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In an earlier post, we spoke about the benefits of selling digital textbooks direct to your customers. A critical element in that strategy is using an app as the mechanism for selling and delivering your content.

There's a common misconception in the industry that an app is expensive to build and maintain. Which is only true when you choose a developer who builds you a platform from scratch. At YUDU, our digital publishing platform is mature and we have a highly configurable codebase for our apps - offering you the choice of what features you want to use.

Using a shared codebase across apps reduces development costs, a benefit we pass directly on to you. Our in-house developers can also focus on creating new features that benefit everyone. While ensuring your app is up-to-date with the latest security, operating systems and browsers.

We've worked with educational publishers for over 10 years, and before we go into detail on the ‘how’ we build textbook apps, let's look at

6 features education publishers find important in a textbook app

1: Login Controls

Having a login on the app is vital for controlling access to your content. The feature lets you deliver digital textbook access to customers who have brought direct from your website. Avoiding the commission fees you face if selling through third-party marketplaces like Google and Apple.

Using an API, you can automate content access, so any sale made through your website allows the customer access to their content in the app.

Login controls are also a great way to segment users. For example, teachers could login to the app to see protected content like teacher resources and guides. This content would be ring-fenced from students, who would be in a different segment group. It is also possible to grant access on a trial period - creating a group where access expires after a specific amount of time.

These login controls give you as a publisher options on how to deliver and monetise your content.

2: Consistent Delivery

The Apple and Android operating systems are very different beasts, it's important you understand how each system works and what's possible.

Feature parity across operating systems is something we strive to maintain, but the fast and continued pace of development makes it almost impossible to achieve. However, your app features and layour will remain consistent for ease of use. So, teachers will understand how your apps work on iOS and Android operating systems, should students need technical help on different devices.

3: Navigation and Search

The ability for teachers and students to find and navigate information within your digital textbooks delivers a positive user experience and improved learning.

YUDU’s digital publishing platform is built to deliver on these principles. Your app will support categories and sub-categories, allowing users to quickly find relevant textbooks on topics like Science, leading to the sub categories of Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Users can also unlock the power of search, finding specific information using keyword searcher. For example, if you published a textbook on plants and a user searched for 'photosynthesis' - search results linking to the books would appear in the app.

4: Redemption Codes

Redemption codes are a powerful tool to provide added value to your customers. You can use them to provide an existing print customers with a complimentary digital version; or provide an institution with a free trial.

In a few weeks, all YUDU apps can be configured to support redemption codes, giving you full control of how to distribute and manage them.

5: Notes & Highlight tools

When students and teachers use physical textbooks they often use the margins to scribble notes, highlight key parts of the text, or use sticky notes to bookmark key pages.

We've developed all YUDU apps to provide your users with all the same tools, only digitally. All notes, highlights and bookmarks are saved against the student or teachers login credentials - so they can be synced across multiple devices and always on hand.

6: Publisher Tools

YUDU Publisher is a powerful platform with tools to enhance your digital textbook content using video, audio and animation. You'll also have the option to create content that is optimised for any device using a responsive design and reflowable text.

You can even add features like screenreader compatibility, keyboard navigation and adjustable text size to help conform to accessibility standards.

7: In-app Browser

Many online textbooks often link to external websites for further information. This can take users away from the core focus of study, with distractions of social media and streaming sites.

YUDU’s in-app browser functionality keeps readers on track. Allowing them to view the external content that supports their learning, while keeping them contained within the app. So they can navigate straight back to the textbook without being distracted.

Building a digital textbook app with YUDU Publisher

We make the process of building your digital textbook delivery app as simple as possible. Firstly we ask these questions:

1: Who is the app for?

Is it just for students? Or, will educational institutions and teachers also have access? This impacts how categories and subscription groups will be initially setup. It's of course configurable at a later date, but would require a re-build.

2: How will people purchase or retrieve content?

Your sales and delivery model will influence how the app is configured. You can sell textbooks in the app, or redeem content via the app with a login. It's also possible with an API to connect your e-commerce site and YUDU, giving customers instant access to content they purchased on your website.

3: Will your textbooks be enhanced?

Going digital gives you the option to enhance your textbooks with interactive elements to improve engagament and learning ouctomes.

YUDU Pubisher lets you overlay digital textbook content with interactive elements including video, audio and animation. How you enhance this content is up to you, the platform provides you with all the tools necessary. Alternatively, you can turn to our expert consultants for additional support. Useful if you have an extensive back catalogue.

Before YUDU build your app there are three things that we need:

1: Developer Licence

If your organisation has never built an app before (either in-house or through a third party), then you need to setup a developer licence for both Apple and Google. The licence gives you access to the Apple and Google developer platforms to submit the YUDU app builds for approval. Alongside a range of analytics about in-app purchases and downloads; and more importantly, it ensures that your organisation has complete control of the data.

2: App Descriptions & Metadata

Complete a document that outlines all the vital information, so that your customers can find your app and for it to appear correctly in search results (both in the app stores and search engines). This includes: the name of the app; app description (what does the app do, what are the benefits, etc.); languages; and keywords (for search optimisation within the app stores).

3: App Artwork

To build your app using your branded artwork, YUDU will provide a checklist for your designers, that explains the necessary dimensions, naming conventions and file formats. The list includes items like app icon and app background screens. There is further scope for customisation of the app - by designing buttons, icons, and the help pages.

What next...

Once those three steps have been completed, our development team then start to build your apps. This process takes around 7-10 days, and then we submit the apps via your developer accounts for approval. The Google approval process takes 24 hours, while Apple can take 7-14 days, for apps to go live in their respective stores.

That completes the app build process. YUDU Publisher is then used to manage and populate the app with your textbooks and resources.

David Regan
Post by David Regan
August 23, 2023
The main point of contact for clients in the UK, EMEA and APAC regions. David is the go-to person at YUDU for client training, overseeing projects, and general advice regarding the platform and technology.