Why is InDesign still used to reach mobile audiences?

There is no denying that InDesign is the industry standard when it comes to creating print content, but is it the best tool for creating responsive content?

Christian Price

Christian Price

June 28th, 2019 | Reading Time: 4 mins

There is no denying that InDesign is the industry standard solution when it comes to creating print content for publishers and brands.

Since its launch in 1999, it’s provided industry leading functionality for enabling designers to make great looking page layouts before exporting as hi-res PDF’s and sending them to the printer.

So, Happy 20th Birthday InDesign!

As we all know, the world has completely changed since InDesign was launched at the end of the last century and the majority of all content consumed today is on mobile.

…And in case you’ve forgotten, here’s what ‘Mobile’ looked like in 1999.

Nokia 3210

Print first for mobile?

So why is it that in 2019 publishers and brands think it makes sense to use a print specific product to reach mobile audiences?

One of the reasons publisher apps have been slow to take off is that many publishers haven’t made the right play.

Firstly, a rush to launch replica apps after the iPad launch that were ultimately useless once smartphone usage exploded and eyeballs for content shifted to mobile. Since then, a stubbornness to hack existing print workflows to make content for small screens surely hasn’t helped.

What an amazing opportunity missed!

An InDesign alternative?

However, the main reason publishers are still using InDesign for mobile is because they are unaware of suitable alternatives – especially those which have only emerged in recent years.

With all that said, it’s not as simple as ripping everything up and starting a fresh, especially in times of disruption and when print revenues are declining.

source: rossdawson.com/blog/united-states-news-paper-erosion/
The fall in paid circulation of print newspapers rossdawson.com/blog/united-states-news-paper-erosion/

Publishers need to revisit the opportunity and realise there are alternative tools that can aid their transition and benefit their business. Existing workflows need to be considered. It’s important to understand that despite the enormous shift to mobile it’s quite possible that some publishers printed products still make the majority of their revenue, so why should they change anything?

To assist customers in embracing change, new solutions should demonstrate a glimpse of the future workflow, whilst understanding the present and empathising with the past. Simply ‘switching off’ InDesign may not be viable (or even sensible), so alternative workflows should strive to be compatible with InDesign.

The shift to mobile

The shift to mobile is a huge growth opportunity. Print audiences might not be there forever (or even for much longer) but the only way to convert them is with a workflow that is efficient while delivering strong reader experiences.

Mobile experiences should feel mobile first, even if your workflow isn’t

Many mobile publishing platforms require customers to be locked-in to their “ecosystems” which is not an attractive strategy for publishers.  Why should you change the entire way you create mobile content just because you realised another app platform was more suitable for your needs?

Have your cake and eat it

Publishers should favour an agnostic approach. That is, create content in an agnostic mobile first environment and be free to select the platforms they wish to publish to.

This approach offers the flexibility to choose from all of the major app, web and social news platforms; Twixl, Pagesuite, Pugpig, Paperlit, WordPress, Drupal, Apple News, Facebook IA, Medium etc and prevents an ecosystem lock-in.

If you can, look for a solution which is sympathetic to a print first workflow that plays nicely with InDesign but also enables mobile first content creation. This way, you get the best of both worlds while also being able to experiment with delivering strong reader experiences to mobile.

Once users experience a more efficient way to create responsive content, the process helps them become less dependent on maintaining the old print first workflow.  It’s only then do publishers start to understand the true value of the mobile opportunity.


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