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Friday’s favorite things: April 29th

Every Friday we round up some of our favorite finds on the web, from illustrations and videos to fonts and photography. This week, we put our feet up with some creative design and branding books.

Let’s get fiscal
For 24 years, UK-based agency AMV BBDO has been creating worthwhile and witty ads for weekly newspaper, The Economist. Every one of these ads, along with the story behind their creation, is collected in Well-written and red, a book that will make you smile and think at the same time.

Well-written and red

 

Feast for the eyes
Knife and Fork is a stunning showcase of original and unconventional visual identities created for business in the world of food and drink, from restaurants and espresso bars to chocolate manufacturers and cookery schools.

Knife and Fork published by Gestalten

 

Hand of Kate
In Make Your Own Luck, graphic designer Kate Moross provides insider tips to making it in the world of design, based on her experience working for high-profile brands like Nike and Google. The book also features lots of examples of her bold and beautiful designs, illustrations and typography.

Make Your Own Luck by Kate Moross

 

Seen a great design and branding book you’d like to share? Add your links in the comments section below.

If you like this: follow us on Twitter to see more great creative work.

Four methods for mastering multitasking

Productivity illustration by Luke Bott

 

In a recent survey conducted by Hightail, we discovered that only 16% of respondents work on a single project at a time. Everyone else is juggling multiple projects with nearly 40% working on four or more. Multitasking is the norm for most of us, but is it effective?

Multitasking means switching between tasks before one is finished, rather than carrying out tasks at the exact same time, unless you consider patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time to be worth a LinkedIn Endorsement. Most contemporary studies believe it to be ineffective and one psychologist, Edward Hallowell, described it as a “mythical activity”.

Numerous studies of learning have shown that it makes absorbing new information almost impossible. For example, a 2013 observational study of students showed that persistent multitaskers switched tasks on average every six minutes and tended to have a lower Grade Point Average than those that were able to focus on one thing.

But there are potential benefits of multitasking. One experiment showed that though multitaskers tended to complete tasks slowly or make mistakes, they were better at more creative tasks. As journalist Tim Harford writes, it’s “easier to think outside the box if you spend a lot of time clambering between different boxes”. Being distracted can often help with seemingly intractable problems, much like the inspiring effects of a shower espoused by Jack Donaghy.

Ultimately, whether multitasking is a good or bad thing is probably a moot point. 84% of us do it, so the key is to understand how to do it well. These four tips for effective multitasking will help improve your juggling act.

1. Know when to focus
You can spend your day hopping from your inbox to meetings to quick reviews and back to your inbox. But be clear about those tasks that demand your full attention and set aside time to complete it or at least a defined chunk. When it’s time to focus, shut down your email, browser and phone and wear headphones to show others that you’re in do-not-disturb mode.

2. Live by your to-do list
Incomplete tasks take up brain space that divides your attention. Productivity guru, David Allen, calls these “open loops” and suggests writing down the next step of an incomplete task to close a loop. Create a comprehensive to-do list and let it control your day. Only the day’s most urgent incoming requests should displace the tasks on your to-do list.

3. Use dedicated digital services
If email is your primary tool for getting things done, you will invariably be distracted by the volume of messages on a range of diverse topics that you will see during your day. But using a dedicated collaboration service like Hightail to collect creative feedback helps you stay focused on completing that task. Find a suitable service for your needs and get out of your inbox.

Hightail Spaces all-comments view

 

4. Review to remember
A 2006 experiment found that even when multitaskers completed tasks successfully, they found themselves later unable to recall details of what they had done. This is why multitasking is such a poor tactic for learning new things. Set aside time to review tasks and projects carried out concurrently so you can actually understand and remember the important details.

One of the most interesting findings from scientific studies of multitasking is that people who think they are good are it are often the worst performers in experiments. So if these four tips do improve your mastery of multitasking, don’t ever believe you’ve completely cracked it.

Friday’s favorite things: April 22nd

Every Friday we round up some of our favorite finds on the web, from illustrations and videos to fonts and photography. This week, we introduced top TV title sequences.

