Creative trend: The rise of interactivity and animation

Creative trend: The rise of interactivity and animation

The days of static web pages, emails and designs are behind us, and with interactivity and animation rapidly gaining momentum over the past few years, it’s safe to say immersive content is here to stay. Offering up richer experiences for customers and users, interactive designs are proving much more effective and engaging, and creative businesses have been quick to adopt the trend and make it their own. So what kind of interactive, animated content have they been creating and how could it affect business and generate better marketing results?

Due to the fundamentals of human psychology and visual perception, ensuring the effectiveness of your visual communications is key – that’s why usability and accessibility are so important to any digital or online experience. Linear, easy to use interfaces, intelligent personalisation and specialisation should be your top priorities when it comes to UX (user experience), and in 2018, interactivity and animation have an essential role in all of that.

As a form of interactive storytelling, these mediums have proved successful with customers and are now an integral part of marketing engagement. Reportedly, 88% of online customers are less likely to revisit a website if they’ve had a bad experience, while 75% of judgments about website credibility centre on a site’s aesthetics. To top that off, a massive 94% of first impressions are based on design, showing just how important it is to create engaging content that offers something unique and different, with interactivity being the key hook to keeping customers engaged with whatever your company is offering.

Interactive creativity

We can’t have a conversation about the rise of interactivity and animation without discussing the actual content that’s being created. While some websites opt to have video backgrounds, this can lead to noticeable performance issues. To overcome this problem, web designers have begun employing background animations – known as ‘particle backgrounds’ – instead of video. Created from lightweight javascript, particle backgrounds let animation form a part of a website’s natural background, reducing load times while still engaging customers in a unique, thought-provoking way. Taking this one step further, so-called integrated animations are another way that designers have taken advantage of browser technology improvements, and are particularly useful for keeping a user engaged throughout the duration of their visit to a website. They can be used to liven up a typically dull loading screen, display something fun and attention-grabbing while hovering over a link or image, or react according to a user’s scrolling and navigation patterns.

Mobile-optimised websites are another facet of interactivity that’s taken hold in recent years. In 2016, smartphones and tablets overtook desktop to become the population’s browsing device of choice. Desktop’s portion of browsing traffic dwindled to 48.7%, while mobile web browsing’s share of the action had risen consistently since 2009. That meant that developers, marketers and eCommerce giants had to respond accordingly – they started to create sites that were just as easy to navigate on mobile as they were on desktop, if not easier. Featuring stripped back, minimalist designs, mobile-friendly sites are seen as nigh-on essential these days, making it even easier for customers to interact with their favourite brands online while engaging with products and content. Likewise, responsive design has even helped revolutionise desktop browsing. These days, websites typically respond to the size of the window they’re being viewed in, and react and resize depending on how the user manipulates them. In the coming years, designers will have to accommodate newer mediums such as AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), which demand deeper interactivity for users.

But what do actual creatives think to these new interactivity standards and the inclusion of animation in design? We asked our resident Web Designer, Jamie, for his thoughts – “With mobile phones and tablets becoming today’s primary devices for browsing, I think responsiveness is key to giving equal experience to a user, regardless of screen size. And if you want to capture a user’s attention, animation and interactivity are great tools that draw on the curiosity and playfulness of a person’s mind.” Our Graphic Designer, Videographer and Animator, Simon, added “The presence of motion graphics on a web page or email immediately draws a user’s attention and provides an extra level of engagement. Animated GIFs or longer animated videos embedded in the page can also help get an idea across more clearly than a still illustration or icon in some situations.”

How can interactive designs and animation benefit business?

A number of industry marketing studies suggest that brands which utilise animation and interactivity (and have paid particular attention to UX design in general) will see the results. According to one study, one in three people will abandon a purchase if they can’t find the correct information, suggesting an interactive site that responds to a user’s needs and displays information more clearly would retain their custom. Similarly, visit-to-lead conversions have shown to be as much as 400% higher on websites with a better UX design, while a more user-friendly UI (user interface) has raised conversion rates by 200% in some cases. It’s also worth noting that 97% of business customers consider usability to be the most essential component of mobile apps, something that interactivity and strategically placed animation could help companies take advantage of.

