One of the most painful mobile work experiences has to be trying to read a spreadsheet on your phone or tablet. You’re pinching in to actually be able to read it, then scrolling for days to see the Q4 number when you forget which line you were one. Is this number the uniques or the MAUs? It is time-consuming and frustrating.
Clearer financial documents
To help make things simpler and less stressful, we have taken a different approach: using flexible and responsive tables for financial data. Instead of trying to get every table cell in a long horizontal row, the high priority columns are shown, with the other columns being accessible by expanding the row vertically. As a device gets bigger, say, you move from a smart phone to a tablet, the next priority of columns become visible, and so on. All data remains accessible, but it is also all readable no matter what size the screen.
How does this work in practice?
If you’re creating a document like an annual report and need to include the balance sheet, you simply prioritize the column with the row heading and whichever other columns are important, say the “2015” totals column. Maybe the next priority is the “2014” totals column to compare last year’s data. And so on.
As readers access your document, they will be able to read it completely and view all the data regardless of their device size.
Responsive spreadsheets are a great example of a capability which helps ensure a longer lifespan and more usability for digital documents.
If you work with financial documents and are realizing you need responsive spreadsheets, email us to schedule a demo!
Love them or hate them, PDFs are still used a lot for digital documents and publications. Which is puzzling because of how painful they are to read on a mobile phone, where many people now spend a lot of their reading time. They’re simply not mobile-friendly.
We know that responsive web formats and ebook formats are much nicer to read, yet people still want to be able to offer a PDF for their readers as a fallback. Sometimes it’s because they want them to be able to read it offline, sometimes it’s because they want to email an actual document instead of send a link, sometimes it’s because their audience is simply most familiar with a PDF.
For me and many people I know, the worst part about PDFs on my phone is that they don’t resize and I have to pan and zoom and pan and zoom to read anything. I lose my place and just generally get bored scrolling back and forth just to read one paragraph because it’s too wide for my phone at a type size that I can read.
We’ve come up with a solution – mobile-formatted PDFs! We’re now generating PDFs that are actually designed for the width of a smartphone with text that is appropriately sized for such a device.
If you’re a Premium Woopie customer, you can try out mobile-formatted PDFs today with your content. Realizing you’re going to need mobile-formatted PDFs in your life? Talk to us about trialling Premium for free for 14 days to see if it’s right for you!
Full-page advertisements, Google AdSense, affiliate links, native ads – there is no shortage of advertising techniques for digital publications. In this article, we will distinguish some of the approaches to advertising with the goal of helping you figure out what would work best for your publication.
In terms of aligning everyone’s interests, full-page ads take the cake. Ideally, they offer non-intrusive imagery or interactive content targeted to the readers of the publication.
Pros: They have virtually no limits to what they can do or how interactive they can be
Cons: It’s more time-consuming to work individually with advertisers and build relationships with them, which enables these types of ads in your publication
Banner advertisements have a bad reputation, primarily from their historically distracting and offensive nature. But banner ads today have mostly moved away from the “Punch the monkey!” techniques to deliver better results through non-abrasive and appealing design, which often blends in right with the content itself.
Pros: With their standard sizes and designs, it’s easy to find places in your content to fit in banner ads
Cons: Because of their history, many readers have trained themselves to ignore banner ads and are very good at not noticing them anymore.
Having come very far in the last few years, there are now publications and organizations funded immensely via Affiliate Links, and the ways to use them have grown as well. Amazon, for example, makes it very easy through their Associates program to advertise products and earn advertising fees via a series of links and widgets.
Pros: Affiliate links can be 100% relevant to your audience and therefore not imposing on your design or content.
Cons: Depends on your audience and subject matter – smaller audiences can be very difficult to predict revenue, sharing and affiliate income.
Google AdSense has also come a long way. Similar to the banner ad, many people had previously trained themselves to be able to ignore AdSense ads. However today, AdSense ads are more customizable and can even be responsive. So they don’t have to awkwardly stand out in your article, and in fact can be much more relevant than before for your readers.
Pros: Easy to add, style and publish, so it requires no relationship or contracts with advertisers
Cons: Cannot predict the content, so you run the risk of irrelevant or non-useful ads for your readers.
Native advertising started life as sponsored content, but now is possibly the fastest-growing area of digital advertising and ad spend.