Pale blue eye
When creating a suitably epic title sequence for Fox’s update of Cosmos – Carl Sagan’s classic exploration of the universe – LA design studio, Big Block Media used the human eye as the starting point for a series of transitions connecting the commonplace with the cosmos.

Cosmos title sequence by Big Block Media

 

Ray of sunshine
The story of a family in 1930s Britain, who set up a new life on the Greek island of Corfu, is given a beautiful introduction in Rupert Ray’s title sequence for UK TV show, The Durrells.

The Durrells title sequence by Rupert Ray

 

Auto-tune the titles
Netflix show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, brings the auto-tune the news meme to its title sequence, thanks to the creative talents of design consultancy, Pentagram.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt title sequence by Pentagram

 

Seen a great title sequence you’d like to share? Add your links in the comments section below.

If you like this, follow us on Twitter to see more great creative work.

Tool tips with Kunal Ghosh

Picture_to_ColmTool tips is a regular series where Hightail employees share their life’s most essential apps, online services and websites. Next up is Senior Staff Data Warehouse Engineer, Kunal Ghosh.

Working tool
In my role as Senior Staff Data Warehouse Engineer, I almost always use DbVisualizer for database access. I prefer traditional VI or VI like editors for scripting, but I also use Notepad++ and TextWrangler. Talend is an open source tool that has proved to be effective for data integration.

Playtime
I am an avid reader and think that Goodreads offers some interesting collections. This is where I’ll look to find my next book to read while I’m traveling. I use Saavn to get a daily doze of Bollywood Music, while YuppTV helps me catch up on Indian shows.

General resource
I am interested in a range of causes from stopping to the ivory trade and saving the bees to helping refugee children and immigration reform. A great place to make your voice heard against injustices like these is Avaaz. I do my little bit by supporting petitions but I really appreciate the supporters, founders and the NGOs behind this effort.

Friday’s favorite things: April 15th

Every Friday we round up some of our favorite finds on the web, from illustrations and videos to fonts and photography. This week, we nosed around other people’s homes to investigate inspiring interior designs.

Living room
Lesiele Juliet is an Australian interior designer who now calls Ireland her home. She uses bright whites and light to make the most of this apartment’s limited living space.

Interior design by Lesiele Juliet

 

Mixology
This stunning London apartment was designed by Daniel Hopwood to have a playful air of decadence, no more so than in this ultra-modern kitchen-cum-bar.

Interior design by Daniel Hopwood

 

Eye for design
A large piece of art dominates this duplex design by HGTV Season 7 Design Star, Danielle Colding, and the rest of room seems to unfold under its watchful eye.

Interior design by Danielle Colding

 

Seen some interesting interiors you’d like to share? Add your links in the comments section below.

If you like this, follow us on Twitter to see more great creative work.

Customer spotlight: Drake Cooper

Drake Cooper logoDrake Cooper is a full-service agency with offices in Boise and Seattle. We spoke with Engagement Specialist, Britton Hennessy, about social media teamwork, managing Idaho Tourism’s growing photography database and how Hightail became a critical part of their creative process.

Full-service agency with digital emphasis
Headquartered in Boise, Drake Cooper started as a traditional agency in 1978 primarily serving local and regional clients. Today, we’re over 40 people strong and supplement that with specialists, typically on the web development side, as well as photographers and videographers.

Brand ecosystem delivery
Our services span the marketing spectrum and are dialed in depending on client need, budget, target audience and the overall goals we set together. Working with one of our newer clients – a financial services company – our focus will include their online banking services, mobile apps, social presence, email campaigns and overall brand strategy.

Britton Hennessy from Drake Cooper I am an Engagement Specialist
As clients look to grow and enhance their online engagement through social media, digital partnerships and consumer marketing programs, I create strategies and tactics to help propel the brand forward. For some clients, this includes building a system to help them design, launch and manage content distribution. For other clients, we work hand-in-hand with them on seasonal campaigns or annual programs to co-manage the entire communication process.

A team of many
As consumers, we digest digital and social content over multiple points of the day (and night). For each of these posts, blogs, photos and articles, there’s a brand team behind the scenes building and curating calendars, coordinating to-dos and managing resources. In many cases, this team is led by a digital or community manager who collaborates with production specialists. With one of our destination marketing organization clients, Idaho Tourism, we work closely with them to manage a complex network of publishing tools, image platforms and content systems to help grow and enhance Idaho’s travel brand.

