10 min read

2019 Digital Publishing Platform Comparison

digital publishing platform

In our digital publishing platform comparison, we'll be taking a look at the top tools for companies who publish digitally. This could be standard, blog-style articles (like the one you're reading) as well as digital "flipbooks" which are HTML5 e-magazines that you can flip through on any device.

Maybe you're starting a digital publication and want to begin with the right foundation. Or maybe you want to switch to something that offers better navigation and reading experience while being easier to use for the editorial team.

Here are the platforms and topics we'll be comparing in this post:

Let's dive right into our comparison!

Digital publishing platform comparison for blogs & articles

When I say "digital publishing," you might think of Huffington Post articles, or you might think of lying down on a couch reading through the recent digital edition of Forbes Magazine on your iPad.

Digital publishing refers to both articles and flipbooks. Both of these are completely valid ways for readers to consume their favorite publications, and for their part, digital publishers need to adapt and serve their audience with the format that fits.

First up, let's look at your options for publishing digital articles (not flipbooks — we'll get to those next).

Adobe Experience Manager

Adobe Experience Manager allows digital publishers to bring their content management system (CMS) and digital asset management (DAM) in one central place that integrates to the Adobe Creative Cloud.

Example sites

Hershey's

Yumm. Okay, let's try not to get distracted. Hershey's uses Adobe Experience Manager for all of their site content, including dozens of recipes. And with summer on the way, there's of course an entire section of their site dedicated to s'mores. The readability on each recipe is superb, and as a whole they are easy to sort through and discover.

American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society publishes treatment advice, support columns, stories, research updates, news, events and more on their website built with Adobe Experience Manager, which allows them to publish content across several categories while maintaining an easily navigable site.

The pros of using Adobe Experience Manager for digital publishing

  • Ease of use for nontechnical admins when product is already configured by development team
  • Robust digital asset management with tagging and sorting
  • Perfect for companies using Adobe CC for content and design
  • Allows for collaboration between authors and editors

The Cons

  • Requires adept development team to configure initially
  • Requires editorial team to have ongoing interaction with development team for ongoing training and help with commonplace technical issues
  • Could necessitate external consulting if no one in-house is experienced

Sitecore

Example sites

San Diego Tourism Authority

Built with Sitecore, Sandiego.org is the official website of the San Diego Tourism Authority. There's tons of content on what to do in San Diego, and everything can be sorted by city neighborhoods and surrounding areas.

Digizuite

Digizuite is a digital asset management system for enterprises that includes some startup-savvy features, like a mobile app and easy integration with the Adobe Creative Cloud. Not only is their site built on Sitecore, but the product integrates with Sitecore so customers can enjoy ease of use when they need to get their images on their Sitecore website.

The pros of using Sitecore for digital publishing

The cons

  • Too high of a cost, in a world where profitability alludes even big name publishers
  • Involvement from internal or external developers is required, the editorial team can't configure the framework on their own
  • Too complex for most needs

WordPress

WordPress is a content management system that is affordable, relatively easy to use and setup, and extremely widespread. 75 million websites (approximately 27% of the internet) are powered by WordPress.

Example sites

OkDiario

OkDiario is a Spanish digital newspaper that covers political news across Spain. The website categorizes news articles by department as well as by region. With WordPress, there are several different templates that make such news sites fairly easy to set up.

TechCrunch

Also built on WordPress is everyone's favorite place for tech news: TechCrunch. Startups, apps and gadgets are among the top categories on the TechCrunch site.

The pros of using WordPress for digital publishing

  • Easy to setup and configure
  • Free to use WordPress.org, just pay for your hosting and any plugins you need that have a paid version only
  • Because it's so widespread, many digital editorial team members are already skilled in it, and little to no training is required
  • Most of the features you need like categorizing, tagging, different user permissions, author bios, etc.

The cons

  • Requires content to be entered from other formats (Word docs, Google docs), which necessitates a lot of manual tasks, particularly with formatting content and uploading photos
  • Requires you to give access to your main website in order to collaborate with writers and other team members
  • Wordpress has a huge community of contributors, but this is both good and bad. Because they don't talk to each other this creates a lot of inconsistency and errors, meaning some plugins can't work together, the code can be poorly produced, plus it requires a lot of maintenance and its security is vulnerable.

StoryChief

StoryChief allows content teams to create and publish interactive articles across multiple channels with one click. This allows businesses to generate more awareness and leads while saving up to 6 hours of time per story. There is editorial approval flow and SEO optimisation built-in.

StoryChief acts as a layer above your existing CMS system (eg. Wordpress, Adobe AEM, Sitecore, Drupal, Webflow, ...) which keeps contributors away from the complex backend of the main website.

Example sites

Let's have a look at two examples of StoryChief use cases.

One is Bloovi, a digital publisher that implemented StoryChief on top of their Fork CMS. A second example comes from Neckermann/Thomas Cook Group and their travelling blog website that runs on WordPress but they use StoryChief for collaboration and they easily publish from StoryChief to their WordPress website and other digital channels.

Bloovi

bloovi screenshot

Bloovi is a Belgian online platform that covers all things marketing, including local events, companies that are hiring, and advice from top industry leaders. Bloovi was one of the first clients that implemented StoryChief above their Fork CMS website for their digital publishing needs, and saw a time savings of 480 hours per month.

