Whether you publish a magazine, newspaper, catalog, journal or newsletter, you may be asking the same question most publishers have: how do I decide which digital publishing platform is right for my publication? With so many options, from custom designers to self-serve platforms, choosing the right one can seem like a minefield.
The decision will ultimately come down to the one that offers the features you want in your digital publishing platform, but also how much time you want to spend on creating a digital version and how much control you want over the visual layout.
Many self-serve platforms offer great technology at a low price. The potential downside is that you are completely on your own when it comes to learning the platform, so if customer service is more important to you than self service, then keep this in mind. However, often if you have a print ready PDF, sometimes all you need is to run that through a platform that produces a good quality flipbook edition. There are many of these platforms available online.
Digital as a workflow
There are very high-end, quality companies that offer you the tools to design and build your digital publication as part of a publishing workflow. However, this particular commitment involves changing the way you produce your PDFs and knowledge of design and the time to learn how to use new design tools. It is a great option if you have the time and resources to spend on it. If you already have a design process or have a designer that produces your print PDF then this is not the way to go.
There are plenty of full-service companies that offer you full and partial tech support for the design and build of your publication. They will create a portal within their platform for you to track the activity for your publication, but their tech team takes care of all the logistics of the build. This option is ideal if you have a bit more to invest than with the self-serve option in the name of quality and measuring the growth of your publication online. You want to be sure you choose a quality company that is sensitive to your needs and can collaborate with you on the best approach.
Custom built digital publications
A custom company will build your publication’s app for you from scratch. The approach is similar to having a web builder build your site using custom code, versus using a template like WordPress, and the investment can be as large. The upside is that you will be able to have all the custom features you desire, within the scope of your project. However, this approach is truly not needed for most publications that can achieve a similar amount of features by using one of the above options. Custom design is great to add to your publication in the form of small features once you have it built on a platform.
Overall, the most important question to ask yourself when choosing how to publish online is what does my ideal reader want to experience and how can I best achieve that at the lowest possible cost to my publication without sacrificing value. This formula will help you invest in the smartest way, without questioning whether one type of platform is better than another.