Idaho’s asset library of the future
As the state’s official travel marketer, Idaho Tourism is tasked with increasing statewide visitation throughout the year, including leisure daytrips, family vacations, conventions and special events. Central to showcasing the state’s scenic beauty and outdoor adventure is having up-to-date photography, video assets and other digital files at our fingertips. Creating an open source library of materials, the state can now support image requests (and soon video and VR) from publishers worldwide. The system has reduced both staff and file management time, thereby creating new opportunities to publish Idaho content, stories and photo libraries.

Drake Cooper - Visit Idaho photo library

Managing our workflow
Be it a one-use image or full production shoot, managing workflow streams is an essential task to handle upfront before production begins. To help grow our lifestyle image library, we partnered with Huck, the operations of Boise-based Tony Andrew. With shoots ranging from a culinary setting inside a restaurant in downtown Boise to multi-day excursions in the Idaho backcountry, our image deliverables can range from a handful to over 1,000. In working with Huck, the top 10-20% (10-200 shots) are selected and shared for client consideration. Sharing low-resolution files by email was difficult, as was using other web-based file transfer sites.

Huck introduced Hightail
We started using Hightail in December 2015 and liked it right out of the gate. One of the greatest benefits is that we can view all photos in one Space and in clear detail. This is a huge improvement over simply viewing filenames in a folder or scanning through raw thumbnails. With this improved production environment, we can now share and collect client feedback and ultimately launch assets into the marketplace in a fraction of the time.

Drake Cooper Hightail screenshot

Hightail saves time
As photos are ultimately delivered to diverse groups of publishers and media outlets, Hightail acts as the central clearinghouse. We mark initial photos we like as Approved, which makes it much easier to create the edited list for the client. They can then download what they want to use (in full resolution) from the same account. Having images (and staff) using a single platform is incredibly helpful. The bigger the shoot, the more time it saves.

Effective team collaborative
As Hightail does the heavy lifting of managing assets, we work with the client to streamline collaboration and automate production. In using Instagram for example, each Monday we create a Space, add relevant photos and use comments to share messaging suggestions. Idaho Tourism can then approve each one, post comments, etc, thereby making the entire process as real-time as possible. We’ll certainly be recommending Hightail to other clients.

Drake Cooper Hightail screenshot

To learn more about Drake Cooper, visit www.drakecooper.com, watch videos on Vimeo and follow them on Twitter and Instagram. Try Hightail for free at www.hightail.com.

Like a version

 

“Versions is probably the most powerful tool in Hightail. I’ve never seen a versioning system like it.”

Richard Farr – Founder, Digital Video Experts

“Visual versions lets you track the progress of a scene easily.”

Martin Pelham – Manager of Media Service, LAIKA

“The ability to see all versions in one place is critical.”

Rob Finch – Creative Director, Blue Chalk Media

Digital Video Experts' Hightail screenshot

 

Many of our users tell us that the Versions feature of Spaces has quickly become a valuable part of their creative process. They love how it ensures that the most recent iteration of a file is front-and-center so nobody reviews the wrong version by mistake.

But even more significantly, it provides an “instantly accessible electronic paper trail” that lets you “track the evolution of a project” and easily see who requested which changes throughout the lifecycle of a project.

If you have yet to experience the full potential of our Versions feature, this short five-point guide will help you get started.

1. Add a new version
Adding new versions couldn’t be simpler. When you’re viewing a file, just drag’n’drop your new version and it will automatically replace the previous one. Or select Add new version from the Options menu on the top right.

If you’re viewing your entire Space as opposed to the specific file, simply hover over the file you want to update and select the + icon. If your new iteration has the exact same filename as what’s already on the Space, dragging it to the Space will automatically update the version.

Versions - add new version

 

2. Accessing previous versions
When you add a new version, the previous one is archived, which ensures your team won’t accidentally review an outdated piece of work. But you can easily go back and view previous versions as well as the comments associated with them.

