Keep up with our latest news

The dreaded Facebook “Boost Post” button

The “Boost Post” button invites me to pay to share the post with others. But this video  is a good deterrent against paying Facebook for anything.
I watched that video after Jeff Hamada talked about The End of Facebook.

In one of the comments below Jeff’s post, James Davidson of We Heart said:
“…with around 30k [likes] we were seeing some posts getting just a thousand or so views. Ergo, we were drawn to the dreaded “Boost Post.” Funny thing is, it seemed to have an adverse effect on the posts that weren’t boosted — we dropped down to just a few hundred views for some of them.

“As we grew disenfranchised, we stopped boosting so much. Guess what? The views have been slowly creeping back up. An algorithm to capitalise on those stupid enough to feed the mouth that bites? I wouldn’t bet against it.”

Just something worth thinking about before spending too much time or money on your Facebook page.

How is Media Changing?

The printing industry has seen tremendous change in the past years and will see even more change in the next years. Digital imaging, desktop publishing, large-format offset printing, ink jet production printing and computers are a few examples of advances since the 1970s. Although the technology has changed and the competition is fierce, some aspects of the printing business remain unchanged: customer service, the demand for quality and adhering to the particular ethics and laws regulating putting ink on paper.

Newspapers have lost readers and advertising to the internet. Book and music shops have closed for good. Sales of DVDs and CDs have plummeted. The television industry has so far resisted big disruption but that has not stopped doomsayers predicting a flight of advertising and viewers.

The surge in smartphones, tablet computers and broadband speeds has encouraged more people to pay for content they can carry around with them. According to eMarketer, a research firm, this year Americans will spend more time online or using computerised media than watching television. “All-access” services, such as Netflix (for film and TV) or Spotify (for music), which give unlimited content on mobile devices for a monthly fee, are prompting people to spend more on digital products.

After years of wreaking havoc, the internet is now helping media companies to grow. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), a professional-services firm, reckons that revenues for online media and entertainment will increase by around 13% a year for the next five years. Even in music, which took the biggest hit from the internet, downloads are something to sing about. For the first time in over a decade global music-industry revenues grew last year, by about 0.2%, according to the IFPI, a trade group. Online sales just about made up for the drop in physical ones for the first time. Subscription services, such as Spotify and Deezer, let people stream songs over the internet either for a subscription or free with adverts. Online radio is also growing.

Revenue from couch potatoes are also stabilising thanks to downloads, rentals and streaming services—to the relief of Hollywood studios. Kiosks that dispense rentable films were once scorned for undermining DVD sales. Now those sites are boosting profits at media firms by buying the rights to stream content online. Television and film companies are selling rights to broadcast content after it debuts but before it is repeated on TV.

The most obvious change in the past few years is the decline of “physical” products, such as CDs, DVDs and print newspapers. In 2008 nearly nine-tenths of consumer cash went on them; by 2017 it will be a little over half, with digital grabbing the rest. Electronic content has some advantages, in particular lower distribution costs. However, consumers expect to pay less for electronic products and are renting instead of buying.

Media firms used to make a fortune selling “bundles”. Songs are grouped into albums; newspapers are packages of articles and advertising. The internet lets people pick what they want. Firms that can keep on bundling have done better. Pay-TV has preserved bundling by not putting current programs online while they air on screen.

Book publishers are also adapting. Thanks to the rise of tablets, e-book sales have climbed. Total spending on books is not likely to rise. But the growing share of e-books—around 14% globally this year—means fatter profits for publishers as printing, distribution and storage costs fall. Around 40% of sales will be e-books in three years, predicts Brian Murray, the boss of HarperCollins, a big publisher.

The internet is at last contributing to media-industry bottom lines. But it will not restore the newspaper or music businesses to their previous size. The economics have changed for good.

Some media firms need to get bigger and trim costs. Penguin and Random House, two publishers, merged earlier this year in order to compete with Amazon, which now publishes books as well as selling them. Universal Music bought EMI, another label, last year. The rounds of sackings at media businesses are as long-running as popular cable-TV dramas.

