Since I started this blog in February 2005 with its version 1.2, WordPress has become one of (probably the) best online publishing tool out there. Can you believe version 2.9 will be released in a couple of months?
Naturally, as higher ed print magazines have started to go digital or even paperless, more and more college editors choose WordPress to power the online version of their publications.
Swarthmore College Bulletin is a good example of this trend.
That’s why I asked Nathan Stazewski, Web Multimedia Specialist at Swarthmore College’s Communications/News & Information Office, to answer a few questions about the online magazine and its WordPress implementation.
1) What design theme did you use?
We used the BranfordMagazine theme as a jumping off point and highly modified both the look and functionality. Since WordPress is really a blogging platform, the most difficult part was getting it to pull together content from a single issue. This was accomplished by setting each post’s “publish date” to be from the month of the appropriate issue (July 2009 magazine articles are all published with dates falling sometime in July 2009 even if we’re preparing them in June). Long story short, our theme’s custom coding is very specific to the way our magazine works.
2) How long did the implementation take?
Our implementation took around 4 months. Our Web Designer, Steve, worked on the look of the site and I worked on the backend.
3) What plugin do you use? Why?
The main plugins we use are:
- Akismet – This automatically deals with most spam comments.
- Lightbox – When you’re in an article and click on a photo, this is what makes them pop open with a nice effect.
- More-fields – This allows us to include extra information that WordPress doesn’t automatically ask for (such as Related Links, Illustrators, etc.)
I also built a custom plugin just for our particular needs so that it could check a magazine issue for possible problems before we make it live on the Internet.
4) What advice would you give colleagues creating an online version of a magazine using WordPress
If someone was looking to use WordPress as the backend for their magazine, I would definitely suggest they use the BranfordMagazine theme as a starting point. Also, this project wouldn’t have been possible without a PHP programmer and a great web designer. I think the fact that we had a programmer (myself) and a designer (Steve) really let us both work to our strengths which pushed out a much better product than if either one of us had to do the whole project ourselves.
Do YOU use WordPress for the online version of your magazine or newsletter?
Post your web address in the comments. I’m currently looking for other great examples and possibly more folks to interview.