Like an awkward teenager or a parent experiencing a midlife crisis, the mass media is dealing with an acute case of identity crisis. As the digital age descends further upon us, newspapers and magazines need to migrate their presence and reach onto the web and find a way to monetize their content without sacrificing editorial control or objectivity, and therefore credibility. And to complicate matters further, they need to be able to do this on a tight budget—and that means they need cost-effective digital solutions.
And that’s one reason open source technology is a natural fit for the news media as it makes its digital transition.
With an open source software content management system—like Drupal for instance—there's a large, active development community armed with a free and transparent technology, ensuring that designs will always be cutting-edge and innovative. And because it isn't rigidly controlled by a corporate vendor, open source is an ideal option for businesses and organizations looking to dictate the terms of creating their online presence with a realistic price tag. That’s not something you’re going to get with closed source or “canned” software.
That's probably a key reason why influential news outfits from across the world have opted to build their digital brands using open source.
Let’s take a look at some sterling examples of news and media websites built using open source software:
The online platform of Sports Illustrated—a North American sports news magazine— si.com features a sleek, visually pleasing user interface that fluidly blends form with function. Built with Drupal, it’s a content heavy platform with a simple appearance and navigation features that don't overwhelm the user as they browse whichever professional sport strikes their particular fancy.
The Economist is a weekly newspaper established in 1843 that specializes in international business and world affairs. Its website is a prime example of a well-tenured media organization smoothly translating the best parts of its print presence to the web without missing a beat—arguably, its online version looks better than the magazine. While it’s not impossible for closed source software to achieve this feat, the highly customizable and hands-on user design experience offered by Drupal, the CMS used to build the Economist’s website, shows that next-level news and media website design is a perfect fit for open source software.
The Complete Atomic Design Guide
The Stream is a cutting-edge platform that provides users with a social media community and daily TV show on Al Jazeera English. A multimedia arm of the Al Jazeera Media Network, the Stream is a beautiful instance of open source software being used as the building block for a state of the art online news outlet. Harnessing the complex functionality of Drupal, the Stream shows the direction that the news media is headed—and because of open source software, it's already way ahead of the curve.
Forbes is a business magazine covering finance, industry, investing, and marketing and its online platform—developed with Drupal—handles large volumes of content and traffic. Its minimalist design and simple navigation perfectly parallel the publication's austere and straightforward tone, resulting in a nicely balanced online news portal that performs exactly as it should.
The Hollywood Reporter is a heavyweight in the entertainment news industry. While perhaps entertainment news isn't regarded with the same respect as other forms of journalism, it does cover a constantly-changing, billion dollar industry that influences large swaths of the populace, and the Hollywood Reporter's website is a go-to destination for many people. The fact that the publication chose an open source CMS to handle its content and traffic demands speaks volumes.
The New Republic is a small, but widely renowned and celebrated magazine established in 1914. It provides commentary on politics, the environment, and culture in American society. The publication's online platform features a stark design and uncomplicated navigation, which allows the publication's thought-provoking content to take center-stage. It doesn't bother with flashy visual gimmicks to attract clicks because the New Republic knows who its target audience is.
The website is a testament to open source technology's ability to provide small-market publications with the ability to customize their web presence without stretching their similarly small-market budgets—that's something you probably won't get with closed source software.
Mother Jones is an American magazine featuring investigative and breaking news reporting on politics, the environment, human rights, and culture, and like the New Republ , has a small but loyal readership. It's another example of a publication managing to smoothly transfer the distinct feel of its print edition to the web without sacrificing functionality, proof that its open source CMS—Drupal—is a robust and agile solution for online news publishers everywhere.
Patch Media is an innovative online local news and information platform and—as innovative organizations usually do—they chose an innovative technology to run their enterprise: Drupal. The website is designed to meet the information needs of audiences across a diverse array of locations and atmospheres, which meant patch needed a CMS able to handle huge volumes of content and traffic while still providing intuitive navigation and a visual display that would appeal to different audiences.
That's no easy task, but open source software is an ideal tool for tackling tough jobs.
Of course, this is just a small sample size—and proprietary software is not some uniformly evil phenomenon, it's just notgreat optionss for certain industries as they migrate their businesses and endeavors online.
Fortunately, open source technology like Drupal doesn't have that type of limitation. Not convinced? Check out some these other awesome websites built using open source technologies or drop us a line—we like talking about open source.
Need a reliable support partner?
- Design & User Experience