Web content: Print to web… what role for “flip” technology?

Web content: What role for “flip” technology in moving print publications to the web?

Two unrelated events are driving increased interest in moving print publications online:

  • Growing pressure to reduce print production costs.
  • Increasing preference for getting information from online sources.

Perhaps that’s what generated a June discussion among higher education web developers on on the virtue of “flip” technology to move print publications to an online format.

The discussion started with a question about Issuu’s product, which isn’t the only technology available to make this move. The original question, from Brian Page at Springfield College, brought 24 replies from 13 people.

People weighed in with pros and cons. If you’ve ever been at one of my “Writing Right for the Web” sessions, you’ll know why I think that Paul Dempsey at Dickinson College got right to the heart of things:

  • “At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon…Has anyone actually tried to read a magazine or article posted in this format? I don’t find it usable at all. The display looks exciting, and it’s a neat way to show what a publication looks like (particularly in terms of design). But I don’t think it makes sense to take something designed for one medium and try to force it into another. The two or three column format of most publications, for example, doesn’t translate at all to the web, where a single column of text works better.”

Experience both print publications online from “flip” technology and publications prepared as Dempsey recommends and decide for yourself from the two collections included here.

Publications Using “Flip” Technology

This group of links to “flip” publications was sent by people who participated in the web developers discussion: 

Publications in Web-Friendly Format

Here is a varied group of publications from my Link of the Week selections:

Note that Terp magazine from the University of Maryland is available online in more than one format. You won’t find a more direct comparison than that.

The really good news? None of the web developers recommended a practice that’s still more common than it should be: just converting the print piece into a PDF and placing that online. PDFs have their place for online content, but it isn’t with long, multi-colored viewbooks, annual reports, and alumni magazines like those listed here.

Happy reading!

That’s all for now.





  1. Matt, thanks for sharing this excellent example of “Writing Right for the Web.”
    Examples like this (fingers crossed) should indeed help people see that that “flip” isn’t the best way to do this.
    There is another discussion underway right now about viewbooks and flip technology and I’ll add another post when it is done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *