Efficiency is essential when it comes to digital production. And to achieve it, you need two things: a great team and great tools — the two go hand-in-hand. While there’s no substitute for experience, with that experience comes an understanding of what tools are right for the job. Because without the right tools, that experience will be wasted on tedious, repetitive tasks.
A little initial investment can go a long way when it comes to the long-term benefits tools provide. Those that help streamline workflow and automate processes make everything more cost-effective.
At Assemble, we know this better than anyone. When your daily work consists of producing hundreds of variations of a campaign, you learn a thing or two about the importance of choosing the right tools. So we’re sharing a bit of our expertise as to why tools should play a big role in your production team decision-making.
Why Having the Right Tools is the Key to Success
When you’re tasked with producing hundreds of ad variations on a tight deadline, reducing the amount of repetitive and manual components in the process is absolutely vital. Afterall, doing the same procedures over and over seems like a waste of time and expertise, doesn’t it?
The trigger here is the daily work — being part of the process day in and day out, understanding what to look for and identifying patterns that can be improved and expedited through tools.
Having the right experts with the right capabilities presents an opportunity to not only identify tools, but actually create them too. At Assemble, that means constantly communicating with our internal team to uncover common struggles and pain points, then doing the research to determine how we can elevate how we use the tools we have and create new features that address these issues.
And when it’s not about cutting down production times and tasks, it’s about having tools that can quickly test campaigns and identify errors that could be detrimental to the user experience. Certain tools allow teams to test how every component of a website’s user interface (UI) is going to work, simulating multiple actions all at once and bringing forward all the broken links or 404 error messages that can be missed in a manual process.
With the goals of faster turnarounds, fewer costs, and better results, creating templates, reusable components, or automated processes are where tools really shine.
Choosing the Best Production Tools
Choosing the right tool comes down to understanding where your pain points are. Whether it’s the most time consuming tasks, those presenting the most errors, or those you have to do multiple times, identifying the biggest roadblocks in your process is how you’ll know what tools will bring the greatest benefit.
Identify the tasks that your team approaches the same way every day and have deep perception of how those tasks are done, you’ll be able to identify where they could be improved. When you’re just beginning to code for a project or creating a new type of build, it’s going to be hard to identify where the deficiencies are. But with experience comes understanding.
For our team at Assemble, that means doing the research. We bring in multiple team members who are performing these tasks every day, perform tests and hold forums to come to decisions as a team.
When you start looking for options, don’t just go with the first option. Here at Assemble, we do a testing and analysis phase, go through the pros and cons, and then make a final decision. We know the more input in the process, the better the outcomes. And this is where our experience really shines.
An Example: Automating for Transcreation
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, transcreation means adapting an advertising message from its original language into other languages where a brand or product is going to be marketed. For global brands, this can mean creating a couple hundred variations of the same campaign to ensure that context, tone, style, and intent stay intact when the message is translated to resonate best with that specific audience.
This is something Assemble is tasked with daily. So instead of having to create and test every single version throughout the process, we knew we needed a tool to help us generate hundreds of new versions from one original master version.
We came up with two solutions, met with several cloud-based services for banner production, and analyzed the benefits and disadvantages of each to figure out which option worked best for both our processes and the needs of our clients. Going with the first option has never been our style. We know the best decisions come from exploring multiple options. We also know that developing our own custom automation tools will further improve our process to meet our specific needs. So we created a tool based on NodeJS, which will allow us to use our robust animation framework to create master units, and then generate as many versions as needed in a matter of seconds.
In the end, we will have multiple solutions to eliminate the need to copy, paste, and edit HTML code manually, and remarkably accelerate our transcreation production processes for our clients.
Top Tools for Today’s Production
Looking to learn more about today’s most popular production tools? Here are a couple of our favorites.
BrowserStack or CrossBrowser
These tools allow you to see every single unit in the studio production process. Every element — from text to links to animations — can get adjusted simultaneously, in real-time. Whether the format is web, native, or hybrid, you can securely test your app across all the real environments you need, while using Text Compare and Link Checker to identify any errors.
To learn more, check out SmartBear’s BitBar or BrowserStack.com.
When it comes to creating and testing emails, Litmus is IT. This tool can show you an example of how email components are going to look in every version. You can see the email’s appearance on every unique device, platform, and email host (Outlook, Gmail, etc.), even in dark mode.
Comparing formats and layouts is super simple too – Litmus will generate a link that shows a preview to easily identify if there are errors. You can use the tools on LITMUS to grab what is on the site or what a client is sending to you, and compare them side by side in just a few minutes.
It’s an affordable way to give you access to thousands of email clients. You can render a single HTML and test it on all of them through one website portal to see if there are errors on any of them.
Ultimately, it costs way more time and money for QA agents to send the email to each of those thousands of clients manually — one at a time and through every device. That’s why LITMUS can be a game changer.
FIGMA is a tool that was specifically created for digital design. It’s more efficient than regular tools like photoshop because it has an extensive library of plug-ins to automate processes like transcreation, making hundreds of variations of creative files with a single click.
FIGMA does the work for you so you don’t have to create new stages and copy changes to each variation you need. It makes a serious difference in the time and money spent on digital design!
Other Tool Inspirations: UI Testing & Web Development
There are tons of options out there that make testing a site’s functionality much easier! UI testing ensures your websites offer a great user experience, but for any website, that can involve A LOT of components — from CTAs to animations, to links, forms, and more. Having tools that allow you to test how the UI on a website is going to work can help you avoid faux pas that could give a negative impression to visitors.
When it comes to web development, there are tools available with scripts that check all the web page components automatically and create every link and identify 404 messages so you don’t have to do it manually or worry about errors.
Let Assemble Bring the Right Tools to Your Processes
Outsourcing your digital production needs to Assemble ensures your production processes are using the very best tools out there, leading to faster turnarounds, fewer costs, and better results with every iteration of your campaigns. For help with efficient, scalable production and web development services or custom digital campaigns, contact our experts today!