EXPLORER GEORGE MALLORY
was asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, he replied: Because
it is there. Mallorys answer has become the
quintessential response to any question for which no other answer
seems necessary or possible.
better or worse, my initial response to the question
Why is Emory Magazine on the Web? might echo
Mallory. And I suspect your answer might be the same.
are university magazines on the Web? Because it is there.
because our readers expect us to have a Web presence.
not sure either of those are entirely appropriate answers.
another way to look at it is to ask yourself the question: Why
would anyone visit my Web site?
your magazine is distributed only to contributing alumni or
to dues-paying members of your alumni association, the answer
is easier. Alumni who dont receive the magazine would
come to your Web site to get information about their alma
mater or their classmates that they cant get anywhere
else. The question is more difficult to answer if your magazine
is distributed to all of your alumni. In that case, what is
the benefit to having a Web presence? Why go to the time and
trouble to create a Web version of your magazine if your principal
target audience already receives a print version? Why should
people visit your Web site? What can they find there that they
cant get from your print edition? And, once theyve
logged off, what incentive do they have to come back?
are answers to these questions. There are reasons
to have a Web presence, and there are ways to maximize the usefulness
of some of the most significant features of the medium But it
also is possible that the importance of having a Web site can
be overstatedin much the same way as the value
of certain Internet stocks was vastly overrated.
may post your magazine to the Web Because it is there,
but there has to be a there there. There has to be some
added value, some significant features related to the nature
of the medium that make your Web site compelling, that make
it more than a mere techno-fad.
cannot simply rely on the Field of Dreams mantra, If
you build it, they will come. They may come, or
they may not. They may not stay. And they may not come back.
want to give you a brief history of the Emory Magazine
Web site in a way that may shed some light on the nature of
the medium, how we have benefited from it, and why you might
consider establishing a Web presence if you havent already.
Ill briefly discuss the synergy between our print and
Web efforts and how that resulted in a new brand
for the Web site, and Ill explain how you might improve
your Web site by using feedback from readers who are unfamiliar
been on the Web for nearly six years. Our initial efforts, though
the result of hard work and the best thinking of the time, now
appear somewhat dated. (Click here
to see our first online issue.) Due largely to the limitations
of the software we used, it reflected little real sense of design
and, even though it appeared on something that resembled a television
screen, it was in black and white. Even the early episodes of
Gilligans Island have been colorized! But at the time,
we didnt even have color monitors, so color was a moot
that, the Web site just sort of sat there on the screen.
We basically took our content and put it on the Web. We were
almost completely unaware of the differences between the print
medium and the Web.
how did we turn things around? How did we transform our Web
site from a somewhat bland, passive presence into a fairly
lively, colorful, engaging experience? First,
we took advantage of technological advances in both hardware
and software. Second, we familiarized ourselves with the medium
and took advantage of what it had to offer.
started: Tools and skills
me say just a few quick words about fundamental tools and skills.
If you are going to design, post, and maintain your Web site
yourself, you will need a computer with enough power and memory
to support the efficient use of a number of software programs
simultaneously while running background applications such as
e-mail and your Internet browser (which you will need to preview
your pages). I used the increased technological demands of Web
design to support equipment upgrades in our office, replacing
our Power Mac 7600s over time with a G3 and two G4s. You also
should have a decent-sized color monitor on which to view your
work. Editors typically work on smaller monitors than designers,
so if you are an editor who is about to take on Web design responsibilities
you should probably upgrade to a 17- or 19-inch monitor.
use four software programs in our Web design process: Microsoft
Word to convert text to HTML; Adobe PhotoShop, to resize and
manipulate scanned images; and two Macromedia products, Dreamweaver,
which creates Web pages, and Fireworks, which enables you to
create images and text that are uniformly viewable on all browsers.
products are relatively easy to use and are light years beyond
earlier Web design software. For example, there is no longer
any reason to learn HTML code; these programs do all HTML coding
in the background. Colors and font selections are made through
familiar color palettes and drop down menus. There are other
programs out there that probably function equally as well, and
I am not necessarily endorsing any of these products, but they
work well for us. You might want to consult with someone in
your IT department before beginning the process and see what
recommendations they might have.
recommend that you get at least some basic instruction in Web
site design. When my former associate editor and I began to
work in Dreamweaver two years ago, we sat at my computer for
an hour or an hour and a half every day for several weeks working
our way through the Dreamweaver tutorial struggling to build
a single Web page. We ultimately enrolled in a couple of Dreamweaver
classes at Georgia Tech The courses were taught in two, two-day
increments and immediately enhanced our ability to work in Dreamweaver.