Pros: Native ads are growing very fast as is the number of agencies and content creators willing to help advertisers design and create them. You’ll have no shortage of content if you go this route.
Cons: Need to be very careful with ensuring the ad is called out as “sponsored by” or “paid for by” or you run the risk of losing your readers’ trust
Are you working on incorporating advertising into your digital publication? Talk to us about how you can include thoughtful and valuable ads that make sense for both your readers and your advertisers with Woopie.
This is one of those tiny details you might not even notice if you’re reading in a hurry, but its subtlety makes it an even more thoughtful touch. With a lot of fixed background images, as you scroll you simply see less and less of the top as you scroll down. What Sidetracked did is to place a focus on the most interesting part of the image (the bicyclists) such that as you scroll, both the top and bottom of the image contract to leave the bicyclists there as long as possible.
Creating educational digital books today often means considering interaction and engagement. KQED created interactive animations for their online books to help readers and students understand how the Berkeley Darfur Stove is more efficient than a regular, three-stone fire.
The Directorate of Information Technology for the Government of Maharashtra put together a fantastic digital version of their report on the State of e-Governance. While the table of contents page can often be the least interesting part of the publication, they chose to use that as the document’s opening and made it more interesting with a background video and a lovely, low-key soundtrack.
A great way to keep you top-of-mind for your readers is by sending them things you know they’ll be interested in. If your audience is readers, a free story every week is a wonderful idea to build an email list as well as remind them to come back for more.
With paid content, many publishers struggle with things like pay wall, pay wall + x number of free articles per month, share-to-read, and the numerous other ideas out there to monetize your publication. Scratch has done a nice job of fading out the article’s text so that articles can easily be shared, but subscribers get the real value, without it being a painful experience as a visiting reader.
Nautilus makes many of their articles available free online and charges instead for the convenience of the tablet and eBook editions. In addition, they offer a Prime level subscription which includes the tablet and eBook issues as well as bonus articles not available otherwise as well as occasional surprises.
As shown in the Nautilus image above, the ePub file descriptions indicate how large the file downloads are. This can be really helpful for readers who might not have wifi available at the time or who might be strapped for space on their device. Knowing the file download size also gives you a better understanding of why a file download is taking a bit longer, or whether you’ll be able to get it downloaded before your bus arrives.
Another great example by Aeon is their article layout within their categories. Similar to Medium’s now familiar “4 min read” annotations attached to articles there, Aeon lists the number of words in the article under the author’s name (for films, it similarly lists number of minutes in the video). This can help when selecting an article, when you know you either have a lot or a little time.
Seen any great examples of innovation in digital publishing lately? Let us know!
If you have some interesting ideas you’d like to talk about for your own publication, get in touch. Woopie is a powerful platform and we’ve helped publishers like KQED, the Government of Maharashtra, and many others to create innovative and forward-thinking content!
Last week we talked about things to consider for cover art in terms of sizes, dimensions, and focus. This week, we’re talking about where to find cover artwork or a cover art designer.
Designing a cover for a digital publication, especially something that needs to work at different sizes, is an art and not something everyone feels comfortable with.
If you want to design it yourself:
You’ll need a tool like Photoshop, Acorn, Gimp, or some other image editor. Think a lot about what’s obvious and what isn’t obvious about your publication. It’s easy to make a cover which reflects the content in a way that readers are familiar with: murder mysteries have blood or knives, westerns have a cowboy on a horse, romance has a damsel in distress, etc. But a great cover captures something about the book that makes the reader think.
If you find you’re enjoying the cover design work, a good resource is Peter Mendelsund’s Cover, (http://www.amazon.com/Cover-Peter-Mendelsund/dp/1576876675) which came out last year. Mendelsund is one of the most sought-after book cover designers in the world, and Cover, which he released last year, includes completed book jackets, rejected works, and reflections on the art and process of cover design.
If you’re drawing a blank, you can also try Amazon’s KDP Cover Creator. Alternately, perhaps it’s time to think about hiring a professional.
If you want to hire a pro:
Depending on your budget, you may want to hire someone who does this full-time and is an expert at it. Expect to pay anywhere from $99 up to $1000, depending on the designer’s experience and clientele.
