What Designers should know When Designing Digital Magazines for eCommerce Websites
Whether you are a designer, a marketer or an entrepreneur, when you work on starting up an eCommerce website, the first thing that comes into your mind is how to sell, where to promote your products and to whom you are addressing your offers. Everything starts with the selection of a niche of products, a marketing research and of course, the setting up of a suitable marketing strategy for the selected niche, the targeted audience and the website itself.
I was just reading an article on Adweek about how eCommerce sites are moving into print when it struck me: What about digital content? What about digital magazines?
Are they still a thing in this social media oriented world? Well, of course, they are. Moreover, they can help your marketing strategy whether you are oriented towards digital content marketing or printed content marketing.
Benefits of a digital magazine
A digital magazine, unlike a printed brochure or even a printed magazine, is obviously easier to publish, costs less and it allows you to better track your readers, their background, their social status etc. It will be easier to print and promote your magazine after a while after your digital version became popular among members of your audience.
Of course, there might be reasons to print brochures and magazines if your targeted audience is comprised of people who do not use the Internet but at the same time, there’s no point in starting an eCommerce website if you cannot sell on the Internet in the first place.
Therefore, I am going to address this article only to those who are conducting their businesses online.
Now, considering you have studied the market and reached the conclusion an eCommerce venture is the right choice for you, the digital content may prove to be quite useful in the long run, especially after you’ve managed to establish your brand on the market. Let’s talk a bit about some of these benefits:
Branding: Digital magazines represent a great way for your targeted audience to know you, your brand, your products, values and everything you stand for.
Interactivity: Digital magazines allows you to publish written content and also video clips, interactive visual elements, buttons and calls to action such as “Buy Now” buttons for each of your products, video tutorials or presentations and so on.
Accessibility: When it comes to accessibility, digital magazines may not be as popular as blogs but at the same time, they are among the most accessible types of content. You can publish a digital magazine on your website, on a digital publishing platform, on social media or, you can distribute it to subscribers via e-mail or as downloadable materials. Moreover, a Html5 magazine can be accessed from any browser, on a computer or mobile device, without the need to install additional software.
Build relationships and trust: Content marketing helps you (A) build trust with your customers and (B) build new relationships with other influencers and professionals from your industry through guest posting and collaborative work. Let’s elaborate on these two statements:
- When you share valuable content with your customers, in time, they will value your expertise and share your opinions with friends and colleagues. They will rather trust honest professionals who chose to communicate with them and share with them part of their expertise than silent brands who do not value the importance of content distribution.
- Content marketing will help you build relationships with other complementary businesses or professionals from your industry as well. You can either guest post on other websites or accept guest posts on your website or digital magazine. Of course, you can do both as well.
Nevertheless, you will have a lot to gain from the relationships you are going to build with complementary businesses you collaborate on exchanging information that you and they are going to publish.
Things to consider before engaging in content marketing
Content is the “king” when it comes to these days’ marketing. Content attracts fans, followers, and customers as long as we are talking about valuable content, information that your customers seek and read with interest. For a marketer or an entrepreneur that tries to promote an eCommerce business there are two important things to consider at this point:
- A website. You need a website that is dedicated solely to content or a blog attached to the eCommerce website.
- A suitable web hosting. Consider the web hosting service you have chosen for your shop and then add all the new users that come to read your blog. You need a powerful service, one that will be able to handle your store, your blog and digital magazine downloads at the same time and ideally, with some kind of web hosting uptime guarantee.
Elements that are important for a digital magazine design
You have decided that your digital marketing strategy needs some improvement and as a consequence, you want to start publishing a digital magazine. What do you need? What are the design related issues that have to be taken into account before publishing?
- Choose your tools
Before starting to design a digital magazine, you should, of course, choose your tools. As a designer, I am sure you are already accustomed with some of the best design tools such as Photoshop or InDesign. If you are an entrepreneur or a marketer and you choose to design the magazine on yourself on the other hand, you may encounter some difficulties in this area.