If you’re more concerned with email design, polls have routinely ranked interactive emails as the number one email marketing trend. Interactive emails can consist of a news story feed, polls, navigation bars and tabs, feedback functionality and more. In 2015, Ticketmaster trialled an interactive email containing a poll. It let recipients vote for the best music video of the year, best female video, best male video and best rock video, all without clicking away from the email – and it paid off! On top of better than average click-through and engagement rates, the email received 182% more opens than standard email communications. Some companies have even gone so far as to include the ability to place orders within an email, and while few have perfected it, it’s led to an uptick in sales within these communications.

Want to get started?

Thankfully, there are plenty of tools out there to help you bring animation and interactive design in-house. A designer’s first port of call should always be Mac, which is ideal for any creative looking to immerse themselves in animation. Built with enough processing and graphical power to handle intensive animation generation, Apple hardware is perfectly suited to the requirements of modern creative workflows. If you want the best of the best, the brand new iMac Pro is fully equipped to take on 3D animation, which’ll really put you ahead of the competition!

Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes everything you could need to get started (as well as tutorials to lend a hand along the way), is essential if you want to achieve the industry-standard and remain competitive. Popular Adobe apps for animation include After Effects, Animate, Illustrator, Photoshop and new Character Animator. Simon thinks highly of Creative Cloud’s powerful tools, too – “Motion graphics are increasingly simple to produce within Adobe Creative Cloud. The timeline window in Photoshop is great for compiling short sequences, while After Effects has every tool you could ever need to produce longer, more complex animations.” You can find out more about Creative Cloud here, including features, applications, benefits for your studio, and price plans.

If you want to know more, give us a call on 03332 400 888 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Creative trend: Why augmented reality is an essential tool for the future

Creative trend: Why augmented reality is an essential tool for the future

The augmented reality (AR) trend is one of the fastest growing across the technology, marketing and advertising industries. It’s estimated that by 2020, the AR market will be worth £90 billion, and with such impressive financial projections, now’s the time for creatives and marketers alike to explore and experiment with AR, and make the most of it while it’s still fresh.  

These days, iOS and Android devices can power through demanding augmented reality apps with no problem, and developers are more optimistic about its future than ever. Having already proved popular, AR opens the door to a whole new world of technological possibilities, including three dimensional advertisements, immersive storytelling, virtual tours, interactive decorating and style apps, engaging games and much more.

In retail, companies are always looking to create fresh, immersive brand experiences that leave an impression in consumers’ minds, meaning AR presents an incredible opportunity for creative agencies to offer cutting edge services around it. Brands such as Tesco and Ikea have worked closely with agencies to develop apps that allow customers to experiment with furniture in their homes, while Lacoste and Converse created apps that let users try on virtual shoes before buying the real thing. Agencies are also helping brands to liven up conferences and exhibitions with the creation of location-based AR events, where visitors can engage with rich virtual content as they move around. And now that creative agencies are mastering AR and realising its potential, they’re better positioned to deliver unique and innovative campaigns for clients all over the world. As part of this, they’re assisting brands in the development and visualisation of concepts, and are working hard on UI and UX design to produce AR experiences that are both appealing and easy for customers to use.

With Apple launching powerful tools like ARKit, and Microsoft spending huge sums on their HoloLens mixed reality headset (including the billion dollar acquisition of Minecraft-maker Mojang to bring the popular game to the device), it’s clear that industry giants are taking tremendous steps in their pursuit of the AR top spot, and are committed to making the new technology a success. With that being said, it’s apparent the creation of engaging content that provides realistic interactions while offering unique technological value is the way forward for companies hoping to turn AR into the next big thing.

The story so far…

Believe it or not, AR technology was first developed back in 1968 at Harvard University. Although extremely primitive, computer scientist Ivan Sutherland had successfully produced an AR head-mounted display system that used computer-generated graphics to show users basic wireframe drawings. In the years that followed, university laboratories, private companies and governmental organisations began researching and experimenting with the technology, and in 1990, Tom Caudell, a researcher at Boeing, gave it a name – ‘augmented reality’.

