Joe Zeff Design

A boutique agency that blends software with storytelling, helping the world's largest companies tell better stories.

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Busy, busy, busy . . .

Lots going on at Joe Zeff Design! We're closing another issue of Fast Company; launching a kids magazine on the iPad; creating an iPhone version of one of the world's best-known magazines; conducting a workshop on how to build apps; working with UCLA on a new tablet-based alumni magazine; tag-teaming with Pentagram on a digital edition of another magazine; an advertising campaign for a major television network; and preparing to launch three other large projects. Meanwhile, we break ground this weekend on expansion of our studio to accommodate our two newest employees — Ian Brown from Scientific American and Emily Ragle, a recent graduate of Maryland Institute College of Art — and whatever comes next.

Meanwhile . . .

Joe Zeff moderated a Society of Publication Designers speaker event in New York City last night, featuring the creative directors of TIME, Newsweek and The Huffington Post. Recap here.

• Joe was interviewed by Dr. Mario Garcia regarding USA Today's upcoming redesign. Mario's weeklong series on USA Today and its 30-year evolution begins here.

• We're bracing for the iPhone 5 launch tomorrow and whatever news Apple reveals about a rumored iPad Mini. Last week we launched a feature on our website that puts all of the digital devices and their dimensions in one place. Check it out here.

• As busy as we are, we take time to remember the tragic events of September 11 and the impact on the New York City area and the world. Below, a digital illustration we created for the Asbury Park Press one year after the attacks:

In Response to Responsive Design

The magic bullet, the miracle cure, the answer to all the world's problems — it's called responsive design, and it is all the rage. Modular layouts that magically resize and reformat to fit your phone, computer and tablet have captured the fancy of publishers, suddenly questioning the viability of native apps to deliver content. Why design one page 1,000 times when you can format 1,000 pages all at once? Not so fast.

Responsive HTML is, at its essence, a set of limits. It promises fluidity yet delivers rigidity — rules that dictate proportions and positions based on parameters and priorities that have little to do with the content itself. It lacks spontaneity, the flexibility to create visual hierarchies based on serendipitous content rather than preset formulas. Designers make one picture larger than another because it’s a more compelling picture, not because of its place in a queue. Designers combine text and imagery in ways that resonate like a symphony, not Siri.

That’s not to say that responsive HTML isn’t valuable, because it is. Real-time content delivery demands HTML to minimize the lag between conception and consumption, and to reach as many customers as possible. At its best, responsive HTML achieves many of the ideals of a well-designed page: order and brand identity, reinforced through consistent typography and color. See Food Sense and MRY for examples of smartly implemented responsive designs. It's hard to resist the efficiencies, particularly in today's volatile publishing environment.

We believe there is a place for both.

Many magazines have embraced digital formats for tablets that present most pages as rasterized images, like Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. The results have been stunning — beautifully designed and conceived products that offer the potential to sustain publishing well into the 21st century. Yet challenges mount. New devices stir new consumers and new opportunities. Meanwhile, the effort required to produce editions for multiple devices overwhelms producers and publishers alike.

We believe that within 12 months the industry will embrace hybrid models in which designed pages and responsive HTML pages are deployed interchangeably — beautiful pages and dutiful pages, each treated accordingly. By handling special pages specially, and common pages systematically, publishers reduce the expense of parallel workflows riddled with redundancy. The ultimate goal: a unified workflow that fuels print, web and tablet.

At Joe Zeff Design we’re increasingly focused on leveraging responsive HTML to automate production of pages that, regardless of the design inspiration, are intended to look the same from one to the next. It makes a lot of sense. And we expect it will help our clients make lots of dollars. Apps offer monetization opportunities unmatched by the web, as well as offline access to content, device-enhanced functionality and an uncluttered environment free of distracting ads. We believe that as tablets gain share in schools and corporations, the appetite for robust content that can be produced efficiently will outweigh the benefits of websites and custom-developed applications.

Expect some publishers to bet on responsive HTML, like New York magazine and its new fashion site, The Cut, launched earlier this month. ESPN threw a brushback pitch just last week with its web feature on former Pittsburgh Pirate Dock Ellis, which combined great design and illustration with great programming. Meanwhile, we're busy exploring ways to infuse Adobe DPS apps with responsive HTML and other enhancements that provide the best of all worlds.

The future is here today. Not responsive design alone. But responsive + design. Together.

Another TIME cover!

For the second consecutive week we've been commissioned to illustrate the cover of TIME magazine. This week we've created a photorealistic rendering of the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars, accompanied by the headline "What we can learn from a robot 154 million miles away." Last week we illustrated our eighth TIME cover, a photo-illustration of a for sale sign in front of the White House. To see it, and the other TIME covers we've created through the years, have a look here.