When viewing a file, click on the orange Version X text at the top of the screen by the filename. This takes you into Versions mode so you can scroll through to view your older files. To exit Versions mode, simply click the X on right side of the blue bar.

Note that you cannot add new comments or replies to an older version.

Versions - access previous versions

 

3. Make a file the current version
We’ve all been there: you request a bunch of changes but when the new version comes back, you prefer the original. Not a problem. With Spaces, it’s easy to make make an older file the current version.

Simply go into Versions mode and click through to your preferred version. Hover over the image and select the Pin icon to make it the current version. You can also do this when you’re viewing the older file by selecting Make current version from the Options menu.

Versions - make current version

 

4. Deleting versions
First off: deleting the current version of a file will remove it and all previous versions. So don’t do that unless you actually want to completely delete the files from your Space.

If you need to delete the current version, first make a previous file the current version. Once your unwanted file is marked as an older version, you can hover over it and use the Trashcan icon or select Delete version from the Options menu when viewing the file.

Versions - delete / download options

 

5. Downloading past versions
When you’re in Versions mode, just hover over the required version and use the Download icon or select Download file from the Options menu when viewing the file.

Now it’s time to check out Versions for yourself. Simply sign in to your Hightail account and select the Spaces option from the top menu. If you’re new to Hightail, you can sign up for a free account.

We’d love to hear what you think of Versions. How does it work for you? What additional features would you like to see? Let us know in the comments below or click here to send us your feedback.

6 tips for writing a creative brief

Creative briefs

 

If you’ve ever suffered through a difficult client/agency relationship, you’ll know what a frustrating experience it can be. As the client you feel like you’re not getting the agency’s best work and are wasting your money. Meanwhile the agency tears out its hair at your indecisiveness, while submitting new stories of outrage to clientsfromhell.net.

In most cases, this strain between the two sides is a result of miscommunication and misunderstanding, much of which stems from a single source: a badly prepared creative brief.

The creative brief is an extremely important document that should clearly communicate a campaign’s desired direction and outcomes, while educating the agency about the client. Yet too many clients see it as just a painful form to complete and don’t give it the required time and thought.

When this happens, agencies are more likely to miss the mark with their creative efforts because the brief didn’t provide enough guidance or steered them the wrong way. For an agency’s creative team, the brief is like a bible, which is why “that wasn’t in the brief” is a commonly heard excuse when client feedback introduces new ideas and requests.

If you’re a client about to work with an agency – whether you’re in the marketing department or a business owner – don’t blow off the brief. Instead use these six tips to ensure your next creative brief gets you exactly the campaign your business needs.

1. Write your own brief
Completing a brief form sent to you by an agency is a pain. That’s because it’s a standard template designed to cover the diverse needs of their clients. So instead of struggling to make their template fit your business, create your own brief from scratch. That way you can focus on your intentions, ideas and idiosyncrasies and not on how to shoehorn them into the agency’s template.

2. Split your thought process
Think about your brief in two distinct parts. The first is a macro view of your business and target audience and will probably be the same for all of your creative briefs – saving you valuable time in future. The second part is an ever-changing micro view that focuses on the specific campaign you’re discussing and should include goals, direction, references and must-haves.

2014 Hightail email illustration: Swap Ideas Day3. Have a single compelling idea
When a potential customer experiences your new campaign, what is the one thing you want them to take away? This single compelling idea is the most critical part of your brief – 80% of your brief creation time should be focused on it. But you don’t want your agency to just come back with it as a tagline. It should act as more of a starting point for their creative process.

4. Be guided by your goal
What are you looking for from the agency? Do you want fresh creative insights and inspiration or just new strategies and tactics for your existing messaging? If it’s the former, your brief should be less prescriptive and focus on providing the information that will let the creative team do its thing. For the latter, be clear about your new objective and which assets to use.

5. Mind your language
Resist the temptation to simply copy and paste language from existing promotional material or internal documents (unless you wrote it yourself). You’re responsible for the relationship with your agency so you need be able to explain everything about the business in your own words. And remember to keep the language simple, concise and jargon-free. Would your grandma understand it?

