I'm having a play around with the new Adobe Creative Cloud* suite of products. Like most people of the HTML generation, I've had to learn eCommerce programming, a bit of image management, database design, video editing and podcast recording to be able to create the communications I want.
I can safely say that none of my masterpieces would win any design awards but I can generally make things work and get them live, and in front of customers pretty quick. Speed to market and agility is everything in the social enterprise so any tools that enable fluid communications are worth road-testing.
Starting down the thin end of the wedge, I'm going to start on a simple marketing task-an email newsletter.
Keep in mind that that a reasonably junior marketer will be completing this newsletter. Their design skills are pretty basic (like mine) so we're creating a communication process that can be easily taught and completed to meet a weekly news deadline.
Sounds easy, however, most marketers usually only have access to text tools such as MS Word. The task seems too small to brief an agency and you don't want to waste high-end designer resources on basic tasks like image resizing. Besides, it's weekly and we simply don't have time.
So I'm going to use Mailchimp and Photoshop CS6 for my Bamboo Inc company email newsletter 'Panda Weekly'.
I've selected a Mailchimp template so the heavy design lifting has been taken care of. However, people have emailed me the panda photos in all sorts of formats and sizes so I'm going to have to do some basic editing.
I've got one hero image (the engagement) I want at 260 px wide and any height. I have three supporting images underneath I want set to 160 px wide and any height to drop into my template.
Adobe Mini Bridge is a handy new feature that lets me quickly open all the photos I've been sent so I can resize and crop them for the template. The batch rename feature is useful although the one thing I've looked for over many years is still missing in both Bridge and Photoshop: batch resize. Recording an action for web-ready image galleries seems way too hard so if there's a better way of doing it please let me know. Mailchimp resize tags can blow out in MS Outlook so it's safer to do a proper resize of the image dimensions, plus we need to keep the file sizes down for mobile.
The path bars and navigation have always been very clear in both Mailchimp and Photoshop so curating the content and managing version control is simple. I can generate a test email and a pop-up browser view in Mailchimp if anyone needs to sign off on it and to see how it all displays.
I don't want my marketing people playing around too long in Photoshop with the images on this task so, in about 20 minutes, I have a simple, clean designed email ready to go out to my customers.
Mailchimp also has some nice little social sharing options so you can let people see your update on other channels.
You can view the newsletter in browser here.
We need to start rethinking who does what in an organisation with the new technologies available and the realtime demands of customers. Tools and systems that allow content creation across the organisation will make enterprise more responsive and communications more human, and panda-friendly.
*No I'm not being paid by Adobe or Mailchimp. Yes, Adobe gave me some free stuff to play with. Names of pandas may have been changed for illustrative purposes. No pandas were harmed in the making of this blog.