While Curiosity captures images of Mars, there's nobody on Mars capturing images of Curiosity — except Curiosity itself. That's where Joe Zeff Design comes in. Ed Gabel started and finished the rendering the same day using NewTek LightWave 3D, the software we've used for more than a decade to create hundreds of magazine covers, advertisements and album artwork. Here's a look at the sketches . . .

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the wireframe model . . .

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. . . and the final cover showing Curiosity . . . if you're curious!

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This is the third Mars-related TIME cover that we've been involved with. Ed illustrated this cover in 2004, also using LightWave:

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And Joe designed this cover when he was Deputy Art Director of TIME, in 1997:

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Once again, many thanks to Creative Director D.W. Pine and team at TIME.

On a related note, Joe will share the stage with D.W. and his counterparts at Newsweek Daily Beast and Huffington Magazine for a Society of Publication Designers event Sept. 10 in New York City, focused on the changing state of newsmagazines. Details here.

The Best of TIMEs

This week's TIME Magazine features our latest photo-illustrated cover, a for sale sign in front of the White House to help tell the story of how billionaires are influencing the election. Although the iPad has shifted our focus from design and illustration to digital publishing, we continue to be extremely proud of our magazine covers. As technology changes, it has been our ability to infuse information and illustration that has always set us apart.

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Our next TIME cover is already printed, it turns out: the front and back of the magazine's upcoming Election Guide, available for pre-order here.

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A little background: Company president Joe Zeff worked at TIME from 1996-2000 as Deputy Art Director and Graphics Director, and vice president Ed Gabel was TIME's Associate Graphics Director from 1997-2007. Together they produced diagrams and charts using 3D software that helped change the way that magazines presented information graphics. Joe used that software to produce realistic magazine covers for TIME and then other magazines, ultimately leaving TIME in 2000 to start Joe Zeff Design.

Joe Zeff Design has produced eight nine TIME covers, most in collaboration with Creative Director D.W. Pine. The other seven eight:

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During his career at TIME, Ed illustrated numerous covers in styles ranging from photorealism to abstract portraiture:

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Joe had the best education an aspiring magazine designer could ever wish for — an office beside longtime TIME Art Director Arthur Hochstein and an up-close look at how week after week Arthur turned threads into tapestries on the cover of TIME. Along the way, Joe had the chance to illustrate a handful of covers and take over the design responsibilities when Arthur took an occasional break.

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And the very first Joe Zeff cover was an illustration commissioned by Deputy Art Director Sharon Okamoto. It was a Reuben sandwich of Photoshopped layers with hand-painted highlights and drop shadows that took consecutive all-nighters to produce.

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Today, applying the 3D software we now use to create these types of illustrations, it could be crafted in less than an hour. But the execution has never been the hardest part of producing a compelling magazine cover. It's the idea, the concept that draws in a reader and makes them laugh, or cry, or care enough about an issue to lift it from a shelf and investigate further. It's the challenge of making a complicated subject instantly understandable by using pictures rather than words, by showing rather than telling.

There's a timelessness of a TIME cover that transcends limitations, and turns finite parameters into boundless opportunities. We were proud to work with TIME to produce their 9/11 commemorative apps last year, which won two Gold Awards from the Society of Publication Designers. Stories that are told impactfully on a magazine cover have the potential to be even more richly conveyed with the additional of multimedia.

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As technology upends the way we communicate, our experience producing magazine covers for TIME — and Newsweek, Esquire, Fortune, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Texas Monthly, Macworld, Fast Company, Money and dozens if not hundreds of other magazines through the years — will continue to benefit us as we strive to produce content that resonates with consumers, regardless of what new device comes out next week and what logistical complications it presents. As always, it's important to execute well, but even more important to understand that the execution itself can only be as effective as the ideas that are being delivered.

We're looking forward to the next TIME cover. Thanks to all who make them possible.

A New App for Everyday Health!

Joe Zeff Design is pleased to announce that "Diabetes: What Now?" — an iPad app it designed and developed for Everyday Health — is now available in the iTunes App Store. Everyday Health is the leading provider of online health information with 30 million monthly unique visitors. Founded in 2002, Everyday Health has put together a string of successes, with its own premium video channel on You Tube and nine million downloads of its mobile applications, including two of the top ten highest grossing health apps.

"Diabetes: What Now?" is one of the company's first iPad apps, and it was designed and developed by Joe Zeff Design using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. It contains six chapters of text, pictures and video to help people understand Type 2 Diabetes and lead a healthier life after diagnosis, and 50 recipes with Retina-sharp photographs and detailed nutritional information.

