Infographic: How iPad in retail is boosting sales and in-store experience

Infographic: How iPad in retail is boosting sales and in-store experience

Whether being used as an efficient ePOS system, a fully-functioning sales app or cleverly hooking up with iBeacon technology, mobile devices, and iPad in particular, are seriously changing the way we shop. We’ve been looking into how iPad is currently being used in retail to boost sales and improve customers’ in-store experience, and have presented our findings in this handy infographic. 

Infographic: iPad in retail 2014

Want to find out more about iPad in retail? Give our team a call on 03332 400 888, email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and tips, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook


Five things to consider when buying a new display

Five things to consider when buying a new display


When you’re buying a display, there are a few things you need to consider. Here are some top tips from across our (incredibly picky) design department – keep this list to hand and you shouldn’t go far wrong! However, if you do find yourself getting stuck, just give the team a call on 03332 409 306 or email displays@Jigsaw24.com

Screen

– Size and resolution are both important considerations – if you have the space, go big and high res, as this makes it easier to multitask, and your photos and videos will appear sharper.

– Make sure you’re using the right panel type for your work. For a wider viewing angle and greater colour accuracy, choose IPS panels, but for a faster response time go with TN panels.

 

Connectivity

– Make sure you know which connections you need on your monitor (hint: you need to be able to connect it to your computer). Most displays have a DVI connection, but DisplayPort and/or HDMI connections are available on higher end models.

– If you need to connect to older equipment, it’s a good idea to opt for a display that has an analogue VGA port.

– Extra USB connections on the display are useful if you work with a lot of peripherals, such as desktop storage.

– Check whether or not your display comes with cables included. Some high end ones will, but it’s best not to assume.

Ergonomics

– A high level of adjustability is best – ideally you want to be able to control the height and tilt of your screen, as well as swivelling or rotating it. This will make a major difference to your comfort level and help you avoid strain related injuries.

– If your monitor supports VESA mounting patterns it can be used with a range of mounts, giving you greater flexibility.

Accuracy

– If you’re doing imaging or design work and need to ensure that what you see on screen is the same as the final output, you’ll want to opt for a colour critical display.

– Look out for features such as a wide colour gamut and uniformity controls, as these ensure colours are being reproduced accurately.

– For a more in-depth look at how to choose the right display for design and imaging work, take a look at our guide.

 

Warranty

– As monitors are pretty business critical it’s worth looking out for the best length, coverage and terms.

– Higher end monitors sometimes come with more thorough coverage, with services such as on-site repair included in the warranty.

You can see our full range of monitors here or get in touch with the team to find out more – you can give them a call on 03332 409 306 or email displays@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

App review: Adobe Ideas

App review: Adobe Ideas

After getting our hands on Photoshop Touch for iPad a while back, we decided it was time to revisit the Adobe mobile app range. This time, we put Adobe Ideas in the hands of our Senior Designer, Paul. Adobe Ideas is a great little tool for putting together rough vector-based drawings on iPad, so we asked Paul to tell us what he thinks!

“While we’ll always have a fondness for pen and paper, there’s no denying that iPad gives designers and artists a freedom to experiment with ideas like never before. That’s where Adobe Ideas comes into play. It lets you create freeform vector illustrations absolutely anywhere (anywhere you have your iPad, that is…). And while it’s not without its limitations, we’ve got to say we love it!

“The app itself is very easy to use, and there’s very little learning time needed to be able to get cracking. While I hadn’t really used any of the Adobe iPad apps before, I didn’t find it difficult to pick up the user interface – mainly because it was based on the functionality you expect from iPad. To give you an idea of how it works, the video below summarises the new features:

“From the get-go, I loved the drawing tools available within the app. You get both pressure and stroke control, so you can be quite expressive in the drawings you put together. That might sound like a basic thing, but it gives it an advantage over a lot of the alternative drawing apps out there. I’ve only had the opportunity to use my fingers to draw in the app, but I’d quite like to have a go with a stylus to see the level of control that you can achieve!

“There are also nice touches for filling in block colour; the fill tool works as you would expect, but you can also draw a closed shape then tap and hold within that shape to apply a colour. This could be taken from one of your colour themes – a great feature that allows you to create a colour palette from another drawing or an imported photo.