With a little practice, we were soon able to build pages in
hours, not days, and I can now create a simple page from
start to finish, including importing type and images, in about
better understand whyor ifyou should have your magazine
on the Web and how you can optimize your Web presence, its
important to understand some of the principal differences between
a traditional print magazine and an e-zine or Webzine. How does
electronic publishing differ from traditional print media and
how can you use those differences to your advantage? Here are
some of what I see as the main differences between print and
print medium is finite.
Web has an infinite capacity.
print medium is
Web is flexible.
print experience is passive.
Web experience is active/interactive.
vehicle is delivered to reader. (The
potential reader of your print magazine can ignore your
delivers him/herself to Web product. (The
Web reader through his or her actions chooses to involve
him or herself with the product; thats something you
need to nurture.)
(appears at specific times).
(read it on the plane).
as portable (must have Internet connection).
(can be lost/ mislaid).
available at designated URL.
print edition is probably your primary task.
Web version is probably a secondary task.
am only going to fully develop the first three of those essential
characteristics: space, flexibility, and the interactive characteristics
of the medium. After briefly developing each of those concepts,
I can use a single example to demonstrate the way in which characteristics
of the electronic version of Emory Magazine provided
us with opportunities not available in the print version.
of the biggest battles we face as editors is space. Most of
us have finite budgets and strictly limited numbers of pages.
We have all cut stories to fit the allotted space; we have all
bumped stories from one issue to the next for lack of space.
In my most recent issue, I have had to take several stories
that were tightly written and carefully edited and cut them
in half to fit them into the space we had available to us. The
stories were still perfectly acceptable; from the readers
point of view they were complete. But we as editors knew something
was missinga little depth or background, a little color,
a favorite quote that while perhaps not entirely necessary to
the telling of the story still added something to it.
can restore those cuts to the stories when I post them to the
Web, if I choose to do so.
previously said that the Web is weighted toward the visual and
not toward text. It is probably not very comfortable to scroll
through a three-or-four-thousand word story on the Web. The
stories I am talking about were probably cut from a thousand
words to six hundred words. There is some discussion taking
place about whether people actually read features on the Web
and whether we should continue to post full-lengths stories
on the Web. Right now we do post our features to the site in
their entirety, but I am reviewing the architecture of the site
to see if we want to continue to do that or if we want to create
a new kind of hierarchical structure that provides shorter,
more accessible versions of the story and then gives the reader
the option to read the entire piece.
label information not included in the print version bonus
content, and we have developed a logo for it. You
might want to call it something like a Web exclusive.
This can apply to visual material as well as text. For example,
we are trying to cut down on the amount of coverage we give
to Commencementit has in the past taken up eight or ten
or twelve pages, due largely to the number of photographs we
printand we are now considering running most of our Commencement
photos only on the Web. It will save us valuable space for news
and features, and as a bonus the people whose photographs we
run can download them and send them to their relatives, or send
the URL to all of their friends. Of course, it is important
to mention in the print version that expanded coverage of Commencement
will appear on the Web site. That sounds elementary, but one
of the things I dont think we are doing quite as well
as we could is building links between the print and Web versions.
Web is forgivingit gives you a second chance to get things
right. The entire print process is focused on eliminating errors.
We run spellcheck on our raw copy to find and correct misspellings.
We edit copy for grammar and syntax. We proofread galleys, boards,
and bluelines for typographical errors, straining our words
through an ever finer mesh in the hopes of catching all
our mistakes. And yet, we all know the horror of getting a magazine
hot off the press, flipping through it casually, and seeing
for the first time a typo the entire staff had missed in each
successive step in the process. Three or four sets of eyes had
scrutinized the copy half a dozen times, yet here was a mistake
as plain as a prom-night pimple in the middle of our forehead!