Screengrabs follow:

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Many thanks to Deepesh Banerji, Margaret O'Malley, Lesley Marker and the team at Everyday Health!

The Final Hours of TOMB RAIDER

Joe Zeff Design is excited to announce a new project: "The Final Hours of TOMB RAIDER" interactive app, a continuation of the Final Hours series we designed and developed with video game journalist Geoff Keighley. The TOMB RAIDER video game franchise has sold over 35 million copies worldwide and inspired one of the most successful video game film adaptations in history, grossing over $300 million at the global box office. TOMB RAIDER is in development for a multi-platform release on March 5, 2013. Alongside the game, Crystal Dynamics will release "The Final Hours of TOMB RAIDER" interactive apps for iPad, PC and Kindle Fire, designed and developed by Joe Zeff Design.

"The Final Hours series documents the creative process behind today's most anticipated games, with a particular focus on the final stretch of development," said Keighley, in a Crystal Dynamics press release available here. "In the case of TOMB RAIDER I'm especially excited because, at its heart, this is a tale about the act of reinvention, both of a studio and of a franchise."

"The Final Hours of TOMB RAIDER" series kicked off this week with the first of a series of documentary web videos hosted by actor Zachary Levi, available here. The video series takes fans behind the scenes of development, introducing Camilla Luddington as the voice actress portraying Lara Croft in the game. There's also a website, thefinalhoursoftombraider.com.

Joe Zeff Design previously designed and developed "The Final Hours of Portal 2" and "The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3" with Keighley. We look forward to working with him, Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics, Amazon and other partners to make "The Final Hours of TOMB RAIDER" the best yet.

The Joy of Nexus

Before the end of the year it's possible we'll see a larger iPhone, smaller iPad, larger Kindle Fire(s) and new Google and Windows tablets, all with new features. After a bit of Darwinism narrowed the field of mobile devices, we're about to experience another frenzy. Walter Mossberg has a glowing review in today's WSJ about Google's new tablet, which comes out next week. Some highlights:

• It's called the Nexus 7, costs $199 and has a 7-inch screen (1,280 x 800 resolution). • He calls it a "better choice than the iPad" for those on a budget and those who want a smaller tablet. • The Android Market, which is Google's equivalent to the iTunes Store, is now called Google Play. • It is WiFi only, like the Fire, but much more responsive than the Fire. • It uses the newest version of Android, called Jelly Bean, which is "finally on a par" with Apple's iOS operating system, according to Mossberg, in that it increases responsiveness and eliminates the need to summon menus to access features, a la Apple.

While everyone waits out Apple to see if a newer, smaller iPad will challenge Nexus and other 7-inch tablets, it makes sense to think beyond the current iPad in regard to platforms and form factors and identify ways to blend responsive elements like HTML and Adobe's Liquid Layout feature into publishing workflows.

The bigger question is whether publication design will continue to be defined as the creation of pixel-perfect layouts for a specific destination, or if a shift in thinking is required to address the multitude of screens through which we deliver content. It is the consumers, not the publishers, who will ultimately force that decision with their buying habits.

Fasten your seat belts. Again.

Another Great Issue of PC Magazine

Our fifth and final issue of PC Magazine is now live in the iTunes App Store, and we encourage everyone to take a look. Joe Zeff Design helped relaunch PC Magazine on the iPad earlier this year, breathing new life into a magazine title that ended its print publishing run in 2008. Working closely with the staff, we redesigned the magazine from the ground up to modernize its content for iPad and other tablets, adding turntable photography, color-coded sectioning, real-time Twitter feeds and in-your-face typography. We produced the first four issues at our studios in Montclair, NJ, and worked onsite at Ziff Davis this past month instructing the PC Magazine team how to use Adobe Digital Publishing Suite to create their own issues.

After five successful issues, including an Adobe App of the Week selection, production transitions as scheduled to the PC Magazine staff, under the direction of its new creative director, Craig Sosonko. We look forward to seeing what they come up in the issues ahead, and wish them the very best. Thanks again to Vivek, Kathleen, Stephanie, Dan, Phil, Yun, Jackie, Mark and everyone at Ziff Davis.

Meanwhile, we're finishing an iPad app for one of the world's leading providers of health-care content — more details to come — and we're about to begin production on the next issue of Fast Company magazine. An update to The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3 is in the works, along with other projects that we can't yet announce. Expect big news from JZD over the next few weeks about new apps for iPad, Kindle Fire and iPhone.

And if you haven't yet downloaded our new iPhone app, do so today!

