Digital Magazines and Online PublishingGoing digital with your magazine, journal, or even your corporate brochure can be a daunting task. It can also be very costly if you need to continue typesetting and producing a printed version.

Don’t get us wrong: designing and laying out a magazine or catalog for print is something we love to do. And, for some audiences, a printed version is still a must.

But we’re digital nerds here too, and any chance we get to take a client’s publication online is one we jump on immediately. A digital publication allows you to get information online quickly, closely track its performance, and cultivate the type of engagement that drives sales (or donations, memberships, readership… insert your ultimate business goal here).

We’ve built complete online publishing systems for clients that are very robust and frankly, pretty slick. We’ve also created publishing environments for others who only needed the basics and wanted to simply get their content online quickly and efficiently.

If you’re investing in a website or online publication now, a mobile-friendly version should be a critical aspect in which you want to be sure you invest the time or dollars. The use of mobile devices is steadily on the rise, and tablets like iPad®, Kindle Fire®, and Surface™ simply cannot be ignored when creating a digital publication.

Here are some tips for those who want to get their content online but have a limited budget or just want to test the waters before taking the plunge into an all-digital format:

1) Go beyond PDFs with a digital “flip book”
This solution can be the perfect companion to a printed publication or catalog. In fact several of our clients have opted to go digital in this manner since they still need to have a paper version professionally designed, printed, and mailed—but they also understand the importance of providing an online version. A recent example is the Summer 2012 issue of Innkeeping Now, which is a quarterly magazine published by the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII).

Digital flip books can be optimized for mobile devices and tablets like iPad, iPhone®, and Android™ devices. The more sophisticated solutions can even provide search engine indexing and analytics tracking far beyond what you can do by simply offering a PDF for online viewing. The cost to get them up and running is very reasonable, and they can often be hosted right on your website.

2) Leverage a content management system that is built for publishing, like WordPress.
You can have a WordPress website up and running fairly quickly with some basic web “know-how” and a minimal investment of time. If you know how to set up hosting for a website and aren’t afraid to talk to the hosting company’s tech-support team a few times if you have trouble getting things going, the process will be relatively painless. There are many “themes” that you can use as a base which are available for free or for very-low cost. (Be careful: they are not all free for commercial use, so be sure to read the license agreements carefully and understand what you can and cannot do.)

WordPress can be leveraged beyond the do-it-yourself approach by hiring a developer or development firm that specializes in building websites on the platform. It’s pretty amazing what WordPress (and other similar open-source content management systems) can do when extended beyond the basics.

Keep in mind that not all WordPress sites (or websites for that matter) are going to be mobile friendly out of the box. Again, we can’t stress enough the importance of ensuring your publication can be viewed on mobile devices.

3) Use a service or special generation software
If you’ve got the time and resources to do it yourself, you can use an online document-sharing service like issuu™ or software like 3D Issue to create your own online editions. These types of solutions are usually either free and ad supported or carry a licensing fee. You’ll need to pick the right one for you, so be sure to do your homework and take the time familiarizing yourself with the different features and options available with each service. You need to be sure you pick the one that has the right balance of features and costs for your organization.

Of course, these solutions are only a sampling of a few solutions that can help you get online quickly and without a major financial investment. If you decide one of them is right for you and need an experienced partner to provide advice or manage the process for you, we’re here to help!

If you need to pull out the big guns and develop something more custom for your online publishing needs, we can do that too. Let’s talk.