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3 tools to create a digital magazine

Luca Filigheddu


The future of digital magazine publishing has arrived. It used to be quite difficult to turn your magazine content into a beautiful online magazine. With more readers accessing content from multiple devices, including smartphones, it is imperative to make your magazine mobile-friendly.


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Thankfully, it is becoming much easier to repurpose your content for digital publication or to start a digital publication from scratch.

The key is in responsive design—it used to be that you would have to hand design your content for each potential device and screen size, meaning that you needed (at least) three different designs to make your digital content versatile. Now, you can create your content one time, and let the new tools resize and optimize for whatever device your readers are viewing it on.

There are many tools out there to make your job of digital publishing simpler. It is easier than you think, but you should consider your own needs, budget, and aptitude as you choose what tools to use to create your digital magazine. 

Adobe DPS and AEM

One of the biggest players in the creative field is Adobe. They have been making excellent design products for professionals for many years, and Adobe skills have been in-demand for years. From Photoshop for photo processing to Premiere for video editing and effects, Adobe has had staying power.

For creating a digital magazine, the tools we are looking at are Adobe Digital Publishing Solutions (DPS) and Adobe Experience Manager Mobile (AEM.) For people experienced using InDesign, these apps can scale your content for all different devices, making your content responsive. At this point, anyone who has Adobe DPS 2015 can upgrade to AEM, and the functionality is combined.

The one drawback with InDesign is that it is a very expensive license. If, however, your budget allows, Adobe DPS and AEM can bring your content to life in a digital format with many options for customization.

Tumult Hype

If you use a Mac, another tool to create your digital magazine is Tumult’s Hype. It lets you create great animated and interactive content, and is easier to use than older programs. Plus, it is very easy on the budget, comparatively.

Hype is a WYSIWYG app that has been around since 2011, and it has a learning curve that is shallower than InDesign. You don’t need to know how to code to get HTML5 (HPUB) files, and there are many built-in features, including a physics-based animation tool in the pro version. However, some users report difficulty in exporting your files to publish them.

Hype is a good way to go for designing your motion-rich content, but you will still need a publishing platform. The ease of use and affordability make Hype an attractive solution to getting started on the road to creating your digital magazine.


For a very flexible way to both create and publish your digital magazine, Paperlit offers the option to import your information straight from InDesign as .folio files, or to create your content by importing HPUB, PDF, and RSS files directly into Paperlit. This gives you the flexibility to use an experienced designer for some of your most complex content, while still being able to do simpler tasks yourself easily right in Paperlit.

Paperlit does many things very well. The whole process is streamlined, letting you import videos and interactive content, then publish your own branded app, making your digital magazine available on app stores right away. Because Paperlit simultaneously creates both larger screen and mobile-friendly content, you don’t need to do your work multiple times. You know that your magazine will be beautiful however your readers pull it up.

Affordability is another upside for Paperlit. Since your publishing subscription includes all the design tools, there is no additional cost to upload your content. So working with your InDesign (.folio) files or other content is easy and budget-friendly with Paperlit.

The Upshot

Publishing and creation of your digital magazine are doable, and you can start on it tomorrow. Just consider your choices and plan the route you want to go. If you are transitioning your paper magazine to digital, it is more a matter of changing formats and adding features that you cannot do in paper—but buyers of the newsstand version can now also participate in the digital features too, whilst enjoying their tactile experience with the magazine. If you are looking to start your digital magazine, it is now an affordable and possible project. Your content, your readers, and a wonderful interactive, feature-rich magazine are a few clicks away from reality.