Using WordPress as CMS of news, magazine sites redux

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My redesign of Cebu Living, an online magazine on Cebu, is now live. Check it out. It’s using a WordPress theme for news and magazine websites. The new theme still needs a lot of work but if you want to try it out, you can do an anonymous svn checkout: svn checkout http://svn2.assembla.com/svn/cebulivingmagazine. Just go through the template files and see what needs to be changed for your site. I promise a commented version of the template files soon.

Unlike the previous Cebu Living theme, which I ported from an open source CSS/XHTML design, I built this new one from scratch. And it shows. I’m not a designer, in fact, I’m bad at designs. But the new theme incorporates elements I, as publisher, wanted from a site run as an e-zine and using WordPress as content management system (CMS).

I will be releasing the theme as soon as I finalize it. If you have comments on the new design, please leave it in this post or send it as an e-mail so that I can consider incorporating it in the theme.

I would have wanted to give svn write access to anyone who wants to work on it but not right now. The theme will not work out of the box because you need to replace category IDs in template files. Work on the theme is geared toward a specific site and having multiple people with svn write access simply will not do, unless we share the same test WordPress install as reference.

I built the theme using Yahoo UI grids and pieces of code I discussed in a previous article on how to use WordPress as CMS for magazine and news websites. I will be writing a new article on the subject.

The major difference between this version and my earlier template is that I did the homepage customizations in home.php, which I should have done in the first place.

The index.php file is used as default template whenever other template files, say for rendering a single post, archive, or search results, are missing. If you have an index.php file that contains custom queries, it will not be able to render parts of your site whenever a template file for a certain task is missing.

WordPress recently got criticized for being a “blogware, not a content management system (CMS).”

I disagree. I think WordPress is a lean CMS that can be used for more than just a blog. I think it’s a great online publishing solution, especially for independent publishers.

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21 Comments

  1. Nice work. I agree with you on the fact that WordPress is also a good CMS.
    When you will release your theme, do you allow me to translate it to french ?

  2. You did an amazing job with Cebu Living and I would love to get your theme as soon as it becomes available. You really have taken WordPress to a whole new level!

  3. Libretto,
    Thanks for the feedback. Sure, you can translate the theme into French :-)

    Lance,
    Thanks for the feedback, I hope to finalize the theme soon so that I can provide a downloadable version of the theme. If you use SVN, you can actually get it now. Give me until next week, I will provide a commented version of the files so that you’ll know which parts to change.

    By the way, feel free to leave suggestions on the theme here so that I can see whether I’ll incorporate it in the release. Thanks.

  4. Hi

    When are you going to release this theme?? Do you also undertake custom design work

  5. Very impressive work. I’m going to try the svn and see how it fits. Thanks

  6. This theme looks awesome! I am very interested in it.

  7. I love the look of this, please let me know when you release it.

    How does your syndication work? Can you syndicate different categories individually?

    I would assume so, but I see you RSS goes only to 1 feed.

  8. This is one of the best themes I’ve seen. The demo site looks similar to that of CNN.com. I look forward to use this theme when you release it.

  9. why use WordPress for CMS, when Joomla and Drupal does the job RIGHT!

  10. Hi guys,
    Thanks for the feedback. I’m nearing a beta release.

    Deepblue,
    I’ve done all the major things I want with the theme. It just needs a few tweaking. I don’t do custom design work but send me an e-mail, let’s see what we can do.

    JM Campbell,
    All my work are currently focused on tweaking the site template. But (correct me if I’m wrong) I think you can do RSS feeds by category with WordPress.

    Anand,
    Thanks for the feedback. The release is coming soon. :-)

    Tech Tips,
    Because I can :-). Actually, I run several sites, some using WordPress and some using Drupal. For larger and more complex websites, I’d go with Drupal. But WordPress is actually a robust and easy to use CMS for independent online publications.

  11. good job! i hope my website can use your theme as soon as possible!,

  12. Nice theme! I’ve been looking for something very much like this.

  13. I don’t think you give yourself enough credit when you say you are not a designer. The Cebu Living site shows great use of fonts, colour, whitespace and layout. Great job and thanks for the SVN!

  14. Max, I’ve been mod’ing your code all weekend to tweak it for a Catholic website in the US. Good job on what you’ve got; really good stuff.

    Here’s one code snippet I threw in.

    1) Modded home.php to look for categories instead of hardcoded catids. For example:

    2) I also widgetized the third column under the search box in READER’S TOOLS. That way widgets can be added (took out editor’s picks and replaced it with a widget sidebar area).

    This is probably easy stuff for you. Anyway, thought I’d comment and tell you what a great job you’ve done. When I finish, I’ll throw the code up somewhere if you want to look at it.

  15. Sorry, forgot the snippet. :)

  16. Hi RJ

    I am very interested in the code… Can you post it please

  17. I have been using your original work as the base for a modded version of nautica-magazine for a daily news site based in ITAL Y for over a year now.

    http://www.barganews.com

    It has been perfect apart from the fact that it has started to feel a little cramped width-wise. Too much blank space either side of the main page, so I have been looking around for a wider template. I have now tried out three different versions of “magazine style” templates with varying degrees of success. I came to see if you had done an upgrade to the nautica template and what do I find ? a whole new template that is just perfect for my needs – well done that man ! … can’t wait for it to be released as a theme.

  18. Looking forward to using this on a small news site.

  19. Hi Leon,
    I like your Cebu Living site and thanks for the theme. I interested in helping (though a little late) with the design. I’ll open it up, do a little work and send you a css. Just tell me where.

  20. Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for the offer. You can send it to maxlimpag[at]gmail[dot]com.

  21. [...] gilt es nur noch, diese Vorstellung auch Wirklichkeit werden zu lassen. Glücklicherweise gibt es viele Seiten, die mir diese Arbeit erleichtern – meine php-Kenntnisse sind eher spärlich, und genau [...]

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