Creating Alternate Layouts

Modified on Thu, 20 Jun at 9:04 AM


When thinking about alternate layouts, a good rule of thumb is to choose artwork that shares some of the same design elements but differs in size.

If possible, you might want to look at your artwork side by side and look for things like headlines, body text, product images, background elements, buttons, et cetera, that are all the same or similar across different sizes or formats.

An example of this might be two social media images and an email banner that all contain the same design elements, but have three very distinct sizes or design orientation.

I'm going to come into an InDesign file and show you what I mean by all of that.

I've decided to start with the largest of my designs so that once I'm inside the CHILI Back Office, I'm sizing down my document. If you decide to use a smaller design that maybe contains more of the design elements that you need, that's fine too.

What I've done is created some reference layers here so that I can see where my designs are going to differ. How is the size differing? What is the difference in my design elements?

I can see in my new layer, not only is my size different, but I also have body copy, whereas in the original version I have a background image and no body copy. That's okay. It doesn't have to be completely one-to-one. We just want most of our design elements to overlap.

As you can see, my reference layers are just flattened images of designs that I've created before. I'm going to use these in the CHILI Back Office just to help me make sure that my design is oriented the way I want it to be.

This is optional. If you prefer to do all of this in the CHILI Back Office and build your layouts without a reference image, that is completely fine and totally up to you.

What I do not want to do is flatten all of these layers into one piece. I want to be able to turn these on and off just like I can in here once I'm in the CHILI Back Office.

So once I'm happy with my base design and I have any reference layers that I want to use, I can now come over and convert over to CHILI. I can see here that I have all of my layers available to me.

I'm not going to lock them, but I am just going to double check my import settings and make sure that I've toggled on this include hidden layers. That way I can keep them turned off in my InDesign file, but they'll still come in and be accessible to me in CHILI.

Now I'm going to go ahead and export my document the same as I would with any of my other files.

Now that I've finished my conversion from InDesign over to my CHILI Back Office, I can come in and open my document.

A quick note, I've put it in my from InDesign folder, because I'm not ready to put it in my templates folder. That templates folder does connect everything over to Tempo, and I'm just not ready for anyone to see it yet. So I will be able to move that when I'm ready.

But for now, I'm going to double click into my design and as I can see here, my design's going to look like any of my other templates I've created inside of CHILI. I have all of my frames and artwork elements.

If I come over to my documents on this left hand side, I can see that in my layer list I also have all of my reference layers, so those have come in exactly as anticipated.

What I'm going to go ahead and do now is load in my variables. So I'm just going to go ahead and add them into this panel.

I know that I'm going to want a headline variable. I'm going to want a body text variable as I saw in my reference images one, maybe two of my designs have body text. So I'm definitely going to want that. I'm going to have a background image, so I'm going to change this type over to image for that. And I also want them to be able to change my product shot. So let's get that added in as well. That'll be an image variable.

Keep in mind for our image variables, we're going to want to make sure that we're pointing to our dynamic asset provider. I have multiple, you will only have one available to you. And then I'm going to come over to my asset manager and grab my UD unique asset id. If you're not comfortable pulling from the URL, you can also come into your metadata and grab that asset ID in here as well. I'm going to paste that into my value field and I'm going to go ahead select my frame.

As we remember, there's a few different ways that we can change this image variable or this frame to include an image variable. I'm going to do that here and just choose product shot.

I can see that my image populated a little bit big so I can always come in to my image panel and adjust that.

I think because I can see this happening, I'm actually going to go ahead and come down to my frame constraints and allow my end user to adjust that as well. So I'm going to unlock the contents on this frame and I'm going to do the same thing for my background image.

I'm going to come back over to my variable data, choose my background image, and again redirect that to my asset manager and my unique id.

Again, I will go ahead and add that this way and I can see that that has updated.

I think I'm going to also unlock the content for this frame as well. I can always change that if I decide to do that at a later date.

We're also going to want to go ahead and assign our headline variable right here and let it know that it contains variables so that we can see our preview, if we come over to our variable tab here.

I don't have anything to apply this body text to at the moment, so we'll leave that for now.

But we need a variable that's going to allow our end user to choose which layout they would like. So I'm going to come back over to my variable list and create one more. I want that to be called choose layout, what I want my end user to see, and I'm going to come to type and come about halfway down to list.

So now what I've done is I've created a list variable and for my organizational purposes I'm going to move this to the top. I like the way that looks better, completely up to you what order those go in. I'm going to leave this as is for now and I'll explain that in just a minute.

So what I'm going to do is come on over to my document and I'm going to come to my alternate layout list.

Now the current layout you have in your alternate layout list is always going to be called default. This is not the name that your end user is going to going to see. You'll be able to set this when we load in our list in just a few minutes.

But for right now, what I'm going to do is go ahead and create a new layout.

I'm going to go ahead and rename this to my banner ad two. As we saw a little bit earlier in InDesign, I know that has some different design elements and a different layout. So that's where I'm going to start so I can walk you through how to change those and change your document size.

So I'm going to close that.

Now what I'm going to do is turn this reference layer on so that I can start using it to align everything I need to move around.

One thing that I would like to note is when you resize this document, anything from your original design that's left out here on the paste board will get lost. So we do recommend moving your elements before you size down your document.

So this is going to be a little bit difficult for me to see, right? And I can already see that this background element isn't going to be helpful. So I'm going to do a couple of things.

