Yesterday evening I had the wonderful opportunity of speaking to a group of seniors at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication about the work bigFIG has done for Safari interactive magazine
The students are part of a class taught by Ed Madison and I am still quite amazed that they were able to track down our small studio on the southern tip of the Africa, and that we were able to have an engaging Questions-&-Answers session via Skype across a nine-hour time difference – I sitting in Cape Town at 6 o’clock in the evening and the students in their classroom in Oregon, at 9 o’clock in the morning, Pacific Time. What a wonderful privilege and experience it was.
I was very impressed with the real world focus of the students’ questions. A number of their questions focused on how we at bigFIG approach workflow considerations and the very practical side of how editorial, design and development interact on a day-to-day basis. It’s an important consideration for up-and-coming journalists and certainly an issue the publishing industry has to grapple with.
Another very pertinent question concerned how we market our apps and what strategies we employ for turning them into revenue. Our view on this is that marketing plays an absolutely fundamental role and I think my answer to the students was a play on a famous line from the film ‘The Field of Dreams’ : “Just because you’ve built it does not mean they will come.” You have to get the word out there, get reviews, use social media aggressively, offer free options online and be creative about seeking out revenue opportunities.
Other questions focussed on advertising and the increasing cross-over between editorial and paid-for-content, how we deal with the limitations of our design tools, and the techniques we employ to keep the Safari interactive magazine iPad app file size so low.
The final question for the session was what advice I would give recent graduates starting out their careers in digital media. My answer: firstly, be agile and don’t fall too in love with your design tools as they may change quite suddenly; and secondly, focus on keeping things simple and uncomplicated – the first principles of design always hold sway regardless of the technology out there.
I was also quite astonished to hear that the same group had chatted to Dr Mario Garcio the day before. Dr Garcia has been a hero of mine for a number of years for his work on newspaper and magazine design. Click here to read his view on the Skype chat he had with the students.
The 25 minute discussion was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I look forward to seeing and hearing more from the class. Impressively enough, the students at the University of Oregon have already produced their own digital magazine, OR Magazine. Click here to view their app on the iTunes app store.
View the Safari interactive magazine showcase video below and click here to view the app on iTunes:
And here’s a video that chronicles the work the students did on OR Magazine: