3 min read


Customers of Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) had ample warning that DPS would no longer be supported. In August 2019, Adobe DPS officially reached its end-of-life, leaving many publications, corporations, associations, (and so on) unsure of what to do.

We’re curious to know how other DPS users in the same situation resolved the challenge.
Are you still sharing unsupported DPS content? Did you stay with Adobe and migrate to AEM? Did you find another distribution platform? We’re interested in learning more about your decision.

If you haven’t found the perfect fit, may we suggest you consider Twixl Media?

Before we migrated away from Adobe DPS, we researched a number of digital content distribution options, and ultimately decided Twixl was the best option for our purposes. Take a look at our top three reasons we settled on Twixl.

3 benefits to using Twixl

1. It’s affordable. Twixl has an affordable base price point with a variety of integrations, giving you the ability to only pay for the specific features you choose to utilize. We found it to be more cost-effective than Adobe DPS, and clearly less than AEM’s enterprise price tag.

2. It’s efficient. It’s not a replica of Adobe DPS, but many users have found Twixl to be much more efficient. As DPS users, we had to create multiple layouts for multiple devices, but with Twixl, we can build once and publish a responsive layout to a variety of devices.

3. It’s flexible. Publish a variety of content, from InDesign, HTML, and PDFs, to rich media like slideshows, videos, and RSS feeds. All in one app.

We made the switch from DPS to Twixl. If you’re interested in hearing about our experiences, we’d be happy to share our thoughts. Use the form below to request a free 30-minute consult.

What’s more, we’re Twixl Creative Partners and Twixl Certified Trainers. We’ve worked with DPS, migrated from DPS to Twixl, and helped others do the same. And since we first started using Twixl in 2017, we’ve remained confident in it as a solution provider.





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Posted on: November 11th, 2019 by Laura Uber

 

3 reasons to safeguard your website with SSL

3 min read


Internet usage is a part of doing business today. For most businesses, web presence is an integral way to share and interact with prospects and customers—whether they access your site from their computers, tablets, or phones. Sharing access is great, but how often do you think about the security of your interactions on the web? It’s important to know that hackers have ways to intercept your communications from your website.

Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are increasingly targeted. It can be dangerous to think you’re exempt from these kinds of attacks, especially knowing that 85% of data breaches (about 4,000 a day) hit small businesses (InsuranceBee). That same study showed that, on average, SMBs lose $120,000 per cyber-incident.

Yikes.

The good news is, developers, tech leaders, and the like, have been gradually building a safer web. They’ve developed tools that help encrypt data and keep communications secure. And people are adding encryption tools to their sites. In 2018, Google Chrome recorded that over 78% of its Chrome OS and Mac traffic was protected through secure encryption of data.

In 2017, the average volume of encrypted internet traffic surpassed the average volume of unencrypted traffic. Security expectations will continue to rise, and we can expect to see more sites become secure through SSL certification (Wired).

How it works

When you access a website, the backend exchange goes a little like this:

Browser: Hi, Server. Can I connect to you securely over SSL? I just need your certificate.
Server: Of course. Here you go.
Browser: Thanks! Hold on while I confirm this certificate’s validity.

*hold music*

Browser: Hey, Certificate Authority. Is this certificate valid?
Certificate Authority: Let me check. ...Yes, it looks good.
Browser: Thank you! Bye.

*back on the line*

Browser: Okay, your certificate is legit. I’m ready to load your page.
Server: Awesome, thanks! Here’s the webpage content.

The webpage loads in a matter of seconds.

SSL defined

The technical definition: SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. It transmits sensitive info securely, ensuring that all data passed between server and browser remains private (SSL.com).

In plain English, SSL is your ticket for safe internet browsing.
This makes SSL especially crucial to websites accepting confidential details — credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal intel. But even if you’re not selling anything, SSL still pertains to you.

Why you should consider SSL

Without SSL, data is shared in plain text, which hackers can easily capture and manipulate. With SSL, data is encrypted, so even if it is intercepted, it can’t be deciphered (SSL.com).

Websites with any text input features, such as login panels and contact forms, are susceptible to information interception. If a site encounters a security breach, its users’ email addresses and passwords — for example — could be compromised.

Many businesses also utilize FTP to share files, which, without protection, could be accessed by the wrong hands.

The internet is boundless, and hackers get more creative by the day. More than 40% of companies have sensitive files that are unprotected. That stat becomes even more frightening after learning that hackers stole nearly 447 million consumer records containing sensitive personal information in 2018 (Cybersecurity Ventures).

