Since I like to explore and analyze content curation trends, I’m always looking for new apps and services. A while ago I reviewed Zeen, which stimulated my interest in digital publishing, so today I’ll present a new tool for creating digital magazines.
Glossi promises a fun and easy experience, it’s free and you don’t need to be a designer or particularly tech-savvy to use it. As the developers say – all you need is an idea.
Glossi is a young product – it was created in 2012 and still appears to be in “beta”, so we can forgive an occasional glitch. The name evokes high-quality magazines printed on glossy paper, and such magazines are usually about fashion. Glossi indeed seems to be primarily focused on fashion, at least judging by the amount of fashion-themed Glossies (digital magazines created using Glossi).
Of course, your Glossi can be about anything. Default suggestions include recipe books, gift guides, travelogues, lookbooks and fanzines, but nothing stops you from being creative and using Glossi to create a CV, a school project or even a book.
Before you start using Glossi, you’ll need to sign up for an account. Currently this is done via invitations – you request one, leave your email address, and soon the invitation arrives to your inbox. Bear in mind that the username you choose will make a part of your Glossi profile URL (glossi.com/username).
At first sight, Glossi impressed me with its organized interface (and a Glossi about peanut butter, which I’m addicted to, immediately caught my attention). Admittedly, the interface is very Pinterest-like, which is not unusual, seeing that nearly all content curation apps aim to emulate Pinterest in one way or another.
Glossi incorporates a social network aspect in that it allows you to follow other users. By default, your profile automatically follows Glossi profiles about fashion, travel, food and décor, which only confirmed my theory that Glossi is aimed primarily at female population. Again, just like Pinterest.
A good way to attract followers is to edit your profile. Apart from standard information (name, location, profile picture), you can add a link to your website as well as to your Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest profiles. This will help you share your Glossies once you create and publish them.
Create a Glossi
To make your first Glossi, log in and click any of the “Create a Glossi” buttons to access the editing tools.
The interface is neatly divided – on the left are Pages and Clippings tabs from which you can insert any number of images and design elements into the right area, which contains the pages of your Glossi.
Glossi editing area
Selecting the inserted images in the right pane activates the image toolbar, from which you can control the size of the image and add some basic effects.
Similarly, selecting a text box lets you insert text and modify it using the text toolbar:
Glossi text toolbar
New pages are added from the Pages tab, where you can insert template pages or start from scratch with a Custom Page. This tab also serves as a preview area for the pages, which are displayed as thumbnails. Glossies are automatically paginated. Back cover page is also inserted automatically and, sadly, it cannot be edited. I had some trouble editing the first page, because it’s not possible to remove the text boxes from it. The developers have addressed this problem in their support forums and promised to add more templates for the cover page.
The Clippings tab contains predefined images, textures and shapes, as well as the images you’ve uploaded. You can upload any number of images (up to 10 MB per image), organize them into folders and set them as either public or private. Several folders are already created by default, but they are all empty and private, and you can freely remove them. A great feature is importing images from a web page – simply enter the address and Glossi will download the photos for you.
To reduce clutter, the sidebar in the Clippings tab can be hidden, so you can browse the design elements from a dropdown menu. A big plus for Glossi’s consistent efforts to maintain a minimalist interface.
Apart from images, you can insert PDF files as pages of your Glossi, or add video content from YouTube and Vimeo. Unfortunately, this feature is available only on a special template page. It would be more practical if users could just add videos to any type of page.
Still, Glossi makes up for this with another useful feature – Clone, which allows you to copy the formatting of an existing Glossi and edit it to create a new one. This saves your time and ensures a consistent design, which is important if you’re creating professional-looking magazines.
Time to Publish
If your Glossi is ready for publishing, give it a name and an informative description. You can include as many hashtags as you want in the description, as they will make your Glossi easier to find. Choose a suitable category for your Glossi and decide whether you want to make it private or public. Private Glossies are not visible on your profile page, but you can still share them with people if you give them a direct link. Of course, you can make a private Glossi public.
Publish your Glossi
Published Glossies appear on your profile page, where you can edit or delete them. “Confirm Delete” is a nice touch that prevents you from accidentally deleting a Glossi. You can access advanced analytics for published Glossies via Dashboard. It tracks the number of views and likes, but also how long the readers actually read your Glossies.
Luckily, you don’t have to worry about the appearance of your Glossi across different devices, because it will look the same on computers, tablets and smartphones. There is a hint about “upcoming Glossi mobile apps” on the official Glossi blog, which probably means improved support for mobile devices.
Sharing & More
The next step is sharing your published Glossi. If you’ve added links to your social profiles, you can share a Glossi almost simultaneously while publishing. You can also link to selected pages of a Glossi instead of the entire magazine, or embed a Glossi on your website by pasting automatically generated code.
When viewing a Glossi, a toolbar appears at the bottom of the page. From there you can enter the fullscreen mode, navigate between pages, follow the Glossi’s creator or like the Glossi. You can also flag Glossies in case they contain inappropriate or copyrighted content.
Glossi View toolbar
Hovering over a page while viewing a Glossi lets you use the zoom function, like the Glossi, and see the details about a particular page (when it was created and what elements it contains).
Glossi Hover toolbar
The most appealing thing about Glossi is its sharp-looking interface. As far as the features go, it’s more or less on the same level as Zeen. However, Zeen was much more responsive while editing and not as slow while reading magazines. Also, the editing itself was more intuitive with Zeen. Another, perhaps minor, advantage for Zeen is that videos can be added to any page. Still, there’s no limit to what you can create with Glossi. I really like it despite its flaws, and I’m sure the developers will work hard to fix them in the future versions.
Glossi’s intended audience could probably use it without complaint already at this stage, because the functionality Glossi provides can satisfy all their needs. In relation to that, I would like to mention a great quote that I recently found (and tweeted):
Remember when people used to blog? Now most of us just move content from one place to another.
Why mention it here? Obviously, I’m still a bit ambivalent about this type of expression that apps like Glossi and Zeen encourage and facilitate. On the one hand, it’s fantastic that people can save, organize and share content they like. All this is possible for free and without the need for sophisticated devices or deep understanding of some complicated software.
On the other hand, not every collection of wedding photos is a pinnacle of creativity. In some cases, such content might not even be worth sharing – and yes, I’m talking about those instances when something is a repost of a repost. Of course, it’s not possible to memorize the entire Internet, and nobody expects you to know exactly who posted what and when. However, you’re more likely to get noticed if you start producing original content instead of recycling what others have created – or worse, copied.