How to Build A College Newspaper Website

The website for a college newspaper is not only important to the student body and alumni, but can be an excellent endeavor for any web administrator or designer. You can build a college newspaper website on just about any budget, and without knowing any coding or programming languages. Read on to learn how to build a professional website to host your college’s most important news, updates, and event information. 

Installing a Content Management System 

The foundation of your college newspaper website should be one of the leading Content Management Systems (CMSs.) These systems are simply software applications that run on remote web servers and allow websites to operate and function across the web. Most websites, including major sites like eBay, TechCrunch, and BBC America, are run on CMSs like WordPress and Joomla. 

In order to determine which CMS is best for your college newspaper website, you should first examine your comfort with technology and your technical skill level. WordPress is arguably the easiest CMS to use, and is a great choice for a college newspaper website. Those looking for something more outside of the box can also try Joomla or Drupal which are each also responsible for supporting millions of professional websites. 

To properly accommodate your CMS, you’ll need to get web hosting that is either compatible with or tailored-to the software. Hosts that offer WordPress hosting packages, for example, often have easy one-click installations for the CMS, and have customized their hosting environment to remain compatible with the newest versions of WordPress as they’re released. 

WordPress hosting can also give your website a boost in speed and SEO performance, as the server settings will be adjusted to best complement a WordPress website and tech stack. 

Finding and Installing a Newspaper Theme 

There are hundreds of WordPress themes that would work perfectly for your college newspaper website. You’ll want to browse the free themes first, over at the WordPress theme directory, to see if any meet your needs. Keep in mind, free themes often have non-removable copyright information from the designer. If you’d rather re-brand your theme or you want premium features, you should leave at least $50 in your budget for a premium WordPress newspaper theme

When browsing through themes, look for categories with newspaper and magazine layouts. Themes like this are pre-configured to display your articles in a traditional online newspaper format, with large headlines and writer profiles. You can also browse themes for blogs as they will be able to accommodate lots of articles and any branding your college newspaper needs. 

Once you find the theme that’s right for your college’s newspaper, download it to your local machine and open your CMS Administrator Dashboard. Go to the Appearance menu option and select “Themes.” Click the “Add New” button and use the upload prompt to locate the theme on your device. Make sure your uploading the theme’s actual ZIP file, which may first need to be extracted from a parent ZIP folder. 

If you want a head-start on building your website, upload the theme’s demo content from the parent folder the theme came packaged in. This content will be in the form of an XML file and can be uploaded through the Import Tool on your administrator tool panel. 

Creating Website Sections 

Most college newspapers are sorted into categories like Sports, News, Alumni Spotlights, Events, etc. This is a great way to structure your college newspaper website, and can help readers find the content they are looking for more quickly. In order to create this kind of structure on your website you’ll need to create a few pages and categories. 

Start by making a new page for each section of the website. Make sure to include at least five or so main sections, and as many subsections as you’d like. This can be done from the Add a Page option in WordPress. Next, go to your admin panel of your CMS and locate the categories option. Create category tags for each kind of article you expect to publish. 

Lastly, create a new menu in the Menu tool bar, sorting your pages in the order you wish them to appear on your homepage. Activate the menu as your main homepage menu from the Customize option in WordPress or with your admin options in Drupal or Joomla. 

Publishing News and Media 

As you write and publish new articles and stories, you’ll be able to assign them to categories using the tags you created earlier. On each page with a corresponding category, you can choose the option to display categories articles, in whichever order you prefer. 

New stories and articles that won’t be permanently anchored to your homepage should be created as posts, rather than pages. You can create a post from the posts menu, in the same way you created a page earlier. Each post can be assigned directly to a menu item, or to subsections using the categories tags. 

To add images and media to your articles and website section, first upload your media content to the Media Library. This can be done directly from any page or post, or from the Media Library tab in the admin dashboard. Compress any images using an online compression tool like Optimizilla to make sure they’ll load quickly for visitors. 

After creating your college newspaper website, you may wish to consider creating new author profiles so that your news team can upload articles directly to the site. Share your newspaper site on social media to reach more students and alumni. Remember to compress your images and find a fast-loading theme to ensure your visitors don’t have to wait long period for your content to load.

Peter