You may not experience any ramifications without SSL enabled on your website, but your risk is certainly increased.

Is my site secure?

The quickest way to identify a secure site is to look for the lock icon, in the address bar or in the lower right corner of a website. Clicking that icon often gives you a very reassuring alert:

An unsecure site will give you a more disheartening warning:
Your connection to this site is not secure

3 reasons to use SSL

1. Visitor trust
Above, you saw it’s easy to identify secure and unsecure sites. With that information readily visible across different browsers, it calls attention to the safety of your site. SSL gives clients and prospects the assurance that their information is not at risk when using your website. Enabling SSL is a simple way to promote the trustworthiness of your brand.

2. Search ranking
While SSL certification isn’t going to automatically bring you to the top of search results, it is a factor that search engines take into account. Way back in 2014, Google posted about its updated algorithm to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. Your website’s ranking in search results isn’t going to see a tremendous change by adding SSL, but Google may favor a site over another based on SSL. And there’s no telling how and when it may become an even more significant factor over time.

3. Performance
SSL performance has improved significantly since 2015. Without getting too technical, this performance boost came from a major revision of the internet’s network protocol (HTTP/2 from HTTP). While site performance was once a point of concern with SSL, this major revision to HTTP/2 has made sites with SSL faster (CSS-Tricks).

Enable SSL

Many website builders and hosting providers offer SSL in their packages. Take a look at your web hosting plan to see if it comes with an SSL certificate. You can also do a quick Google Search to get an SSL certificate from a Certificate Authority.

Several clients have opted for SSL in their hosting packages with us. If you need help securing your site, let us know.

We specialize in website design, development, and hosting, and can help you no matter where your website currently falls on the spectrum. Whether you have an unsecure website, you’re looking for a new host, or you want to build a secure web presence, email us or give us a call.


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Posted on: November 8th, 2019 by Laura Uber

 

2 min read


October 29, 2019 — We are pleased to announce that The Creative Department has earned a new designation of Twixl Certified Trainer from Twixl Media. (On October 21, 2019, we announced our status as a Twixl Creative Partner.)

TCD designers have been working with Twixl since 2017, mastering the various features and functionalities of the app development platform. Our lead designer became officially certified only after passing an in-depth exam. This, tied with our years of experience, has earned us the title of Twixl Certified Trainer — one of 46 worldwide and only seven in the United States.

Twixl provides support and training resources, but it can be hard to find live support from trainers operating within a U.S. time zone. Centrally located in Kansas City, Missouri, we can set up on-site or remote training and customize plans based on a user’s needs.

While we offer an end-to-end app solution, we can help designers, agencies, publishers, in-house teams, and more, learn and use the Twixl platform. We can cover any or all parts of the app design, development, and delivery process — whether you’re starting from scratch or migrating from Adobe DPS or AEM.

Ready to get started? Use the form below, or call us, to let us know your specific training needs. If you’re looking for more, check out our app solutions, here.





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Posted on: October 29th, 2019 by Laura Uber

 

2 min read


October 21, 2019 — The Creative Department is proud to announce a new partnership with Twixl Media, a major app development solution provider.

Twixl launched in 2010 with the release of Apple’s first iPad. At TCD, we began using Twixl’s native app solution in 2017. Since then, we’ve continued to solidify our confidence in Twixl as an innovative, customizable digital content distributor.

Twixl’s solution is utilized in 44 countries. The Creative Department is now one of only 20 Creative Partners worldwide — one of eight in the United States and the sole Twixl Creative Partner in Kansas City. We are excited and honored to be part of this exclusive network as experts in designing and executing app solutions.

Corporations, associations, and publishers are using native apps to reach their increasingly mobile audiences, providing easier access to content. And many users of Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) are finding that Twixl is an even better solution.

Looking for a native content app solution? Migrating from Adobe DPS? We can help. And we have the credentials to prove it.

Learn more about our app solutions, here. Use the form below to send us your questions, or give us a call today. Let’s talk about what you need and how we can make it happen.





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Posted on: October 21st, 2019 by Laura Uber

 

Getting your email signature right when email platforms get it so wrong

4 min read


You’re working on your company’s new email signature and want to place your logo in it.

You open a Word document, pick fonts and colors, and drag and drop a JPG of your logo below your name and title. Tweak this, tweak that, get it approved, and you’re ready to roll out this branded signature to your entire team.

Seems simple, right? … Maybe in theory.