Well, you can zap that troublesome typo out of existence on
advantages of this property of the Web extend well beyond the
ability simply to correct errors but can also be used to enhance
coverage of stories by allowing you to update material you have
already posted for which there have been additional late-breaking
developments. In 1999, we wrote a cover story about the tenth
anniversary of the creative writing program at Emory. At the
time we published the article, we knew that one of our faculty
members, Ha Jin, had been nominated for the National Book Award
for his novel, Waiting, but the announcement of the winner
would not take place until a month or so after the magazine
appeared. When the announcement that Ha Jin had actually won
the prize was made, we were able to go to our Web site and add
that information to the story. We promoted it with a small new
logo on the EM home page.
these three concepts, interactivity is probably the most fundamental,
the one most essential to the nature of the Web.
are the hallmarks of interactivity?
sense of participation, the ability to direct or shape the experience,
to explore different avenues, to access different levels of
detail, to make the experience your ownunique.
the most common interactive feature of most Web sites is the
ability to link to other sites, to, in fact, create a web
of interconnected sites. In our current cover story, The
Romance of the West, we profile Howard R. Lamar, a
1945 Emory college graduate who became a distinguished scholar
of Western history at Yale University. The Web visitor can get
additional information by connecting to the Yale University
Press (which published his book, the New Encyclopedia of
the American West), the Yale Center for the Study of Frontiers
and Borders, the Cowboy Hall of Fame, sites for the Lone Ranger,
Davey Crockett, Daniel Boone, Buffalo Bill, Zuni Indians, and
the Black Hills of North Dakota. That allows the reader to define
his or her own experienceand it will be an experience.
In all likelihood, no two readers will approach the story in
exactly the same way.
new interactive feature is something we call The
Enigma Files. In almost every issue of Emory Magazine
for the past eight years we have run a section called Enigma
in which we chronicled the Universitys traditions, trivia,
and arcana, everything from our monument to gravity to our own
haunted house. Recently, we linked the sixteen Enigma
stories we had posted to the Web under the rubric The
Enigma Files. I designed a logo that was vaguely reminiscent
of the X-Files or something you might see on the Sci-Fi
channel, wrote some appropriately portentous copy, and
added a picture of the purportedly haunted house that I had
manipulated in PhotoShop to look scary. It was a lot of fun
for me, and the Web reader can link back and forth to all of
these stories and have an experience he or she could not have
with the print version.
to our site also can easily link to the Emory University home
page, the Association of Emory Alumni, the universitys
news and events page, and the sports information page. Links
such as these give your Web site the feeling of being live.
Some university magazine Web sites I have visited include flashing
date and time icons, which really give a sense of their existence
in that moment.
also have created two interactive questionnaires or surveys
on our Web site. One solicited input into the redesign
process for the print magazine, and the second asked for
input into a major feature we were developing.
that leads me to the example I mentioned previously, which will
tie all three of these concepts together.
mid-1999, we decided that our first print issue of the year
2000 would include a feature we called The
Emory Century, in which we would attempt to chronicle
the significant events and personalities of the twentieth century
at Emory. We wanted this story to reflect more than our
opinions about what to include, so we e-mailed longtime administrators
and members of the board of trustees to solicit their input.
We also created an electronic
reply form and posted it on our Web site.
the Web site, we asked readers to identify the one hundred most
significant people or events at Emory in the previous one hundred
years. When we posted the Emory Century feature to the Web,
we noted that some of the entries had originated through the
Web site and we included the names and comments of these individuals.
We believe this provided readers with a sense that they had
a voice in what went into this feature and, by extension, what
went into the magazine. It gave them a sense of ownership in
the magazine that they did not have, indeed could not have,
in the print version. However, I am getting ahead of myself.
When we finally compiled the Emory Century, we had enough material
to easily fill six to eight pages, but since this was the last
feature we completed it was the last one to be laid out and
we discovered that we had only three pages available for it.