6. Don’t write a brief
As an alternative to all of the above, have a meeting with your agency where you tell them everything they need to know about your business. Then have the agency write the brief. It’s a great way of ensuring they’ve really listened and understood your needs. Of course, you’ll still need to spend time thinking about the initial story you tell them so the above tips remain useful.

The next time you hire an agency, use these six tips to create a better brief that will help deliver a successful campaign. Got advice you’d like to share? Post it to the comments below.

If you like this, try:
Four must-have digital tools for creative marketers
Six tips for dealing with feedback
How to have a happy client

Friday’s favorite things: April 8th

Every Friday we round up some of our favorite finds on the web, from illustrations and videos to fonts and photography. This week, we looked at some awesome VFX work featured in some of the biggest films and television series to date.

Colossal work
Industrial Light & Magic is a leading effects company originally founded in 1975 by George Lucas to create the special effects for Star Wars. Fast forward about 40 years and they now have locations all around the world, serving the motion picture commercial production and attraction industries while recently working on Jurassic World. In an effort to pay homage to the original classic, Jurassic Park, ILM opted for physical effects at every opportunity. Check out how they did just that by using real actors for their raptor animation.

Jurassic World, ILM, Industrial Light & Magic, Motion Capture

 

FOMO
Founded in 2002, Luma Pictures is a world class creative studio located in California and Australia. They’ve helped create stunning visual effects for nearly 100 films, most of which are total smash hits. When it came to the recent blockbuster, Deadpool, Luma had no choice but to get in on the fun. See how their fear of missing out led to the creation of this scrapyard climax.

Deadpool, Luma Pictures, Visual Effects, VFX

 

Pressure makes diamonds
Image Engine Design, based in Vancouver BC, is an outstanding visual effects studio whose work can be tracked all the way back to 1995. Having worked on incredible feature films the likes of District 9, Zero Dark Thirty and The Revenant, meeting the demands and expectations of HBO was another challenge altogether. Click here to see their spectacular contributions to season five of Game of Thrones.

Image Engine Design, Game of Thrones Season Five, Game of Thrones, Set Extentions

 

Have you seen jaw dropping visual effects you’d like to share? Add your links in the comments section below.

If you like this:
Check out more of our Friday’s favorite things.
Follow us on Twitter to see more great creative work.

Friday’s favorite things: April 1st

Every Friday we round up some of our favorite finds on the web, from illustrations and videos to fonts and photography. This week, we looked at creative word marks by some very talented designers.

Welcome to the new school
Pentagram is the world’s largest independent design consultancy with offices all around the world. In working with The New School, they were tasked with establishing an iconic brand for the university as a whole, while also setting apart their different schools, institutes and programs. Check out how they brilliantly used custom typography with three different widths to create a fresh yet flexible word mark.

The New School, Pentagram, Custom Typography

 

Monkeying around
Jessica Hische is a letterer, illustrator, type designer, and relentless procrastiworker, splitting time between Brooklyn and San Francisco. She was recently approached by Mail Chimp for a logo revision that wasn’t a massive overhaul. After a bit of monkeying around with many small adjustments, she was able to give this word mark what she calls a “classy facelift.”

Mail Chimp, Jessica Hische, Ron Lewis, Logo

 

Coffee is for closers
Turner Duckworth is a design studio based in San Francisco and London that creates iconic visual identities and packaging for consumer brands – they even won a Grammy for rock band Metallica’s logo. In their work for Dripp, a new concept for a coffee shop that sells coffee, ice cream and other crafted treats, they developed a solution inspired by the past but with a modern attitude. Click here to see how they came up with a classic script that looks like it’s on the point of melting.

Dripp, Turner Duckworth, Typography, Wordmark

 

Have you seen any creative word marks you’d like to share? Add your links in the comments section below.

If you like this:
Check out more of our Friday’s favorite things.
Follow us on Twitter to see more great creative work.

Why email kills creativity

Mike TriggAs a marketer most of my career, I’ve been involved in countless creative projects. From web sites and logo designs to TV commercials and 3D animation, I’ve done it. Every day I have ad creative to review or a demo video to approve, a conversation about a website design that I want to weigh in on or the new version of those booth graphics to check out.

