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New look for page layout in the digital age

Publishing goes through cycles of fashion, just as many other industries. Typefaces, page layout style, illustrative styles all change over the decades to match with changes in our wider society. Some styles, at one time dismissed as looking old fashioned, come back into fashion and are once again seen as cutting edge. The Gill typeface, for example, chosen many years ago by London Underground for its station signs, was a few years back seen as somewhat old hat, but is now admired for its classic design simplicity.

For those involved in design and publishing, there is now a new dimension to the design mix. Digital publishing means it is now possible, and increasingly in demand, that books are delivered less in a traditional printed page format, and more in a virtual format that can be experienced using new digital media.

Depending on how this is viewed, the consumer will expect to interact with it, and to enjoy a rather different experience than if flipping through a book and reading off a page of paper. New viewing formats include using online learning, and so students may well want to read material on a computer screen, in which they will interact using a computer mouse, expecting to click on certain items within a web page format, enabling them to jump to additional pages or to images.

New smartphones and tablets offer another way for the user to interact with the material they are viewing, using their fingers to zoom in and out, to tap and expand or move to another level within an application or website. The impact of tablets on page layout can be seen by taking a look at the increasing number of apps built specifically for tablet users, such as those produced by publishers of daily newspapers such as the Times. These allow readers to flip through the virtual pages of the document, by swiping a finger across the screen, by tapping on an image to see it at a larger scale and to zoom in by performing a pinching movement with fingers.

Taken together, these new formats for experiencing content present a challenge for those creating educational material, and this is something that HL Studios has particular experience in. The company specialises in producing educational text books and course material, but harnessing new media to deliver it. As a result, its team includes digital layout experts, who can design suitable layouts for material depending on whether it is to be experienced by the consumer on a physical page, or on the virtual page which could be via a desktop based PC, or new tablet formats. For tablets, it is now possible to take a print file, for example, and quickly recreate it as an interactive
talking book.

Each of these new formats presents their own specific challenges, and demand an understanding of not only
how things look, but how the user will react. At the core of any layout design, however, remain the fundamental principles of understanding how information needs to be laid out, in order that it will be correctly and easily understood. HL Studios brings this fundamental understanding to any layout project, whether for traditional or
new media.

Contact HL Studios


Phone: +44 (01993) 848260

HL Studios, Witney Business Centre, Windrush House, Witney, Oxon, OX29 7DX.