The first thing I'm going to do is choose this background image of my people. I'm going to come over to my frame and where this says include in all layouts, I'm going to uncheck this box and this tells the system I don't want it in all of my layers and I don't want it on my banner ad two. Now the fun thing with alternate layouts is that you're not going to see your change until you click back into the original design or any other layout and then back to the layout you're working on. So as I can see now that I've essentially refreshed that view, I no longer have that background image on this layer, but it's still existing on my default.

Now I'm going to tackle the fact that I'm not going to be able to see anything if I do this this way. So what I'm going to go ahead and do is come over to layer settings. On the left hand side, I'm going to choose my banner ad two reference layer and change that opacity.

Now I can take all of my design elements, move them, resize them so that they fit into my new design.

And that's going to take you a few minutes. So let's fast forward.

Now that I've finished laying out my design, I can see I have everything I need. I did remember to come over and apply my body text variable to my body text square. I can see that by toggling the source.

So now I can turn off my banner add to reference and I can see that I have my design the way I want it.

However, I need to remember for this particular piece to come back over to my frame setting and tell this that I only want this frame to be included in my banner ad two layout.

So now if I come back over to my alternate layout list and I choose default, I can see my original layout. If I choose banner ad two, I can now see that I have everything I need on each piece.

The next thing I'm going to do is go ahead and resize my document to the size of my image here.

I'm going to go ahead and click on this background because I want to match my document setting as close as I can to this. If you already know what your dimensions are, then you can load those into your documents.

So we're going to come up to our document settings and I'm just going to go ahead and change my width and height roughly based on my background shape.

So again, just double checking default. I'm going to zoom out a little bit. My default size has everything I need and my banner ad two size has everything I need.

This particular warning is just showing that there's a low render preview on the background image. I'm okay with that. I'm going to keep plowing forward.

You would just continue to redesign your design elements for each of your new alternate layouts.

But what I want to do is show you how to get our variable dropdown to match our alternate layout list. And the way we're going to do that is to come back over to our right hand variable data field, check the choose layout, which is our list we're going to have our end users choose from. We're going to come over to type specific.

So my default layer, I actually want to call social media ad. So I'm going to type social media ad and I'm going to add another that is my banner ad two.

Okay, beautiful.

Now they'll show up in my layout drop down now, wonderful, but they're not going to do anything yet because we need to direct them to each other just like we would our other variables, but not quite.

We're going to come into our actions tab and click “on change.”

We're going to go to edit in here, we're going to put in what we call action logic. And this is going to tell our file what it needs to do.

So I'm going to add a line, and this is essentially going to walk us through an “if/then” statement.

So we're going to say “if my variable choose layout displayValue is” (and you can skip this, this is going to uh, this would be if we had more than one piece we wanted to include in this) this is string and (this will be word-perfect) social media ad” and again, we'll leave this one blank.

I'm going to add another line that says “execute alternate layout default select.” And that's the end to my statement.

So essentially what I'm saying here is if my variable choose layout is social media ad execute the alternate layout, default design that we created.

But if I want to choose the banner ad, then what I can do is hit control copy. I'm going to copy these two lines and move them to the bottom.

So now this is duplicated. So all I need to do is change this to banner ad two and banner ad two.

So now I have two pieces that are calling to this line, but I don't want that to happen. So I'm going to change this to else if, so, I'm saying if my variable is social media ad choose al, execute the alternate layout default. If not, or else if, if the layout is banner add two, choose the alternate layout banner, add two.

So now I'm actually going to go ahead and add two more lines, but I'm going to do them individually. I'm going to move this to the bottom. I'm going to do an end if, and that just says that I am done with my if then statement.

But I'm going to add one more and I'm going to say that I am going to set my document zoom to fit page. What that saying is now, if I select my new layout, I'm asking my artwork to go ahead and fill my workspace.

So I'm going to hit apply.

I'm going to come back over to my variables here.

And again, I need to kind of force CHILI to refresh to do this.

So I'm going to choose banner ad two, and now I've zoomed into my space. I'm going to choose social, social media ad, and I can see that it is working the way I want it to.

You can also see that I've spent a lot of time working on this. I'm going to save.

Now that I'm happy with this, I'm going to go ahead and close out of my document, move it into my template folder, and then I'm going to go into Tempo and load it in my template.

So let's see what that looks like.

Okay, so now I'm in Tempo and I need to load in my input with the design I just created.

I'm going to come to Tempo. I'm going to choose my file that I just created. I'm going to hop over to my fields and now I can see that I have this dropdown from my Tempo list.

I can go ahead and assign images if I so choose to my background image or my product shot. Again, allow to add new image or text frames. I'm going to turn that off and now I can choose my output format based on what I have set up in my CHILI Back Office. These are web, so I'm going to go ahead and let them be low res. There's only one that I'm offering this time, so I'll go ahead and generate that by default and save my output format.

I've checked all of my check boxes here, and now I'm ready to publish my template.

Now that I've created my template, my end users can come in, choose their layout, update their text. They can also come in and update their images. Again, I'm going to choose this frame and hop into my full screen editor because I can see that this isn't quite fitting the way I had hoped. But because I've unlocked the content in this frame, I can move this around. And now when I go back to my social media ad, I'm actually going to hold the same changes here and I can come into my full screen editor and adjust in this frame as well if needed.

I am also able to update and resize this background image and when I'm ready, whichever layout I want to publish, I can publish, generate my output, and then download and share from here.

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