GWG’s Cross-Media Survey Highlights the Importance of a Suitable Workflow

GHENT, BELGIUM—Dec. 4, 2012—The Ghent Workgroup (GWG), dedicated to establishing best practices and specifications for graphic arts workflows, recently completed a survey to assess the cross-media needs and interests of publishing, production and creative professionals worldwide. Two significant findings of the survery include:

  • the fact that the proliferation of mobile devices has propelled cross-media publishing’s growth, and
  • evidence that 75 precent of jobs are destined for both print and at least one additional electronic vehicle.

Because there are many application tools available for working with PDF files, printers are able to utilize the familiar PDF format for cross-media jobs. They typically choose one of the following three workflows:

  • repurposing PDF files prepared for print production;
  • establishing a device-independent PDF as a digital master file; or
  • creating dedicated PDF files for each output channel.

Another conclusion reached in analysis of the survey results is that cross-media will continue to have a large impact on traditional, print-oriented workflows because of the 75 percent share of jobs destined for both print and electronic output. More than 45 percent of the survey respondents have been involved in cross media publishing for more than three years.

On the electronic front, the survey found that the majority of clients are targeting iOS and Android devices, but Kindle, as well as other operating systems and devices, are gaining in importance.

According to the survey results, quality control for cross-media products typically remains a manual task, as 45 percent of respondents are using some type of semi-automated internal workflow, instead of a database-driven, automatic workflow, to generate content for cross media use.

The main reason cited for this behavior is respondents’ strong reliance on workflows established for traditional print. This reliance on familiar print processes may also explain operators’ tendency to employ CMYK, rather than RGB, when preparing both print and electronic output.

Standards and Best Practices
The survey indicates that there are no established standards or best practices in this area as yet, as each company uses its own formulae and tools. The variety of tools and content formats, along with this lack of standards and best practices, not only makes it difficult to streamline processes, but also makes it difficult to exchange interactive content between workflows.

“The industry is clearly asking for alignment, best practices and standards to enable exchange between systems,” says Bart Van Looy, the ICT DTP Publishing Project Leader at Sanoma Media who also serves as co-chairman of the GWG Cross Media subcommittee. “Respondents know that PDF is not the best format to use in the long run, even though it is frequently used as an intermediary solution.

”New, emerging technologies—such as HTML5 and ePub—are being looked at to better serve their needs, but there, too, exists a need for standards and best practices regarding advertisements, color conversion and quality control to exchange content for cross media output between systems,” Van Looy added.