Digital Directions: Redefining Content Creation
1. Device-Specific Design
Optimal visual and information design for print is not the same for a mobile device. Good print designers tweak their creations with an awareness of the technical specifications for which the design is intended—trim size, paper stock, etc. The same is true with designers for digital output.
Luckily, a good model exists for supporting parallel designs: digitally maintaining content data distinct from design data. Content is maintained in a "design-agnostic" or "device-agnostic" format, such as XML, and in separate files such as InDesign templates for print, or Cascading Style Sheets for the Web. The same XML content can be merged with different style sheets to make an optimized version for each device or platform.
I know many of you have heard this all before—banging the old XML drum. But how many of us have actually implemented such a system?
Page numbers are a cornerstone of print design, and a key mechanism with which readers navigate content. Digital delivery's very nature challenges the use of this fundamental product feature.
E-books that are mere PDF versions of printed pages still display page numbers, but this is far from optimal. Some screens can hold more words (or pictures) than others, often requiring users to scroll both horizontally and vertically around a PDF version—but at least you have a page number once you scroll down to it!
E-readers have eliminated page- numbering. E-books paginate material dynamically, based on the font the user selects. The good news is that the word count is optimized for any screen. The bad news is that there are, therefore, no fixed page numbers—making navigation a nightmare. "Bookmarks" do not, by any means, provide the same utility.
Finding an alternative, elegant solution to page numbering is critical in the digital-delivery evolution.