Why more companies are moving to web-enabled brochures.

Why more companies are moving to web-enabled brochures.

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Web-enabled brochures are a hybrid of the much-loved online PDF and a website. With so many possibilities to bring a publication to life, it is no wonder many companies are ditching the static PDF for a truly better reading experience.

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Web-enabled brochure design
The COVID-19 pandemic has not been kind to the publishing industry and 2020 saw the number of new retail magazine launches in the UK drop by almost 60%. Worse still, the number of magazine deaths in the same year outnumber launches by 4 to 1.
It’s certainly not all bad news however. Not unsurprisingly, with many of the population finding themselves with more time on their hands, more magazines were bought in 2020 that any time in the previous five years.
There will always be a future for the printed magazine but this future will see them as a low-volume, low-frequency, high-premium product – better quality in terms of pages and paper.

The future use of magazines is certainly pushing more and more into the digital publishing realm. And, especially the rise of web-enabled publications. Not just for magazines but also for company brochures too.

You can see the Sheridan Maine brochure below. Take a look (click on the ‘forward’ arrow), check out the on-page navigation in the footer, scroll through the pages, see the animations on pp6-8, the hidden content on pages 10, 12 & 13.

Web-enabled brochures are simply a fully digital, interactive publication – a hybrid of an online PDF and a website. Essentially, it is a digital brochure that is dynamically coded like a website. Content can therefore, be delivered in a more interesting and engaging way. And, as the publication is coded in HTML, it has live text which is ideal for search engines.

But, more that that, as these are coded like a website, publishers can benefit from the use of on-page movement, such as videos, animations, flashing buttons. Brochures, reports, magazines and newsletters could even have content changing before your very eyes. So long as the publication can be hosted, it has total flexibility.

Unlimited brochure design opportunities
“The technology and appetite to translate designs into web and mobile experience has been here for a long time already”, says Design Inc’s director, Frank Norman, “and, for too long, consumers have simply got used to the online publication both working & looking the same as the printed version. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Web-enabled publications have many opportunities, from digital brochures & magazines that are truly responsive for all screen sizes, to real-time consumer data, to on-page interactivity such as animations, videos, etc”.
Frank continues: “Furthermore, we expect advertising will inevitably embrace this too. With this technology, adverts no longer need to be static. Instead, adverts themselves can be an on-page video or a multi-page slide. In fact, they could even grow in size from a small block advert to take over the full page. To be able to provide much more information than their space allows, is the advertisers’ dream!”.

Case Study 1: Sheridan Maine
Sheridan Maine is a specialist accountancy and finance recruiter within the UK. As with all recruitment agencies, building client relationships are key to their ongoing success. But, this loyalty requires constant hard graft and continuous client engagement activities.
As part of their ongoing marketing, the company publishes the results of an annual Salary Survey. This has traditionally been done as a printed publication and utilised as a face-to-face presentation tool.
Due to the pandemic reducing face-to-face meetings as well as reducing companies’ recruitment activity in general, Sheridan Maine took the bold decision to embrace the lockdown situation and have a web-enabled brochure designed which they would host and be able to share via Teams & Zoom meetings.

The new web-enabled brochure for Sheridan Maine has been created to act as a mix between a brochure, a website and a PowerPoint presentation. It benefits from smooth image movement on all pages, content blocks elegantly dropping into place in time with the way the speed the company wants to present. The publication also benefits from on-page animation for the infographics pages.
One other useful feature of this web-enabled brochure is that, on some pages, there is more content than the page allows but this is overcome by being able to pull in hidden sections of the brochure, just like a website would.

You can see the Sheridan Maine brochure below. Take a look (click on the ‘forward’ arrow), check out the on-page navigation in the footer, scroll through the pages, see the animations on pp6-8, the hidden content on pages 10, 12 & 13.

Case Study 2: GUH News
Global Underwater Hub (formerly Subsea UK) is the industry body and focal point for the entire British subsea industry – a sector with over 650 companies employing over 45,000 staff contributing a turnover of £7.8 billion. And, with the UK subsea sector leading the world in terms of innovation and technology, it is important to the governing body that they should always be looking ahead at new technologies. And this includes their own marketing comms.

Since 2009, Global Underwater Hub have always published and distributed their flagship magazine, ‘GUH News’ to their many member companies and branches around the globe. The magazine includes important news, innovations, successes and features and is viewed in extremely high regard.

Furthermore, since 2017, Global Underwater Hub have actively focused on increasing online readership of the publication. This push was made, not just for environmental reasons but also, as a responsible body, this was a way to reduce print fees in a time when the plummeting cost of oil had led to many companies struggling in the sector. Getting most value from their marketing spend was paramount.
This strategy has certainly proved successful and, especially throughout pandemic times, where offices were not always open to receive the mailed publication and individuals were even more digitally orientated to access the PDF online.
Below you will see two feature spreads from a recent edition of GUH News. Click on the arrow to toggle between spreads and see the on-page movement.

For many years, GUH News came as a printed version as well as being created as a standard, linkable PDF, accessed and downloaded through the Global Underwater Hub website. However, in early 2021, the publication went through a step-change and a new file format was presented to them and to their readers. This is the web-enabled magazine and one which introduces movement to the publication and therefore allowing for on-page videos, animations and other engaging interactivity.

For Global Underwater Hub, it was important to find new ways to engage with their members. In the subsea world – as within the digital world – staying still is never an option. Finding new, innovative solutions in all aspects of the business model is fundamental to the long-term vision.

Whilst this new type of publication media is in its infancy with them, Global Underwater Hub are actively introducing it to their readership in measured amounts. For now, readers will see movement and on-page transitions on the publication’s cover page as well as each of their feature spreads within. Moreover, where news articles can benefit from videos, these will now play on page as opposed to the reader being directed to an external webpage.
Over time, we expect more on-page movement and the creation of a fully responsive magazine from them

View all past editions of GUH News

Design Inc is currently developing & designing a number of different publications using this technology. From a standard web-enabled brochure through to annual reports, presentations, photo books and event guides.
If you would like to discuss how this technology can elevate your own marketing publications, please contact us now.