Like most marketers, these tasks usually came via my email inbox, where they vied for my attention with spam, lead gen solicitations, newsletters and all those threads I’m cc’d on because I want complete oversight of every project and task. Even when I could find an email that required a response, my feedback came via a reply that lacked the context of the visual work being discussed. I spent more time describing what I was talking about in the design or video than on what I actually thought of it.Email inbox

With such an ineffective feedback loop, it became increasingly hard to meet deadlines and keep projects within budget. At times, my inbox could feel overwhelming and it became apparent that my creative process was broken.

Turns out, I’m not the only one who feels that way. Hightail recently commissioned a survey of over 400 creative professionals to better understand how they manage their projects. The results confirmed what I already knew, yet still shocked me:

• First, we asked if people had worked on a project that was late or over-budget in the past 12 months. An amazing one-third of respondents answer yes to both questions.

Hightail survey late over budget project

 

• One of the key reasons for all of these problems is, while 66% of creative reviews happened in email, when we asked if email is an effective way to collect feedback, only 30% of respondents agreed.

Hightail survey email effectiveness

 

• Furthermore, 75% of participants admitted they do not have an effective creative process, 60% think critical project stakeholders lack sufficient oversight, and more than 85% believe that getting clear final approval on work is an issue.

See the full survey results

Aside from making me feel better by not being the only one with these problems, these findings made it clear that the creative process is broken for a lot of people and things need to change. So how can we work more effectively on creative projects? Throughout my career I’ve noticed three themes that are critical to a great creative process.

1. Structure
The traditional top-down, hierarchical, command-and-control structure stifles creativity. The skills required in creative teams are highly fluid and each creative project is different. Your organization should build flexible creative teams that are non-hierarchical and encompass a variety of creative professionals based on the particular needs of that project.

2. Communication
Our communication tools, from email to IM and text messaging tend to be generic, so we’re constantly shifting our context from topic to topic. To be more productive, you need to get out of these horizontal communication tools and instead have contextual conversations that are relevant to what you’re working on. For example, Hightail’s creative collaboration service that takes comments and other feedback out of email and instead captures them right on the images, designs, videos, PDFs and visual content themselves.

Spaces follow-up requested

 

3. Approach
Modern creative teams are much more organic and self-managed. Because every project is different, the course and milestones of the project can’t always be pre-determined. Your creative teams should be able to negotiate next steps and adapt as the project progresses, while understanding the implications of their work and the consequences of delays or cost over-runs.

Focusing on these three themes can help your business become more productive. I know this because I’ve spent the past 12 months implementing these ideas, best practices and purpose-built tools at Hightail and we’ve seen dramatic improvements in delivering high-quality creative work on-time and on-budget.

So let’s take a creative approach to solving our productivity problems. Free the world’s creativity and we’ll make a brighter future for everyone.

If you like this, try:
Five reasons why creative projects fail
Eight productivity tools your business should be using
Bringing project management to Hightail

Put on a show: four tips for presenting your work

Why Presentations matter by Luke Bott

 

During the process of rebranding as Hightail, we worked with creative agency, Siegel+Gale, to replace our outdated moniker, YouSendIt. The agency has been responsible for changing Master Charge to MasterCard and named the BlackBerry, so we knew we were in good hands.

After much research and discussion, a meeting was called in a room containing a large whiteboard covered with a drape. After the S+G team introduced the project goal and discussed their creative process, the drape was pulled aside to reveal a shortlist of potential company names and brand designs.

It was an exciting reveal but it strikes me now that such stage-managed presentations are increasingly rare. The separation of client and creator is narrowing all the time as content creation becomes ever more collaborative. We have many different ways to communicate instantly, while digital artwork, design, video and other creative files can be shared easily and securely.

Clients are rarely kept completely in the dark regarding the progress of a project so the art of presentation is no longer based on a single big moment. We now deal in a world where numerous, smaller scale presentations happen throughout the creative process and so we don’t take them very seriously. We’re sharing our creations so often that we don’t put a lot of thought into the audience’s experience.

