“What tools/programs are you currently using for content development?”
Top Tools for Creating Engaging Digital Content
With technology advancing every day and new apps being released regularly, identifying a small handful of top tools for content creation is tricky. The good news is that there are several tools that have proven to be amongst the best in class and most trusted by digital creative professionals that are a must for any content creator. I have compiled a short list of the top tools my teams and I use on a regular basis:
Creative Design Tools:
Adobe Creative Cloud – While this is not an individual tool, but rather a suite of tools, the apps within Adobe CC work seamlessly together to deliver the top suite of creative professional tools available. Adobe has been a long-time trusted provider of creative tools and programs. Their suite is available on a monthly subscription-licensing model, which grants you full access to all their apps for desktop and mobile, including any and all updates that are released. This makes it truly affordable and allows you to always stay current with the latest apps. While Adobe CC provides many apps within the suite, I have highlighted the four most used tools by my team below:
Without a doubt, this is the most powerful design and imaging tool available, Photoshop is where the majority of our initial design layout is created. All of our imagery is designed, retouched, and optimized in Photoshop. Most of our creative storyboarding and compositions are created using this software before moving to other development or animation tools.
While Photoshop is the king of imagery and composition design, Illustrator is the best tool for graphics, type layout and design of vector-based graphics. Vector-based graphics provide sharp and clean scalable designs that maintain their quality even when scaled up to high-pixel resolutions while still maintaining a small file size. This is very important for creative design.
Adobe After Effects
In my opinion, this is the top animation and effects tool for motion graphics. After Effects provides a timeline editor allowing you to layout an animation and modify the content over a time-based sequence. In our workflow, the elements created in Photoshop and Illustrator are imported into After Effects once our creative storyboards are approved. After Effects is where the creative comes to life. Movement, transitions, effects, and video content are all orchestrated into a motion graphics project with After Effects.
3D Tools for Motion Graphics, VR & AR
While the following tools are not bundled into a single suite like Adobe CC, they are the top- used tools for creating 3D content by my teams. When talking about 3D content these days, there are so many uses for it that go beyond digital signage, mobile, online and even other forms of visualization like Virtual and Augmented Reality. With so many canvases available to display 3D content, narrowing down this category is also quite difficult, but here are a few of the top tools below:
While 3D Studio Max and Cinema 4D are probably equally used by our teams, I tend to lean towards Maya as it is the 3D tool I spent the most time using over the years. Maya is an industry staple in the CG and 3D animation world. It is used by top animation houses around the world and used for creating some of the biggest Hollywood blockbuster animation films. Maya is also one of the top 3D modeling tools available and used in industrial design, retail and environmental design and of course motion graphics.
While Unreal is also probably equally utilized by my teams, Unity is a 3D game development tool that allows you to add programming logic to 3D content. We often add 3D content to our apps and motion content. It is also how we port much of our 3D to VR and AR. Unity is a great tool for visualizing environments and has export features allowing you to publish to most of the best VR and AR devices including Oculus Rift, Microsoft HoloLens and mobile VR and AR.
Programing Languages & Development Tools
Much of the content we create is interactive, and programming and development is a critical part of delivering our content. There are so many development tools out there, and our teams of developers use just about all of them. Here are a few that are most commonly used by our teams below:
- NodeJS for micro-services
- C# which is the foundation of our signage player
- Ruby (Our server-side, iGotcha signage, wayfinding applications and CMS tools are built on Ruby)
- HTML5 / CSS (used in many of our front-end web, mobile and application environments)
- VS code (A basic code editor with plugins that can cover pretty much any programming language. It is easy to setup and use.)
Content Management & Delivery Tools
Without a way to manage, deploy, maintain and update the content, none of these tools would be very effective. We have one of the industry’s top digital content management tools. Our iGotcha Signage platform allows for superior network and content management. Here are only a few of the highlights:
- Advanced user-management offering varying levels of control for multiple users
- Proactive monitoring tools with more than 17 customizable, automatic alerts
- Integrated diagnostic tools
- Powerful analysis features
- Integration of third-party technology systems
- Group screens and content together to quickly and effortlessly deploy campaigns
- Content template creation and editor tools allowing user-generated and updated content to maximize content creation efficiencies
While these tools play a huge role in delivering engaging digital experiences, to be truly effective, you must begin with a solid strategy that can help identify the objectives, content intent and delivery before getting into the design and execution. No tool available can replace starting your experience planning with a well-thought-out roadmap. Begin by determining who will engage with the content, what their desired experience will be, how you can deliver richer storytelling and how the digital can remove any friction points. With this foundation, your content will increase its chances of effectively captivating and connecting with your audience.