As a blogger and web designer, a big part of my job is to help my clients get information onto their websites. There are some different philosophies about how to go about doing this. I had a recent experience trying to get around this hurdle and found an elegant solution in Yumpu.com, which allowed me to create a way to display some of their marketing materials in a unique way – as a flipbook (basically a digital magazine). It was easy, it was quick, and best of all it didn’t cost me anything. I tried a couple of other software platforms (Calameo and Issuu), but Yumpu was the best.

Memory Lane

A lot of my clients have never had a website before so they’re unsure how to present themselves in a digital space. Not that long ago, information was king, and it was pretty standard to have pages and pages of dense text in paragraph form making up the bulk of your website. If the site could be mistaken for a small encyclopedia set, you were doing it properly.

Well, it’s a Web 2.0 world now, and the whole web has been streamlined. Now you’re “doing it right” if your page has tons of white space, only a few sentences and very little copy. Pull quotes and sidebars with big bold text are the way to go now, and if you want to have some dense content, you put it in a blog. Beyond that one section, if your page takes more than a few seconds to read, you’re “doing it wrong”.

When clients have a problem with this, I usually find that it’s because they don’t understand how they’re supposed to get their point across with so little information on the page. The point, I tell them, is to quickly convert people to leads, get them to opt in for more information of some kind, and then follow up with them later to fully convert them into a client.

What do I do with my brochure?

The biggest argument I usually see is that a lot of companies that are just branching into the digital marketing space already have marketing collateral of their own – some of it pretty good. That was the case with a recent client of mine. They approached me with a PDF of their brochure, which contained a couple paragraphs of copy about each of the services that they offered, as well as some tables, graphs, and photos from their portfolio. When I presented the website to them, their first question was where all the content they had provided me with had gone.

I showed them that it was scattered all over the place. The product descriptions were on the individual pages, there was an about us section that had some of the information from the front and back covers, and I had extracted some of the charts and put them up on the page for reference as well. By the end of the demo, I could tell they weren’t impressed.

“The brochure we gave you has been a core part of our marketing efforts for years,” one of the employees said. “It’s a key part of our welcome packet and we like the story it tells. What would be great is if we could just put the whole brochure on the website.”

“You can place a PDF on the page for download,” I told them, “but they’re kind of ugly, and the user usually has to download special software to read them. Most of the time it comes preinstalled on a PC these days but there’s still the possibility that they can’t open it without jumping through some hoops.”

“Too bad you can’t put it up and make it look like it’s still a paper brochure,” he said.

Digital Flipbooks

When I got back to my home office, I decided to do a little research, because the client’s idea actually sounded pretty good. And it turns out it’s such a good idea that several companies have been doing it for years. It’s called a flipbook, and it turns a PDF into a digital magazine. The effect is meant to replicate the feeling of flipping through a real book in a digital format, with page turn animations mixed in along with all the convenient digital features, like search and hyperlinking. So, I set out to compare Issuu vs Calameo vs Yumpu.

Comparison: Calameo vs Issuu vs Yumpu

I already said at the start, Yumpu won as the platform I ended up using, mostly because of the ease of use it presented me. While most of the platforms are pretty similar as far as broad strokes go, there were some key features that won me over.

Issuu and Calameo have a free tier

But this free tier would let me upload as many documents as I wanted, no matter how much room they took up or how long they were. It was the only one that felt like it had enough to be totally full-featured without spending a dime.

Issuu and Calameo support mobile devices

But here mobile support was totally native and based on HTML5, so it looked the same no matter what device I viewed it on, including my iPad. When you’re crafting experiences, not just displaying information, that’s an important consideration.

Issuu vs Calameo: Price

If I wanted advanced features, it cost $35 a month for Issuu y Calameo cost $17. Here, it was only $10 a month for the first service teir.

Calameo vs Issuu: Publicity

All three platforms let me publish my flipbooks directly to their cloud, listing them in the library of available magazines and other pieces that had been created ever since the product launched, but here they were automatically indexed by Google, made searchable, and published to readers who might share an interest in the subject matter. I can see a feature like this really helping people find my cclients’ ontent in a sea awash with similar digital publications all over the place.

Calameo vs Issuu: Ease of use

While all of the platforms were easy enough, Yumpu was the quickest of all three by far. Calameo y Issuu, upon loading their homepages, invited me first to select a tier as I registered, and to put in my credit card information so that I could start a free trial of the premium features (and hopefully forget to cancel before the trial was up and end up paying for a month of features that I didn’t want). But Yumpu’s very first order of business, right on the homepage, was to offer me a place to upload the PDF that I wanted to use. Only then, after they had started the conversion, that they ask me to create an account, and this was only to associate the magazine to my account. The flipbook was done before I would have been done signing up for either of the two competing services.

More cool features

There were some other great features, too. I was able to use my client’s branding, to make sure that the flipbook really looked like an extension of their own marketing department instead of a separate track. They’ve also made it really easy to get my document out there, which was great for my client. We embedded the flipbook into their website with just a few lines of code that were automatically generated for us. We also had the ability to embed the whole flipbook directly into our social media platform of choice – the client and I decided we had to get it embedded in their Facebook page right away. And when other users from around the world saw the brochure, they forwarded it to their friends too, through the built-in social sharing features. In a really small time, our brochure had already reached out a lot further than we ever would have focusing only on the SEO and waiting for the user to come to us.

Yumpu did everything important automatically, including parsing links and email addresses in the PDF and turning them into something to click on, just like any other part of the web. This was like print media but better because everything could be cross-referenced easily. And even better, I could have inserted video or audio clips into the flipbook if I wanted do. Forget just putting up a digital copy of my print media, this platform was going to let me create something brand new to express what my clients were capable of doing in a way that wasn’t possible before – either on the website or on the printed, paper brochure.

Conclusion

Issuu y Calameo just weren’t up to the task in the same way that Yumpu was for my needs. It fit my needs and budget perfectly, without making me pay for a lot of bells and whistles that I had no intention of ever using. Because of that, I would recommend it to anyone who needs to include a PDF on their website but give it a little pop and vigor that it wouldn’t have otherwise.

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