We now offer an HTML-Only Publishing Option

Posted by in Design

CatStone Press has an exciting development announcement to make:

You now have the option to change over your digital publications to purely HTML instead of the hybrid of Flash and HTML they are currently. I feel there are a few pros and cons worth discussing at this juncture and there will also be ongoing updates that may add features to the HTML only versions in the future.

So first, what are the PROS for you in switching to a purely HTML format:

  • You will likely be accessible to a higher number of potential readers. CatStone digital publications are and always have been, easily accessed on mobile devices and on those devices, the content has been served up using a mobile HTML version without Flash already. As some of you have probably noticed, when you read your publications on a mobile device, the “tools” surrounding the magazines and journals look a bit different. HTML and Flash handle (and mostly EMBED) tools and digital options in a different way. Thanks to the amazing developers we partner with, all these enhancement options are well handled for you and simply optimize for whatever device and operating system, but you’ve probably noticed the differences. On the desktop versions, we’ve always used a hybrid of Flash and HTML because this enables some features that will no longer be available in a purely HTML version at the current time (more on that below); however, the trade-off has been that some of your audience MAY NOT HAVE ENABLED FLASH on their desktops and have thus not really enjoyed your digital in all its interactive glory, opting instead for a plain pdf download. Offering the purely HTML version will engage those readers.
  • This option will likely have the most support from upcoming browsers and devices. Flash continues to be supported once you opt in to use it on your browsers. I’ve always had Flash on my browsers to absolutely no detriment and I have found many OTHER sites, not just CatStone digitals, that require Flash to properly view them. BUT, times change and there will come a point where this may not be the case; at which time, we will have to get used to an HTML-only version anyway.
  • So far, in my experience, the HTML version may load pages a bit faster. And only a bit. In my mind, this is only a minimum consideration.
  • Your design and pages will continue to create a positive aesthetic reading experience that mimics reading on paper for a fraction of the cost. This type of reading engagement differs vastly from typical website usage and being able to knock on doors with a link that includes an entire well curated publication ready for all devices continues to be a great way to deliver your information.

And now, what are the CONS for switching to pure HTML:

  • The main downside is that a print option and a pdf download option will no longer be available from within the toolbar of the CatStone digital itself. Flash was the container for the original pdf file, and once it’s eliminated, for now, those options go as well. This could be an important consideration for those of you for whom downloads and prints are heavily utilized. You may wish to poll your audience if you are unsure before making the change. You may also contact me and I can look up some statistics on your digital usage which includes downloads and printed pages.
  • There will no longer be a widget or “social sidebar” in the current HTML only version. I, for one, was quite sad to see that go and hope the developers will create a new sidebar option. In the past with our own publications, we saw a large uptick in social media follows from those sidebars – a nice boost in increasing your social audience. We also often included Mailchimp and similar sign-up forms in that widget sidebar, giving readers who were finding the digital for the first time a quick way to subscribe. ALL of these options can be included within the pages with links and buttons, but in a less splashy, obvious-from-every-page, kind of way.

These are what we see as the main differences in this new reading option. For our own Artizen Magazine, the new readers who seemed very happy with the Flash barrier being gone, have been worth switching to an HTML only option. And we are offering the pdf version of Artizen as the perk of a paid subscription via a secondary email/download option that is sent to the paid subscribers separately – in this way the digital only reading remains free and freely distributable while the pdf download, which gives a reader a version to keep offline, becomes a more premium product. You would in no way need to follow this model – CatStone can simply upload to Dropbox the larger high resolution pdf version for you to host on your own website as a link or we can email you a smaller, optimized pdf file that can be sent out via your own email. We are happy to provide either or both of these for you, should you wish to make the switch to HTML-only.

PLEASE NOTE: You can confidently continue using the same hybrid version you always have! At this point, it’s nice to have options. The technology is fully supported in both ways. Should we come to a point that Flash is no longer viable, we will be giving you notice and time to make the switch.

We hope you’ll find our HTML-only option a great new development! Just let me know if you have questions or want to switch your presentation.

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