Building a Livebook – The New and Agile Interactive Content Platform

Building a Livebook - your interactive content platform

As we know from the Livebook introduction article, Livebook is an interactive content platform and an excellent PDF alternative with all the modern capabilities. However, building a Livebook is basically like making a big website. 

Livebook is a refined product, developed by MMR. When building one, we are following a set structure and adapting the existing code to meet your design and content requirements. Because of that, the cost can remain relatively low compared to building this type of website from scratch.

The project process is quite similar to any other website development process, with some of the elements skipped or streamlined.

As this is a refined online publishing product, the structure and UX is already in place and tested. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel in that aspect. 

The whole job can be divided into the following sections:

Building a Livebook – planning for your interactive content platform.

The project starts at the first point of contact. The preparation stage includes elements like briefing and quoting. But also creating the project timeline, finalising the project scope and deliverables and supplying all the required text and image content to the agency. 

The text content should be the final copy refined by your team. Alternatively, you can ask the agency to include copywriting into the project to align the messaging with the right tone of voice. However, this is not part of a standard Livebook package and will be charged as an extra.

You can also choose to provide all image content yourself or let the agency source some or all of it for an extra cost.

Timeframe for this phase can vary as it largely depends on how quickly all the above aspects can be approved and finalised.

Building a Livebook – design phase – preparing for development and the rounds of feedback.

The design process can start once the quote is officially approved, with images and text content supplied. 

In most cases, it is fine to first supply text content for some sections only. You can provide the full copy in time for the development phase. Technically, if you are on a budget, you can choose to populate your Livebook with content yourself.

What is so great about the Livebook build process is that all the pages based on pre-programmed templates. The designers will only need to create examples of the main different types of pages. These examples usually include the cover, a page with images or tables and a page plain text and columns.

Once these are approved, the developers will apply the design rules in the back end. This way, all the other pages can be created in the Livebook editor.  As a result, they will come out looking precisely in line with the approved examples.

This process is saving a lot of money on the design hours. When comparing costs, designing a 300-page annual report from scratch as a printable PDF can cost almost the same as building it as a Livebook.

The time frame for this phase is usually a week for the first draft, then adding extra days or another week for the rounds of feedback and tweaking. 

Building a Livebook – development phase – making it happen.

This stage begins when the designs are approved, and all the content supplied.

Development is the longest stretch, and we like to allow around four to five weeks for completion.

The first look would be around 1-2 weeks into the progress. This review will usually only show the front end of the Livebook. In this stage, the document may not have all the pages inserted yet, but just some sections for you to see. You are encouraged to test it thoroughly in terms of functionality and provide all feedback you have at this time. 

Just noting, the feedback should not be design-related at this point, but addressing the functionality only.

The following week, you will have your second review. By this time the back end editor will be ready for your testing and feedback. Not to mention, your previous feedback would also be applied to the front end for your approval. 

After the second review, we will apply your feedback on the back end functionality and polish it off.

Timeframe: 4-5 weeks depending on the complexity 

Launching your Livebook. 

Once you are happy with the build, we will have a week of final testing, moving the site from staging to the actual hosting, launching the website, and also completing the post-launch testing.

In terms of the hosting, and URL registration – this is something that we usually include in our estimate, but you can arrange this yourself if you wish to do so.

Since Livebooks are dealing with significant amounts of content, they require a bit more robust hosting as well. 

This hosting will cost a bit more than your average setup, but to compare with the gain on printing costs and future editing costs, it is well worth it.

Livebook is an adaptable interactive content platform.

As a small agency, we are always aiming to be flexible and adapt our services to the client’s needs.

The above process bases on an “off the shelf” Livebook build; however, different companies have different needs. 

Your requirements may seem more complicated than what you see in our example case studies, but it is always worth to ask the question. As an interactive content platform, Livebook is quite a flexible solution.

For example, the original Livebook could not include listings and import them as Excel spreadsheets, but we added this as an optional add-on function when a client requested it. 

The original Livebook did also not have an Ad Manager, but we created it for one of the Livebooks and can now include it in all of them if required. It truly is an adaptable and interactive content platfrom.

These were all additional components that were added to the product as we created more Livebooks for different clients. 

I hope these examples show that we can be quite flexible with your Livebook capabilities. If you have a unique request for your Livebook, please let us know, and we are happy to come up with a solution.

We are excited to see Livebook improve and grow with each project; let us know what elements you would like to see in your interactive content platform.