However, if you are choosing to publish online a digital interactive magazine, and consider using a professional online tool such as Flipsnack to design your pages, you will find out that the task at hand may be easier than you have imagined. You will get the job done faster than ever and you will also get Html5 ready to publish magazines. Why Html5?
Well, you need interactivity and accessibility. Html5 flipbooks are easier to integrate or embed in any web page, and they are accessible from any web browser, regardless f the operating system or the device you use to access them. Moreover, you can easily integrate call to action buttons that will direct your readers straight to the products described in the magazines or on other specific pages of your eCommerce website.
- Choose a mobile-friendly layout
Upon starting your design, this is the most important thing to think about: the layout. Think about your users or customers and the devices they use to access your website or read your digital magazine. I am sure that you are already aware that at least half of them will access your content from a mobile device and not a computer. As a consequence, your layout should be designed according to this fact so that it will be legible to both, computers and mobile phones or tablets. I advise you, therefore, to create an adaptive layout, suitable for mobile devices as well.
Here’s an example from Aluk, a company that designs and engineers high quality, reliable and performance driven aluminum systems. They chose to promote their brand in a digital magazine that features a clean and readable layout, visible on computers and smartphones as well, as you can see from the following two screenshots:
Tip: If you insist on using the PDF format instead of a Html5 flipbook, consider publishing your magazine in a portrait format, more friendly to the mobile user.
- Create your content
At this point, your choice depends on what you are selling on your eCommerce website and how you can complement your products with carefully selected pieces of information, tutorials, articles and other valuable data for your customers. My advice is that even if you are only promoting products, to make sure that their descriptions only will add value to your customers. The texts should be informative, straightforward and easy to understand and read.
Tip: It will work best if you mix informative content with product descriptions. Thus, you will give your customers something of value in return for their time and money they spend on your store.
- Choose your visual styles: fonts, images, white spaces
How your audience perceives your brand depends mostly on how professional looking your digital magazine gets to be. The fonts should complement the images and vice versa but you should also consider the readability of your texts. Fonts that are too small will be hard to read and your message may not reach to the readers who will rarely make an effort to zoom in each of the pages just to read your text. I couldn’t stress enough how important it is that your font matches the content. If you are creating a flipbook for a wedding related ecommrce business, then a handwritten font is the right way to go. Here are some of the handwritten fonts that we love, and would totally recommend on using.
Make also sure that you have professional product images and appropriate backgrounds, suitable for your offers. However, the products should be the main focus of each page and not the backgrounds. Do not neglect the power of white spaces. They make your pages readable and they also give them a professional look.
Let’s take a look at Food Inc’s digital magazine.
Examine how they managed to balance images and text making their pages not only appealing but also readable and professional looking.
- Choose the distribution channel
Once you have designed and saved you first digital magazine, the final step is to choose your content distribution channel. Here you have several options and your choice will depend mostly on your marketing strategy.
Website publishing /download. Should you choose to create your magazine online, as a Html5 flipbook, you will most definitely be allowed to store it in a personal cloud-based storage and embed it directly into your own website. However, you can also choose to download it as a PDF file and let your clients download each issue of your magazine directly.
Subscription access/download. You can also publish your magazine on a protected page of your website and give access only to subscribers. Or, you can offer the PDF file as an award for social media follows or newsletter subscriptions.
Access via a mobile app. This option may be more expensive than the previous solutions but at the same time, it may prove to be quite effective if you are relying on customers who are accessing your eCommerce website from a dedicated mobile app, more than they do it from personal computers. It all depends on your audience and their overall online interests and behavior.
Third party distribution channels. There are, of course, some third-party digital distribution channels you may choose to publish your magazine on, such as Slideshare. Thus, you will be able to expand your audience and increase the chances of attracting new customers.
As a designer, whether you are a professional or only an amateur, creating your first digital magazine for an eCommerce website may not be as difficult as it may have appeared at first.
Considering you know to whom you are addressing, the types of products you are going to present and the available distribution channels, you are already good to go. All you need further is access to an online professional design tool, professional pictures of the products and professional and informative texts to complement your visual content.
What do you think about digital magazines? How many did you design until now? Where did you publish them and how? What other elements you know to be important for such designs?