What will happen as the internet’s influence increases? Journalists write more articles for smaller salaries in shrinking newsrooms. Musicians complain that streaming pays too little. But authors do better. Royalties from e-books are about 25% of net receipts, compared with an average of around 16% in print. Careers can take off faster. E.L. James’s bondage-buster, “Fifty Shades of Grey”, turned up online before being published on paper. Many musicians get more exposure online than they would have had in a record shop, where space was tight, says Martin Mills of Beggars Group, a British music company.

New technology can also provide opportunities for media firms. The value of archives is growing in the internet age: owners can profit from older programmes that are rarely broadcast. Netflix and other online-video firms are snapping up old films and drama series. When a musician releases a new album or goes on tour, old songs are streamed more too, says Daniel Glass, who runs a music label.

The internet can also help firms become cleverer. Concerts have become the lifeblood of the music industry and make up more than half of revenues. Acts used to go on tour to sell albums. Now they put out albums so they can make their living on the road. Bands will probably get cleverer at using streaming data to decide where to perform. Publishers are releasing books electronically to test sales before putting them in print, and to adjust prices to drive demand. Experiments that were once impossibly expensive now cost peanuts.

The trade of dollars for digital cents doesn’t always hurt.

(Thanks to

Web design trends for 2014

Many trends that were spotted in 2013 are still around today and will undoubtedly become extremely popular throughout 2014. The reason why they are called trends and not fads is because trends tend to stick around for a few years while fads are here for a short time. In saying that, what kind of new(ish) web design trends we can look for and be inspired by for 2014?

Apple reignited “flat design” with the release of iOS7. However, Apple has taken flat design to a whole new level by removing almost all design elements (drop shadows, gradients, outlines etc.). For a long time Apple has been a major trendsetter, and what Apple does, the rest of the world seems to follow. iOS7 has been out for a while and already there are a flood of sites coming online every day with new “flat” designs. I expect this trend to continue well past 2014.

Simple content is destined to dominate in 2014 and beyond as we design our websites. Simplified content means short paragraphs of content making it easy to read and keep the viewers attention. Over the years, our attention spans have become shorter, so as designers we have compensated for that by putting content in short bursts instead of long narratives. Not many areas on websites these days (except blog posts) have more than about 250 characters. It is easier and faster to read for those who like to scan the page.

Simple colour schemes are also here to stay. Simple meaning using only one or two colours. The use of a more simple color scheme seems to go hand in hand with flat design. Many websites being launched now are using very little colour, or even forgoing colour all together. White, black, and everything in between are popular schemes now, and adding just a hint of another colour, such as red, adds drama and impact – all things garnish attention when used in the right way.

Using just Arial or Times new Roman on your website is a thing of the past. Thousands of web friendly fonts have been created so that your corporate font can some be a part of your website. It is also great to see more designers experimenting with different fonts. “Fonts with personality” are those that feel like they can stand on their own. They are not your standard serif or san-serif font (ahem, Helvetica). As designers we are starting to find different fonts to add to our portfolio which are  enhancing our designs with a little more personality and uniqueness.

Now that responsive web design is becoming more common, we are starting to see websites more functional for our mobile lifestyles. Designers are increasingly working on keeping their sites working properly on mobile devices. Developers are taking it a step further including integration with social media, email subscription areas, long scrolling sites and fast loading sites, all helping to make the mobile web a more user friendly place.

We’ve become comfortable with scrolling through a website to read and find information, and now with websites using more design techniques such as increased white space and responsive Web design, long scrolling sites are starting to appear again. Several years ago, it was common to have long scrolling sites that where slammed with content. Well, now we are seeing long scrolling websites but the content is more organized and in a much easier format to digest.

Large static hero images on website home pages are now quite popular. Hero areas are quickly replacing sliders as the new attention-grabbers and are becoming increasingly creative and elaborate.

World’s thinnest keyboard unveiled

The company behind the wireless Beats headphones and Nike Running gadget has unveiled the world’s thinnest keyboard, with a flexible, wireless touchscreen just half a millimetre thick.