Compagnon by Neckermann

compagnon website

Compagnon is a digital travel publication by Neckermann, an established travel brand in Belgium which has been selling affordable vacation packages since 1971 and is now a part of the Thomas Cook Group. With StoryChief, Compagnon has a beautiful, modern, user-friendly site on the frontend and a powerful collaboration workflow on the backend.

The pros of using StoryChief for digital publishing

  • Integrates with WordPress, Webflow and other CMSs so you don't have to let your contributors work in a complex backend of these CMS systems
  • No IT required for initial integration
  • Overall Ease-of-use: the editor is made to create content rich articles, not documents
  • One-click publish to all your channels and to new channels provided by the system
  • No formatting necessary afterwards, the layout will adapt to the main website automatically
  • Easy to use for non-technical team members (doesn't require IT involvement)
  • Saves time on content promotion and distribution, not just collaboration
  • Pre-schedule content for publication and promotion, and includes editorial planning tool
  • Very affordable plans for companies of any size
  • Measure the performance across all the channels in one clear dashboard

The cons

  • No digital asset management system, but you may already be using Box or Google Drive, so this might not be a problem
  • May require use of another CMS (such as WordPress or Webflow) to make a fully customizable home page for content

Digital publishing platform comparison for flipbooks

Next up: flipbooks! Unlike digital articles and blogs, flipbooks are entire magazines. Flipbooks improve upon standard PDF format with HTML5, allowing them to easily scale to multiple devices while making the "flipping" far more intuitive. With a PDF, you'd be scrolling down and up, but with flipbooks, you can move left and right as if you were flipping the pages of a magazine.

Issuu

Issuu is the top digital publishing platform when it comes to magazines. Readers can sign up for an account and browse free publications and also buy individual magazines and subscriptions. From the publisher's perspective, one of the top features is being able to serve readers your content in a distraction-free setting. No tabs, no ads. Just your magazine content.

Example sites

Where Magazine Las Vegas

issuu where magazine
issuu where magazine 02

Where Magazine publishes monthly magazines in a variety of locales, not just Las Vegas, but Los Angeles, Sydney, Venice, London and many others. If you're heading to just about any major city, sign up for Issuu and do a quick search to see if Where Magazine covers that city. If they do, you're in for a treat: all the best events and attractions happening that month. These magazines are free. They make their revenue from local advertisers in each city. That's why getting wide distribution with Issuu is so important for them.

Go Escape

issuu go escape 02
issuu go escape

Unlike Where Magazine, which specializes in each city, Go Escape by the USA Today Network covers top destinations by location. It's not only a travel magazine but is more of a lifestyle magazine as well. Published twice per year for each region, it is sold on newstands and available on Issuu.

The pros of using Issuu for flipbooks

  • No distractions for readers
  • Easy to manage payments and subscriptions for readers
  • Access new readers in the Issuu ecosystem
  • Pre-schedule content for publication
  • Embed videos inside of magazine pages
  • Affordable lower tier plans
  • Can integrate with StoryChief to embed magazine issues in blog posts (such as for a post announcing the new issue is available)
  • Easy to share on social media

The cons

  • The only plan including their team collaboration tool may be too expensive for some publishers
  • Small number of templates means that most publishers will need to do the heavy lifting when it comes to page layout and design

DCatalog

DCatalog is a digital publishing solution that is focused not only on digital magazines but also other enterprise needs as well, such as catalogs, customer support guides and other marketing- or business-related material.

Example sites

International Society of Aboriculture

Dcatalog IS

DCatalog makes it easy for companies and organizations to gate their magazines on their site. For example, the International Society of Aboriculture requires a society membership to review each month's issue of "Arborist News," which allows them to incentivize new memberships and deliver exclusive content.

Lockton

Lockton dcatalog

Lockton is an insurance company that uses DCatalog to publish attractively designed books that review customers' benefits. It's an important reminder that flipbooks can be used not only for publications, but also marketing material, product catalogs and customer service as well.

The pros of using DCatalog for flipbooks

  • Multiple use cases: magazines, guides, catalogs, lookbooks, brochures, training & HR, online directories, newsletters, and more
  • Content can be made widely available on the website, gated, or private
  • Robust design tools that are great for businesses, like saving and applying custom branding and hosting in a custom domain

The cons

  • Some features and functionality may be unnecessary for digital publications that are not intended for marketing purposes
  • May be too costly for many companies

Streamlining your digital publication workflow

If you've noticed, digital publishing may require multiple platforms. If you publish both magazines and digital articles, then is a given.

Even if you only focus on one content type, you may need an additional tool to help streamline your workflow.

StoryChief lets you...

👉 Distribute content across multiple platforms (your website, Medium, LinkedIn articles, and more)

👉 Promote content (social media, employee advocacy, influencer marketing, press lists, etc.)

👉 Embed podcasts and Issuu publications inside of blog post

👉 Save hundreds of hours collaborating with contributors

Learn more about how to use StoryChief in conjunction with WordPress or any other digital publishing platform to save dozens or hundreds of hours on editorial content collaboration, distribution and promotion.