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How They Did It: “Years of Living Dangerously” EPK Microsite

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This post is part of a series called All About Adobe Muse.
How to Create Buttons in Photoshop and Adobe Muse
How They Did It: Al Jazeera “Beyond the Beach”, Built With Adobe Muse
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Demitri Alexander is the Art Director of Propoint’s interactive and motion team. I recently asked him some questions about the Years of Living Dangerously EPK Microsite project, built with Adobe Muse. Take a look at the microsite in action below, then read what Demitri had to say about its build process!

The Interview

Hi Demitri, thanks for taking time to answer a few questions for us! Just briefly, tell us about the “Years of Living Dangerously” EPK Microsite project.

Showtime needed a way to publicize their groundbreaking Emmy award winning documentary series about climate change. Under normal circumstances their PR team would create a paper-based press kit to share with the media. Paper, and its environmental impact, just didn’t seem like the right approach.  

The Showtime executives wanted something innovative to quickly catch and keep the attention of busy entertainment reporters, so they asked us at Propoint to create a digital press kit (also called an EPK or Electronic Press Kit). Luckily their in-house print team had some beautifully shot hi-res photography and video. It made sense to build a microsite that offered a dynamic and memorable experience while still providing the necessary details about the series.

You offer a number of design services as a company and lean on many design tools as a result - what made you choose Adobe Muse for this project?

Adobe Muse enabled us to quickly mobilize and meet Showtime’s tight deadline. They needed the microsite within a month! As an HTML developer, I don't know if we would have been able to take on this project and arrive at the same level of quality. Muse made it possible for us to use more of our design team, not just those familiar with HTML. We had our non-interactive designers create and modify layouts so that our interactive team could work on the harder interactive tasks.

When working on an Adobe Muse project, how heavily do you rely on other design applications, such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator for example? How do you find they work together?

With Muse it is a huge luxury to skip blocking out designs or wire frames in Photoshop or Illustrator and start blocking out layouts while the code is being written—this way clients can see interactive versions of their sites from the beginning. Muse has great Photoshop integration, it allowed us to use PSD files while we laid out the site and continued to make updates to that file without having to re-import. The button states feature was a big time saver. You can import a PSD and choose all the states for a button from within that file. 

Did you find that Adobe Muse offered all the interactive tools you needed for the project? Did it inspire you to use approaches you otherwise wouldn't have?

Muse did not offer everything, but it did build in a good base of interactive tools, like “Scroll Motion” (also known as parallax animation), image galleries, and the ability to scroll to sections on one page site using menu navigation. These features, along with the other built in widgets, gave us the ability to quickly create simple interactive sites. 

Then there were the cloud updates. They kept on refining and adding more tools as we worked on the project—so keeping the software updated was important and a good sign of Adobe’s commitment to its product.

Were there any aspects of the project which you found particularly challenging to build using Adobe Muse?

Since we were working with Showtime’s print team, we had to bring in other media rich features — like specific video functionality, custom fonts and javascript — that Muse didn’t support at the time. 

We accomplished this and further extended the capabilities of Muse by pasting in code snippets and by exporting the full html site and incorporating our own custom code. Also, we built the microsite using Adobe’s 32-bit release, which started to show its limitations as the site grew larger and more complex. Fortunately, Adobe has since released a 64-bit version that is better suited for a project of this scale and scope. 

Which aspects of working with Adobe Muse do you find most appealing?

It would have to be the speed at which we can create interactive wireframes and usable sites to clients; and the ability to bring in non-interactive designers to work in the interactive world just with their knowledge of other Adobe apps.

There doesn't appear to be any mobile-specific design for this website, was that a deliberate decision?

The audience for this project is generally accustomed to printed press kits so our goal was to have a desktop and a tablet version that would appeal to them. 

We did work in several mobile modifications for the tablet version because our full width hero video and all parallax features wouldn't run as smooth on the mobile devices.

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