I promised those who were interested in the actual assessment that I’d share it this week.
Just to give a little context, a friend had posted on Facebook asking for someone to recommend a magazine designer.
I know a fantastic graphic designer who has the skills necessary to design a magazine, but depending on my friend’s requirements, he might or might not be a good fit.
So… I asked some leading questions, trying to determine whether to recommend my designer, figuring at least if I couldn’t recommend someone, others reading the post thread would have more information to jog their thinking with.
These are just a few of the questions I asked:
- Did she want her magazine to be online, in print or both?
- Did she want to design her magazine online or upload a PDF that was displayed in an online reader?
- Did she want flexibility in her design (for enhanced creativity) or did she want a template she could work from (for ease of use)?
- Did she want just text and images in her magazine or other types of content like video, MP3 and ecommerce options?
The important thing to note here is that the tools I reviewed aren’t just for magazines. They can be used to create any kind of online book. For example, a brochure or catalogue.
Or, if you have a PDF that you want to make available to read online on your website, it provides an attractive reader for it instead of just simply opening the PDF itself. This could potentially allow you to grow your mailing list by granting access to the content, without actually giving them a PDF that could be freely shared with others.
One of the tools in particular also enables you to integrate a shopping experience into the PDF itself, meaning that someon could click on an item they’re interested in, get more product information and see the price, then add it to a shopping cart and purchase it.
As a publisher, I can see many possible uses for that, including a sleek edition of my catalogue that would be embeddable on my Facebook page and website as well as shareable in social media. Nice!
A quick review
Anyway, what follows is my unedited review of the platforms she was curious about, and my reasons for making the final recommendation I did.
Lucidpress is going to have a little less flexibility in terms of design, since it has you create your publication using its templates. You work online and then drag-and-drop content in from social media, DropBox, Google Drive and elsewhere. It makes it easy to use, but limited in its capabilites if you want to “get fancy.”
From there, you can export what you create into a PDF for printing else where. You can also save it as a JPG or PNG (not too certain of the value of that for something that’s multiple pages!), share it on social media and embed it on your site.
It does allow real-time collaborations, so you could have more than one person on your team working on it at a time. But I don’t know how relevant that is to you.
It also offers a revision history of the magazine (possibly not of interest to you) and analytics (which should always be of interest).
Since it encourages “saving on printing costs” by sharing your publication, I am curious as to how well it handles PDF creation, but that’s one of those things I’d have to test out to know for certain.
I will say that as soon as people start telling me there are templates, it says that they’re targeting a DIY audience.
That’s not a bad thing, but the problem with templates is that it limits your ability to be creative.
For that reason, LucidPress would not be my top choice. (Plus, looking at the magazine templates, I didn’t see anything inspired or inspiring…)
FlipSnack and Publitas
So, next to look at FlipSnack and a competitor that I found this morning, Publitas. Both take a PDF you’ve designed and convert it to an online publication for you. You can then embed that publication on your website and Facebook page. Social sharing is enabled and analytics are available (although depending on your pricing plan, it my only be available for the past few months).
However, I’m leaning more toward Publitas than FlipSnack.
It emphasizes making its product light, meaning that it loads fast and that their focus is on maximizing your page’s display, without adding a heavy frame or navigation to it. If you take a look at their examples, you’ll see what I mean. (I just like the look and feel of the Publitas version more).
- FlipSnack sample: http://www.flipsnack.com/SydneyRoyal/2013-sydney-royal-little-book-of-winners.html
- Publitas sample: https://view.publitas.com/example-alfresco-emporium/island-hopping-1/page/1
Publitas also allows you to include things in your publication that FlipSnack doesn’t seem to offer, like integrating video content into it and adding ecommerce. (You can click on an item for more info and get a pop-up with the product description and price.)
Since this publication is intended to be part of your business model, understanding how you’re going to monetize it is important, and Publitas makes that the easiest to do. You can sell tickets to your next event or course, include affiliate or JV partner resources, etc. directly within the publication.
So, that would be my recommendation. I like its look and feel, ease of use, flexibility, and capabilities.
However, since both FlipSnack and Publitas take a PDF as its source, you could always test them out from the same source and see which one appeals to you more from that standpoint.
I know there’s a lot here, but hopefully, it helps you to make your decision. For what it’s worth, it’s also highly rated on Alternative.to, when you look for alternatives to Issuu.
So let’s dream a little
With all of the features that are available using tools like these, how might you integrate something like this into your business? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
How many times have you had an idea that doesn’t move forward because you’re caught in the bottleneck of a decision? Feel free to pick my brain and I can help you in the exact same way.