Best Tools to Build a Magazine Mobile App or Digital Magazine

Digital publishers who run a magazine-style website should consider using a magazine maker tool to launch native apps for mobile.

A dedicated magazine mobile app means more engagement with your readers, deeper loyalty, easier monetization, and many more benefits for your brand.

And while web-based publishers can create mobile-optimized versions of their existing website, the mobile web experience is never going to compare to that of a native mobile app.

In this post, we’ll break down the benefits of magazine mobile apps, and introduce the best magazine maker tools out there today.

Read on to learn more.


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Why Publishers Should Build a Magazine Mobile App

A well-designed mobile app allows you to connect with your audience in powerful ways.

Magazines, and other online publications, rely on loyal readers. Each reader is not that valuable if they only read or view your content once. The real value is from people who read every new edition, or read your magazine on a daily basis.

A mobile app makes it easier to encourage loyal readers, by placing an icon right on their device’s home screen. You’ve also got the power of push notifications to let people know about new content, and draw them into your app.

Apps are also great for accessing a wider audience through the Google Play and Apple App Stores.

Then there’s the user experience you can provide to mobile users with a magazine mobile app, which is far and away better than any alternatives.

People spend 90% of their time on mobile devices using apps. Give users what they want, not a sub-par mobile web experience.

ShowbizNews app mockups
Examples of news/magazine apps dedicated to mobile users.

Alternatives to Native Magazine Mobile Apps

Some publishers might feel it’s not worth the effort of launching a dedicated app for their magazine.

There are alternatives, though you’ll end up missing out on a lot.

You can build a regular browser-based site, optimized for mobile. Or, go one step further, and build a progressive web app (PWA). A PWA is a website accessible via the browser, but further optimized to look more like an app than a traditional website.

With both these options, people can access your content on mobile devices, and you can optimize your magazine to fit smartphones or tablets.

However, you’re missing out on key features, such as:

  • App store listings
  • Launcher icons on your users’ home screen
  • Dedicated mobile navigation & UI
  • Offline reading
  • Push notifications on all your devices
  • Advanced monetization features (such as avoiding ad-blockers)

With a responsive mobile site or PWA, your readers will need to access the magazine via their mobile browser. This is the biggest downside for magazine publishers. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to open and read your magazine whenever they have a bit of free time.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Magazine Maker App

There are some things you should look for, or think about, before you choose a magazine maker to build and publish your magazine mobile app.

Digital Edition vs Infinite Scroll App

Think about what kind of magazine yours is. Certain magazine makers are better designed for certain use cases over others.

The two most common kinds of digital magazines are digital edition apps and infinite scroll apps.

Digital edition magazines are similar to traditional, print-based magazines. Each day, week, month, for example, there’s a new edition, with new content.

This is exactly the same as your daily newspaper, or the weekly editions of Time magazine, only delivered digitally.

The Entrepreneurial Chef app is an example of a digital edition app.

The other kind of magazine app is an infinite scroll app. Infinite scroll apps consistently publish new content, and users can keep scrolling and reading as much as they like.

Foreign Policy Magazine’s mobile app (built with MobiLoud News) is one example of an infinite scroll app.

fp-app-page_top

This style of magazine is more like a blog or website, than what we’re used to from Cosmopolitan or Us Weekly. It’s much more user-friendly for digital readers, as they can consume content as and when they like, rather than waiting for a new edition to drop.

That’s why even publishers who still put out print editions generally provide an infinite scroll edition for their digital magazine.

Build From Scratch, or Convert an Existing Publication to Mobile?

Also think about whether you’re building a magazine app completely from scratch, or converting an existing print or digital publication into a magazine mobile app.

Some magazine makers focus more on one or the other. If you’re building from scratch, you need a tool that allows you to create and customize content, as well as to customize your UI, directly in the app.

You’ll generally find most magazine maker tools targeted towards existing publications, aiming to launch a mobile app or digital version of their magazine.

Thus, the point of the app is to take their existing content – either a feed from their website or PDFs of their print edition – and re-tool it as a digital magazine.

Ease of Use and Coding

Coding a mobile app takes a lot of time and expertise. You need a team of developers most likely, not just to build the app, but to maintain it.

There’s a good chance that you don’t have these resources available to you – or months to wait while the app gets coded. So you want a tool that makes it quick and easy to build an app, and doesn’t require any coding or knowledge of the technical side of building a mobile app.

Advanced Mobile App Features

Simplicity and usability is important. But you shouldn’t have to sacrifice the features that make mobile apps so powerful.

It’s best if the tool you choose allows you to build a real, fully functioning mobile app, complete with engagement tools like push notifications.

You should be able to publish your app on the Apple App Store and Google Play. And it’s an added plus if the magazine maker helps with this process.

Monetization

It should be easy to monetize your digital magazine. After all, you earn revenue for the work you and your team puts into creating and publishing content.

You should be able to add paywalls and subscription features to your app. You should also be able to integrate with advertising platforms easily, to show ads in your app and earn additional revenue.

To learn more about effectively monetizing your mobile app, check out our complete guide on the subject.

Design & Interactivity

Finally, consider your ability to customize and tweak the design of your online magazine app. 

You should be able to build a clean and intuitive interface that makes for a great user experience for readers on both iOS and Android.

Some digital magazine apps also allow you to build in interactivity, such as page-flipping animations that make it look more like a print magazine.

If this is important to you, by all means take it into consideration. But this feature is honestly more of a gimmick, that doesn’t bring a huge amount of value to your app. Readers today are conditioned to a digital app experience, and don’t need an animation to remind them of the old days of print magazines.