“Another bonus Adobe Ideas has over a lot of the competition is the layering. You can have up to 10 layers in your drawings, which you can scale or change the opacity of. It’s also really easy to flip, rotate and reorder layers, and as you’d expect those layers make it far easier to edit the drawing once it has been transferred to Illustrator.

“The navigation of designs itself is an easy process. Adobe Ideas puts the iPad’s multitouch functionality to full use. As well as being able to manipulate layers and make it acceptable for adults to do finger painting, you can use the standard pinch to zoom gesture to get into the finer details of your work.

“If you don’t have a Wacom then this really opens up options in terms of creating beautifully flowing type strokes. You can use the pen or brush tool to hand draw and then take it into Illustrator to apply to other artwork. This doesn’t just apply to type but any hand drawn element you need.

“One thing I would say is that you’ll need to ensure you have an Adobe Creative Cloud account if you want to get the most from Ideas! While you can use the app to do drawings regardless, an account will be needed if you want to import to Illustator to continue working.”

Adobe Ideas is available from the App Store for free. Visit the App Store here to download it, or get in touch with us to find out more about the Adobe Creative workflow and about making the move to Adobe Creative Cloud. Call us on 03332 409 251 or email Adobe@Jigsaw24.com.

Our top 5 tips for asset metadata management

Our top 5 tips for asset metadata management

Want to make your digital assets work for you? By managing your assets’ metadata and sticking to standards, you can make locating them far quicker, easier and generally more workflow-efficient, leaving you more time to get on with being creative (or grabbing another coffee). Here we’ve broken down our top 5 ways to manage your metadata and keep on top of your digital assets.

From the moment you create an asset within your software, you need to make sure your associated metadata (document creation date, document page size, colour mode, resolution and more) or metadata from your camera (the date the image was taken, whether or not a flash was used, special aperture or exposure settings etc), is organised, stored and made available effectively. Here are a few of our essential starting points to managing metadata:

1. Work out how you work. Do you search by project, by job number, by client, or by any other metadata? Deciding on which descriptions and keywords are most important to how your team work, and making sure these are always added in the correct standard, will help make sure you’re working more efficiently.

2. Use well-written descriptions. There’s no use writing asset descriptions that only you can decipher – stick to simple but descriptive language that a general audience will be able to understand.

3. Keep consistent! We really can’t stress how important it is to stick to standards. Develop and put in place a procedure for everyone to follow when adding metadata and keywords too, so you’re all reading from the same page. It’s good to have a house style on locations, times, dates, settings and more.

4. Use naming conventions. We wouldn’t recommend adding keywords to the metadata of all your ‘DSC_001.jpg’ files – instead, use a DAM solution like Portfolio to batch rename files, keep your catalogue in shape and apply those naming conventions.

5. Try Digital Asset Management. If you are dealing with a large catalogue of assets, the best tip we can offer is to look into a Digital Asset Management solution. We use Extensis Portfolio to stay on top of our team’s database of images and files, which gives you an easy-to-use visual interface for searching and managing assets. Whether you’re in a small team or large business, there’s a solution from Extensis Portfolio to fit your workflow.

Get in touch for more info on DAM and Extensis Portfolio… give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and tips, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

 

Top design tips: Avoiding the 7 cardinal sins of page layout

Top design tips: Avoiding the 7 cardinal sins of page layout

Everyone has their own favoured way of putting together an engaging layout, but we can all sometimes be guilty of breaking even our own house rules. So here are the top ‘7 sins’ we’d avoid when laying out a page in QuarkXPress or InDesign.

Sin #1: Not thinking of the reader. By far the most important rule is to always design a page with the reader in mind. If you create a design masterpiece that no one can read, or wants to read, then there’s no point.

Sin #2: Not respecting hierarchy. Another absolutely essential thing to bear in mind is the visual hierarchy of the page. Remember what message you’re trying to get across, and make sure you lay out and format the content so the most important information is given the necessary weight.

Sin #3: Going against the grid. Grids are your friends. Use them to create clean page layouts easily, and use baseline grids for type too. They may take a bit of getting used to, but the results are worth it.

Sin #4: Getting tangled in typography. Gah, we could rant on about typography mistakes for days. There are the obvious ones like font colour and legibility, but watch out for our main spacing bugbears – widows (single lines that spill over on to new paragraphs), orphans (single words at the end of a paragraph) and rivers (long gaps that run through word spacing).

Sin #5: Not being design-efficient. If you’re working on a project that has the same elements on each page, then use master pages to automatically create new iterations of the same page, auto page numbering and other automatic markers, and styles for paragraphs, characters and objects. These will all save loads of time, especially if there are global changes further down the line, and generally help make your overall design workflow more efficient.

Sin #6: Not using layers. Don’t complicate things for yourself – use layers to construct your pages, keeping images and type on separate layers. Having these elements on separate layers will massively ease how you use the page.

Sin #7: Being uninspired. Even the most creative minds should always be on the look out for inspiration, be it in magazines, books, posters or anywhere else. Here are a few great places to refer to for a bit of a design spark:

’60 Beautifully Modern and Inspirational Magazine/Book Layouts’, via InspirationHut.net

’20 Inspiring Magazine Layout Designs to Check Out’, via BestDesignOptions.com

‘Brochure Design: 50+ Brilliant Layouts’, via Designrfix.com

’30 Stylish Examples of Layouts in Magazine Design’, via Jayce-O-Yesta

If you’d like to know more about our design workflow and the hardware and software we would recommend, head over to the Jigsaw24 DesignHub, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

 

Top design tips: Work remotely this winter with Dropbox and other apps

Top design tips: Work remotely this winter with Dropbox and other apps

Remember what it was like this time last year? Icy hill starts. Freezing knuckles. Endless ‘working from home’ emails from those who couldn’t make it to the office. All very annoying, especially if you and your colleagues rely on a central server for saving and sharing work. But there are plenty of apps and services like Dropbox available now that let you easily collaborate remotely and ping projects back and forth without risking frostbitten little piggies.

In a previous life (or role, at least), I used an Apple AirPort Extreme in the office, and connected to a shared drive, allowing access to this drive via the internet. The drive I shared contained all the design files I needed, so I could either work from the drive or copy the work onto my local MacBook Pro. It worked well, and was ideal for a small office setup, but it relied on having a decent internet speed.

At Jigsaw24, our shared drive is huge, and I don’t have remote access to the server. So I’ve started using Dropbox for sending files home. I can simply copy a file to my Dropbox account while in the office, work on the file at home, then save it back to my Dropbox to access when I get back to the office. The free account comes with between 2GB and 18GB storage, so it’s ideal for a few projects, but you can upgrade for a few quid to get 100, 200 or 500GB cloud storage. There’s even an app for iPhone and iPad, which means I can alter files including Pages docs while on the move. Win! See more about how to set up Dropbox in Dave’s video below:

Of course there are other apps like iCloud or Google Drive which work in the same way, but I really like the ease of use of Dropbox. Another one I’ve been making use of a lot recently is Air Sharing, for viewing documents on the go. It lets me upload files directly to my iPhone and iPad while I’m in the office, then transfer them to my MacBook when I get home.

Just recently, Adobe have also released Creative Cloud – and announced Creative Cloud for teams too – a paid-for subscription service which is supposed to give you access to your Adobe apps and store projects, all in the cloud. Creative Cloud has its advantages because I could upload files to work on and I could also download the software I need to work on the files. There have been countless occasions when I’ve sent a file home to work on only to realise I don’t have the correct software on my personal Mac, so this could be an ideal long-term solution for the department.

I’m sure you have your own way of working, and much better solutions than mine for remote working (Dropbox requires forward planning and having the same software in the office and at home, for example), so we’d love to hear your preferred workaround. Let us know in the comments box below!
For more information on iOS apps and Apple iPad, call us on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Top design tips: Creating custom iBook widgets with HTML5 and Hype

Top design tips: Creating custom iBook widgets with HTML5 and Hype

We’ve been creating bespoke iBooks for various iPad projects for a while now, and think they’re great. Sometimes, though, the templates in Apple’s iBooks Author software don’t exactly allow you to do everything you want to do.

