DPS Battle Royale
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DPS Battle Royale

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A designer’s perspective on Adobe Digital Publishing Suite and Mag+

Now that the publishing and design worlds are beginning to fuse print/web design with mobile/tablet app design, the first challenge is choosing which digital publishing suite is best suited for your publication’s needs, budget, and required features.

If you’re taking a print publication to the mobile or tablet space, it’s very likely that you will check out two of the most popular digital publishing solutions: the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite and Mag+. Which one is right for you?

After using both services, I’ve put together a quick comparison guide to help publishers and designers determine which option works best for their digital publishing needs.

Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS)

Adobe is well known for their creative suite and trusted by most design firms. Adobe DPS is a premium service, and is priced accordingly; as a result, it may not be the best option for projects with limited budgets. Last year, Adobe made significant changes within its Creative Suite to make the print to digital transition much easier for interactive designers. With the creation of such plugins as Folio Producer and Viewer Builder, designers now have great tools that allow them to create vibrant custom layouts without having to leave InDesign, an application that designers of print publications are likely already familiar with.

Also, the option to view changes in real time with the Viewer Builder is a huge time-saver. Without going into detail about all of the available options in the interactive tool palette, I’ve listed some pros and cons of using Adobe DPS.

Pros:

  • Open template designer provides a greater degree of control over what the publication looks like, and the freedom to express variety between feature wells and departments.
  • User-friendly experience, more control over what the reader sees and more options for call-outs in quick-read sections. An example of this is Marines magazine, a tablet app I’ve been designing over the years and since its previous incarnation as a print publication: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/marines-magazine/id418341877?mt=8
  •  The advent of CS6 is poised to expand the capabilities of Adobe DPS. The introduction of social media buttons and HTML5 overlays make search capabilities within articles more accessible to the user and within search engines.
  • The Omniture analytics feature provides granular, comprehensive data collection to get the most detailed feedback on what readers view most and how you can improve on it.

Cons:

  • Although the service is feature-rich, cost could be a factor for budget-conscious organizations.

Mag+

Mag+ has a nice interface and is one of the most well known digital publishing solutions in the industry. It’s used by respected publications such as Popular Science, Maxim, and Outside magazines. Mag+ has a straightforward interface that is great for first time app designers, and its online user interface makes it easy for designers to create slideshows, animations and other various interactive elements. The Mag+ Feature Well successfully showcases imagery and separates the content from the layout, allowing for vertical scrolling and interactivity. It also includes analytics for magazine app owners to track where their readers spend the most time. Listed below is a brief list of some of the pros and cons of using Mag+.

Pros:

  • Very nice interface, Feature Well easily promotes detailed photography and illustrations.
  • Online User Interaction Library makes it easy for designers to choose what kind of inactivity they need for their work.
  • Nice transition between pages with the slide feature for large image backgrounds.

Cons:

  • Somewhat limited user interaction.
  • Template-based layout system can be potentially monotonous for long publications, however, it is decidedly more appropriate for shorter publications.
  • Heavily dependent on strong photography and video.

Whether it’s your first time designing for a tablet or you’re a seasoned veteran, keep in mind that your print design skills are remarkably transferable to the tablet. Just remember to always keep your audience’s needs as your first consideration.

Darryl Sebro

Darryl Sebro

Darryl's a mentor at heart, and loves to oversee the designers’ work as we develop a visual style for each client. Working with young designers inspires him because they bring a fresh approach to design.