This article was first published on: Oct 22, 2013.
Designing documents, whether for digital or print, often requires expensive and complex desktop publishing software such as Adobe InDesign. In addition, the desktop-based nature of programs such as Adobe InDesign are stumbling blocks to collaboration, as they require each collaborator to have the software installed on their computers. Marq aims to change all that.
Marq, formerly known as Lucidpress, is a web-based design app that aims to simplify both design and collaboration. It does this by implementing a drag-and-drop interface, real-time collaboration features and integration with cloud-based services. Best of all, it is the tool that lets you get everyone in your team on the same page, literally.
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Getting Started With Marq
To get started you first need to sign up an account. Once registered, you’ll be taken to your dashboard. This is where you’ll be managing your documents.
To get started, click the “Create” button on the left sidebar. A window will pop up allowing you to choose a template for your new document. Marq has 75 print and digital templates for documents such as newspapers, brochures, photo books, flyers and more. You can also start with a blank page if none of these templates appeal to you.
Once you’ve selected your template, you’ll be taken to the first of Marq four modes, the Layout Mode.
Designing With Marq
The Layout Mode is where you design your document. If you are familiar with desktop publishing software, Marq is easy to adopt for use, particularly as it has a simple drag-and-drop interface.Design elements such as text, images and videos appear within boxes that can be moved and resized with ease. Arrange text and images into the layout you want.
There is a top menu bar and two side bars that provide access to all the tools and options you’d expect from a design application. You can choose fonts, line and character spacing, text wrapping, and so on.
Lucidpress is integrated with online services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, Facebook and Flickr so you can easily import images, video and text into your document directly from your account.
Making Your Document Interactive
When publishing content online, you have to consider making elements in your publication interactive, particularly for consumption on touchscreen devices. Marq allow some of your elements (or certain hotspots) to carry links to a different page, an email address, a website or to toggle, hide and show layers. You can even input a Youtube video into your document.
Publishing Your Document
Once you are done, you can publish your document digitally via Lucidpress or allow instant access to the document to your clients and colleagues via a publishing link. Documents can also be exported as PDF files for printing or exported as individual pages as PDF, PNG or JPG files.
Collaborating With Marq
With Marq you can share your work with fellow collaborators in 3 modes: editing, commenting or only viewing. Your clients, supervisors and colleagues can add comments to specific elements of your working document, allowing for quick revisions and changes.
Marq also allows collaborators to chat in real-time, and can track the location and actions of each collaborator. This helps prevent two persons from working on the same document and overwriting each other’s changes.
While Marq is an interesting alternative to Adobe InDesign, there are a couple of things you should be aware of. While it is currently free, expect Marq to begin charging for premium features once it leaves beta status. The pricing for the premium version has not been confirmed. Marq also doesn’t support exporting with CMYK, which might be a problem if you are designing for print.