Dave Ringler

Data-Driven Documents and Cinemagraphs: What's on our Web & Interactive Team's Radar?

Our web team consistently vets new and upcoming trends to identify solutions that will help our clients evolve their web experiences and reach new customers. These are a couple ideas that we're currently kicking around amid the web and interactive team.

Our web team consistently vets new and upcoming trends to identify solutions that will help our clients evolve their web experiences and reach new customers. These are a couple ideas that we're currently kicking around amid the web and interactive team.

When delivering solutions ranging from lead generation websites and digital marketing-anchored web experiences, to API-driven web apps and robust ecommerce properties, Adept’s development team pulls its inspiration from just about everywhere.

Here are two concepts in particular that are raising our interest.

Data-Driven Documents

The D3.js data-driven documents library is a JavaScript library for producing dynamic, interactive data visualizations in web browsers. As D3 will tell you, the library helps you bring data to life using HTML, SVG, and CSS. The big perk is that this type of library provides an extremely flexible resource with lots of possible applications.

For example, leveraging the D3 library is enabling us to create our own custom web app that forecasts our team's bandwidth and allocation in real-time.

Here's the background:

We use a project management platform (PMP) called Asana to schedule and document our work, and a tool called Harvest to track our team member's time. Heading into 2016, we knew that our ability to accurately, flexibly and in-real-time forecast and schedule our quickly growing crew’s availability and work load would be critical to sustaining and even accelerating the depth and breadth of work we can deliver to our clients, not to mention appropriately staff our team.

At our size and the pace of our work, constantly updating the fluid schedule could very well be a terrible full time job. We believed that we could create a solution that would: 

  • Use the resource and project data we were already building in Asana
  • Reflect each team member’s actual scheduled workload each day, as well as the aggregate team workload, as far out into the future as time is scheduled
  • Provide simple visual queue’s about each team member’s allocation and availability, on a day-by-day and week-by-week basis. Is someone booked for 12 hours? We need to see that easily and adjust.
  • Update in real-time, as projects evolve.

We explored Harvest’s Forecast tool, but quickly ruled it out because it required us to build each project twice, and could not manage recurring monthly projects. Other tools that seemed to forecast well would require an entire systemic transition to the new PMP, and weren’t willing to make such a large-scale change.

D3, however, has enabled Adept to build a custom web app that leverages Asana’s API to reach into the PMP, find the specific data we need, and present that data in real-time within a highly visual interactive forecasting dashboard.

 

Adept_Forecasting_PoC.jpg

Proof of concept: forecasting dashboard

We’re so enamored with D3 that we’re looking at several other applications, including a proof of concept for a web app that leverages D3 as an interactive process documentation and training tool.

Cinemagraphs

Explained simply, cinemagraphs are still photographs with subtle video loops that create a hypnotic experience. Cinemagraphs are certainly starting be used more widely by big brands on Facebook, Instragram, email, digital ads, and yes, even on websites. 

Waving reeds cinemagraph

Johan Blomström [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

At first glance, cinemagaphs may feel “just like GIFs”. This isn’t entirely wrong. In fact, some cinemagraphs are produced and exported in GIF format. That said, real power of the format is realized when producing them through tools that allow for HD export, like Adobe Photoshop and Cinemgraph Pro, which output high definition images while reducing file size.

Looks cool, Dave. But do they work? Great question! That’s the whole point—impressions and conversion, right?

The truth is, there isn’t a ton of data out there publically. This is not a magic digital marketing bullet, to be sure. But given the relatively low cost to produce cinemagraphs, especially if your company already has high-quality video and photography assets, the format may be the worth the test for certain businesses. Panasonic has reported that one of their cinemagraphic banner ads was clicked on 60% more than the static version.

It's About What Works; Not What's New.

Without question, the most rewarding part of agency-side interactive strategy and development work is the opportunity to work with a wide variety of businesses, envisioning and delivering unique web experiences that help each client achieve their business goals. 

Staying abreast of up and coming trends is important—but, never for the sake of being new. We keep our focus on investigating trends to differentiate between what's new, what's interesting, and what will work to help our clients get the results they want. 

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Dave Ringler

About Dave Ringler

"New digital experiences become available daily, and it can feel impossible to identify which will gain traction with users, and which will obsolesce tomorrow. It's all sexy, fun, and highly engaging, but useless if you don't fundamentally understand who you are, and what you do for your users." Dave cuts through that clutter. He leads cross-functional teams, bringing business, marketing, IT, creative and operations stakeholders together to scope, plan and execute innovative, business-driven digital products and web experiences.