But presentation remains hugely important. Done right it can get your client in the right mindset for your idea (especially useful if you’re recommending an innovative approach), ensure they experience the work in the best possible way and keep their feedback focused and relevant.

So, however you present creative work – by email, face-to-face, phone and video conference or using specialized software – here are four tips for showcasing your ideas in the best possible light.

1. Provide clear context
Never just send a file and say “what do you think?”. Though you may have been obsessing over the idea for days, your client has probably been thinking about other things. Introduce the key goals driving the work – even if you’re just restating the client’s own brief – and add some background about how the idea came about and accomplishes their goals. This shows that you have internalized what the client is trying to achieve with the project. You’re likely to get feedback from the client on a range of issues so it’s a good idea to ensure they also focus on what you need. If their opinion on, say, the layout of a web page is critical, ask for it.

2. Control the environment
The Mad Men-esque scene with the drapes that I described earlier is going the way of mid-morning bourbons and 24-7 smoking. Creative work these days is usually shared digitally, which means you lose a lot of control over when it is viewed and how that happens. But you can still have an influence. Rather than put your client through a process of downloading an email attachment or navigating through a shared folder (the digital equivalent of making them put up and then take down the drapes), use dedicated software to host your image, video, presentation or PDF. That way one simple link click will take them directly to the work and not its metaphorical container. If the app you use is well-designed, you’ll also add more professionalism and polish to your presentation.

Hightail Spaces all comments view

 

3. Guide their feedback
Your presentation is not just a showcase. The response to your work is equally critical. If you let people provide feedback however they like, you’ll be left to sort through a barrage of emails, phone conversations and text messages from multiple parties in the hope of gaining something coherent. Instead set up a consistent system for people to provide feedback using a dedicated collaboration tool that will collect comments and conversations in one place. It is also useful to be clear when deadlines are approaching and when you want their feedback to focus on getting to final approval instead of tinkering with minor details.

4. Sweat the small stuff
Make a mistake in a face-to-face presentation and – provided you don’t panic – you can easily rectify it quickly and it’ll soon be forgotten. But sharing work digitally means that any errors, like sending the wrong version of a file, can stand out for all the wrong reasons for a long time. Whatever you share, however you share it, check and double-check to make sure there’s nothing that will make your work look bad. When sharing visual files, send the best quality version possible whether that’s a high res image or HD video. That way, you’ll avoid complaints about image quality that wouldn’t actually be an issue in the final version.

Presentation still matters but if you follow these four tips, you’ll help your clients and stakeholders see your work in the best possible light and make their feedback more focused, relevant and useful.

If you’re looking for a creative collaboration service that can transform how you share work and collect feedback, try www.hightail.com.

If you like this, try:
Eight tips for beating deadlines
Creative collaboration is going Spaces
Five alternatives to meetings

Tool tips with Chen Fang

Chen Fang Tool tips is a regular series where Hightail employees share their life’s most essential apps, online services and websites. Next up is Software Engineer, Chen Fang.

Working tool
Carpenter needs his shining saw. Blacksmith loves his rocky hammer. But what does a typical software engineer have aside from a disciplined smart brain and ten endlessly exercised fingers? An IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that can handle any of the problems I’m likely to encounter on a daily basis, of course. IntelliJ IDEA prevents you from switching back and forth between different tools. Need a terminal? There’s one built in. Need to test your war file in a tomcat? IntelliJ does that too. Need to run some awesome gradle script? There’s a tool window with all the shortcuts for you. A code warrior deserves a magical IDE. IntelliJ IDEA is the ultimate weapon.

Playtime
Feedly is an app that helps gather interesting content from RSS subscriptions. It’s one stop for all the news that I want as soon as it’s published. Feedly, like its name, completely satisfies my hunger for daily reading.

General resource
How to catch up with daily changing technology? Simply follow all those pioneers in any field in which you’re interested. Where to find those fields? StackShare.io is a website that posts which stack of technologies are chosen by all the unicorn companies. Don’t know where to find all those pioneers who are using those latest technologies? Go to Github where all of the well-documented open source projects are there with their honorable society contributors waiting to answer your basic, foolish but necessary questions. Don’t forget to contribute back. We call that the positive loop of the world of sharing.

