Do you want to create an online brochure but aren’t sure where to start?
First, the good news is that the process has gotten remarkably easier over the past few years.
In the past, when brochures were print-based, creating one required a significant investment of time and money, with lots of worrying about page-folds, ink colors, and printer costs.
Even as brochures started to transition to digital, the process remained unnecessarily complicated for a long time, since many software programs required complicated formatting and the need to export the final product to a PDF.
However, now that brochures are truly online (i.e. Web-based), the tools have gotten much better. In fact, the current easy-to-use, drag-and-drop, interfaces will feel very familiar to anyone who has ever created a blog post.
That said, good tools don’t necessarily equal good brochures. To create a compelling offering, you still need to tackle the process in a smart way.
To help, here is our recommended workflow for creating an online brochure.
Step 1. Decide Which Publishing Platform You’ll Be Using
Before you do anything else, decide on what software you’ll be using to create your online brochure.
Today, we will show you on the Readz tool (which we’re obviously partial to), but there are other options as well.
Why does this step come first? Because, once you select your platform you’ll be able to play around and understand exactly how to structure your brochure.
In particular, based on the tool’s particular options and built-in templates, you’ll get a sense of how many pages you will need, where assets can be placed, and how it all can be laid-out.
Step 2. Visually Map Out Your Offering
Next, create a rough visual outline of what the brochure will look like.
The best way to do this often depends on your personal preference. Some people like to simply draw on a piece of paper, while others map things out in the brochure-creation software.
Use whatever method works best for you. The key is to create an accurate representation of the final product so that you’ll know exactly what elements you’ll need—i.e, where you’ll need a big picture, a block of text, a headline, etc.
Here is an example of a visual map created using the brochure template in our software:
3. Create an Asset List
Once you’ve created your visual map, go through it and list out all the elements you’ll need to develop/find/source.
This list should be extremely detailed and cover every single piece of content, no matter how small it may seem. For example, an asset list for the page above would include:
Title – Product 1
Customer Quote – Product 1
Large Image – Product 1
2 Small Images – Product 1
Price – Product 1
Again, the particular format depends on what works best for you. Some people like creating a spreadsheet, others just create a long list. The key is that you end up with an all-encompassing account of what content you’ll need.
4. Develop Your Assets
Once you have your visual map and asset list, you can start actually creating content. This step is pretty-self explanatory, but a few tips to keep in mind are:
Images – Since an online brochure can be viewed across many devices, make sure that your images are bright, uncluttered, and can scale up or down well (i.e., you can tell what is going on no matter what the size).
Text – Generally, consumers don’t like to spend a lot of time reading brochures. Therefore, we recommend keeping things short and avoiding large blocks of text. Wherever possible, let visuals do the work.
Key Information – Often the most important pieces of information on a brochure are things like prices or contact details. Given this, make sure these key elements are big, clear, and easily found on a page.
5. Create Your Brochure
OK, now you can actually create your brochure in the software.
If you developed your visual map in the tool, it should be fairly simple to go back and replace the placeholder tags with the real text and images. If you used another method, you’ll need to map things out before placing the elements.
(Above) is what SunBrite TV’s online brochure looks like in the Readz platform once the elements have been put into place.
One thing to keep in mind is that some pages may need tweaking once the actual content is put in. Often, things that looked nice on the visual map will seem a bit off with the elements in place. This is normal—trust your gut and don’t hesitate to tweak the formatting.
6. Get a Second (and Third, and Fourth) Opinion
Often, marketers finalize their online brochures without getting any feedback. This is a huge mistake. Before you put your offering in front of consumers make sure to get multiple opinions from others.
This part of the process has two benefits: 1) It uncovers clear issues like spelling mistakes, color clashes, etc.; 2) It can reveal more subtle design problems, such as fonts that are too small or content that is structured oddly.
Ultimately, you don’t necessarily have to follow this exact workflow to create a good product. However, the overall structure—create a plan, create your content, create your offering, then get feedback—is a good roadmap for developing an effective online brochure.
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