Having paper brochures has become a pretty old-fashioned way of getting exposure for your business or project. But a brochure’s photos, graphics and concise copy is still a sure-fire method for providing valuable information to potential customers. So today’s entrepreneurs are giving the brochure an update by bringing them online.
So what’s the best way to make a brochure online? You actually have a few options, each with their own pros and cons.
Build a Website
This is typically the first thing that comes to mind when you start thinking about doing an online brochure. Though a website can be an indispensable tool for promoting business and attracting customers, it’s not really a “brochure”. It’s much larger and more complex. Even so, it can be a decent choice.
Registering your own domain and creating a website from scratch is a little beyond the scope of this article, so we’ll focus on the simpler options. Sites like Wix or Weebly let you build a website for free, and with little technical know-how. Use their templates to paste together a pretty slick site in a few minutes. The popular blogging platform WordPress also has a site where you can create your own template-based page for free (visit WordPress.com rather than WordPress.org for that).
This is a good choice if you are planning on presenting many pages of information that link together by topic or keyword, rather than a true brochure that simply reads page-by-page in order. It’s more work to maintain, and it can be tough to keep a website current enough to display properly on all mobile devices though.
Write an E-book
For a more “take-away” option, putting together a small ebook is another way to go. Compared to making a website, an ebook-style brochure is far simpler. You can create your book in a standard word processor, adding graphics as you go. Convert to PDF, and you have an ebook document that people can download and view at their leisure. If you are using a document program that doesn’t have a built-in PDF converter, there are sites online that can do that task for you at no cost (for example, try freepdfconvert.com).
There are other formats for e-books, like .mobi or .epub, which would complicate things though it’s not impossible to convert your files to other document types. It would mean you need to create multiple e-books and offer your readers the opportunity to download whichever one would suit their readers. A standard PDF is a more universal way to go though.
Biggest downfall here is that you need people to download it for reading. It’s not always easy to grab someone’s attention strongly enough to have them take that needed first step. Having a brochure that’s open and ready to read right in front of them can be more compelling.
Scan a Brochure
I’m only mentioning this one because it can sometimes be the “obvious” choice for people who already have a nice graphic paper brochure designed and printed. You can just scan your existing paper brochure and put it online as a single static graphic. It’s definitely a do-able option but a poor one, to be honest. People who access documents online are expecting more interactivity and more updated formats. If you’re leaning this way because the other two above suggestions are too complicated, the next method may be perfect for you.
Create a Flipbook
A flipbook is the option closest to a true brochure. It’s highly graphic and extremely simple to navigate. The flip-a-page format is perfect for a quick read without any worry about linking pages together or having your readers download the document. More and more online documents are being presented this way, mainly because it works so well.
A properly designed flipbook is responsive to the device, meaning that it will display correctly and be readable no matter how someone accesses it. Computers, phones or tablets running on any platform (Apple, Android, etc.) are all the same. That will open up a big audience for you and your online brochure, and it keeps your life simple since you only have to create one flipbook for everyone.
A service like Yumpu.com can be a great tool to build as many flipbook brochures as you want, all for free. Once you’ve signed up, you just have to upload your existing PDF file and the tool does the work. The final product displays like a large graphic but you can flip from one page to the next, just like you were reading a book or a paper flyer.
Even better, you can use Yumpu to create a more elaborate multi-media experience to make your flipbook a lot more engaging than a flat PDF. Youtube videos or Soundcloud audio files can be easily embedded into your online brochure for a more elaborate presentation. Yumpu has an easy point-and-click toolbox for these additions so you don’t need to be a graphic designer to put it all together. For larger brochure projects, you can also click to add links leading people to a website or to various other pages within the document.
This approach to making an online brochure also means you can embed your finished product into any website or Facebook post by using the embed wizard. You copy a snippet of code from the Yumpu dashboard, and paste it wherever you want the brochure to be placed.
No matter what product, service, business or project you’re trying to promote, a good online brochure can be invaluable. Regardless of what specific choice you go with, use large clear photos and snappy copy to make your brochure as engaging as possible.