So when we needed to get a bit more creative in a recent iBook project, we sneaked in a bit of HTML5 and an app called Hype to break the coding barriers and create some custom widgets. Here’s how we did it…

A custom contents page

As part of our e7 iPad scheme for schools, we created two iBooks to be deployed to teachers’ iPads – a ‘Getting Started’ guide and a collection of ‘Lesson Ideas’. For the lesson ideas iBook, we wanted one section of the iBook to be a central contents page which linked to the subject area and a list of suggested apps. Ideally the user would be able to click on a subject header (e.g. English or Geography), see the lesson ideas and related apps, then either return to the subject list or click on to the next subject.

Hype -1

As the lesson ideas iBook contained so much information though, all grouped by different subjects with lists of suggested apps, it soon became clear that the linear structure of the iBooks Author templates would make this very cumbersome and non-user-friendly to navigate.

Adding custom functionality

To get the results we wanted, we were going to need some outside help. Step in Hype – a third-party app that lets you create HTML5 web content (including interactive content and animations for both mobile devices and desktops) without needing any coding. This would allow us to create our own custom widgets to give us the navigational functionality we needed.

Hype -2

Using Hype, we created an individual ‘Scene’ for each subject page and linked the contents to the pages. Each subject page had a ‘forward’ to next subject button, ‘back’ to previous subject button, and a return to subject list button. We also made it possible for the user to close the whole section with just one click.

Hype -3

Much easier navigation

By creating these custom widgets with Hype, we made the whole navigation process much easier, allowing the user to get to the information they needed without having to swipe through so many pages, then return to the contents page with just one click. After we’d done, we then added a little bit of HTML5 animation to the pages just to make it a bit more interesting when you tapped a button – and because we could!

For more information on Apple iPad, iBooks Author and designing for mobile devices, call us on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Why my PDFs are better than yours…

Why my PDFs are better than yours…

Creating PDFs in InDesign is now such a major, instinctive part of the design process that I could probably do it with my eyes closed, but in Adobe CS6, there are dozens of options to consider. This is a quick guide to the settings I use to get the best results when exporting to both print and interactive PDFs.

Export to Print

First, click Export in Adobe InDesign CS6, or use the ‘cmd+E’ keyboard shortcut, and select ‘Adobe PDF (Print)’ in the ‘General’ menu from the sidebar. Under ‘Adobe PDF Preset’ in the menu pane, you should enter any specific settings from your print company, but ‘PDF/X-1a:2001′ is a good base setting for most printers. My tip, although this might not be a universally approved method, is to bump my compatibility up to Acrobat 5 (PDF 1.4) rather than the default PDF 1.3. This seems to resolve any potential transparency issues.

Pdf _first _window

Then select ‘Marks and Bleeds’ from the sidebar and turn them on, as they’ll all be off by default. Other settings to bear in mind are whether to set your documents as spreads or single pages, and the ‘Include’ option, which lets you add Bookmarks, Hyperlinks, Non-Printing Objects, and Visible Guides and Grids. Generally you won’t use Include settings for print-only PDFs.

Add _marks _and _bleed

Background _task _window

Next, click Export, and any issues with links or fonts will be flagged up at this stage. Then open the Background Task palette to view your PDF’s progress (you’ll be able to see the monitor bars moving up and down in the menu area of InDesign). You can carry on working on it, but won’t be able to close the file until the PDF’s produced.

Export to Interactive PDF

Window _showing _all _options

For non-print PDFs, click Export as normal and choose ‘Adobe PDF (Interactive)’. You then have the option of either Spreads or Pages. I generally select Pages and then set the ‘Layout’ to ‘Two-Up (Cover Page)’, which gives the viewer the option to see the layout in spreads or single pages, or print in single pages. Selecting ‘Spreads’ locks the viewer into only being able to view the layouts in spread format.

The Page Transition setting lets you add transitions if you haven’t already set them within the document, and ‘Forms and Media’ relates to all the document’s video, buttons and interactive media. To produce the best PDF results, I find you need to strike a balance between file size and image quality using the Image Handling options (Compression, JPEG Quality, Resolution (ppi). This will depend on the number of pages, images and graphics within your document. You want it to look good without taking up a gig of your client’s memory!

– That’s how I like to tune my settings for exporting PDFs anyway, but far be it for me to have the last word on the subject – share your tips and best settings in the comments box below.

Want to know more about Adobe InDesign and Creative Suite CS6? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.