Some professional ebook designers we’ve noticed online:
A well-designed and considered cover is not only critical for your publication’s sales and marketing, it sets the tone for your reader. At Woopie, we get a lot of questions from publishers about how to go about designing their cover or getting one done for them, so this week and next week we have articles with answers to those most frequently asked questions. Because there are a lot of things to cover, this week we will focus on things to consider like content and image size, while next week we’ll talk more about how and where to get great covers.
Things to consider for cover art:
1) First impressions matter Book covers, like wine labels, often cause people to make snap judgements. Colors and typography affect our moods and impressions of what something will be. Background images can be dreamy or serious or puzzling, and those, too, affect how people judge a book cover.
Take a look at the page below from Barnes & Noble’s Nook Fiction homepage. Could you have guessed from the covers alone which category each of the four books belongs in?
Many people could because they make sense to us. The swirling mystery background. The strong serif fonts of the fantasy book with mystical imagery.
Another thing you might notice is what is actually readable on the cover. Does the author’s name matter more or the book title? Maybe it’s a famous critic’s comments that you actually want to stand out. Remember that at small sizes, only a couple of words will be readable, so make sure they’re the ones that will make the bigger impact.
2) Different Focus Your cover will be seen at different sizes on different devices. Something that looks fantastic when you’re standing in a bookstore looking at a shelf might be completely ineffective in a digital version.
Look at the difference between what we see of the cover on an iPad versus an iPhone:
Paying attention to this means that we can be very thoughtful when we crop & resize covers. The right image for one marketplace is not necessarily the right image for another.
This is the view from Amazon’s Kindle store on an iPad browser:
If you’re lucky enough to be a featured book, readers see a pretty decent sized cover. However if you’re one of the sales books on the right side, they’re pretty tiny covers.
3) One size [cover] doesn’t fit all iBooks:
If you’re publishing in iBooks, ideally your cover would be either 768×1024 pixels for portrait mode or 2048×1496 pixels for landscape or full-page image mode.
Apple recommends you use JPG for opaque raster images and PNG for transparent raster images if possible.
For Newsstand, Apple made a change a while back that allows both portrait and landscape versions for subscription content covers: (more on that here)
For Kindle books, Amazon last year upped the maximum pixel limits for ebook covers. Minimum size is 625×1000 but ideally 2820×4500, with a 5MB file size limit.
Kindle does not accept PNG images, only JPG and TIFF files.
Nook recommends your image’s height and width to be at least 1400 pixels, and requires a minimum of 750 pixels for both height and width.
Nook accepts either JPG or PNG files.
Do I have to make loads of different sized covers?
In terms of size, you can generally make a call on this if you don’t want to be designing 16 different covers. For portrait covers, which are the most common, a ratio of 1:5 (6×9) works well for most publishers. Start with the largest, highest quality size you can and scale down as needed, so something like 3200×4800 pixels.
Spend some time thinking about what matters for your cover. It will pay off in sales and marketing efforts, but it will also help keep you off of this list: http://kindlecoverdisasters.tumblr.com/
Whether you watched Apple’s keynote last week unveiling the new Apple Watch or ignored the entire thing, you probably know that Apple Watch is launching soon. As publishers, we eagerly anticipate seeing how people use the devices and what the sweet spot use cases are for it.
WatchKit Apps – a version of your app on an Apple Watch which contains a full user interface
Glances – provide users with timely, read-only information they care about in a quick and lightweight view
Actionable Notifications – notifications to allow users to take action right from their wrists
Handoff – enables continuity and allows users to pick up a task started in an app on another device or Mac
Over at Woopie HQ, we’ve been brainstorming about ways readers might want to take advantage of smart watches. Here are some scenarios we can envision for publishers who want their content to reach the wrists of their forward-thinking readers:
1) Just the headlines: For a brief overview of a publication, why not let the reader simply swipe through the various articles, viewing headlines and perhaps a summary or a subhead from the content?
Maybe add a favorite or a “like” to the article to sync it to your iPad or iPhone for more in-depth reading later.
2) Read it to me: It might simply be too tedious or awkward to read through an entire article on a watch, and since most people will likely have a phone with them anyway, an audio version of content is an option for Apple Watch publications.
The reader can swipe through the main content, clicking the play button to hear an audio version.
3) The Minimap: A minimap is a small version of something that gives you a sense of the layout, size and flow of the article.
Providing a minimal view of an article could be a great way to let readers know if it’s something they want to pull out their phone to read versus save it until they’re at home and have more time.
