Webzine Press

September 21, 2005

I will be at webzine 2005 this weekend with the Flockers. Just happens that last year this time I was helping a friend with the design of a Chinese music review webzine based on WordPress. We are getting ready for a redesign right now, a good time to put down some experience and thoughts in writing.

This is how the webzine looks as it stands, its main distinctions from a blog are that: 1. It is published monthly, all articles for a month will appear only when the calendar turns. 2. There’s a page for each author with all his articles, a brief bio and a picture. 3. The “front page” is formatted a little differently, more like a magazine index page. There’re other minor things in the admin pages to make it easier for the zine editors.

I’ve found the WordPress platform a lot more suitable than some sophiscated CMS to publish a monthly zine, mainly because there’re already so many calendar-based functions. That said, the editor interface is not exactly friendly when you have a lot of long articles to input. Another problem is “asset management”, aka image uploading, I’m still looking for a good solution to include images with articles semi-automatically.

Thinking ahead to improvements we should make, the sidebars are definitely on the way out, to be replaced by DHTML menu. Reader comments needs its own space. The cover page will look better with a “feature picture”, and a three column layout. There should be a customized links pages, and a colophon page to make the whole site look more like traditional publication… I’m tempted to try out Drupal for a weekend too, now time to go work on something more important. šŸ™‚

3 Responses to “Webzine Press”

  1. nicotinestain said

    ha, i always thought digforfire looks really nice šŸ™‚ but i’m thinking about better user experience. There’s a trend in chinese blogsphere that the bloggers want to do some kind of webzines but probably don’t want to build another website. do you think you can possibly get some information about webzine tool trend information? maybe you do know http://www.web2week.com/ which is developed and published by herock — i still think it would even simpler than writing a blog to make a webzine — any suggestion? currently only thing decided is python šŸ™‚

  2. ann said

    I think it’s essential for a webzine to be able to output a complete issue in printable (text or pdf) format, that can be done via some plug-in of the original platform. (Let me see about doing this on WordPress). Otherwise, a webzine should offer the complete user-experience: a uniform look-and-feel, (unlike the web2week zine), an index page with excepts of each article, recognition to the contributers by way of author links to an author’s page, easy navigation of the current issue, plenty reference to related articles onsite or offsite, media (image) rich presentation. Plus a feedback system which is already integral in the blogging platform. I haven’t finished my research for tools, hopefully I’ll get better insights at the webzine sessions! šŸ™‚

  3. digforfire said

    Drop some short thoughts here under the darkened sky, since that category 5 Rita reads less exciting than ann’s last paragraph.

    The fact that the design has been sitting on the current version for more than one year after two earlier non-wordpress versions proved the effectiveness of wordpress platform in dealing with a webzine. So, I squeeze some “negative” feedback as requested by ann.

    Spam. Some time the webzine receieve hundreds of them weekly. By using the word filter we have been able to keep most of them backstage, but due to the amount, even deleting the filtered spams backstage need some patience. Different from spam in your mail box, which you can delete whenever you have time, spam in the comment area deeply distracts public and may leave a bad taste to readers.

    Layout. Some readers confuse the webzine with a blog. Some complaint absence of cover and illustrative images/patterns on the index page (there are people suggested a cover-like banner, or images embedded with the summary of each article). Some say it’s like a idle process which always appear the same at the first glance. Due to the shortage of editor as well as contributors, there won’t be a surge in the amount of content in recent future, and the current light-weighted design fit the volume well, but it seems the elegant feel is enjoyed only by those who step into Linux, open source and Code It Yourself.

    Flexibility in editing. Some contributors wish more choices on the layout, but there are not many avaiable. Even we have, we will be facing the issues to make those choices compatible with the general feel of the zine. Also, in the past, if I failed to rush out the new issue at 0AM 1st each month, it will turn blank. Now that the period of the zine become relatively unstable (likely 2 months), I need to manually edit the params in the php files to maintain the proper content display. It does take quite a long time to post a full line of news and articles for an issue, but, that’s NOT a major issue….to hire a content editor should solve it, and this is also what I always wish in an administrative/cooperative approach, but then again, he/she needs to learn how to manage that. We cannot really estimate that pain even we are all UI guru.

    So much for today. the wind began to howl.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: