that’s where, along with long-term planning and organisational structuring  you need design. Yes, you may have the best concept or the plan that can change the world. But if it doesn’t connect with the people, you are going no where. This something universal that applies to any idea. Now that’s where you want design. Design is going to connect the target with the source. And to make it happen is the initiator’s job. You need to visually connect your audience to its target. If you portray the correct message via the most appropriate visuals, I am sure you can establish a connection. Helping a nonprofit is a heart warming feeling that designers would be glad to fulfill! Target the source with simple colors, fonts, graphical elements, and navigation which will increase usability. remember keep your message short, hit the mark and keep it  simple. You don’t want them to get lost.

Where does Design come in ?

Right from the organisations or non profits logo, to its cause, to its website, everything needs a touch of design. It’s the visuals that often convey and convince. How many times have you donated via an online website? Probably never or maybe a couple of times. The idea is to convey the message, show them the real cause, tell them what they can do and keep them in the loop. Not an easy task, but yet it needs to be done.

I am currently interning with a non-profit youth organisation called Rock For A Cause  As their creative and production head I am responsible for all the print and web creatives. Since the past few months I have been busy working with a few  designers  and coders to revamp their current website. While at it, I discovered these beautiful non-profit websites that really hit the mark. These are brilliant examples of how to do, and what to do with a website.

Give Beyound.me

War Child.org

SlaveryFootprints.org

 

RiceBowls.org