But in email tests, the logo is blurry. The font you picked changes to a suboptimal default. And in some inboxes, the logo isn’t displaying at all. What is going on?!

After receiving another PLEASE HELP plea from a client for email signature woes, we decided we’d share some insights for taming your email signature.

For some, email correspondence is the first touchpoint with a customer or client. And what does an improperly displayed email signature communicate? Maybe nothing, maybe confusion, maybe disenchantment. Whatever it is, it’s usually not something warm and fuzzy.

Imagine your email signature as a digital business card, and it suddenly holds a little more weight than a pixelated signoff. We get the importance of putting your best foot forward with a clean email signature.

So why does it have to be so complicated?

Email client quirks

You may wonder why it’s possible to display brand images and fonts on company websites but not in “simple” email signatures. Essentially, a website respects the CSS styling applied to it. Email? Not so much.

Some email platforms, or email clients, ignore CSS styling entirely, meaning that whatever beautiful arrangement you may have been able to create in your web browser just won’t come through the way it should over email. Outlook is especially notorious for this.

But each email client has its own rendering quirks. Gmail will underline your links and turn them bright blue, even if you tell it not to. And the Gmail mobile app on an iPhone 6 can display differently than Gmail opened in Firefox on desktop.

The peculiarities of email. Sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense.

Before you wave your white flag, give us a chance to help.

We’ve designed and coded hundreds of emails with all sorts of email signature needs. We understand the nuances of email marketing, and we know what it takes to make your email signature the best it can be.

Below are a few solutions to dealing with images in email signatures.

Resolving blurry images in email signatures

While copying an email signature design from Microsoft Word may be convenient and display well for some recipients — especially colleagues who share a font library — it can cause other issues, like blurry or broken images and lost styling.

Recently, we were asked to help with a new email signature that showcased a company’s rebranded logo. Even though they’d saved a high-resolution PNG, the logo image — once pasted into Outlook email — appeared fuzzy around the edges.

Why?

Turns out, although the PNG should display sharply for web, Outlook was misinterpreting the image resolution.

We sized the image appropriately and used our email development expertise to code an email signature that would be more widely accepted by various email clients.

When re-tested, the company’s logo appeared sharper than any other variation.

Two ways to include images

Images can be added to your email signatures as linked or embedded images. Each has its pros and cons, but linked images have proven to be the more successful of the two.

Linked images access an image URL on a public server, typically on your own website. Basically, these images are downloaded to a recipient’s email every time the email is viewed. Linked images are space savers, and most email clients accept them.

Embedded images don’t link to external images but are part of emails themselves. Originally sent as hidden attachments, they can fail quickly, breaking or becoming actual email attachments in replies and forwards.

Because linked images maintain access to their links, they hold more stable than embedded images.

For a complete list of email clients that support linked and embedded images, check out this resource.

Dealing with image blocking

As inconvenient as it sounds, you can’t control the way recipients view images in emails. Image blocking shows no favoritism. Whether you use linked or embedded images, email clients with image blocking enabled are ready to shut you down.

For recipients who enabled image blocking, consider how you will communicate the image information, like your company name, if your image doesn’t show.

We can apply limited styling to alt text to maintain a sliver of brand flavor if images don’t display for certain email clients. The same is true if a link is broken in delivery.

If we used our logo in our email signatures, our alt text might display in cyan with bold Arial letters:

That gives it a liiittle hint of us without relying on the default:

We always recommend including alt text. It’s a handy backup, and it improves device accessibility.

What’s next?

You might be thinking, Well, none of these options are completely ideal. Where’s a solution that makes my image display in my email signature everywhere? Unfortunately, there isn’t a perfect, foolproof solution yet, unless you opt for an all-text email signature. (In our current email signatures, we use only text so our information comes through every time.)

The best option is to figure out which email clients your recipients use most. That can be very hard to discover, and if you’re really not sure, we’d recommend a linked image as the most successful route.

Lucky for you, we specialize in email marketing. If you’re running into trouble that you can’t alleviate after reading this post, send us an email or give us a call. We really enjoy solving problems, and we’d love to help you with yours.


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Posted on: February 13th, 2019 by Laura Uber

The Creative Department is a proud sustaining member of AIGA.

We follow AIGA's Standards of Professional Practice and adhere to its principles of integrity that demonstrate respect for the profession, for colleagues, clients, audiences or consumers, and society as a whole. We utilize AIGA's Basic Terms & Conditions and Intellectual Property Provisions to maintain the professional practices of the design industry.