A Tailored News Platform Built on Drupal for Afaq Magazine

A mobile responsive, SEO friendly, and secure content publishing website that provides a dynamic user experience.

Afaq Online Magazine

The King Khalid University Newspaper Afaq, is a weekly issued university newspaper, and it is unique in being the first university newspaper that is printed in Web system like the daily newspapers.

We started the project by analyzing the university’s offline PDF publications, and then designed a new news website after studying their branding guidelines and content structure. Our client was looking to take advantage of social media, organic sharing, and driving revenue through a platform built to optimize the use of ads without cluttering their site.

That’s why the new website was developed using Uber Publisher, a news distribution that is built on top of Varbase. It is one of many news and media website solutions offered by Vardot.

Afaq Magazine

Launched In Record Time

Vardot redesigned the new Afaq website from scratch within a 4-week timeframe. Initially, this publication was only available offline as a PDF. With the new website, it is now all available online, and for the university, it is a much more powerful asset.


Tailored For Content Publishing

It's an enhanced distribution for news sites that focuses on SEO, editorial tools, best practices for news/media/entertainment content types and structure, Facebook Instant Articles, AMP and publication speed improvement. We used the Vardot base distribution built on top of the Drupal 8 CMS framework. Varbase provided out-of-the-box mobile-ready functionalities in standard-compliant modules. Content created by King Khalid University-approved editors can now be published online, promoted through multiple social channels, and distributed with a couple of clicks. Adspace will not infringe upon editorial work, and the highest SEO standards will attract a healthy organic audience year-round.

How to Build a Winning News Website

Search Engine Optimization

One of the primary risks in building a new website for the Afaq newspaper was that organic traffic, painstakingly built up by the previous website, could potentially disappear. It was redesigned and implemented on a different CMS, with migration from one set of URLs to another. Our developers knew they had to work to prevent a drop in search rankings or dead ends online for readers.

On-site SEO support is solid using Drupal, with thousands of tools and modules available to satisfy the university’s requirements. We addressed the initial concern by taking URLs from the original site and redirecting them using the Drupal CMS. Descriptive meta tags facilitated indexing by major search engines. Language-aware XML sitemaps were also used to improve web page visibility. Optimized markups were instated to comply with the web accessibility standard WCAG 2.0 level AA. All of these factors contributed to the success of the SEO strategy for the Afaq website, without any losses in search rankings or visibility.


The Mobile App

We did not stop at website creation for the Afaq newspaper. We also built them a mobile app, now available on iOS and Android phones. The app was built using Drupal 8 JSON APIs. The app is updated in real-time as newspaper articles are published online. Updated articles also refresh in real-time, so there is no lapse between what readers are seeing on mobile phones, and what they are seeing on their laptops and PCs.

Today’s consumers are attached to smartphones and tablets. We wanted to make sure mobile web users of the Afaq website had a great user experience, so our developers adopted a mobile-first approach. The user interface was designed for smaller screen sizes and lower resolutions. Later on, it was enhanced with additional features and content for larger desktop devices. New features and improvements from Uber Publisher and Drupal 8 were heavily utilized to bring the ultimate mobile experience to the consumer. With the power of these two assets, the app was built in a record 2 weeks.