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Moving into 2012, The Jewish Exponent embarked on a very ambitious initiative: To re-design and re-implement both their print publication and online presence. Not simply a "refresh", the project involved deconstructing and rebuilding their content, their aesthetic, and their technology.
Context was tasked with developing a comprehensive website that is able to handle the management and presentation of a vast array of carefully categorized content produced internally by the Exponent's editorial team. In addition to the Exponent's own content, however, the site also allows users to submit events, business listings, engagement and other lifestyle announcements, and a host of other content. Finally, a robust advertisement system and pay-to-promote content options give the Exponent the ability to monetize the site without intruding on the user experience.
Ultimately, Drupal was chosen because it was the only platform we at Context were confident could handle the project requirements. We knew that the complexity involved in bringing the Exponent's entire publication online would require extensive use of content types, content categorization, and publishing workflows, along with a variety of user roles and an e-commerce implementation.
Some specific areas of Drupal that were critical to the success of the project include:
- Ability to easily categorize thousands of articles
- Easily sort and display articles by category
- Easily display content in multiple formats across the site
- Easily show ads targeted to content
- Thousands of contributed modules allowed us to provide well-tested solutions to common problems
The main goals of the project were:
- To bring the paper online in such a way that the extensive amount of content was available, but organized in a way that made the site easy to navigate.
- Create a robust community calendar, filtered by event type and related to content taxonomy throughout the site. The events listings, which are free and user-submitted, may be upgraded at a small cost and may be featured in the print edition, at the Editor's discretion.
- Allow users to submit "Mazel Tov!" announcements, including births, engagements, and the like.
- Extensive social media integration, including Facebook Connect, which powers commenting, login, and sharing tools. Each time a user comments or otherwise interacts with the site, their activity will be visible to their network on Facebook, which will dramatically increase traffic and visibility.
- Extensive, customizable display advertising to allow the Exponent to generate exposure for their advertisers, and revenue for their organization.
Drupal as a platform worked with us to accomplish these goals:
Drupal's taxonomy system is especially crucial to how content is managed, organized, and displayed. The site features articles ranging from restaurant reviews to rich editorial content about conflicts in the Middle East, so the ability to separate & compartmentalize content was extremely important. The taxonomy system allowed us not only to categorize the content, but provide a deep menu tree and the ability to tag related or similar content throughout the site.
The calendar was created using a combination of the Views and Date modules, with custom development around each. The calendar is browsable and searchable, and users can submit their own events to the calendar as well. Drupal's customizable permissions system helped a lot here - we are able to allow users access to create and manage only their own events.
For social media integration, we heavily utilized the "Drupal for Facebook" module, which allowed us to provide "Login with Facebook" functionality. We also utilized Facebook's own widgets throughout the site, including the Facebook commenting system, which allows users to comment on articles and other content using their Facebook account.
To give the Exponent the ability to create and display a variety of differently-sized advertisements throughout the site, we utilized the Simple Ads module on top of a variety of customizations we provided explicitly for the Exponent's needs.
Context is a web development team based just outside of Philadelphia. We develop and deploy large-scale content managed or e-commerce sites, most often using Drupal as our platform. We focus heavily on the implementation, scalability, and manageability of the sites we build so that our clients can use their site as a tool to promote business growth.
Our partner on the project, Tabula Creative, crafted both the Information Architecture and the design of the site. Context worked closely with them from beginning to end, as we generated and reviewed detailed documentation about how content would be categorized, displayed, and managed.