How traditional printed documents
and PDF files are holding you back.

How traditional printed documents
and PDF files are holding you back.

responsive digital publishing trends

It’s time to move on from the restricting traditional print publications and static PDFs. Livebook is an innovative solution that allows you to upgrade your documents into mobile friendly, easy to update, interactive and measurable online publications. Livebook is easy to edit, simply log-in to make changes and your content is always up-to-date. When the need arises for a print friendly PDF, you can generate one easily.

With Livebook, the future is already here. 

From print document to online publication.

Once upon a time, if you wanted to share information, your only choice was to print and physically distribute your publication. But this process of production was labour intensive and in most cases, expensive.

Your publication started to expire right after printing. It could never be changed, and only the people who held a copy in their hands would ever see your content. This arrangement meant the reach of your publication was limited.

If someone made a single error, the whole thing had to be reprinted and shared out again. Fixing a printed document can be a significant expense, and not to mention the effort required. Good examples of these types of materials are annual reports, rulebooks, directories and policy documents.

Thankfully, we now have a secure and reliable way of publishing that overcomes all of these issues. In this new age, you can reach people all over the world in an instant and take advantage of social sharing platforms. That means your publication can be visible everywhere and anywhere.

And best of all, you can now track the organic, global reach of your document. You can see exactly how your audience is interacting with it, giving you an insightful edge.

Static PDF format

PDFs have been a staple since the early 90s, and it’s easy to understand their popularity. Given they are compatible between Mac and Windows PCs, PDFs still have a place in the modern digital world. That’s why we’ve included them into our Livebook digital publishing solution. But it’s essential to understand their limitations and restrictions.

We’re living in a mobile-first world. As online publications, PDF’s are going to deliver a below-average user experience for the majority of your audience.

For example, waiting for hefty PDF files to download on your mobile device can be tedious and can lead users to abandon the task before they’ve seen any of your content.

For those that persevere, they may find themselves scrolling through hundreds of pages just to find what they are searching. When it comes to digital delivery and marketing communications, the medium can be just as important as the message.

And that is just the start. There are many reasons why PDFs aren’t cutting it anymore in modern digital strategy.

responsive online documents
And that is just the start, there are many reasons why PDFs aren’t cutting it anymore in modern digital strategy.

PDF documents are not responsive

The biggest problem with PDFs is that they are not mobile-friendly. Fixed-layout presents issues when viewing on smaller screens. Seeing a scaled version of the content means text and images are too small. In some cases, illegible, requiring the user to zoom in and out continually.

Navigating a document in this fashion is laborious and immediately puts your communications objectives in jeopardy. The same issue persists with browsable PDFs. Print magazines usually use portrait orientation, but computers screens use landscape.

Like regular PDF files, browsable PDFs are just as bad on mobile devices, actively disrupting your audience’s user experience. Nowadays, it is imperative to deliver a multi-platform experience for your audience if you want to succeed. Responsive design is critical to the effective delivery of your content. In the digital era, most of our documents can be considered online publications in some ways.

PDF is not the most interactive solution.

PDFs can have some interactive content added, but it is minimal when compared to what is possible with HTML5. There are often issues with player compatibility and embedding functionality. These issues indicate that this format has been left in the dust when it comes to digital engagement.

A Livebook of your online publication – built with HTML5 – can do anything you can dream of, therefore making it a truly engaging experience for your audience.

The PDF format doesn’t meet accessibility standards.

Access to your document must be available for all members of your audience. Taking into consideration audiences of all abilities is essential. For example, individuals with cognitive or vision impairment rely on tools that help them read online content. The screen reader software they rely on can’t reliably extract text from a PDF.

Additionally, PDFs don’t allow alt text or tags – these are invaluable in describing visual elements and the document itself. The lack of these elements impairs your document’s SEO. Content tagging your PDF files can assist with this issue, but only to a certain degree. Employing a more capable format for your digital publishing ensures you avoid these hassles and deliver a result that works across the board.

PDF publications aren’t easy to share for you or your audience.