We had at least twice as much material as we could accommodate
in the print version. Holding the story was not an option. We
had promised readers it would appear in the Winter 2000 issue,
and we also wanted it to appear as soon after the new year as
edited the material drastically and squeezed it into three pages.
When we had first compiled the information, we organized it
into nine categories (bricks and mortar, diversity, Emory traditions,
founding schools, giants, research and scholarship, students,
turning points, Emory and the world) and color coded it. We
envisioned this wonderful timeline, colorful, thematic, with
liberal use of archival images. But not only did we not have
room for it, by the time we got around to designing it, our
one four-color signature had already been designed and we had
to place it in the two-color section of the magazine and abandon
our plan to run the entries in color-coded categories.
we saved the original Quark files with all of the information
to post to the Web in a format that was significantly closer
to our original vision. We returned to our idea of color-coding
the categories and created a separate page for each decade.
we published the print version, we received a letter from one
of the people who had been instrumental in founding the African
American Studies program at Emory in the 1970s, who was concerned
that the program had been left out of the timeline. In fact,
this was one of the items that had made our original list but
somehow ended up on the cutting room floor. It was a terrible
oversight and should never have happened, but I think the fact
that we were able to tell her that we would restore it on the
Web had more impact than if we had just agreed to run a correction
in the print version (which we did in the form of a letter from
her pointing out our omission). It seemed like a more positive,
proactive thing to do. It was better than an apology, it was
sort of a make good.
we were able to use three of the principal characteristics of
Web publishing to our advantage:
We solicited interactive input.
We were able to restore deleted information.
And we were able to address the concerns of a faculty member
about an omission.
should be a synergy between your print version and your Web
version that affects the content and design of both. The redesign
of our print magazine and our Web site took place almost simultaneously
in late 1999 and early 2000, and each process informed and shaped
the other and continues to do so. One example of this kind of
interaction can be seen in the development of a new brand
or identity for our Web site.
the summer of 1999, we began a six-month process that led to
the redesign of the print version. One of our principal recommendations
was the creation of a new masthead and new brand identity for
the magazine. Within the office, we had long used the magazines
initials, EM, as shorthand in correspondence, in naming files
on our computers, and the like. We decided that an EM logo would
fit in well with our new design, which was considerably more
modern or edgier than it had ever been. However, the EM logo
did not test well with informal focus groups we conducted in
Atlanta, Tampa, New York, and San Francisco. It had a few advocates
but was met with almost universal disdain. Our alumni wanted
the magazine to retain the Emory name as a primary visual element
on the cover. They thought that the EM logo was too trendy,
too hard to read (Was it E-M or Em?), and would
not stand the test of time.
about the same time, we began redesigning the Emory Magazine
Web site and we decided to incorporate the EM logo into that
redesign. It was, in fact, perfect for the medium. It telegraphs
the idea that the Web version would be different from the print
version, brighter, punchier, edgier.
drive your site
of the most helpful aspects of the Stanford Publishing
on the Web course I attended in Monterey in November
2000 was a test drive of our Web site. All participants
were assigned to groups of three, and each person in the group
had his or her Web site test driven by the other
two people in the group. In almost all cases, none of the participants
was familiar with the Web sites they test drove prior to arriving
at the workshop, so it was a good opportunity to evaluate the
navigability of our Web sites from a fresh perspective. The
features and functionality we all build into our Web sites and
which seem intuitively obvious to us may not work as well for
people who are not intimately familiar with the site or its
structure. The person whose Web site was being evaluated was
told not to answer questions or direct the navigation of the
site; the two people who were test driving it were supposed
to navigate it by themselves to see if they could discern its
scope and structure.
this for? and Where does this go? were oft-repeated
was hard not to say anything. Sometimes all you could do was
wince when a broken link turned up or one of the group members
got frustrated or confused. But it was a valuable lesson.
should definitely try this at home. Ask several people who are
not familiar with your Web site to navigate through it. They
can be members of the staff from another office or, even better,
alumni. Ask them to find a particular story in your current
issue. Ask them to find a class note about a fellow alumnus
from their year. If you have back issues online, ask them to
find the Winter 1997 issue, for example. Count the number of
times they have to click before they get to what they are looking
for. Do they have to backtrack? Do they make mistakes? Are they
even able to find what they are looking for?
