Realtor Magazine, a publication for residential and commercial real estate brokers, recently launched their new site, built on OpenPublish. The team, led by Chad Curry, included Greg Stinton, Brian Eriks, and developers Melinda Barr, Ana Schmitz and Jason Normandin. We sat down with the team to hear about their experience with building the site.
How are REALTOR® Magazine’s readers using your site?
A. Our site’s main audience is professionals involved in residential and commercial real estate brokerage; and to a lesser extent, real estate practitioners in other specialties, including property management and appraisal. These busy professionals use the site to stay up to date on real estate industry news and trends, get ideas for their business, and find information to share with their clients.
Q. What were the factors that you considered in choosing a CMS or publishing platform for this site?
A. Our goals in choosing a platform were to get something that is easy for our business owners to work in, easy for us to maintain, and that provides great flexibility. OpenPublish provides all three. There are also a few features offered by OpenPublish that we are not currently making use of but plan to use in the future. OpenCalais is something we will implement over time, as an example. Since we are a smaller internal shop, we wanted to get the basics down then turn on the power features as we become more familiar with them. Q. Tell us a little bit about the customizations you developed for your OpenPublish site, like the carousel at the top for featuring content.
A. We took a few of the pieces that were offered in the default instance of OpenPublish and customized a bit. An example is the Slideshow content type. We changed the view type from Views Carousel to Views Slideshow DD Block. We used Views Slideshow DD Block to build out the mainstage on the homepage as well.
Another piece we pulled into OpenPublish was Custom Pagers, and we are using it in several places to allow for a unified look and feel for the presentation of related content. An example of this is the 30 Under 30 class presentation. It was relatively easy to implement.
Finally, the pieces that we felt were necessary and that I highly recommend are Pressflow and Varnish. If you are concerned at all about performance and scalability, this is definitely the way to go. We are seeing great reduction in server load because of this.
Q. Is there anything you're hoping to see in OpenPublish in the future?
A. On the development side, it seems that the developers have a pretty good sense of where they are heading. I think the one thing that’s needed is more documentation about how the OP content types (OP Author, OP Slideshow, etc.) are implemented. We found out through investigation, but having this documented would save time and assist in educating those who decide on this distribution profile. This could very well become a community project I’m sure. Why take without giving back?
Q. What has been the response of readers so far to the new site?
A. The move to Drupal wasn't a site redesign, so it was more or less transparent to members. However, staying within the overall design, we were able to sneak in a number of design and functionality improvements. One piece of functionality we were able to add was article ratings, and our readers began taking advantage of that feature immediately. Once we have a moderation process in place, we'll give users the ability to add comments, so our site will enable us to easily engage in a dialogue with our readers.
Q. Any advice for others building their sites in OpenPublish?
A. OpenPublish offers lots of power. Before you get too far in the process, my advice is to make sure you have an understanding of what each module offers. Having a clear understanding of what you are getting will help save you time, and could eliminate unnecessary work.