When using the PDF format as your online publication, you limit your document to version based editions. This approach makes long-standing materials unwieldy. The downside is that when you need to update your text, all the users will need to download large PDFs over and over.

PDF file sizes become a massive issue if your document is very long or graphic/ image intensive. Why waste time producing a beautifully designed report, if your viewer is going to give up waiting before they have even seen anything?

Also, issuing PDF download links to your users requires extra effort on their part. It is dangerous to assume all your users are willing to go through these steps to get to your document.

It also becomes tedious for the viewer to receive a new link every time you release an edited version of your online publication. From a content discovery perspective, content in a PDF often isn’t searchable. Your PDF itself might show up on search engine result pages (SERPs), but the actual content within the PDF will be invisible to search engines.

Finally, while people are used to sharing digital content like blog posts and articles on their social media, PDFs are not shared in this way. Encasing your content in a PDF will prevent your online publication from being shared on social media. Use the Livebook platform and optimise your content to make the most of the distribution opportunities in these channels.

PDF format offers no data tracking or insights

PDFs cannot collect data about your users. You are communicating in the dark, and the conversation is entirely one-way. You need perceptive data on your publication to optimise your communication strategy.

We know how important this is, so with Livebook, you can track and measure the performance of your publication as it happens, with Google Analytics. Access to data puts all the power in your hands – you know what works, how and when.

While some browsable PDF tools might allow fundamental insight, it is primary at best. You won’t have the ability to measure specific actions like click rates or read time.

Keep in mind that readers have a natural tendency to scan for relevant tidbits rather than read every word on the page. To accommodate this behaviour, you must know how people interact with your content. Without analytics, you won’t be able to tailor your content nor benefit from effective communication. Livebook allows you to gain deep insight from every person that views your online publication, meaning you have the knowledge required for success.

PDF can’t handle embedding external content

With Livebook, you can boost the SEO of your publication by embedding videos, social media posts, or any content from an external source. These elements make you more visible and as a result, bringing in more traffic.

PDFs let you add hyperlinks, but they don’t engage your audience the same way videos and animated info-graphics can. Modern-day audiences far prefer interaction with content that isn’t static.

A recent HubSpot survey found up to 54% of customers preferred videos to text when consuming new content. Got a cool YouTube video you want to incorporate? Unfortunately, PDFs don’t accommodate moving images or external media.

How about that brilliant social media post you want to embed in your document? Forget it – this simply can’t be done with a PDF, since they don’t support external integrations. Therefore, you won’t be able to add any of these new media formats into PDF files.

Ok, so what about Flipbooks for your online publication?

Flipbooks are a different way to get your publication online. However, they don’t work quite well on mobile devices, which can be an issue, depending on your audience. Flipbooks are more suitable for entirely different types of documents. It all depends on what it is that you are creating, and what is the goal.

Digital flipbooks mimic a real-world, printed publication in an experience. Because of that, their layout may not be ideal for digital delivery. Tools like Issuu, Flipping book, and Page flip recreate the physical act of flipping through pages but on a screen. However, they lack in interactive capability – similar to a PDF – they offer a somewhat compromised experience.

If you’re unsure why your PDF collateral is not getting noticed, let us clear that up for you.

You can translate your print publication into a browsable flipbook without too much difficulty. However, it doesn’t mean you’re making your content more easily accessible to your users. Without responsive content, it won’t function in the best way for user engagement. When you deliver a second-rate reading experience, you won’t hold peoples’ attention for long.

If a flipbook type approach is more suitable for your content, our team can also help you out with building an interactive, custom eBrochure for you. Since this is a custom build, we can include all these interactive elements.

How Livebook overcomes these barriers – maximising your user engagement.

Livebook is optimized for viewing anywhere and everywhere.

How Livebook overcomes these barriers – maximising your user engagement.

Livebook is optimized for viewing anywhere and everywhere. Get the latest version of your publication displaying perfectly on any smartphone – anytime, anywhere. Your Livebook is responsively optimised and will load instantly and perform across all digital screens – no more pinch and zoom! They can easily navigate between sections and articles with a ‘one-click’ mobile mindset. Keep users active and engaged with easy to navigate content and they will spend longer interacting with your brand.

