Complete Wellbeing (CW) is a monthly print magazine, dedicated to you and your wellbeing, a first-of-its-kind in India. Yours truly had the opportunity to build an online presence for the magazine under some restrictions. The online website was supposed to play a role of a companion website, something that will promote the print magazine and build a place for discussions on the articles.
The website allows a preview into the print issue, that is, about 3 – 6 articles per issue are available in full online. The others are available only in the print issue. The aim is to finally make the magazine completely available online, without compromising on the experience and with a solid business model for it. The current version is limited to only a preview.
Another big one was that the website was already due last year, and I knew of no other tool better than WordPress to do this job.
WordPress does blogging tasks so well that it is suitable for any article management system. The ease in writing, the multiple categories, the ability to schedule posts and a good comment management system does most of the publishing tasks for you. The additional facilities of roles and user management make it excellent to host multiple authors in the system. And so many years of open source experience has made it ideal for usable in a variety of environments.
There is one more reason why WordPress is good for building web sites. It gives you complete freedom in
- data retrieval
This makes it one of the best tools to build a web site quickly, where WordPress does most of the hardwork for you. The markup is completely in your hands, and the excellent template hierarchy gives you ways of building in the common behavior as well as specialize. Most of the processing and retrieval is done by the WordPress loop, but you can very easily write your own queries and your own plugins/filters/actions to modify or add to it.
What did I do?
With the article management taken care of, I could focus on modeling the content types required into WordPress.
A CW issue is modeled into a WordPress monthly archive. It not only provides most of the backend code, but also lets you use a very intuitive URL structure. For example,
http://www.completewellbeing.com/magazine/2007/03/ takes you to the March 2007 issue. Also, the yearly archives have been modified to display issues in that year, e.g., 2007 Issues displays all the issues in 2007. Now this required very less effort with
date.php, as most of the code was already provided by WordPress.
The most work I had to do was to build in ability to associate multiple authors to a single post. There are a couple of plugins out there which already do this, using the custom field, but I wanted to establish a one-to-many relationship, like it is between a post and categories. This allowed me to retrieve articles by an authors without having to look into two tables.
author.php played the role of an author profile and articles in the template.
The next big thing I had to do was to build the various article types into the system, e.g., cover story, the foreword. This and the topics (we are still working on a better word) were easily implemented by the multiple categories. The latest issue is recovered using the latest cover story available.
Things to do
I still have to some more work to do. One is to modify the feeds to suit the magazine. The default behavior will give out 40-50 elements as soon an issue is available, which might be unusable. I am wondering if a single element excerpts of all articles, or a combination of single element per full article and one for all the print-only ones will work better. Feel free to chip in and give suggestions.
We are still working on some content. There is also a plan to add a blog so that a lot of non-magazine events and topics can be discussed there. Other aspects that are still not complete are SEO, tags and advertising. This will continue in the background. I somehow feel that no site can remain static for more than a month nowadays. Either it has to have inbuilt adaptibility or has to continuously evolve.
However, I felt that it was time to open this up to you and get your feedback. Feel free to throw bouquets or brickbats, both will ultimately benefit the site. I am going to release some code as plugins once the web site is completely done.
I will follow this with more explaining some more design elements.