this information to determine if there are ways that you can
streamline the site to make navigation easier. For example,
most magazines put class notes in the same place in every issue,
either in the center of the magazine or the back. Sometimes
they are even on a different paper stock. People know where
to go to find the class notes section and then they simply look
for their class year chronologically. With your Web magazine,
it is not as easy. We call our alumni section The Emory
Register and our Web site link is labeled Alumni
Register. I havent done a test drive since I took
the Stanford course, but it is entirely possible that alumni
dont even know that we call the section The Emory
Register. They think of it as the class notes section,
pure and simple. Would it be better for us to call our link
class notes? A test drive is an easy way to find
it will be interesting to know if a first-time visitor to the
Web site would know that he or she could find back issues of
the online magazine by clicking on the Archives
button. Theres no explanation that accompanies the button,
and it seems clear to us to call it archives, that word might
have an entirely different connotation to the first-time user.
addition to doing test drives when you first create your Web
site and maybe annually thereafter, you need to do regular maintenance
of the site to weed out broken links and outdated information.
In the process of preparing this presentation, I found several
links that need to be updated or deleted. This is particularly
true of links external to your site, which can change without
you knowing about it.
fundamentals of Web design
the Stanford Publishing on the Web course, Susan
West and Michael Gold of West Gold Editorial Consulting presented
many quick tips for enhancing the useability and navigability
of your Web site. I found them extremely helpful, and I have
adapted them here and added a couple of thoughts of my own.
You can contact them for additional information at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Design for speed. Make pages small and fast-loading.
Put essential information and navigation tools above the
fold, which in computer terminology means within the frame
of the first screen.
Design your site so the user can quickly and easily do what
he or she wants to do.
On every page, tell the user where he or she is and where he
or she can go. Make
sure every page makes sense no matter how the user reaches it.
Always let the user get back to the home page. (On our Web site,
we include a link to the home page on every page.)
Be consistent across the site. Use the same design in navigation,
style, colors, fonts, and approach.
Links should be clear about where they go.
Design for the lowest common technology.
Dont make users download special programs, install the
latest version of a browser, or install plug-ins.
Include your magazine and/or university identity on every page.
Drive people to your site through the prominent display of your
URL in your magazine, placement of the magazine cover on the
university homepage, alumni home page, news and information
home page (conversely, link to them on your page to provide
a sense of connection and immediacy).
Although your Web version is very different from your print
version, it should not be totally alien or foreign. Our architecture
for the Web magazine reflects the physical architecture of the
print version. Our sections are called the same thing and are
organized in much the same way. Many times the type treatments
are similar or exactly the same.
know that there are university magazine Web sites out there
that are more sophisticated than the Emory Magazine site,
that have more resources and more technical support. Youve
heard of the concept of sustainable agriculture? I like to think
of our Web work as sustainable cyberculture. We dont
have a lot of resources, but were able to do what needs
to be done. The recent improvements in the Emory Magazine
Web site were achieved by two people, myself included, who also
were responsible for publishing seven issues of two magazines
annually (Emory Magazine and the business school magazine).
Neither of us are designers, we have extremely limited free-lance
technical support, and between us we had maybe a total of forty-eight
hours of professional training in Web design and maintenance.
The good news is that, based on our experience, this
all should be pretty much doable for you.
W. M. Beierle has been editor of Emory Magazine since 1980.
He is a 1985 graduate of the Stanford Professional Publishing
Course and a 2000 graduate of the Stanford Publishing
on the Web Course. Under his leadership, Emory Magazine
has received more than eighty awards
from CASE, the University and College Designers Association,
and the International Association of Business Communicators;
is a six-time CASE Top Ten Magazine; received the Ronald R.
Parent Award for Decade Improvement of Periodicals; and was
the CASE Magazine of the Decade in the 1980s. He is an associate
member of the Robert Sibley Society of Exceptional Editors and
served two terms on the CASE periodicals commission.