4) Notifications Only: Let the user know that a new edition or issue is available and enable them to start downloading it to their iPad or iPhone.
Devices are always changing: size, dimensions, resolution and more. Devices will continue to adapt and evolve as people’s lifestyles do and as technology capabilities increase. Do you envision consumers will read on their wearable devices? What types of things do you see people wanting to do with watches and wearables?
Publishers who stay agile and flexible will always have a big advantage in their ability to repurpose and repackage content without having to create a new CMS or try to reformat a PDF. Talk to us about how you can keep your content responsive and delivering on your audience on any device, anywhere with Woopie.
How would you distribute a book if you needed to build a marketing list?
For many eBook publishers and authors, knowing who is reading your work is as important as making it available in the first place. But there are a few things to think about in terms of restricting content, even if it’s being given away for free. Digital Rights Management, or DRM, and other forms of locking down a book often make it more painful for readers and does more to dissuade the audience you’re looking for.
There isn’t one best way in terms of distribution because it always depends on the publisher’s situation and requirements. So here are a few that we have found work great and are the least painful for the people who really want to read your stuff:
* Unique URLs per reader – If you want to send a book out to your mailing list, you can use a tool which creates a unique URL for each person on your mailing list. Obfuscated URLs, perhaps through a hash on the person’s email address or signup date, are a good way to make it difficult for external folks to guess it. However, people can share it publicly of course which brings us to:
* Time-delimited URLs – You can set a download link that is available for a specific amount of time, only 24 hours or only one week for example. Again they are shareable, but putting a start and end on it means that you can monitor to minimize public sharing. If that’s not restrictive enough:
* One-time-click links – You can also set a link so that once someone hits it multiple times it expires. This means that essentially everyone gets one shot to download the content. Which is fine if they’re logged in on the device where they want to download it, but that may not always be the case. So as a backup:
* Make the book available inside your walled garden – If your readers are people who log in to your app on a regular basis, make the book downloadable from there. If people don’t log in to your app, you can use a service:
* Use accounts to monitor downloads – This is a pretty well-understood paradigm as it’s used by popular publishers like Lonely Planet & Safari. Users click a link, and enter their email address or create an account. That gives them access to a specific number of downloads of different versions of the book. For example, people might be able to download up to 3 each of the ePub, mobi, and PDF versions.
* Email the book itself – If your book is small (generally under 20MB), you could simply include it in an email blast to your mailing list. That doesn’t stop people from forwarding it to others, but it makes access a little less complex for readers.
All of the above solutions cover ways to ensure your current list of approved readers can access the book. But if the point of making the book available is to get people to share and grow your marketing lists, here are some good approaches for that:
* Share with a friend – All of the above could be used with a “share with a friend” email input box. Have your current readers give you an email address of a friend who would also appreciate the book, and send it to the new person with one of the methods above.
* Use a cookie to identify new folks – Cookies aren’t always a failsafe method, but having one static link that people click would allow you to check if a cookie was set on the person clicking the link, and if they aren’t already in your list, ask them for their email to read or download the book.
* Default to asking for emails – If you’re putting up a landing page for the book anyway, you could certainly just ask for emails by default for people hitting the page. This could get a little annoying to some readers, but it may be slightly less painful than being asked to create an account.
* Share a sample – People reading the web version of the book could click a link to share the current page or chapter via twitter or facebook. We’ve seen this done with a smart URL that strips out the navigation and chrome so that people don’t click sharing links and get door slams.
There are unlimited ways to share and distribute your publication, so it is important to think carefully about the way that makes the most sense for your business goals.
If you’d like to talk about your company’s goals for publishing and reaching more readers, get in touch. We’re happy to discuss a variety of publishing and distribution options that will work for your content.
A few times each month, we get inquiries into Woopie’s language and globalization features. Questions like these:
It turns out we have some readers in Russia, can we publish this in Cyrillic?
Can Woopie handle these custom Thai fonts?
Will Woopie display my Arabic documents properly with right-to-left text?
How can I create and publish translations of my magazine?
So I wanted to write a bit about how Woopie supports languages and character sets to keep publications localizable and global-friendly.
Composing & Importing Content
Woopie content can be written in most languages and character sets, and its publication accessibility settings ensure that no matter the language, the documents created will be 100% accessible. Additionally, Woopie can import content in most languages and character sets because it was built from the ground up to handle global publications.
