Digital Content The context of conteNt

What exactly is digital content? It is information that has been relayed into various media formats for either print, film, mobile device, or web. Context literally means "with text." In digital content, context refers to information surrounding information.

Great digital content starts with a great design. A great designer is one that familiarizes yet stimulates further interest in the information that they plan to relay.

The context of digital content reshapes information into an experience. This digital experience assists the learning process of the user. In this article we will be discussing the basic concepts of digital content: text and imagery.


Text isn't just text in digital design. Text to a designer is typography. Typography is a selection process pertaining to a typeface. This typographical process includes selecting the font, size, arrangement, and color of text.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of interchangeable words regarding digital content. For example, the terms "typeface" and "font". If you do an internet search you will be bombarded with these interchangeable definitions which in most instances will leave you utterly confused in why it is important to know the difference. Simply put a typeface is a complete set of characters and symbols whereas a font is a set of characters and glyphs of a certain typeface.

I think the confusion of these two terms actually stem from their usage--typeface is a term used in a printing process whereas a font is in relation to how it is saved (viewed) by an operating system. Fonts are actually individual computer files that include all the symbols, characters, and glyphs that are associated with the typeface. A typeface is not "technically" recognized by an operating system but a font is.

Knowing these minor details about typefaces and fonts is extremely important in developing and designing digital content. Why? Because you need to know the differences between a desktop and a web font. Desktop fonts may or may not be readable text on websites or in mobile applications. Desktop fonts can be glyphs too. A glyph is actually an image of a character (monotype symbol). Whereas, web fonts are readable and searchable characters (text). Depending on what you want your digital content to be, determines the type of font you want to use (typeface, glyph, font or web font).

With the thousands of fonts to select from, locating a font can be a daunting task. To help in this decision on what font(s) to use, consider the usage rights and the price of using it. You can use any of the thousands of fonts out there for personal use but if you are going to publish for others, many have licensing restrictions. Many Adobe applications provide a warning pop up screen if there are licensing restrictions to a font too. Also there is Adobe Typekit which is offered through a Creative Cloud membership. All the fonts are free to use for Creative Cloud members.


A play on literary terms in a digital age

In literature imagery pertains to a reader creating mental images about information they are reading about. Every metaphor, allusion, descriptive word, insinuation, verb or simile can be transformed into a digital imagery of it. Just think of a novel that has been recreated into a movie. Everything that the novel described in words was translated into a digital-motion-picture.

Like literature, digital imagery is a perception of information that stimulates interest by way of a person's senses. The dictionary definition of perception is the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through your physical senses; a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression (Google Dictionary).

Digital imagery has the ability to simultaneously stimulate several senses especially when the user has an opportunity to interact with the digital content. Literature is dependent on both the writer's and reader's imagination. Whereas, digital imagery is dependent upon itself if designed effectively. Digital imagery takes imagination and creates it into a stimulus.

We perceive and remember information better when one or more physical senses are initiated towards the information. When more than one physical sense is deployed information becomes more illuminating and interesting to the user. In many instances the user seems to be more aware and cognizant of the information, where without digital imagery information loses this sense of familiarity and mindfulness to it.

A Quiz for Your Senses

The following images are derived to stimulate your physical senses. As you scroll through notice how more interested you are in the images when you have the ability to touch and interact with them. Can you determine which physical senses are being stimulated by each image?

  • Equilibrioception: the sense of knowing your body's position and motion in terms to gravity.
  • Touch: a sensation to movement and pressure.
  • Thermoception: the sense of heat or absense of heat (cold).
  • Taste: a chemical detector and receptor of bitter-ness, salti-ness, sweet-ness, and sour-ness.
  • Smell: along with taste this too is a chemical detector that receptors bind to a molecular trait.
  • Pain (nociception): signals nerve or tissue damage.
  • Kinesthetic: muscle movement awareness.
  • Sight: did you know that how a pixel is depicted on a screen is formed in the same manner that our eyes determine light and color? In our eyes, beams of light create a spectrum of color: one distinct receptor determines color (cones) and another receptor determines brightness (rods).
  • Sound: Is a result of vibrations, where tiny hair fibers in the inner ear detect changes in motion and pressure to the membrane.

As you can see how powerful digital content can be if designed correctly! Text and imagery are the fundamental concepts of digital design. Just knowing these simple aspects of text and imagery should assist you in designing effective and powerful content for the user to not just be informed but to enjoy as well.

Created By
Madra Ullrich

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