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Mobile content deliveryMobile 3321 views
I've been looking at options for creating and delivering content to mobile devices (phones, tablets etc).
There are a number of possibilities:
- via a website, formatted for mobile viewing
- as a downloadable pdf
- as an ebook
- as a native app
There are plus and minus points for each of the options. Here they are as I see them at the moment. I'd welcome any feedback though, as I'm working on limited knowledge here ...
Much depends on where you're starting from (eg. do you have existing materials you want to push out), what your plans are (eg. will you be wanting to keep these materials up-to-date), and how much you will be deploying (eg. will this be a one-off, or part of a major publishing operation).
There are products that can help you, if you're going to be deploying lots of content. Eg. Xyleme's Pastiche (See marketing video below - I'm not linked with the company - but I think they've got the right idea.)
Or you can use tools like Calibre to convert and deploy eBooks.
But don't expect it to be easy if you've got materials already published - particularly if they're only available as PDF's.
Via a website
- Able to be easily updated
- Can be built on a normal content management system (eg. Wordpress)
- One central copy of the content that's always up-to-date for all users
- Able to use multi-media and collaborative features of the web
- Searchable - if a search engine is built into the website
- Very difficult to make the content available offline
- Requires an internet connection to be used
- Requires authentication and user management if access needs to be controlled
- Styling can become complex if multiple device types require access
As a downloadable pdf
- Access easily controllable
- Easy to create and deploy - ubiquitous format
- Able to embed links, table of contents etc
- Simple search interface
- Easy to deploy existing materials
- Does not reformat well for different sized devices
- Little ability for users to annotate and bookmark documents
- Difficult to embed multimedia
- Impossible to update automatically with new versions
As an ebook
- Easy to deploy to multiple device platforms
- Automatic reformatting to fit different sized devices
- Possible to embed multimedia
- Possible to update with new versions
- Takes advantages of eBook functionality on the device - eg. Notes, bookmarks, search
- Able to control access
- Requires new production processes to be adopted
- Requires designers to use semantic styles (in Word or HTML) rigorously - see Working Efficiently: Word Processing for why this is a good idea anyway.
- Difficult to convert existing materials if they are not already well structured (with semantic tags or styles)
As a native app
- Can take full advantage of the mobile device's capabilities
- Able to take advantage of deployment options offered by device OS - especially with regard to automatic updates
- Able to control access
- Difficult to create - requires specialist knowledge - especially for iOS
- Difficult to deploy across multiple platforms