How to Organize an Effective Adobe DPS Project Briefing
When you’re working as a DPS freelancer or an agency you often find yourself struggling to get a decent briefing out of your client. Sure, they know how to handle and organize their print projects by giving you info on deadlines, paper size, folding, spot colours and other important things. But the details of a digital publication are often still too obscure to some people, which can lead to missing information to get the job done (in time). In those cases, it is uo to you to help your clients setup a decent briefing to get (and keep) a DPS project on the rails. The following tips focus on technical and practical requirements and will help you collect all the information you need from your client.
1. Help choose the type of application
First of all you need to know if your client wants to create a single- or multi folio application. Because choosing one over the other will have consequences down the road. For example, single folio (also called “single edition”) apps are only available on iPad at this time and they don’t offer as many options as a multi-folio app does. There are other things to consider too, like having the option to send push notifications or using the powerful sharing options. And how about updates? How often does your client want to push folio updates or launch other publications? Even though the multi-folio app has a lot more to offer, sometimes your client just needs a single-folio app. But it is often up to you to help the client understand the difference between these options and help him make the right choice.
2. Talk about the publishing platform
Closely related to the type of application is the choice of publishing platform. For which tablets do we want to publish this new application? Are we just thinking of the iPad or do we want to push this through to Android or Kindle Fire? Does the client want an alternative version for the iPhone? With this choice we also need to make the client understand the importance of the respective developer accounts and the role that Apple and Google will play in the publishing process.
3. Realistic expectations: distribution
There is still a bit of a misunderstanding when it comes to distributing your app. A lot of people still think that an app is similar to a PDF file. Meaning that if you were the one that created it you get to distribute it any way you want, because it’s yours. Unfortunately it is not that easy and I still recall a lot of business owners asking me “so once the app is done I just place it on my website?” The client might already have a certain scenario in mind on how to distribute the actual app once it’s done, but it is always better to go over this during briefing, just to be sure that all the noses are pointing in the same direction. The DPS license that the client (or freelancer) holds has a big impact on the available distribution options. And for some types of clients it might be necessary to go over the DPS Enterprise features first, just to avoid any disappointment.
4. Discuss app navigation
Digital publications are often compared to real print magazines while they’re actually not the same. Sure, the layout might resemble that of a printed version but the way you interact with the publication makes all the difference. That is why it is sometimes hard for people to let go of this comparison. As you may know, DPS folios are a collection of articles which can hold one or multiple pages. You start with an initial cover image and then swipe sideways to navigate to the next article or swipe down to go deeper into the current article. Swiping up and down is not considered logical to people who still have that image of a printed publication in mind, so it is always best to double check with your client on how they would like to navigate the publications. And it’s always better to do this from the start than having to redesign your articles at a later time.
5. Discuss orientations
Ask your client what orientation she would like to have her publications in. Maybe she hasn’t thought of that concept yet, or maybe you might have some input for her? This is one of those very important decisions you have to make from the start as you cannot change the orientation of existing folios at this time. So the options here are to keep the orientation horizontal, vertical, or both ways. Be sure to go over the advantages and disadvantages because some clients don’t realize that creating dual orientations takes time to set up and will have an impact on the download size too.
6. Request source files
Usually we want to make our publications as interactive as possible using lots of images, video, maybe sound or other types of content. But where do you get these assets from? Your client would love to have these things in their next DPS publication but if this app is about their product or services then they are the ones who have to supply these resources. Be sure to tell your client that you need to have these files available by the time you start working on their project. Because sometimes these assets might be archived somewhere, still with a freelancer, or simply nonexistent which can only lead to project delays.
7. Manage the deadline
And of course we have to consider our deadline. The deadline of a
DPS job doesn’t only depend on the actual layout work, remember you have to get the app approved by Apple too. So make sure you add about 2 weeks extra just for that last step because you never know what type of feedback Apple might have. And creating the awareness of this factor will also avoid any unpleasant situations once the deadline is around the corner and people start getting nervous.
8. Prepare them for what’s coming
Once you get through your design work you have to start focusing on the publishing part. And this part of the job requires doing some administration. You’ll probably be the person who will be submitting the application for your client to the App Store or Google Play and for this you need some extra information. After all it’s not up to you to decide what the app description, keywords, or other information should be. That is why it is always good to prepare your client for this by giving him a template document that he can fill out while you continue with your design work. And once this has been completed it’s only a matter of copying and pasting in the correct information on the appropriate publishing pages.
9. Bring examples
Not every business might be as much into digital publishing as you are. Meaning that some people hardly know how to operate their iPad. That is why it is recommended to bring along a few nice examples of existing DPS apps to the briefing table. It’s always easier for people to understand certain things (like the difference between multi- and single folio apps) by actually seeing live examples. Sometimes it is up to you to inspire your clients and get them even more excited about their next DPS application. You can access numerous example applications through Adobe’s Digital Publishing Showcase Gallery.
Another Great DPS Resource
Editor’s note: Bart has supplied another great DPS resource, the App Store Submission Guide, which is an interactive PDF that you can use to collect all the necessary information from client to submit your app to Apple. It’s incredibly useful and it’s totally free. Check it out!