The Brand Protection Professional is a digital magazine in WordPress produced by the Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection group at Michigan State University. BPP used to be produced in a traditional print-to-digital “flip magazine” style, but the BPP wanted to switch this to a truly online, mobile-friendly digital magazine. The organization’s business manager began using WordPress when we developed their current A-CaPP site some years ago (previous versions were developed in Drupal), so she wanted to also work in WordPress for this.
There are no current plugins that allow you to create an issues-based digital magazine in WordPress – there was an older plugin that was no longer maintained and not compatible with current versions. Marketing Acuity’s Ann Siegle developed a new content type and categories to hold the individual magazine articles and categorize them by issue. The team wanted a rich visual interface, so we deployed several blocks editor extensions that add visual richness to the blocks editor without weighing the site down with tools like WPBakery and Elementor, which slow sites’ performance. The blocks editors Atomic Blocks, and the current WP native blocks editor allow the A-CaPP team to design a visually rich interface, similar to their former print-to-flip model, but remain 100% mobile friendly and available on the web as searchable articles.
But we needed to do more. We customized the theme using a child theme, removing a page title section, expanding an ad section AND creating a clever next/previous post link mechanism using a customized block type that allowed for the current issues’ articles to be paged through without pulling up previous editions’ posts. You wouldn’t want March issues showing up on a June issue’s links. That’s the need for a digital magazine in WordPress that functions like a real magazine.
The digital magazine is a rich interface that allows the organization’s business manager to use her skills that we’ve trained her to use, expand upon them and manage her own web assets. This skillset and knowledge transfer is as important as the development project itself. The client’s best interests are served when they manage each issue themselves. We stand at the ready to assist with coding, templating, training and support. We work alongside our clients to help them achieve exactly what they are looking for. The business manager has designed beautiful articles using the tools we deployed and trained her to use, taking them even further.