Throughout the 1990s the technology advanced rapidly, and by 1998 the NFL adopted AR, using it to display a yellow marker on the field during the broadcast of a live game. Over the next few years, developers became more familiar with AR, and in 1999 Hirokazu Kato developed the ARToolKit. Still popular today, the open-source computer tracking and software library is designed to allow developers to create augmented reality applications that are capable of overlaying virtual imagery on the real world through the use of video tracking functionality. Having already made the jump to entertainment and media, AR was finally ready for consumer audiences by the end of the noughties.

Augmented reality today

By extending live experiences far beyond the screen, AR is proving to be an industry-shifting trend, and audiences are responding well to the technology even though it’s still in its infancy. It’s already a part of our daily lives, with sport and news broadcasters regularly relying on AR to bring statistics, stories, newsrooms and more to life. Games are changing too, and have come a long way since the days of Snake – people of all ages and demographics downloaded Pokemon Go (which had an incredible 45 million daily active users at its peak), and were encouraged to take to the streets in search of their favourite creatures. With such a huge user base, it was a positive sign for AR.

Despite this, British police logged an unbelievable 290 incidents relating to the game in 2016, demonstrating its real world influence and forcing developer Niantic to urge players to “abide by local laws” while gaming. A couple of months after launch, the number of daily users had fallen dramatically and continues to drop, showing that developers need more than initial intrigue and excitement to keep users coming back to their AR apps.

Snapchat filters are used by millions every day to liven up everything from a casual selfie (what would teenagers do without the dog filter?) to large group photos. Snapchat’s AR filters have even managed to become popular memes – everyone remembers the horrifying face swaps with inanimate objects, the dancing hotdog and rainbow vomit, and it’s safe to say that the app’s AR capabilities are a key part of its continued success with younger audiences. In their first proper attempt at taking AR mainstream, Apple’s upcoming Animoji with iPhone X is sure to make traditional emoji more exciting and engaging.

Similarly, ARKit – which was introduced with iOS 11 – is, in Apple’s own words, a new framework that allows you to easily create unparalleled augmented reality experiences for iPhone and iPad. Users can combine digital objects and information with the environment, allowing apps to break free from the confines of the screen and interact with the world in real time. ARKit utilises powerful A9, A10 and A11 processors to provide breakthrough AR performance, and comes packing TrueDepth Camera for robust face tracking, Visual Intertial Odometry (VIO) functionality to effectively track the world around it, and Scene Understanding and Lighting Estimation to ensure everything looks as it should.

What does the future hold?

With so many advancements and landmark developments over the last couple of years, the future looks bright for AR. Powerful design tools are allowing developers to be more creative with the technology than ever before, and evidence and research suggests that audiences are eager for more. It’s estimated that AR headset sales could hit almost £1 billion this year, and with Microsoft going full steam ahead with HoloLens and rumours of other tech companies such as Google, Apple and Samsung following suit, that figure looks set to grow. It’s even starting to play a part in social media strategy, with marketers looking for innovative ways to engage with customers online.

Whatever happens, AR is up there with VR as a soon-to-be essential technology for marketers and content creators (click here for our kit recommendations), and it’s definitely worth striking while the iron is hot to put yourself ahead of the competition.

If you want to know more, give us a call on 03332 400 888 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Five creative trends we’ve got our eye on

Five creative trends we’ve got our eye on

From AR to VR and every acronym in between, there are lots of fresh creative trends on their way up this year that we’re getting pretty excited about. 

As you’ve probably figured out by now, we’re celebrating 25 years of being a leading creative technology provider. As part of the festivities, we’ve been looking back at retro tech and old school design work, but as fun as its been to enjoy some nostalgia, we also like to keep our eye to the future and stay right up to date on the hottest industry trends.