Our first iPhone app

Our first iPhone app, among the first to be produced using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, is now available in the iTunes App Store. Adobe recently upgraded its Digital Publishing Suite to include an iPhone viewer, and we immediately put it to use. The Joe Zeff Design app was built in a day, leveraging the same DPS tools and workflow we've used to produce other apps. There are two downloadable volumes within the app, one that showcases our award-winning iPad apps and another that focuses on our favorite magazine and album artwork.

Both volumes contain biographies of our employees, a video tour of our new studio, links to some of our partners, and HTML5 animation of our very own bobblehead doll that lets you tap the head to make it bobble. The animation was created using Adobe Edge, the same software used for creating animated graphics for Fast Company's iPad app, as featured on Adobe's Digital Publishing blog.

The Joe Zeff Design app is free, and worth a look for anyone interested in using DPS to reach a potential audience of more than 220 million iPhone and iPod Touch users worldwide. The workflow for iPhone apps is nearly the same as that for iPad apps, but understand the differences between the two. Tablet apps are intended to be rich interactive experiences for large screens; mobile apps must be designed much more simply for the smaller screen, with a premium on immediacy and accessibility.

Download our new iPhone app today and see for yourself.

What We Have Learned

Joe Zeff Design has been designing and developing apps since the iPad was introduced. We've applied our capabilities as designers, illustrators and animators to help create groundbreaking products: four apps chosen by Apple as iTunes Apps of the Week and one that resides in the App Store Hall of Fame. Just last week we submitted to Apple our first iPhone app made using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. Keep an eye on this blog for details. Along the way we've learned quite a bit, and we're happy to share our experiences with anyone who cares to listen. There are no trade secrets when it comes to digital publishing. Every project is dynamic, with ever-changing blends of content, technology and business opportunities. There are elements of old and new, simple and complicated, passive and active in everything we do. Company president Joe Zeff recently addressed audiences in Los Angeles and Las Vegas on the potential and pitfalls of digital publishing, offering insights into how this studio approaches apps.

One attendee approached Joe afterward, shaking his head. "I can't believe you just handed over your entire playbook," he said.

Joe's response: "Better hurry . . . It will be obsolete within 15 minutes."

It's true. For what it's worth, here's what we've learned over the past two years as app designers and developers. Consider it to be a starting point for anyone thinking about tablet apps — designers, developers, publishers, writers, artists, animators, even prospective clients. Especially prospective clients. The better everyone understands the process, the better everyone can direct their attention toward achieving shared objectives.

• Define your goals. There are plenty of reasons to build an app, and plenty of reasons not to do so. Understand why you are venturing down this road, and what you hope to achieve. Apps represent new revenue through brand extension; sponsorship opportunities; business continuation to offset declining print and web franchises; marketing and buzz; global reach; a way to pair content with utility or dynamic content to make it more relevant; subscriptions; monetization of old content; and other benefits. They reach a smaller audience than websites, but one with better demographics, more undivided attention and one-click access to credit card numbers. Any and all are reasons to create apps; establish goals at the start in order to measure success.

* Anticipate flux. The publishing environment changes every day. Apple dominates the tablet marketplace — for now, that is — with multiple devices requiring multiple resolutions. Expect the new Windows tablet to further splinter the marketplace, as well as the increasingly popular Kindle Fire and Nook. Adobe has emerged as the dominant platform for digital publishing, but be forewarned that its software changes every six to eight weeks, bringing new capabilities and challenges to the workflow. Finally, consumer expectations continue to evolve. What satisfies the current generation of tablet owners may not work for the next generation.

• Understand your brand, and then expand. Identify what makes your brand unique and who comprises your audience. Use that information to develop new products that go beyond what's available and accessible in print. Ultimately a print-publication-turned-digital has limited potential. Apps provide an opportunity to become part of someone's everyday life, helping them to organize, plan, learn, choose and understand things. You can revive old content by bundling it in new ways, or attach content to utility — shopping, in particular — to make it more relevant. It starts with knowing what your audience expects from your brand, and creating products that extend that relationship.

• Start small. Don't expect to make money right away. Your initial foray into tablet publishing is meant to establish a relationship between your brand and audience in the digital marketplace, and to gather data that will shape the development of new products to satisfy that audience. Adobe has analytics wired into every DPS app, providing countless insights: what types of content does your audience value most; what days of the week are most popular for consumer engagement. Pay close attention to iTunes reviews and other feedback from your audience. Once you understand what's working, do more of it. Once you see what isn't working, kill it. Evolution never stops.

• Design for the tablet. It's not enough to make content attractive. The designer's job is to put the user in control of their experience, providing ways to interact with content beyond simply reading words and looking at pictures. That said, don't overdo it — gratuitous interactivity impedes comprehension and burdens apps with unnecessary bulk. Navigation should be obvious, with clear signals as to where to tap and when to swipe. If using Adobe DPS, learn its basic functions — multistate objects, slideshows, image sequences, scrollable content, web views and buttons — and use them to deliver content experiences that are much more active than passive.