Custom Themes & Custom Fonts
All of the Woopie default themes use Google Fonts for header and text content. The current available Google Fonts don’t have every language, but Google has some early access fonts in languages like Tamil, Lao, Telugu, Korean and many more here: http://www.google.com/fonts/earlyaccess.
With custom-designed themes for certain customers, we often incorporate specific fonts that the publisher has purchased or licensed for the document. Fontdeck (http://fontdeck.com/typefaces) , Webtype (http://www.webtype.com/catalog/) & Typekit (https://typekit.com/fonts) all offer beautiful fonts designed for the web with appropriate licensing terms. Custom themes can include extra licensed fonts, specific colors, custom social media and header icons and alltogether have a lot more flexibility.
Text Direction Settings
Woopie publications also have a setting for text direction so that you can ensure all your documents are generated correctly. Simply swap the text direction setting on the publication settings page as shown below to have your content switch from left-to-right to right-to-left.
Translations of publications
To facilitate translation versions of digital documents, we work with publishers to create individual “issues” for the various languages they wish to support. While we don’t do automatic translation and conversion, we do make sure that settings, designs, media and interactive components can remain the same across the different versions. For translation services, we are also happy to recommend partners of ours who are experts at translating and can assist with this work.
With this level of control and customization, we expect that Woopie publishers can ensure their documents reach the broadest audience possible. Languages, fonts, accessibility and globalization choices no longer block out an audience; instead they are an asset that can help more readers and fans enjoy your content.
If you are working on documents in non-Latin character sets or looking at custom language fonts, we would love to talk more with you about what’s standing in your way and if Woopie might be able to help. Please feel free to email me at martha [at] woop.ie and we can talk more about your scenario.
Woopie’s simple tool makes it a snap to create, design and publish professional, beautiful, global publications & documents that your readers will love to share. Try it for free for 14 days at http://woop.ie/
We recently wrote about some things to consider if you’re adding social and sharing features to your publications.
But what about leaving social out completely? Are there reasons this decision could be valuable for your readers?
Pros for Anti-Social Publications
1) Peace and Quiet Readers are likely bombarded with interruptions all day. A publication with no reminders of social media, where they can simply read feels like a rare gift in this day and age.
2) Ability to Focus Have you ever been at a great event, like a live concert or sports match, and you look around to see people watching the live event through a tiny window as they try to take the perfect shot to share on Facebook? For some readers, having social media embedded in what they are reading gives them a sort of anxiety, a nagging voice asking, “what’s the best phrase I can tweet from this article to let everyone know?” When there are not distracting social icons and cues, that feeling for many people can just disappear. Or at least fade until the next time they see a twitter icon.
3) Cleaner look-and-feel Social media icons occasionally take away from the look and feel of an article and leave you without full control of the content of the page.
4) No maintenance worries No sharing button works correctly forever. By adding sharing options to your content, you’re signing up to continue to test them on a regular basis. Without third-party integrations, you can relax, secure that your publications can exist without further maintenance or api call updates for third-party social libraries.
Cons for Anti-Social Publications
1) Marketing Assistance The most obvious advantage to including social capabilities is the free marketing. If people enjoy reading your content, we can expect that a percentage of them would share it with others who might also enjoy it.
2) Lack of follow-on discussion Often when an article makes a big impression, readers enjoy participating in discussions about the ideas put forward, chiming in with their own solutions, and reacting to the authors and other readers. Without social, those who want to continue to discuss or find people to talk about it with may feel lost. Comments sections below the article can be a good mitigation, but as anyone on the internet knows, they can be a hotbed as well and often require time-consuming moderation.
We’ve looked at a number of interesting ways to cater to different types of readers at Woopie. If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to include social and sharing in your own publications, here are some suggestions:
1) Offer an on/off switch to enable or disable social media 2) Offer both online and downloadable/offline versions 3) Offer a premium “interruption-free” version 4) Share teasers or previews of articles via social media, through your own Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/etc channels to alert fans, but let the content itself be free from distraction.
Woopie’s simple tool makes it a snap to create, design and publish professional and beautiful publications & documents that your readers will love to share. Try it for free for 14 days at http://woop.ie/
Woopie - Write Only Once, Publish It Everywhere, is a digital publishing platform that helps you create professional publications that look beautiful on every device.
What we do
We help businesses and organizations create documents and publications that look professional and beautiful on every device.