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  • General Best Practices
  • Software Updates & Tips
9 Awesome Features of Finalsite’s Digital Publications
Andrew Martin

The Posts module quickly became one of the most popular ways that Finalsite schools add content to their website due to its flexibility and the ease of adding text, images, and videos to elements. You can use Posts for standard blogs and news, but you can get even more creative and use Posts for a Curriculum Guide like Maret School

But what if you want to manage, organize, archive, and share all that amazing content your community has created in Posts in a more cohesive and even visually appealing format?    

The Publications add-on for Posts can do just that. Publications allows your school to publish online content like school newspapers, alumni magazines, and weekly parent updates in a beautiful, dynamic, and fully interactive publication built in a series of volumes and issues made from content originally created through Posts. How cool is that?

Publications Vs. Issuu

But why choose Finalsite Publications over the other digital publication platforms out there? Publications simply offers more - more features and more support. Posts content can be automatically added to each publication and then easily edited in the same Composer interface you’re already familiar with. You simply can’t find this level of integration with other platforms. 

Your content also looks better in Publications. While other choices allow for quick and easy PDF publishing, Publications offers more control and a more enjoyable user experience through beautiful, fully interactive web pages with support for ADA-compliance and enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that you won’t find with PDF-based choices like Issuu. 

Publications also allows for multiple content editors. While Issuu only allows for one admin user that has to be shared across all other users, Publications allows your admin to extend contributing rights to quickly grow your content library from an unlimited number of contributors. That content can then be reused elsewhere on your website to display archives of Posts content.

All of these features, and more we detail further down, are designed to save you time. Trust us, we get it. Your work day is already jam-packed. The last thing you need to worry about is a frustrating publication-creating process. Publications erases that added burden through automated publishing and easy content creation. 

Once your school has both Composer and the Posts module, Publications opens the doors to a whole suite of exciting features and options to elevate your Posts content to the next level with enhanced creation, organization, functionality, and interactivity. 

To help get you started with Publications, we’ve selected some of our favorite features that we know you’ll enjoy. You may soon be asking how you ever got by without them.


Learn more about Finalsite's Digital Publications

LEARN MORE


Feature #1: Automatically pull in content from Posts 

As a school marketer (or admissions or advancement professional), you’re likely already wearing multiple hats — and you can use a time-saving hack whenever possible, right?

Creating a Publication can happen in just a few clicks by automatically aggregating content of your choice. Import Posts content into Publications by linking the Publications “Issue element” to the Posts element. This link will then automatically pull in content originally created for your school’s blogs and news for use in Publications. 

Once Posts and Publications are linked, the Issue “Start Date & Time” determines which issue your Posts content will appear in. 

Publications Start Date & Time Menu

For example, a publication with a start date of Nov. 12 will have all content created in Posts automatically appear in that issue until the start date of the next issue. That next start date could be anything you choose, such as Nov. 19, if your school establishes a weekly newsletter. 

Posts and Publications Start time example

Content can also be added to multiple issues of a publication by adjusting the issue’s “Featured Until” field to a date that falls after the next issue start date. If you want content in that Nov. 12 issue to appear in other issues after it’s published, adjust the “Featured Until” field to a future date, such as Nov. 26. 

This automatic process of adding Posts content to Publications can quickly become an invaluable way to save hours of time formerly spent manually adding content. You can save even more time by granting contribution rights to multiple users. 

Whether you have a small team of content editors for your school’s publications, or you want to grant contribution rights to your most-trusted teachers, students and parents, Publications allows you to enable as many editors as you’d like. Multiple editors each contributing their own content allows you to quickly build your content library in a way other publication services like Issuu don’t. 

Feature #2: Automatically publish content at specific dates and times

Publications allows you to automatically publish each issue of a publication at predefined dates and times based on a tiered system of publications, volumes, and issues. Every one of your school’s publications is divided into volumes (usually an academic or calendar year), with issues released throughout the volume’s timeline (such as a quarterly or weekly schedule). 

