A regular feature of this blog will be entries into the Communicate & Howe! Toolkit. The idea behind the Toolkit is to introduce or highlight tools that help you get the most bang for your communications buck. The idea is that you can learn about many tools you can use to meet your communications needs. There is a dedicated page on this site that will have an up to date listing of everything featured.
But remember that sometimes you need to spend a buck to get the most bang for your buck. That’s where we come in. We help ensure these tools are used to maximize your impact by applying our talent, experience and expertise. Contact us to find out how.
Online Tools: Issuu.com
Our first entry in the Online Tools category is Issuu.com because it’s a great cost-effective way to turn your multi-page documents into user-friendly e-magazines. And in case you’re wondering, no I do not have any financial interest in promoting this service.
Have you ever gone to a website and opened a guide, booklet, magazine or another publication with many pages that was made to be a print publication? I bet you haven’t found the experience very user friendly if it opens up in your PDF reader. It’s great that this information has been put online–kudos for that!–but by just adding a link to a PDF, the organization trying to communicate this information is letting its visitors down by providing an experience that is less than optimal.
That’s where e-magazine tools come in–many of which are available as online tools. They replicate as closely as possible the experience of reading the print version online right down to the page flipping. In many ways they actually improve upon the experience for the reader. Using Issuu for example, you can bring up previews of all of the pages so that you can quickly identify what you are most interested in. There is also a great search feature. Want to save a page, the whole PDF or print it? All those functions are easy to use too. I have come to love e-magazines so much that I see value in having them designed by traditional graphic designers for the sole purpose of having them placed online.
Over the past year or so I have done some research and there are many options. In fact, Issuu was not my original choice (mainly because I didn’t know about it at the time). My experience was poor and goes to show that not all of the available options are created equal. In that case, I found the pricing to be very high. Too high considering we needed to buy a license for each publication–and that we needed to buy the licenses in advance of knowing how many we needed. I also didn’t like that the renewal terms were vague enough that we didn’t think we were required to buy new licenses annually but strong enough that that’s what happened when we gave notice shortly after the deadline. I wasn’t impressed with how the company in question handled itself especially when dealing with a registered charity. I won’t name names in this post though. I’m just bringing it up to illustrate the need to be careful before you lock yourself into a provider and to explain why I love Issuu so much.
Why recommend Issuu?
I highly recommend Issuu.com because I was very happy with its service. It provided everything that I was looking for in an e-magazine solution.
And the best part is that it’s cost-effective–a must for charities, arts and cultural organizations and small businesses. There is a free version but I recommend the Pro. At $19 US a month, it’s a steal because you can upload unlimited publications read by unlimited readers.
There are many great features including some I’m just learning about. A favourite is that you can embed the e-magazine right into your website. It’s hosted on Issuu but it looks like it’s a seamless part of your website. There’s also a animated preview option.
When I tweeted this recommendation recently the person looking said that Issuu was on her list but that she was disappointed that it didn’t allow for video integration. To my knowledge that is the only flaw to an otherwise attractive product. On the other hand, it does allow you to include hot links, music and voiceovers. I imagine that it can’t be long until a video option is also available.
At my last full-time gig, I oversaw the graphic design of A Community Fit for Children (Second Edition) which is a massive report produced by a coalition of groups working with children in Waterloo Region. We strongly encouraged them to publish it online through Issuu to maximize their reach and ensure it was available as an ongoing resource to help plan to enhance services for children. Take a look and you’ll see how well this service works for even large reports.
What do you think?
Have you been pleased with Issuu? Are there other cost-effective options worth considering? Do any of them offer video?
Are there specific types of tools that you are seeking that may be in my toolkit already that I haven’t talked about? Or that should be?