• Think long-term. The tablet revolution has only just begun, and expect it to grow much bigger once others embrace the power of digital publishing. Expect to see more apps from retailers, educators and corporations that leverage content to build audiences, just as traditional publishers have done for decades. We anticipate new partnerships intended to forge meaningful relationships with consumers, combining marketing dollars with magnetic content to provide publishers with new revenue sources and non-publishers with larger, loyal audiences. We envision much stronger integration between content and e-commerce, turning browsers into buyers, and more examples of mass personalization — content that accesses consumer preferences to bring the most relevant content to the surface, so that your issue of TIME magazine is different from your neighbor's. Micropayments have yet to take hold; it's a matter of time before the consumer can make their own a la carte magazine rather than having to buy an entire issue.

• Know what you're up against. Discoverability remains a significant obstacle, and it's important for publishers to leverage social media and other means to promote their digital products. ROI challenges are significant, and publishers should be prepared to consider non-traditional business models. For example, it may make more sense to create free apps that reach larger audiences and rely on sponsorship revenue rather than selling apps one download at a time. Finally, as stated at the outset, fasten your seat belts as the publishing environment remains especially volatile, with new hardware, new software and new consumers flooding the marketplaces with shifting expectations about what they can do with their shiny tablets.

Internally, new roles require new responsibilities. Here's a bird's-eye view of our process (click or tap to see a larger view):

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Some aspects of that process are repeatable, and others are unique. Our most significant challenge is scoping an app. We're often approached by clients that want to begin publishing digitally but aren't quite sure how. Or even why. We spend considerable time helping those clients identify opportunities to succeed and develop strategies and products that will help them to achieve their objectives. We leverage our experience in every aspect of every project — in particular our ability to design apps that reflect what's possible technically and what's desirable from a business standpoint. We devote resources to a finite number of apps per year so that we can immerse ourselves in every detail, from beginning to end, resulting in products that continue to stretch the boundaries of what's possible to achieve through digital publishing.

• Don't be intimidated. It's never too late to jump on board. Digital publishing is here to stay, will continue to evolve rapidly, and will only get bigger. Stay focused on high-quality content and business models that transcend technology, and consider the current offerings of hardware and software as a means toward an end rather than an end unto itself.

Follow Joe Zeff Design on Twitter at @joezeffdesign

Adobe Digital Publishing Event

Joe Zeff Design was part of Adobe's Digital Publishing Event in New York City this morning, where the software company announced several enhancements to its Digital Publishing Suite intended to make tablet publications more robust than ever. The June issue of Fast Company, which became available for sale yesterday in the iTunes App Store, is the first DPS publication to use Adobe Edge, a new HTML authoring tool that has not yet been released to the public. Joe Zeff shared the stage with Fast Company Executive Editor Noah Robischon and Adobe fellow Mark Anders to demonstrate Edge and how it integrates with Digital Publishing Suite.

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We see Edge as a way to make passive content more active than ever, going beyond the existing DPS toolset. Other benefits: sharper type, smaller filesizes and greater extensibility of HTML content beyond the tablet. The Edge animation we designed for Fast Company was repurposed for the magazine's website in less than five minutes. We look forward to using Edge and other DPS enhancements to benefit our publishing clients, which include Fast Company, PC Magazine, Everyday Health and UCLA Anderson School of Management.

A live blog of today's event appears here. Among the other highlights:

• Adobe DPS now contains iPhone compatibility, adding yet another output format for digital publications. It will be interesting to see how quickly publishers leverage the ability to create mobile apps.

• Social sharing has been expanded to include e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, with links to DPS content presented in a browser with the same functionality as what appears on the tablet. Consumers can view a predetermined number of free articles before confronting a paywall and an invitation to purchase an issue or subscription.

• Adobe has made its font library open to DPS customers, making it possible to embed fonts within PDF-based folios without running afoul of licensing requirements.

And in other Joe Zeff Design news:

• Joe Zeff Design won two Gold Awards at the Society of Publication Designers annual competition last week at Cipriani Wall Street for its design and development of Time magazine's "Beyond 9/11" app.

• Joe Zeff will be presenting the keynote speech at a Society of Publication Designers event Thursday night at Smashbox in Los Angeles. Details here. Then on Monday, Joe will appear at the City and Regional Magazines Association annual conference at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Details here.