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Friday’s favorite things: March 25th

Every Friday we round up some of our favorite finds on the web, from illustrations and videos to fonts and photography. This week, we enjoyed wonderful pics of the Big Apple by some very talented photographers.

5Pointz
Cassidy Curtis is an animator, developer, photographer and film maker living in the San Francisco / Bay Area. He also happens to be a graffiti enthusiast, which took him to see 5 Pointz in NYC before it was torn down in 2014. During his visit, he was able to capture this vibrant view of NYC from the 5 Pointz rooftop.

5 Pointz, The Institution of Higher Burning, Cassidy Curtis, Photography, NYC, NYC Photography

 

Icing sugar
Professional travel photographer, Vivienne Gucwa, found her passion for photography by simply walking through her home city of New York, a place from which she draws great inspiration. She harbors a dreamy, fantastical view of the city which is on full display in this incredible picture of an icy winter day.

Icing Sugar, NYC, Snow Day, NYC Photography, Vivienne Gucwa

 

Inception reflection
Trey Ratcliff is a self-proclaimed warm-hearted, old-school gentleman who also happens to be one of New Zealand’s finest photographers. Being from a small town in NZ, he found himself gaping up at all the big buildings during his travels to New York City. It was exactly that which lead to this cool photo of an unbelievable reflection.

Inception Reflection, Trey Ratcliff, Photography, NYC, Big Apple

 

Have you seen any creative photos of New York City you’d like to share? Add your links in the comments section below.

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Four must-have digital tools for creative marketers

Byong Bark is Creative Director at social media marketing firm, Social Envi. He shares the four tools that he relies on every day to create successful social campaigns for clients including Belkin, eHarmony and hot sauce connoisseurs, Tapatío.

Byong Bark - Creative Director at Social EnviThere used to be a lot of yelling. Not so much because we were expressing our anger through volumes of passionate, poorly chosen, inappropriate words, but because it was easier to communicate that way when it was just a few of us sitting at one table. We would have our ears plugged with headphones to alleviate the cackle of clacking keyboards, so there used to be a lot of yelling. Now we have these tools.

Project management
When you have three people on a team, it’s often easier to simply ask them what they’re up to, where they’re at or what they’re available to do. When you have to wade through multiple projects with multiple people on different arms and legs of an octopus operation, it’s easier to see where they’re at when using a system to keep tabs on progress. Trello does that for us. It’s a digital scrum board, a lot prettier than sticky notes on a white board and a lot less annoying when that one task, that gets bounced from in-progress to finished and back to in-progress with extra sticky notes attached, now refuses to stick because the darn thing has lost all its stickiness. Burn your white board to the ground. Get Trello instead.

Trello sample screen

 

Collaboration
Revision hell is a terrible place to be. Multiple file versions, sent via multiple emails from multiple people with multiple opinions leads to multiple headaches. Hightail was something we didn’t know we needed, until we used it. A lot of visual content gets thrown around here at Social Envi and being able to leave notes on particular parts of an image as well as stacking different versions on top of each other for organization was a dream come true. It works well internally and client-facing as well. Being able to express your thoughts and ideas in the actual work itself, rather than having to pull notes from an email and cross reference it with the asset is so much better for collaborating.

Social Envi Space for Sharky's Woodfired Grill

Listening and engagement
Engaging with people through the brands they love is part of the ensemble of services we offer for our clients. Sprout Social is a personal favorite because of its ease of use, clean and simple interface and some pretty decent reporting. It may not be as robust as some of the other tools out there, but we run pretty lean here and Sprout helps to keep things that way. It also shows you the history of conversations you’ve had with people, which helps prevent awkward robotic responses when engaging the same person at different times.

sprout

Asset creation
Adobe Creative Cloud logoAt the heart and soul of what we do is create great content. Photography, video, design, UX, web and even sound production, we do with Adobe Creative Cloud. There are plenty of free, lite alternatives, even apps on mobile that can help achieve similar results, but you won’t get the polish, that extra sheen, the flexibility and power that Adobe offers. If I wore makeup, I’d wear Adobe Photoshop.

To find out more about Social Envi, visit www.socialenvi.com and follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

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