Cambridge-based CSR, which specialises in wireless technology, showcased a prototype of the product at the IFA consumer electronics event in Berlin, but it will be 12 months before it will be available to buy.

Paul Williamson, CSR’s director of low power wireless products, said the final form factor depended on how manufacturers bring the keyboard to market, although its primary use is likely to be as a lightweight, complementary external keyboard for tablet devices. “This is a working prototype and a glimpse forward rather than something people will be buying this year,” he said.

“We might see lots of shapes and sizes, some as small as iPad Mini or a larger, more rigid form for a desktop PC, which could be curved, in any colour way, transparent or fitted with a leather folio.”

Developed in partnership with Cambridge Inkjet Technology, the interface for the product is printed out and can be customised. That could mean printing bespoke keyboards in different languages with ease, or customised keyboards for functions such as video editing and for customers who would like personalised patterns or messages on their own keyboard.

The keyboard’s touchscreen could also be used under a piece of paper to transcribe notes made with a pen and sync them to a computer.

CSR’s research has led to wireless products that enable music streaming in the popular Beats headphones, the performance-tracking tool the Nike+ SportWatch and the Jambox speaker.

Founded in 1999, CSR is one of a cluster of successful, research-focused tech companies clustered around Cambridge and “Silicon Fen” who have recently discussed introducing a “Made in Cambridge” badge to promote their products.

“The audio experience you’re getting from Beats headphones exists because we developed it, put it out there and now it is used on a global scale,” said Williamson.

“People don’t recognise that that kind of innovation is developed by a small number of very bright people here, and the pool of engineering talent and expertise here deserves a bit more credit than the app economy drive in the periphery of London.”

Source: the guardian

Creative Packaging

This post is to show some amazing, innovative and creative packaging design ideas from all over the world.

Even though the goal of modern retail packaging is to encourage potential buyers to purchase the product, clever packages can also be a great source of inspiration.




QR Codes

Smart phones are in almost everyone’s pocket these days and we use them more as a personal assistant and connection to the digital world more than we do for their original purpose of making a phone call. However, it is our belief that printed material is still required to lead us to our virtual world. Cross marketing has become huge with QR codes being placed on many printed materials as an easy way to access something, or should I say anything, online directly.

The next time you require an item that promotes yourself or your business for example a business card, brochure or pull-up banner, remember to add a QR code to your designs.

QR Codes can be used with any smart phone and new scanners to bookmark and take you to almost anything virtual. Whether it be used to promote a URL link to your site, Facebook page or specialised to send someone your phone number, app download, PayPal purchase or even WIFI login. Your options are endless.

How loyal are you?

Brand loyalty is how we escape decision fatigue.

Making choices is exhausting – mentally, emotionally and even physically. With the magnitude of online services and globalising markets, our options have multiplied rapidly, and it’s wearing us out. More than anything else, this is why we form brand loyalties. Once we believe that our values and choices align, we are happy to leave choices to the brand that has earned our trust, and shift some of the burden off our own shoulders.

Be trustworthy enough to take the load off. The brands that earn loyalty in 2013 are those that have earned it. By showing you’re aligned, and communicating in familiar language, you establish a trust that lets customers relax. “Go ahead,” you say, “we’ve got you covered.” If they can believe you, they’ll love you for it.

Will you be loyal to us?

The End of an Era

After 159 years the broadsheet tradition has ended for the weekday edition of The Age. It has become a tabloid-sized newspaper for the first time. The question is: does size matter in terms of editorial content? Will we, as readers, see a change in the content and selection of stories in this smaller Fairfax newspaper? According to Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood, the answer is no. He has emphatically argued when explaining the rationale for the size switch (to save costs through the closure of the Tullamarine plant) that the “compact” version will contain the same “quality journalism” as when it was broadsheet. Media scholars are divided on the question of whether newspaper size influences content, and in turn, the role of the press in strengthening democratic accountability.

Hywood did not explicitly stated that the company would pursue a “downmarket” approach when The Age changed size, and he was deliberate in using the term “compact” rather than tabloid. Tabloids tend to be dogged with a reputation for prurience and sensationalism. Globally, in 2013, the distinction between the editorial content of the broadsheets compared to tabloids cannot be simply determined by page size.