Divine Inspiration: Our New Offices

Joe Zeff Design is now up and running in our new location, an 86-year-old church in Montclair, NJ, rebuilt from the inside out to accommodate our studio and 12 other companies. The former First Church of Christ, Scientist, has been reborn as Hillside Square, an eclectic mix of classic architecture and eco-friendly technology located about a half-hour from New York City. There's a charging station for electric cars, places to plug in iPads and iPhones, and plenty of outlets for creativity. We've blended the traditional details of the original church with state-of-the-art computer networks and teleconferencing gear to create a one-of-a-kind environment for producing next-generation iPad apps. Exposed trusses, a 16-foot-tall wooden archway, reupholstered pews and a lectern are all repurposed from the original church.

Herewith, a video tour, accompanied by Kanye West:

. . . and some snapshots:

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On the other side of our archway is Fanbrandz, a division of Frederick and Froberg that has created brand identities for Major League Baseball and National Hockey League franchises. We look forward to collaborating with their team on sports-related apps and illustrations for years to come. The office is one block from Montclair's central business district, with easy access to some of the best restaurants in New Jersey.

Many thanks to the masterminds behind Hillside Square: developers Bob Silver and Jay Schweppe; Jack Finn & Company with a special thanks to Jack himself and Tom Minden; Sionas Architecture, PC and in particular Rick Jarzembowski; interior designer Rachael H. Grochowski of RHG A+D; Berman Home Systems; the Township of Montclair; the congregation of First Church of Christ, Scientist (which still occupies a smaller part of the building); and the hundreds of workers who made it all possible.

Invitations to come regarding our grand opening party. Meanwhile, we're open for business for app design, production and consulting; magazine covers; illustrations and animations and more. Same as before, 973-655-0501 and studio@joezeffdesign.com. Looking forward to seeing you at the church!

New Apps from JZD!

Joe Zeff Design has two new apps in the iTunes App Store today — issues of Fast Company and PC Magazine that truly showcase the potential of digital publishing. Fast Company's cover story features "The Lost Steve Jobs Tapes," with more than 40 minutes of exclusive audio from journalist Brent Schlender's recorded interviews with the late Apple founder. The iPad edition surpasses print in many ways, starting with the two-page cover that includes an index of articles, a play button that lets you hear Jobs' voice before opening the magazine, and an animated portrait of Jobs by digital fingerpainter Jorge Colombo. Inside the issue are five more Colombo portraits depicting Jobs at different stages of his career, a half-hour podcast and a bonus reprint of a past Jobs feature — all baked into the app; no Internet required. The issue is Retina-optimized for new iPads and available here.

The May issue of PC Magazine also hit the App Store today, with a cover story downloadable software that's absolutely free. The cover itself springs to life with a rich animation designed by Phil Bratter and animated by Christopher Holewski and Ed Gabel that you won't want to miss. The entire issue is interactive, with literally hundreds of buttons unlocking layers of content. The columnists' perspectives are presented as a mix of curated text and real-time Twitter feeds. Like Fast Company, PC Magazine is Retina-optimized for third-generation iPads, including their free sample issue. Unlike Fast Company, PC Magazine exists only as a digital brand, which affords more freedom to create an experience specifically targeted for tablets. PC Magazine is available here.

Both magazines are produced monthly by Joe Zeff Design using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, combining the simplicity of Adobe's platform with tablet-focused design and HTML enhancements. Shoutouts to Florian and Noah at Fast Company, Kathleen and Stephanie at PC Magazine, and the rest of the JZD team — specifically, Josh Penrod and Krissi Xenakis — for their contributions to these outstanding issues.

In other news:

• We've added UCLA Anderson School of Management as a client, and will work with the university and its design studio, Chess Design, to relaunch its alumni magazine on the tablet. We're excited about the opportunity to work with UCLA and other universities to leverage the iPad and other technology as a way to engage with alumni, students and colleagues throughout the world.

• President Joe Zeff will be speaking on "iPad Publishing Strategies" at the City and Regional Magazine Association 2012 Annual Conference May 21 in Las Vegas — hi ho! Download more information here. Also, Joe will moderate a panel discussion at a Magazine Publishers of America conference June 21 in New York City. Details here.

• We're moving to new offices April 27, relocating to a converted church two blocks away from our current space. What better place to find creative inspiration! We're very excited about our next-door neighbor inside the church, the Fanbrandz division of Frederick & Froberg. Stay tuned for updates and an invitation to our grand opening.

• Congratulations to Dr. Mario Garcia on his upcoming e-book, "iPad Design Lab: Storyteling in the Age of the Tablet." We designed the cover of Mario's new digital book and provided interviews and insights throughout the process. Beyond his legacy as a publication designer and his influence as a consultant with hundreds of clients worldwide, we value Mario as a dear friend and wish him the very best with his must-read tome on tablets.

