Coronavirus (COVID-19) information: Live classes available in-person or online from our fully vaccinated instructors. Learn more about our reopening.


Highlights Magazine transitions to Digital without Adobe InDesign

  • Published on August 5, 2015
Highlights Magazine transitions to Digital without Adobe InDesign

Many publishers that enroll in the InDesign classes at American Graphics Institute assume that the transition from print to digital should occur entirely within InDesign and other Adobe tools. A recent update to Adobe Digital Publishing Suite created the Digital Publishing Solution which was designed to keep publishers within the Adobe ecosystem for all types of publishing – both print and online. Yet one major magazine publisher is taking a different approach, forgoing the Adobe DPS tools and creating a digital extension of their magazine brand. Highlights magazine is combining content from their print publication along with dedicated digital content such as games and video for a mobile app that is scheduled to be available later this year.

Highlights magazine is working in partnership with Fingerprint, a startup based in San Francisco that creates apps for children that integrate a variety of educational and entertainment content. While the digital format will be using some of the hundreds of thousands of activities created for their magazines over the past 70 years, Highlights is looking to do more than simply re-use print content in a digital format.

Highlights magazine has a subscription base of more than 2 million readers. Although Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign can help make a great print magazine, it’s difficult to compete for the attention of today’s children. Keeping the current subscriber level or even growing it requires revising the way content is presented to children. Many children are accustomed to playing games such as Minecraft, watching videos on Netflix, or reading interactive children’s books on their iPad or Kindle Fire. Highlights magazine hopes to compete for the attention of children by reimagining their existing content as well as creating new content as well. Highlights will offer free and paid services, as well as subscription-based content.

The apps that Highlights plans to ship with the help of Fingerprint will enable children to create their own stories, and they’ll also have another that uses one of Highlights most popular features, a game with hidden pictures. Following these, a digital version of the magazine will be released and include interactive content along with video. While these interactive publications are exactly the audience that Adobe is seeking to court with InDesign and Adobe DPS, this is being done entirely on Fingerprint’s proprietary platform.

Like the new Adobe DPS, content can be hosted for the publisher, and digital rights management (DRM) can control access to content. The Fingerprint solution also adds compliance with laws and regulations that govern publishing and advertising to children online, such as COPPA, and concerns of parents, with available parental controls. For a child-focused audience, an Adobe InDesign workflow with Adobe DPS doesn’t offer the levels of controls. Additionally, Fingerprint can help to access licensed content from other providers should Highlights wish to use it within their upcoming apps. If this partnership is successful, Fingerprint may provide an alternative to DPS for publishers seeking to create a stronger digital presence that goes beyond simply relabeling content created using InDesign.


About the author

Christopher Smith is president of American Graphics Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the publisher and editor of the Digital Classroom book series, which have sold more than one million copies. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers and to large technology companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and HP. An expert on web analytics and digital marketing, he delivers Google Analytics training along with workshops on digital marketing topics. He is also the author of more than 10 books on electronic publishing tools and technologies, including the Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies. Christopher did his undergraduate studies the at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for Quark, Inc. prior to joining American Graphics Institute where he has worked for 20 years.