Previously, larger format papers were associated with a high income-earning readership, and considered a mark of style and authority. This divide blurred when many large format papers converted to “compact” to make it easier for the commuting reader, and to ultimately bolster sales. These papers were more accurately termed “elites” referring to their content, rather than their size, to distinguish them. Such mastheads include The Times, The Guardian, The Independent and The New York Times. Their content shows a commitment to the coverage of politics, foreign news and investigative reporting.

In Australia, the symbolic and physical difference between the two sized newspapers still largely existed up until yesterday (5 March). The broadsheet papers of the SMH, The Age and The Australian generally attracted readers from a higher socio-economic background, often termed A and B demographics. Of course there is one notable exception to this finding in Australia and that is the Australian Financial Review. This tabloid-sized national business newspaper also has an AB demographic and an editorial focus on politics and, as my research has found, a strong record for investigative reporting.

Looking at the compact newspaper versions published today it is impossible to make any strong statements about whether size matters for Fairfax. That will only be known with time. What is known is that globally, over the past five years, about 80 daily newspapers have converted from broadsheet to tabloid in a bid to boost circulation and revenues in response to the political economy of the mass media. But swapping to compact size for circulation gains has also proved not to be sustainable for most beyond a few years.

Since the 1970′s premium news pages have fewer stories, bigger pictures and more advertising as compared to each decade before. Editors have also shifted their lead-story focus toward crime stories and away from international reporting. The move toward tabloidisation of content has resulted in different editorial priorities, including less investigative reporting. Research has shown that when Australian broadsheets become tabloids their investigative reporting diminishes. Three examples are Brisbane’s Courier Mail, the Adelaide Advertiser and the Newcastle Herald.

A cautionary tale for Fairfax: size does not necessarily shape content (as the Financial Review has so far shown) but the political economy of newspapers demonstrates that it can. Whether it does or doesn’t largely depends on the power and editorial perspective of the editor – one free of the editorial compromises that corporate responsibilities of a masthead can bring.

Modern Vintage Revival

For a while now I have noticed a huge revival of vintage themed design. Designers are using classic typography techniques, muted colours and dirty textures to simulate designs from centuries past. Using truly inspiring designs dug up from the past and modernising them to work today. New vintage fonts are also emerging rapidly from typographers.

Vintage style designs arise feelings, awake memories and involve a broad range of viewers. A retro design often offers viewers something they haven’t expected at all. Retro styles have brought a touch of romanticism back into design, back to time when life was much simpler, less stressful and relaxed. This may be the reason it has become popular again.

Below are some inspiring examples of modern retro design.



20 years since the very first text message

20 years ago, a young British engineer named Neil Papworth sent the world’s first text message from a computer to his boss’s mobile phone.

Nokia introduced the 1011 on the 10th of the 11th 1992. It was the first mobile phone capable of sending and receiving SMS texts. Three weeks after engineers got the system live, so what did the first text message actually say? It was ‘Merry Christmas’.

When he sent that Christmas greeting on December 3, 1992, Papworth never imagined he’d make history. “For me, I was doing a day’s work and I just thought: ‘OK, if this thing works, what am I doing tomorrow?”.

He was 22 years old at the time of the inaugural text, working as a software engineer for the British company Vodafone to improve pager and mobile phone messaging systems at a time when few people even carried mobile phones.

Vodafone wanted to develop the technology as an improvement on paging, Papworth said, and no one realised then how it would change the culture of communication forever. “They thought it would be used as an executive pager so that secretaries could get hold of their bosses while they were out and about and they could send them messages and tell them what to do and where to go”.

Papworth was working for a company called Sema Group Telecoms at Vodafone’s offices in Newbury, southeast England, developing what was known as a Short Message Service Centre (SMSC).

“I used to talk to my friends about what I do, and they’re like: ‘Text what?’ No one had a mobile phone back then,” he said.

The bricks of the 1980s were heavy on the arm muscles but light on uses with only the option of making a call. Mobile phones have now evolved into multi-tasking smartphones and text messaging has become part of our daily interactions.