Berkeley Science Review: Impressive Issue-Based Digital Publishing

Showcase Summary

  • Publication: Berkeley Science Review
  • Formats: Print, Web, Download
  • zeen101 Plugins Used: IssueM
  • Traffic: 300 visits/day (with spikes to 7,000 visits/day after a new issue is released)

For over 10 years, the student-run and non-profit Berkeley Science Review (BSR) magazine has been publishing articles from UC Berkeley graduate students. The magazine serves to highlight the groundbreaking research occurring at the university. In just the last few years, the Berkeley Science Review jumped into the digital publishing scene. They’ve built an impressively powerful—and impressively cost-effective—platform utilizing some of the best free and open-source software available: WordPress,  Google calendar, Google ads, and our IssueM digital issue management plugin.

Simple Yet Effective Layout & Organization

Our IssueM plugin is used to organize BSR’s digital content by issue to mirror the print edition’s content. In the digital version, of course, readers can search articles by categories, tags (the site has an extensive tag cloud in the sidebar), or keyword search. BSR does not limit the number of articles a person can read (as many for-profit publications use our Leaky Paywall plugin to do). BSR uses the issue-management functionality of IssueM not only to make navigation of web-ready issues easy—but also to make available older issues that are only available for download in PDF format.

BSR has used the flexibility of our IssueM plugin to turn their homepage “upside-down.” Typically, we’ve seen most publications showcase featured articles below the publication masthead—and usually somewhere down near the “fold.” But BSR has whipped up some custom code to showcase their featured articles at the very top of the page—above the masthead on their homepage. We were impressed with this layout. It works beautifully.

To grab reader attention on the homepage, BSR makes use of IssueM’s “Featured Rotator Article” functionality to create their homepage’s slideshow of articles. (It’s easy to do! While editing an article, select “Set as Featured Rotator Article,” add a few choice words, and, click “Publish” or “Update,” and the article is added to the slideshow.)

Berkeley Science ReviewThe All-Important Copy Writing: Titles, Categories and Tags

BSR has made great use of the text on their site to liven up what is usually the more drab bits of a web site. Their category titles, for example, are descriptive and magnetizing. A category of content containing off-beat or inspiring stories about scientific research is called: “Crazy Awesome Science.” Also, the site’s tags names are simple and direct—making searching for specific topics or features easy. Their article titles are descriptive, fun, and inviting. They do a great job with their copy-writing in every area of the site.

In Summary

In the past few years the web has enabled the BSR to expand its audience beyond the limits of print distribution to a worldwide digital audience. Just this past year, BSR also introduced an iPad app for its issues (each app showcases a different issue). On the web, the IssueM plugin has made it easy to organize content for readers and easy for the staff to focus on what’s important—the magazine!

If you’re interested in cutting-edge scientific research, impressive web site design, digital publishing, or effective information presentation, the Berkeley Science Review is worth checking out. Also, they are a student-run, non-profit organization that relies on donations to keep their projects moving forward. If you check out their site and are as impressed as we were, why not send them a few shekels? It would be crazy awesome of you.

The Berkeley Science Review Gallery

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