The Best Magazine Maker Apps for Today’s Publishers

There are a lot of options out there for publishers looking to create a magazine mobile app. Some are more powerful than others, while some are better suited for different use cases, such as digital editions vs infinite scroll apps, and uploading PDF content vs digital content.

That’s why we’ve broken down five different digital magazine apps, each fitting a particular niche. Check out these options and pick the one that’s best for you.

MobiLoud – Best for Existing Publishers to Launch Mobile Apps

Build a Magazine Mobile App with MobiLoud News

First, is our own tool – MobiLoud News.

MobiLoud News is a platform that allows digital publishers to easily launch iOS and Android apps, without having to code or rebuild anything.

It’s a great fit for both news sites and digital magazines with a web-based publication, who want to better serve mobile visitors.

Publishers worldwide, including Foreign Policy, Business Insider, and Simple Flying use MobiLoud News to build fully-functional mobile apps, at a fraction of the time and cost it would take to build from scratch.

The platform takes your existing site and places it in what is essentially the “shell” of a native mobile app. This is so effective because it means you only need to maintain your site and publish content in one place. When you publish an article or make changes on the web, your app automatically updates as well.

Yet you also get the added benefits of an app store presence, home screen launcher icon, push notifications, and all the amazing features of a functional mobile app.

MobiLoud is best for building modern, infinite scroll apps. If you have an existing digital publication, there’s no better option for building a magazine app than MobiLoud News.

Click here to learn more about MobiLoud News, and read up on our extensive list of successful case studies.

Schedule a demo when you’re ready to try it out for yourself.

MagLoft – Best for PDFs and Digital Edition Apps

For edition-based magazines, MagLoft is a solid option. It allows you to build interactive magazines through PDF-based publishing, to create an authentic-feeling magazine experience for mobile readers.

You can add content to your magazine in a number of formats, including PDF, EPUB and ADOBE, or use an HTML5 template.

Then, with a responsive drag-and-drop editor, it’s easy to customize the look and feel of your app.

The design editor features a number of templates, as well as interactive widgets, like YouTube and SoundCloud.

There’s also the essentials you need to build and monetize a mobile app, such as push notifications, subscriptions and analytics.

It’s not as good a fit for magazines with a regular stream of content. The tool is heavily geared towards edition-based magazines. However, if that’s what you’re looking for, you can’t get much better than MagLoft.

Mobissue – No-Code Tool for Interactive Flipbook Magazines

Mobissue is a good tool for building interactive, flipbook-style magazine apps. It gives you everything you need to build an online magazine that feels “alive”, no coding required.

You can import content with PDFs, image files, or create directly in the app, on one of their pre-build templates.

Once your content is all in there, jazz up your content by adding animations, such as page turning, slideshows, videos, audio and more.

You can host your magazine on their cloud servers or download and upload it to your own site.

Mobissue offers a watermarked free plan, allowing users to try it out before committing. Their premium plans are quite affordable too, though, making it a nice choice for beginners or hobbyists.

Large-scale and professional publishers will find the platform quite limiting, especially when it comes to publishing and monetizing your app for mobile.

Lucidpress – In-Depth Design Tools, Compatible for Digital and Print Magazines

Lucidpress is more than just a magazine maker. It’s a tool that allows brands to build and design templates for just about anything. From logos, to sales material, signs, invoices, ebooks and more.

These design tools also make it a good fit for designing magazines. Starting with pre-built templates, you can build and customize your own template, and use this as the base for your recurring publication.

The drag-and-drop design editor lets you get really in-depth with the design of your magazine, including image editing and custom fonts. It also gives you everything you need to create print-quality designs.

Lucidpress is not ideal for creating digital-first publications or mobile apps. It focuses more on the design side of things than helping you provide a great reading experience. But it’s a versatile option that suits publishers with edition-based magazines and both digital and print versions.

Joomag – Complete Customization for Digital Editions

Joomag is a platform built specifically for digital publishing.

It’s a great option to build digital magazines from scratch. You can upload PDFs to start with, or build directly in the editor, with the use of a large number of templates to help you.

You’ll enjoy full design freedom, as well as interactivity with videos, music, slideshows and a wide range of plugins.

Publications built with Joomag are optimized for all platforms – desktop and mobile, Windows, iOS and Android. You are lacking some of the tools to build out a fully-fledged mobile app, however, unless you sign on to a custom enterprise subscription.

All in all, Joomag is a great option for professional publishers with edition-based publications. The pricing is quite steep, but you’re not lacking in power for the price.

Wrapping Up – Why You Should Use MobiLoud to Build Magazine Mobile Apps

We’d argue that MobiLoud is the best option available today to build and publish modern magazine mobile apps.

Magazine lovers today want several things. They want a consistent stream of fresh content – no waiting for the next day, week, or month to access the latest issues of your magazine.

They want to view it on mobile. People want a convenient source of reading material wherever they go.

Your audience wants to be able to read offline, without an internet connection.

And they want a smooth experience, not just available on mobile, but tailored for mobile. A launcher icon to view your content without needing to use the mobile browser, and UI built and catered specifically for mobile.

MobiLoud News is the best tool to meet these needs. It allows you to build and publish real, functional mobile apps that keep users engaged. It’s user-friendly, even for non-technical people, and offers top-tier support to ensure your mobile apps continue to work without interruptions.

All you need to do is publish your content online with a CMS like WordPress, and you’ll be able to update your magazine app whenever you want, with a minimum of fuss.

Big companies pay developers or software agencies hundreds of thousands of dollars to build mobile apps for their brand. With MobiLoud, you can get it done at a fraction of the cost, in just 2-3 weeks. You can’t beat this kind of speed and value, with no sacrifice in functionality.

Schedule a demo today to get started.