Prevent users bouncing by providing them with content that not only communicates effectively, it looks good too! By employing HTML5 best practices, you will naturally find that you get a better response to your content. Keep your brand front of mind by ensuring maximum exposure with a responsive design layout. Not only will this make your brand appear more professional, it allows you to maintain your visual identity no matter how readers are viewing your content.

responsive online documents

PDF is not ideal for an online publication.

With traditional thinking, it might seem that PDFs are more practical. But just because the format is long-established does not mean it is a forward-thinking solution. Many improvements have been made in digital publishing, and using an outdated format means your brand will be left behind. People are consuming content rapidly, and the fight for their attention is fierce. You need to be innovative to keep up with your competitors and remain relevant in the market. Optimise your online publications for consumption on a smartphone, and you have won half the battle.

When creating digital content, you should always put your audience first. Taking an audience-centric approach will give you a better shot at understanding your audience needs and desires, helping generate interest in what you create. Your content must be up-to-date and accurate at all times, edit your Livebook anytime, and you will never suffer the embarrassment of falling behind. Tailoring your content ensures deeper engagement, and you can enable that through a more data-driven distribution process. If you don’t have the metrics to drive your future content, you’ll miss opportunities to retarget the right people and get your content noticed.

We understand that on the surface, browsable PDFs seem to be time and cost-efficient, which can make them appealing initially. But once you are aware of all the benefits of using up-to-date technology to create digital publications, there is no going back. PDFs simply can’t take advantage of interactive web features like pop-ups, forms and animations. Without the capabilities that content creation tools can provide, you will be without the information needed to help you make better decisions about your distribution process.

How Livebook overcomes these barriers – maximising your user engagement.

Livebook is responsive and ensures an optimised viewing experience anywhere and everywhere. It’s the best PDF alternative. The latest version of your online publication will be displayed correctly on any smartphone – anytime, anywhere. Your Livebook is responsively optimised and will load instantly and perform across all digital screens – no more pinch and zoom! They can easily navigate between sections and articles with a ‘one-click’ mobile mindset.

Keep users active and engaged with easy to navigate content, and they will spend longer interacting with your brand.

Prevent users from bouncing by providing them with content that not only communicates effectively. It looks good too! By employing HTML5 best practices, you will naturally find that you get a better response to your content. Keep your brand in front of mind by ensuring maximum exposure with a responsive design layout. This makes your brand appear more professional, as it allows you to maintain your visual identity on all the different screens.

Livebook engages a more broad, global audience.

Take your content to the world quickly and easily, using all the SEO traits. You can drive traffic to your Livebook just as you would to any other digital content or website. Promote your Livebook through social media, paid search, display ads and email marketing are just a few of the distribution channels at your disposal.

Plus your readers can share entire publications or specific sections with one click. Reach out to us to learn more about how Livebook can become an integral part of your Digital Strategy.

Livebook gets you noticed.

Delight your readers with heightened engagement through video, image galleries, and interactive graphics. Livebook allows you to incorporate rich-media – videos, animations, forms, links and interactive elements. The platform has a mobile-first mentality, so all your media elements work beautifully on all screens.

Livebooks give you total freedom in what you serve your audience — go far beyond just text and images. Enhance your Livebook with video and sound, integrate social media posts, or embed forms. With the ability to optimise your information hierarchy, you ensure that your publication has a clear, layered structure, best suited for the user experience. With an HTML5 Livebook, the possibilities are truly limitless.

Livebook – one document, many languages

Imagine making your document immediately accessible to people speaking different languages with the click of a button – with Livebook, it is possible!

Unlike PDF’s, Livebooks can be multilingual, which means you can reach global audiences. This functionality gives you an optimised document which reinforces that your brand or organisation is prepared and able to take on the world.

Livebook gives you access to robust data.

Hard bake the capabilities of Google Analytics into every publication. Gain an understanding of the behaviours of your audience. Learn how they browse and what actions they take after interacting with your content. It gives you the ability to get better with each publication.

