Online Newspaper/Magazine

I would like to create a website with LOTS of content similar to a Newspaper (e.g. NY Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal) and/or Magazine (e.g. Newsweek, Time, Fortune).

What is the best way to organize all of that content as far as website design?

I really do NOT want to use some pre-packaged, teenie-bopper, for-the-masses solution. (Although I’m not too proud to learn and/or steal some ideas from them!) :smiley:

I would think if you were creating an online newspaper or magazine, you would not want to build 500 static HTML webpages, right? :-/

So what kinds of things do I need to take into consideration when designing my website?



ok, you’re taking on a reasonably sized project :slight_smile:

  1. you’re going to need a database to store all the articles, users, meta data about any uploaded images and anything else you need for the articles.

  2. you will need a CMS (Content Management System). Either a free open source like Joomla or build and customise your own (my preference)

  3. the CMS will allow author(s) to log in and create content which will be stored in the database.

  4. you could build a wysiwyg text edior, like TinyMCE, into your content creation form so that authors can format/style their content which will be retained with the content when it is inserted into the database.

  5. you or someone should have “publishing” rights on your user account to check any content the authors create before it is published on the public pages of your website.

The general process to build your project would be this order imho.

  1. story board the CMS so you can see what functions it will have to perform

  2. design and create your database to suit the story board in 1)

  3. start coding up your CMS

  4. after your CMS is working properly, then build the public pages to search and display the content in the database.

Don’t start building your CMS or public pages before you have the database set up correctly. Think of the database as being equivalent to the foundations of a house. All your code (both the CMS and public pages) will sit on top of your database.

The last thing you want is to be 1/2 way through building your CMS or public pages and then realise your database structure is not right.

What about hard-coding a basic website first to get an idea of what looks best and then try to automate it?


Newspapers tend to follow a three page format for each section:

  • Section Front
  • Aggregate Story List
  • Story Page

The story page itself is generally no different than a single blog entry page, just instead of being used in context of a blog it used as a “news article”.

The aggregate story list is the list of stories in a section. Normally this is arranged from most recent to the least recent. Its essentially a page that lists all “blogs” used in a “article context”. Technically the idea is similar to blogs being listed.

The section front is normally a page were some type of “main story” is featured, with some simple aggregate list, composed as aside content for; most recent read stories, popular, etc.

That tends to be the format / design newspapers follow.

you can do it that way if you like, but it’s not the way it’s normally done and is not the way I would recommend doing it.

sure, you can hand draw some layouts to get a “skeleton” of the layout and maybe play with this colour scheme generator to get a feel for colours but I would concentrate on getting the database design correct first for the reasons I posted earlier.

the design and construction of your database is totally independent of the type of layout and colours you use on the front end. once you have the database set up you can then play with the design of the layout to see “what looks best” and at this stage you will know what inputs will be required in your input forms etc etc.

Anyway, that is the way I would suggest approaching your project.

Why not use WordPress? This project sounds like it needs what WordPress does best.

I’m not really sure about joomla features but I guess I have to agree with OBEagle. Wordpress can be a great place to take your newspaper-like content site into action.

If you want a platform that lends itself well to the rigors of online news journalism it’s impossible to look past developing on Django in Python. The reason Django exists is because the creators needed a framework to make online news site development faster and efficient.

Django grew from a very practical need: World Online, a newspaper Web operation, is responsible for building intensive Web applications on journalism deadlines. In the fast-paced newsroom, World Online often has only a matter of hours to take a complicated Web application from concept to public launch.

At the same time, the World Online Web developers have consistently been perfectionists when it comes to following best practices of Web development.

In fall 2003, the World Online developers (Adrian Holovaty and Simon Willison) ditched PHP and began using Python to develop its Web sites. As they built intensive, richly interactive sites such as, they began to extract a generic Web development framework that let them build Web applications more and more quickly. They tweaked this framework constantly, adding improvements over two years.

In summer 2005, World Online decided to open-source the resulting software, Django. Django would not be possible without a whole host of open-source projects – Apache, Python, and PostgreSQL to name a few – and we’re thrilled to be able to give something back to the open-source community.

If you’re serious about what you’re looking to make then I’d highly recommend Django, perhaps with Django CMS.

There are different ways to solve such issue.

  1. Wordpress - is the best solution for news/magazine type of websites. It has lots of plugins/widgets.
  2. Joomla - another award winner CMS with many extension for such website. Only one drawback is that, it works slower than Wordpress.
  3. Drupal - Many web developers offer Drupal as a solution, but I had an experience with Drupal and I was disappointed.
  4. Have a look at different solutions using search engines.