Digital Directions: 5 Affordable Digital Media Projects for 2013

Andrew Brenneman, founder of Finitiv.

Get your digital house in order without breaking the bank.

When publishing teams wax enthusiastic about their vision for digital media and technology, directors of finance groan and reach for their wallets. And it is sometimes true that great things cost money, whether it is a smash hit in the consumer app world or a transformative enterprise technology platform. But there are many aspects to moving digital capabilities forward, and many of them cost little in terms of “hard dollars.” The following is my highly subjective Top Five list for useful and affordable digital media projects for 2013. Subjective perhaps, but they are based on the last several years over which Finitiv has helped move publishing organizations forward in effective and pragmatic ways. All five will move your digital capabilities forward without breaking the bank. Many of you farther along the evolutionary curve may have tackled some of these topics already and, as Daniel Tosh would say, “for that we salute you.” But before you dismiss with a “been there, done that,” ask yourself if it isn’t time to revisit some of these issues. Have you driven a Ford lately?

1. Defining Content Standards

The creation and adoption of content standards is one of the fundamental elements of effective cross-platform publishing. Content standards enable high levels of production efficiency and make it easier to support multiple formats. Content standards refer principally to:

  • Manuscript standard styles, consisting of a pre-defined set of (typically MS Word) manuscript styles that define the structural elements of the document (chapter name, citation, A-head, etc.). Manuscript standards are encapsulated in the set of styles in a standard MS Word template.
  • Output templates and stylesheets that define how the manuscript should look in a variety of delivery formats. You can create multiple output templates or style sheets: one for print composition (.INDT) and another for EPUB (CSS). When the output templates or stylesheets use the same naming convention as the manuscript standard styles, visual design and content can be very efficiently merged — sometimes in an automated fashion. This can radically reduce the time necessary to prepare a title for a specific delivery format.

2. Get CSS in the Production and Design Department

Dear Production and Design Team:

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