The 7 Signs That Desktop Publishing is Failing You

Thirty years ago, when desktop publishing software was first released, it combined the two main components of content creation, authoring and composition, into one view. Content creators could now see and manipulate a replica of their final product without waiting on proofs from the printers.

Over time, the desktop publishing process became fragmented. While authoring was done in Microsoft Word, composition was split between Quark or InDesign for print. Many companies managed digital outputs in homegrown XML. To handle the complexity, globally dispersed teams collaborated over email, through spreadsheets, or using FTP or SharePoint. With the explosion of digital output targets, like tablets, phones and the web, most desktop publishing software has reached the end of its useful life.

So how does this affect you? Here are seven signs that your desktop publishing software tools and workflows are failing you.

1. It’s hard to experience the content as your end user does on a device. While composition software like InDesign has a WYSIWYG interface for seeing how print output will look to your end user, your teams can’t see your content on a mobile device until the project is essentially finished. By this point, it’s often too late to make changes and fix bugs without going back far upstream to the original files.

2. Editing and collaboration happen outside of the content, rather than in it. Your team’s inboxes are filled with emails and spreadsheets that contain wordy instructions about where errors and changes are, not just what they are. You can’t see comments in the content itself, making editing an incredibly tedious process, prone to human error.

3. Layout and design must wait until the copy is nearly final, which lengthens your project timelines and doesn’t allow for teams to work in parallel. And once the text and content are handed off to the designers, the inevitable copy changes that come later in the process interrupt the workflow, delaying timelines.

4. Your workflows are designed around print tools, while outside vendors adapt your content for digital outputs. Though the market is telling you that mobile-first content is vital to your business, digital outputs are rarely, if ever, supervised by your world-class editorial team, which instead focuses its effort primarily on the print output. It’s only natural: the industry has mastered print workflows, but digital-first workflows are only now being developed.

5. You lack a unified view of the project status that every contributor can see. As you shuttle content between tools like Word, InDesign, and Quark and among vendors, your teams are still trying to collaborate ad hoc over email with workflows that are detailed in charts and diagrams. There’s no central place for everyone to see what your content looks like and what work needs to be done to complete that milestone.

6. In page layout software like InDesign, it can be hard to know where changes occurred or if those changes satisfied the original request. Keeping track of where the “baton” is and who’s responsible for the project at any one time can become a time-consuming project in and of itself. Rigid processes are used to hold everyone accountable.

7. You budget separately for content conversions that you know ought to be automatic. From Microsoft Word to InDesign to PDF to print to .Mobi to iBooks, your content is constantly being shuttled through proprietary formats, losing time, money and fidelity with each conversion. Even though it’s your content, it lives in the walled garden of each format, forcing you to play by a different set of rules for each format.

Do these seven signs sound familiar? Are you working with page layout technology from the ’90s? It’s time to move beyond desktop publishing tools and start using a system that alleviates these pain points. One emerging answer is to combine authoring, composition, and collaboration into one web-based platform: that’s cloud publishing. In fact, leading publishers like Pearson, Elsevier, McGraw-Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are already leaving desktop publishing behind for the new world of cloud publishing.

Want to learn more about cloud publishing and how Inkling’s platform is transforming the way publishers create and distribute their content? Request a demo, and see what your content will look like when you ditch desktop publishing.