Have a great weekend enjoying Fast Company and PC Magazine on your iPads!

WoodWing Xperience

We're excited to be part of the WoodWing Xperience this week in Amsterdam, where hundreds of publishing executives from throughout the world have gathered to learn about digital publishing from experts at Adobe, WoodWing and other companies. Joe Zeff Design is well-represented at the conference, with three people attending workshops and presentations. President Joe Zeff delivered a keynote address during the morning session about ways to apply lessons learned from digital magazine publishing to other fields, in particular the education and retail markets.

Time Inc. Chief Information Officer Mitch Klaif spoke about his company's ambitious efforts to digitize all of its properties, singling out the Time magazine "Beyond 9/11" app that was designed by Joe Zeff Design. (Thanks Mitch!) And Betty Wong, editor in chief of Fitness magazine, talked about her magazine's transition to tablets and what her company, Meredith, has learned along the way.

WoodWing made news by announcing a new product called SmartDPS Tools, a set of enhancements to Adobe Digital Publishing Suite that make the software more capable and easier to use. The package, to be released later this year at a pricepoint to be determined, provides InDesign plugins that simplify the process of deploying hotspots and scrollable elements; an HTML5 widget library; and a streamlined way to turn PDFs into Adobe DPS folios.

The conference continues tomorrow with presentations from Zeke Koch, who oversees Adobe's DPS efforts, and others. Stay tuned for more updates.

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PC Magazine for iPad

Joe Zeff Design is excited to announce that PC Magazine, which discontinued its print edition in 2009 but maintained its popular brand through digital channels, has been relaunched as a next-generation iPad app available starting today through the Newsstand section of the App Store. PC Magazine represents a unique opportunity to rethink a magazine for the digital age. While many publishers replicate print content in their tablet editions to comply with Audit Bureau of Circulation rules, Ziff Davis provided a clean slate for innovation. As a result, we were able to help its editors create a magazine unbound by the conventions of print. In our first meeting at the client's Manhattan offices, we were told that nothing was off-limits as we redesigned the magazine, with one exception: the striped PC Magazine logo. By our second meeting, the stripes were history.

Working alongside CEO Vivek Shah and his extraordinary team — Kathleen Kincaid, Dan Costa, Chris Phillips, Stephanie Chang and others — we dissected PC Magazine and rebuilt it to thrive on the iPad. The debut edition features an animated cover, real-time Twitter feeds for columnists, product reviews containing photos that the user can manipulate, and much more. It was built using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite Professional Edition. Interactivity abounds, inviting the user to engage with content in ways not possible in print.

Phil Bratter, the talented former Creative Director of George, Worth and People magazines, spearheaded the redesign for Joe Zeff Design, working alongside staffers Christopher Holewski, Josh Penrod and Ed Gabel. Phil delivered inimitably, injecting spontaneity throughout the product and infusing each page with his sledgehammer signature of bold typography and bright colors. We look forward to future opportunities to engage Phil on other projects. A look at some of the before and afters shows the extent to which PC Magazine changed but stayed the same:

PC Magazine is no stranger to innovation. The print edition was born in 1982 as an "Independent Guide to IBM Personal Computers." Within a year the magazine swelled to 800 pages per issue, switching from monthly to biweekly publication and adding a floppy disk edition. Its authority was unmatched when it came to technology product reviews, and its testing lab served as a model for other companies. PCMag.com was started in 1994 and a Zinio-based digital edition followed 10 years later — both continue to this day.

As times changed so did Ziff Davis' fortunes, and the company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008. PC Magazine ended its 26-year print run and became a digital property, published online and through Zinio. Backed by private equity firm Great Hill Partners, Shah acquired Ziff Davis Media in 2010 and announced his intentions to build a dynamic digital media company. We're proud to be part of that story. Visit the Apple Newsstand and see for yourself.

Fast Company, Optimized for The New iPad

The April issue of Fast Company turned up in the Apple Newsstand today, featuring a cover story on Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and some of the newest features of Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. Fast Company is one of the first magazines to offer Retina optimization, with sharper type and images when viewed on the new iPad. Those who previously downloaded Fast Company will need to download Version 1.1 from the App Store in order to see the enhancements to the April issue. The high-definition version is rasterized at four times the resolution of the version available for the iPad 1 and 2.

The app also leverages a new "Favorites" feature, enabling users to bookmark any article by tapping on a star icon in the upper right corner of the navigation interface. To highlight an article, tap once on the screen to access the interface and tap on the star icon in the upper right corner. A list of favorites will appear, spanning every issue that the user has downloaded, permitting easy access to all favorites in all issues regardless of which issue the user is currently reading.