Check out our top five creative trends to look out for…

Animation and video

More and more websites are leaving static imagery behind, hoping to capture the imagination of users through animation. Advancements in web browsers, CSS and HTML5 have made the creation and implementation of animation online much simpler, and web designers are utilising its ability to tell dynamic stories to customers as they browse online.

Video is already hugely popular, but it’s becoming even more so as developments in live streaming via social media take hold. Video is so effective because it allows companies to communicate fine-tuned product narratives to viewers in a way that engages and excites them. If you haven’t adopted it yet, now’s the time!

Did you know? By 2018, 79% of all consumer internet traffic will be video-based.

UX design

Thanks to the fundamentals of human psychology and visual perception, ensuring the effectiveness of your visual communications is key – that’s why usability and accessibility are so important to any digital or online experience. Linear, easy to use interfaces, intelligent personalisation and specialisation should be your top priorities when it comes to UX, and with apps like Uber, Snapchat and Pokémon Go perfecting the practice to great success, its uptake among design teams looks set to continue. 

Virtual reality

You probably guessed it’d show up at some point. VR has only just started infiltrating our lives, and the creation of groundbreaking immersive experiences is definitely on the up. In this year alone, we’ve seen the introduction of virtual tours and VR-themed stage productions, the creation of dementia-friendly virtual environments, VR sketching software for creative professionals and virtual reality apps for reading the news. Not only that, but digital marketers are jumping on the bandwagon as they look to capitalise on a fresh, fully interactive medium for customer engagement.

Minimalism and modularity

As a designer’s job becomes ever more technical and complex, it’s kind of ironic that we’re striving for less in how we present our content. Brands are competing to appear elegant and refined, and a great contemporary example of this is conversational interfaces. News apps in particular send small, digestible pieces of information (usually based on what you’re interested in) straight to your smartphone. From there, users can choose to interact with the notification if they wish to see more content, but otherwise it’s presented in a clean, concise way that doesn’t clutter your home screen.

We expect this trend to continue to grow, so it’s worth bearing a few things in mind if you want your design work to keep up with the competition. We’d recommend breaking your layouts up into digestible chunks and making them easy to engage with, rather than forcing users into walls of text and information. It makes the design process more manageable and goes hand in hand with that sleek, minimalist look we were just talking about.

Typography

Experimenting with typography is key to the design process, and the importance of selecting something that both compliments your work and adapts nicely to your design layouts can’t be understated. Whether you’re using it to help represent complex ideas and abstract concepts, bolster minimalist page designs with a dash of creativity that make them more exciting or just trying to make your work look prettier, designers are now spending more time than ever mulling over their typographical decisions.

These days, the use of larger fonts is becoming more prevalent thanks to the need to optimise websites for mobile screens. Similarly, designers are being tasked with creating responsive logos, which are designed to keep up with the ever-growing selections of formats and scales available to users. Preferably, a good responsive logo will be simple and malleable, and react naturally to its environment while still being functional. This means that we could see creatives move away from hand drawn typography, as these logos are likely to be intricate, much more complex, and less flexible and responsive.

Want to find out more about about the latest creative technology? Give us a call on 03332 400 888, email sales@Jigsaw24.com or pop your details in the form below. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook. 

 

A Day in the Life of: Punch Taverns

A Day in the Life of: Punch Taverns

With some 3500 leased and tenanted pubs, Punch Taverns are one of the UK’s largest pub and bar operators. We popped to their Burton-on-Trent headquarters to see how their UX Design team create award-winning digital experiences that support landlords through their Punch Buying Club website. Check out our Day in the Life video below…

Throughout our Day in the Life series, we’ll be calling round at other creatives, including graphic design and web design agencies, and more, so you can see some of the great work others in the industry are getting up to, and how they’re making the most of the latest creative tools. Catch up on our Day in the Life with Scene Photography here.

Want to know more? Call 03332 409 306, email design@Jigsaw24.com, head on over to our Design & Publishing home page and don’t forget to check out our Adobe Creative Cloud page for resources, and updates on all your favourite Adobe apps. For all the latest news and tips follow us on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.