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Mark S. Luckie

Innovative companies you should be watching: UNIQLO

Some of the most exciting innovation in the combination of technology and media happens outside of the journalism industry. Apparel manufacturer UNIQLO is, like many non-journalism companies nowadays, taking the media into its own hands by producing online and interactive content designed to pull visitors in and show off their brand.

Take for instance the show-stopping interactive video produced exclusively for the company that featured models walking down a runway. As the models walked by, visitors could click a piece of clothing and immediately be taken to the site where the garment could be purchased. A recording of the video and the screenshot of the interactivity are below.

Another interesting UNIQLO feature was its Tokyo Fashion Map that combined 1,000 photos of people in various locations in Tokyo with a Google map that indicated where the photos were taken.

UNIQLO isn’t afraid to go off the beaten path with quirky tools like COLOR TWEET! that transform Twitter feeds or keywords into a colorful visual concoction.

Of course, UNIQLO has both an iPad and iPhone app. However, instead of using the mobile medium to push its own content, the company created a beautiful calendar app that is useful, fun to look at, and most importantly promotes brand awareness.

While the aforementioned projects may not relate to journalism explicitly, seeing how other creatives are using the web and media can inspire your own work. You can find more innovative projects from UNIQLO here.

3 iPad apps to help you give better presentations

The problem with most live presentations is that they follow the same boring format: Bullet 1, Bullet 2, Bullet 3, Stop, Make additional point, Next slide, Repeat. Much of the blame can be placed on PowerPoint’s templated shoulders, but with the iPad apps feature here you have no excuse for not creating more engaging presentations.

 

Prezi

Prezi has for some time allowed users to create interactive presentations like this one that combine text and photos with fluid animation. Now you can take your presentation from the projector to your iPad with Prezi’s recently released app. After creating a presentation on the Prezi website, you can access it online or from your mobile device. Using your iPad you can pinch, zoom, and navigate your presentation, all the while impressing your colleagues.

 

Best Prompter Pro

Want to use a teleprompter for your presentation, but don’t have the available equipment? Just fire up your iPad and download Best Prompter Pro ($7.99, iTunes), a teleprompter-like tool for your mobile device. Simply write or copy and paste your text into the app and use the scrolling and editing functions to create a naturally flowing script.

Like the previously mentioned tool CuePrompter, Best Prompter Pro is great for giving presentations or doing standups in the field. The major difference, however, is BPP can also act as a word processing app where you edit, save, and share documents.

 

SlideJockey

The best presentations are either fun or interactive. SlideJockey, an app for both the iPhone and iPad, allows you to do both with its unique presentation style. The app allows you to download your presentation to your mobile device and display new slides in any order by flicking the slide toward the projector screen.

Your audience can also join in on the fun by accessing the app, where they can download individual slides or the entire presentation. They can also use the app to send questions directly to the screen. Check out an overview of SlideJockey in the video below.

6 Must-see motion graphics

Newsrooms have produced infographics for years and online video is growing more popular by the minute. So why aren’t motion graphics — in essence, a combination of the two media — more popular among newsrooms?

The answer, of course, is that they take specialized skills and a considerable amount of time to create. However, based on the quality and possibilities demonstrated by the animated graphics below, perhaps more news outlets will look to this compelling form of communication.

 

Proposition 19 – The New Leaf



 

The State of The Internet



 

Gettysburg Address



 

Cliché!



 

Women’s Economic Opportunity



 

Olympic Pictograms Through the Ages

MSNBC: Pushing the envelope of design

Most news websites are pretty much designed in the same style: lots of links arranged into columns with smaller visual elements sprinkled throughout the page. MSNBC, however, frequently breaks out of that mold with webpages and web tools that defy traditional design.

A few months ago, MSNBC launched BLTWY (pronounced Beltway), a niche news site centered on the celebrity side of politics. What made the site truly stand out was its unconventional design — instead of a sea of text, the page is a grid made up mostly of photos that serve as links to individual stories.



 

MSNBC’s Spectra offers a very different way of visualizing recent headlines. Visitors to the tool can choose the types of news they want to read and the selections are displayed in color-coded blocks that orbit in a conical motion. You can find more of MSNBC’s “NewsTools,” including the interactive game NewsBlaster, on this page.



 

MSNBC’s colorful design aesthetic is also applied to webpages for its programs, including Dateline NBC and the Rachel Maddow Show.



 

Does the splashy approach web design actually work or is it all sizzle? Beauty is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder, but what is indisputable that MSNBC has broke away from the pack to create web design that is both innovative and interesting.

Online ads that don’t suck

For many online media websites, it’s a struggle to balance giving proper display to online advertising and providing a great user experience in which advertising doesn’t compete with the site’s online content. There have been many attempts at creating ads that live alongside editorial content that range from the usual suspects like banner ads, pre-roll video ads, and in-line linking to the worst offenders like mouseover popups and ads that fly across the screen or take up the whole page.

Online ads can be an eyesore, but they don’t have to be. In fact some online advertising can be pleasant and not as overbearing. I am far from an advertising guru, but as a frequent news and media consumer, there are certain advertising experiences that I actually look forward to.

One such mode of advertising is the wrap ad that is sometimes featured on major news websites like The Washington Post (below) and is seen frequently on sites like Pandora.

This type of online advertising offers up prime real estate by surrounding the content of the website without actually interfering with the layout of the page. When done right, it looks good. On the other hand, if it’s intrusive or overwhelms the website, it can be distracting to readers and viewers.

Another type of online advertising that works well is the “choose your own ad” model frequently seen on Hulu. Instead of a standard pre-roll ad that runs automatically with no input from the viewer, visitors to Hulu and other websites can select one of several ads from a single company. For some long-form video such as television episodes, viewers are offered the option to watch either one long ad, or several shorter ads interspersed throughout the video.

One other cool form of advertising that is compelling without being intrusive are the ads found in iPad apps. While the interactive ads we were promised at the launch of the device are few and far between, often in-app ads are as visually appealing as the content itself. The experience is akin to flipping through a tech or fashion magazine and staring at the ads in addition to the editorial content.

Ads from the Elle US and The Daily iPad apps (below) include video content that gives an extra dimension to what otherwise looks like a static ad.

Just as there’s innovation happening in journalism, the same goes for online advertising. As the ad experience is perfect, online advertising will eventually become less jarring and more seamless.

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