The April issue is Fast Company's second, both produced by Joe Zeff Design. The first was an iTunes Store App of the Week in several countries, as well as an Adobe App of the Week. This latest issue enhances the print experience by adding multimedia features and animations, as well as a bonus reprint of Fast Company's May 2007 cover story on Zuckerberg, yet weighs in at less than 90 megabytes. As with the first issue, many advertisements are pinch-to-zoomable to view small type, and the app is fully compliant with Audit Bureau of Circulation rules.

See for yourself — and be sure to download the update.

Testing, Testing, 1-2-3

We put the new iPad — I mean, The New iPad — through its paces in the studio this morning. For what it's worth, what we thought: 1. 768x1024 magazine pages look no better or worse on the higher-resolution screen. For publishers, there's no penalty for continuing to produce pages at this resolution — they look just as good or bad on The New iPad as they do on the iPads 1 and 2.

2. 1536 x 2048 magazine pages, such as the Vogue issue that came out yesterday, are significantly sharper on The New iPad than on the old. Whether the difference is worth the increased weight of the app is a strategic decision for publishers. The 768x1024 version was 277 megabytes. The 1536 x 2048 version was 412 megabytes. Adobe Digital Publishing Suite allows you to publish both resolutions, and the proper issue is downloaded to the proper devices automatically. Pretty slick. What isn't slick is that the publisher needs to render each edition twice, at the higher and lower resolutions, complicating the workflow.

The unretouched image below shows two renditions of the Vogue app. The device on the left is the iPad 2. The device on the right is The New iPad.

3. The bigger difference between one iPad and another was not resolution but color cast. The iPad 2s in our office are all much whiter than the two The New iPads we tested. Both The New iPads had a distinct yellow cast that made the overall viewing experience less pleasurable. For all we know, they'll cool down once they've been used more, or once their temperature changes. The image at the top of this post shows our Fast Company launch on the iPad 1, 2 and The New iPad. The 2 seems brightest, even though all are set at the maximum level. This was consistent among every iPad 2 in our studio.

4. We think Apple should just call The New iPad the iPad 3 already! :-)

The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3

Joe Zeff Design is excited to announce that "The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3," an interactive book for iPad that presents the story behind Electronic Arts' blockbuster video game, is now available in the iTunes App Store. Mass Effect 3 is the latest action role-playing video game by EA’s BioWare division, and its launch last week ranks among the most successful ever. The company sold 890,000 copies in its first 24 hours of release in North America alone, and more than 3.5 million units worldwide in the first week. Three hours after its release, "The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3" is already at No. 1 in the Top News Paid iPad Apps category in iTunes.

Geoff Keighley, host and executive producer of GameTrailersTV on Spike TV, worked directly with BioWare's developers to learn the backstory of the Mass Effect phenomenon, and then with Joe Zeff Design to bring that narrative to life for iPad.

The app is our second collaboration with Keighley. Our previous app together, "The Final Hours of Portal 2," was hailed by Fast Company magazine as "pushing the limits of storytelling" and is a finalist in the Tablet App of the Year category of the Society of Publication Designers annual competition. Dr. Mario Garcia called the app "a textbook case study of how one can tell stories in the tablet platform" and Gizmodo made it an App of the Day selection.

"The Final Hours of Mass Effect 3" pushes far beyond the capabilities of the Portal 2 app, packing dozens of interactive features that include an animated cover, video game, quizzes, polls, two features that allow the user to build their own video stories, panoramas, two music players, more than 20 minutes of video, interactive infographics, and more. It was produced using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite and a team of HTML programmers from around the world.

One of the most popular features from the Portal 2 app returns — the feedback page. Users from around the world are already submitting comments, part of a community within the app that enables dialogue among those who have read the story and played the game.

View images from the app and buy your own copy today. We thank Geoff for another amazing opportunity to work together, and wish him the best of luck on another incredible Final Hours app. Many thanks as well to the team at Joe Zeff Design who worked around the clock to design and develop the app in less than three weeks: Ed Gabel, Josh Penrod, Christopher Holewski and Krissi Xenakis.

Our Fourth App of the Week

Our Fast Company launch last week captured Apple's attention, as the company made it App of the Week in some of its iTunes Stores worldwide. Joe Zeff Design has designed three other apps singled out by Apple as Apps of the Week: Solar System for iPad and March of the Dinosaurs, both for Touch Press, and Above & Beyond: George Steinmetz. Solar System for iPad is one of 85 apps in Apple’s App Store Essentials Hall of Fame. To learn more about the Fast Company launch, along with a video showing our process, click or tap here.