Volume 76
Number 3

The Romance of the West

Home Away from Home

Burden of Proof

The Moviegoer

CASE Editor’s Forum

Your connection to
Emory University

Emory University

Association of Emory Alumni

Current News and Events


Sports Updates

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WHEN EXPLORER GEORGE MALLORY was asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, he replied: “Because it is there.” Mallory’s answer has become the quintessential response to any question for which no other answer seems necessary or possible.

For 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.

Why are university magazines on the Web? Because it is there.

Or “because our readers expect us to have a Web presence.”

I’m not sure either of those are entirely appropriate answers.

Perhaps another way to look at it is to ask yourself the question: “Why would anyone visit my Web site?”

If your magazine is distributed only to contributing alumni or to dues-paying members of your alumni association, the answer is easier. Alumni who don’t receive the magazine would come to your Web site to get information about their alma mater or their classmates that they can’t 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 can’t get from your print edition? And, once they’ve logged off, what incentive do they have to come back?

There 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 overstated—in much the same way as the value of certain Internet stocks was vastly overrated.

You 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.

You 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.

I 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 haven’t already. I’ll briefly discuss the synergy between our print and Web efforts and how that resulted in a new “brand” for the Web site, and I’ll explain how you might improve your Web site by using feedback from readers who are unfamiliar with it.

Emory Magazine has 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 Gilligan’s Island have been colorized! But at the time, we didn’t even have color monitors, so color was a moot point. Beyond 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.

So, 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.

Getting started: Tools and skills

Let 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.

We 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.

These 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.

I 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 twenty minutes.

The medium

To better understand why–or if–you should have your magazine on the Web and how you can optimize your Web presence, it’s 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 electronic media:

The print medium is finite. The Web has an infinite capacity.
The print medium is fixed. The Web is flexible.
The print experience is passive. The Web experience is active/interactive.
Weighted toward text. Weighted toward visuals.
Print vehicle is delivered to reader. (The potential reader of your print magazine can ignore your publication.) Reader delivers him/herself to Web product. (The Web reader through his or her actions chooses to involve him or herself with the product; that’s something you need to nurture.)
Periodic (appears at specific times). Available on demand.
Portable (read it on the plane). Not as portable (must have Internet connection).
Disposable (can be lost/ mislaid). Always available at designated URL.
Your print edition is probably your primary task. Your Web version is probably a secondary task.

I 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.


One 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 reader’s point of view they were complete. But we as editors knew something was missing–a 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.

I can restore those cuts to the stories when I post them to the Web, if I choose to do so.

I’ve 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.

We 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 Commencement–it has in the past taken up eight or ten or twelve pages, due largely to the number of photographs we print–and 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 don’t think we are doing quite as well as we could is building links between the print and Web versions.


The Web is forgiving–it 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 the Web.

The 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.


Of these three concepts, interactivity is probably the most fundamental, the one most essential to the nature of the Web.

What are the hallmarks of interactivity?

A 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 own–unique.

Probably 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 experience–and it will be an experience. In all likelihood, no two readers will approach the story in exactly the same way.

Another 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 University’s 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.

Visitors to our site also can easily link to the Emory University home page, the Association of Emory Alumni, the university’s 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.

We 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.

And that leads me to the example I mentioned previously, which will tie all three of these concepts together.

The Emory Century

In 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.

At 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 possible.

We 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.

But 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.

Once 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.”

So 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.


There 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.

In 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 magazine’s 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.

At 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.

Test drive your site

One 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.

“What’s this for?” and “Where does this go?” were oft-repeated questions.

It 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.

You 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?

Use 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 haven’t done a test drive since I took the Stanford course, but it is entirely possible that alumni don’t 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 out.

Likewise, 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. There’s 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.

In 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.

Some fundamentals of Web design

At 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 <westgold@pobox.com>.

• 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. Don’t 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.


I 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. You’ve heard of the concept of sustainable agriculture? I like to think of our Web work as sustainable cyberculture. We don’t have a lot of resources, but we’re 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.

Andrew 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.



© 2000 Emory University