Our company publishes LOTS of online newsletters, which we make available in HTML and PDF versions on our web site.
Unfortunately my boss has just discovered Flash magazines --- those precious little online publications that allow users to virtually flip the pages as though they're reading a paper version.
My own opinion is that this format, while cute, isn't nearly as user-friendly and search engine-friendly as the more conventional online publication formats. One of our goals this year is to improve our visibility in search engines. Moving to a Flash format would be a step backward in that regard, yes?
I've Googled this to bits, and I can't find straight-forward information to back up my opinion. Maybe I'm just totally wrong. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
PDFs will get indexed easily and you have the ability to print it out or save it. It's much harder to index Flash-based content. Manipulating flash-based content at the user end is tougher, so does help prevent plagiarism.
Personally, I dislike flash-based magazines and tend to ignore them.
One of my favourite hobby sites has recently gone to this format, and I hate it, it has put me of visiting all together and I now look at their content through a third party site which aggregates the information in a much more user friendly format. I hope that this will just be a flash in the pan and people will get very sick of it very soon!
I used to be editor & web editor of a magazine that went down this route. The one thing that became obvious is that visitors - the few that actually chose to try and read it online - never made it to the end of the magazine.
Visitor numbers and page clicks would tail off rapidly with each successive page. By about halfway in there was usually no one left. Visitor impact was thus restricted to possibly the first handful of pages and that was all. Beyond that visitor traffic and activity would be insignificant.
I'm currently working as a freelance editor on a publication that also ends up in this page-turning format. A recent reader survey I organised showed that over 80% of respondents didn't even know the publication existed online.
But then, here is an instant dichotomy. The readers of your paper product and the potential visitors to the online version are invariably not the same.
One thing I will say is that it's a great format for less sophisticated advertisers. If you're selling ads in your paper product, being able to tell your punters that their ad will also appear in this wonderful-looking online version is a very good sales incentive.