PublishtoAppWe love building mobile apps at our agency. Mobile development plays a significant role in the future of digital marketing. But developing mobile applications can be expensive. Native development of apps to support iOS, Android and most recently MS Surface devices is a financial commitment. If there is a need for a mobile app, it’s important to have a vision in place with a plan to enhance and expand the application to grow its value and purpose over time.

Depending on the need, there is a more cost-effective way to develop a mobile application. Digital publishing software or services make it possible to transition a traditional print approach into an engaging, interactive experience that feels like a mobile app. There are a host of products and service providers in the digital publishing space that range from do-it-yourself software to publishing companies that offer the service utilizing their proprietary technologies.

Just one example that we’ve used for our client Manitowoc is the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS). Manitowoc was interested in creating an app to serve as product brochures for two new cranes that dealers and sales team members could use with customers and potential customers. Agency artists and designers used Adobe InDesign desktop publishing software in conjunction with Adobe DPS to develop and publish the app. Using this software combination makes the process similar to creating a piece of literature in InDesign, but with the ability to add more complex app functionality such as swipe, tap and embedded videos. The apps bring product features and specifications right to your fingertips, with complete 360-degree views, “walk-around/tap-to-view” functionality, animations, videos and testimonials.

The result is a rich media output that is much more diverse than an interactive “flip book” PDF. The beauty about this approach is that it doesn’t require the programming resources of a highly developed website or natively built mobile app. It’s a hybrid model that allows designers the ability to design for mobile without needing the technical competency of a developer. It’s a simple way to produce a final product that has interactive features.

Let’s be clear that these publishing products do come with limitations. Native applications can be completely customized where off-the-shelf software comes with defined and limited offerings. There are many scenarios where native iOS, Android and MS Surface mobile apps are clearly the most appropriate path to support the business. However, if you’re looking at providing a more engaging experience than a standard brochure, you may want to consider bringing that brochure to life by converting it into an app with digital publishing.

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Two Rivers Marketing is a full-service business-to-business (B2B) marketing communications agency. Email us with your thoughts or questions at