Online publishing

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The flipside of a flippable pdf on Issuu

The flipside of a flippable pdf on Issuu

My issue with Issuu

If you have a print magazine or brochure and you also want to publish it online, there’s a good chance you are using Issuu. And why wouldn’t you. You can easily take your print PDF, upload it to Issuu and out comes a flippable magazine. Done. If you already have a finished PDF it’s super easy, barely an inconvenience. Issuu is trying really hard to offer the experience of reading an offline publication in an online environment. But does it offer the best possible reading experience to your reader? Unfortunately it doesn’t.

Issuu: Easily take your print PDF, upload it and out comes a flippable magazine. Done.

Issuu: Easily take your print PDF, upload it and out comes a flippable magazine. Done.

Transitioning publications from print to online

Issuu is mostly used to publish ‘traditional’ print magazines online. In most cases these are stil designed in Indesign, based on an A4 or Letter format with print margins, print layouts, print font sizes, page numbers, spreads etc. They were never designed to be read online and it shows. The flippable viewer even simulates the reading experience of a print magazine, trying to appeal to your sense of nostalgia.

One foot in the print era

For organisations that were transitioning from print to online Issuu was perfect as you can easily showcase your print publication online. If you publish a magazine or brochure and you need an online counterpart without putting extra thought or work into the online version Issuu is fine. But for organisations with both feet in the digital age Issuu will fall short. Issuu doesn’t let you create an online publication, it just creates a flippable version of your PDF file. It’s a subscription based PDF converter.

Publication creation

If you’ve used Issuu you know what it can do: it can convert your PDF and turn it into a flippable viewer. But what can’t it do? It doesn’t allow you to actually create a magazine. You’ll still need a designer to create a magazine in Indesign first before getting a PDF you can upload.

Motion design

A PDF also won't offer you any interactivity, text animations, video's, polls, forms, buttons, page transitions, etc. Besides the page-flip effect ISSUU doesn't add anything to the user experience.


The big limiting factor about ISSUU is the responsiveness. If you've ever tried to flip through a PDF on your mobile phone you know what I'm talking about. You will have to keep zooming in and out to switch between navigating and reading. If you really want to engage your reader you should actively torture them like this.

So what's the alternative? 

A modern online magazine could just as easily be responsive, interactive, include motion, personalisation, deep links and video’s. Keep the flow and feel of a magazine, but with the latest web techniques. This vision inspired us to create Greenzeen: online magazines with all of the online benefits. And it's completely green as well: the energy used for data and hosting is compensated. Sign up below to learn more.

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