PDFs, on the other hand, are virtually incapable of measuring any user behaviour. Livebook takes you into the future of document publishing by shining a light on your audience, and this insight will allow you to tailor your content down the line.

And when it comes to selling advertising space in your online publication, you will be able to prove ROI with measurable results and boost your advertising revenue with click-to-call and book-now buttons.

Livebook is an online publication, update your content anytime, anywhere.

Livebook lets you sit in the driver’s seat and have full control over the success of your report or document. You can self-host your Livebook and retain full control of your online publications, meaning you can update or edit them at any time. Using your Livebook is so intuitive that once you are up and running, you’ll find edits are easy. However, if you happen to need some assistance, the Livebook team is always ready to help.

The best part is that all updates are immediately live online, ready to be viewed by anyone that you have invited to view your document. There’s no need to re-send multiple links or PDF versions. Your Livebook has the same URL throughout its life, meaning people can refer to your updated content without fuss.

Forget about time-consuming distribution issues, with Livebook all that is a thing of the past. It makes a great impression on your audience that your publication is professional, easy to use and always up-to-date.

Search engines love Livebooks!

Livebooks are SEO friendly. When you deliver your document as an SEO optimised Livebook, you’ll have full control over page slugs, titles, meta descriptions, headings, alt image attributes, and more – all editable from your CMS.

You’ll be able to make sure that your content remains relevant and performs well in search. And when you want to keep your Livebook private, we can password-protect it and prevent search engines from indexing your content.

Livebook – A secure solution

You can employ Livebook for all types of content, even those that are highly confidential. With password protection, you can ensure that only the right people ever have access to your document. PDF passwords are easy to get around and hack, meaning your content is a cyber risk for your organisation.

Livebook comes with advanced security features that let you customise different levels of access for your audience, making it a completely secure document. If you want your publication to be visible only to registered users, you can require them to create usernames and passwords to sign in and view your document.

Gating your documents is crucial when you don’t want confidential information leaked, such as with proposals and contracts. Requiring user sign in also ensures that only real people are viewing your documents. If you’re going to get a user to access your publication at any time quickly, you can grant them single sign-on access.

Security features like IP whitelisting and disabling search engines from indexing your content are possible with Livebook, that are simply impossible with an outdated PDF.

Livebook still plays nicely with its predecessor – PDF.

Your Livebook can do it all – including generating a PDF version of itself which you can download, print or share. While your Livebooks are responsive digital publications – designed to adapt to all screen sizes – Livebook PDF versions are preformatted to suit a standard A4, meaning they are ready to print without hassle.

Livebook helps you monetise your publication by selling ad space.

If your Livebook is a public resource with a reasonable amount of traffic, why not take advantage of this and sell some ad space? Livebook has an ad-on option of including the Ad Manager with your package. The setup details can vary depending on your specific needs if you are interested to learn more about this, see my article about ads on Livebook.

Your audience will love using Livebook.

If you want to deliver a top-notch viewing experience for your audience, you have found it with Livebook. Livebooks help you deliver immersive content that’s measurable and importantly, looks great on any device. The interactive features of the Livebook platform mean your online publication stands out from the crowd, and you can showcase your brand in ways you never thought possible while keeping your consumers engaged.

As audience behaviour evolves, finding ways to keep up with changing readership habits is crucial. Things have drastically changed since PDFs became a standard, almost three decades ago. Instead of reading simple text documents on a desktop computer, modern audiences are consuming video content on their smartphones. It’s a brave new world, and Livebook can help you step onto the forefront of communication innovation.

Discover how easy it is to publish with Livebooks, and benefit from the many advantages this platform has to offer. When you have the right distribution, design and metrics covered, your publication rises to the next level.

Your brand will be seen as a leader when you take up the many opportunities available with a Livebook, ensuring you deliver something that’s genuinely engaging for your audience. Once you make the change, you’ll wonder how you ever did it without Livebook. It’s the future of digital publishing, and it’s here for you right now.

If you are interested in what happens next, feel free to peek this article about The process of building a Livebook website and what to expect.

Livebook is a product of MMR