Creating a New Publication in the Publications menu

After creating a new publication, you’ll be prompted to give it a custom name and establish a schedule to determine when new issues are released. 

Publications gives you complete control of when each issue is released. Want to release an issue “Every first Friday in September, November, January, March, and May at 3:30 p.m”? Go for it! Or create a weekly release schedule for every Friday at noon? No problem! 

Establishing a release schedule in the Publications "Publish Occurs" menu

Release schedules can always be adjusted at a future date in the “Issue Settings” menu. 

You can also manually release an issue for dates and times that don’t fit into your established release schedule. For example, you can release special holiday versions of a weekly newsletter, or a back-to-school version of the alumni magazine. You’ll find this option by clicking the three-dot Action menu on a publication Volume and selecting “+ New Issue.”

Manually creating a "+ New Issue" in the Publications Post Manager Dashboard

Feature #3: Permanently archive news in publications 

While Publications is an excellent way to release new content created elsewhere on your site, Publications can also be used to create visually-appealing archives of old content. 

Because content can be automatically added to Publications, every piece of Posts content added to an issue will be preserved on your website as long as your school uses Publications. 

For example, say you release an Alumni Magazine every quarter each year. As long as your school uses Publications, alumni can look back on past publications with ease.

Tags example in Publications "Category & Tags" menu

Content is also organized using a simple tagging system that makes it easy to aggregate content from both old and new publications. For example, you could organize and aggregate content for the above Alumni Magazine with an “alumni magazine” tag. 

Creating Search Tags in the "Edit Post Element Settings" menu in Publications

The start date of each tagged post determines which issue a post will appear in. 

Additionally, Publications content can be reused elsewhere on your website to display an archive of older content thanks to the relationship between Publications, Posts, and other Composer modules. This unique relationship allows you to create, archive, and reuse content in just a few clicks across your website in a way no other publishing tool can. 

Feature #4: Track reading habits to find what content resonates most

Finalsite’s integration with Google Analytics extends to Publications, allowing you to track which content added to each issue resonates most with your audiences. Readership tracking allows you to experiment with a variety of content across each publication to see which audience likes what type of content. 

Google Analytics allows you to see how long a visitor stays on each page, what interactive content (such as polls, forms, and videos) they interact with most (or not at all), and when it’s best to release an issue based on the total number of first-day views. 

Readership data alone can be a powerful argument for taking your school’s physical publications online, in addition to saving money and being more environmentally friendly. 

Feature #5: Easily correct mistakes and previous issues

Because Publications content is saved and presented as fully interactive web pages, mistakes are easy to fix whenever they’re found (even after publishing) through the Composer interface. 

From the smallest of typos to the largest of page formatting errors, mistakes are impossible to fix past a certain point if your school still uses print publications or PDFs. That means any typos and mistakes missed during the editing process will be seen by your entire school community the moment the publications are available. 

Feature #6: Add interactive content to publications such as polls, forms, and videos

Just like other Composer modules, Publications allows you to add interactive elements to each issue such as videos, polls, forms, CTAs, photo galleries, podcasts, and more. 

Extra interactivity in the digital age when readers are constantly on their phones or computers scrolling through Facebook and Twitter looking at photos and videos keeps readers engaged and invites them to click on additional pages and interactive elements. Readers are more likely to come back to view future content when they’re regularly engaged in the content they’re reading and interacting with in a way unavailable through PDFs and print publications. 

How can you use interactive content in your school’s publications? Here are a few examples:

  • Embed a video element to highlight your school’s unique summer programs. 
     
    Punahou Bulletin Screenshot showing embedded video

     
  • Add a form to the next weekly newsletter to see how many parents are interested in volunteering for the upcoming school field trip.
     
  • Create a photo gallery to show off graduation photos for the upcoming alumni magazine.

Publications gives your school all the tools you need to enhance your school’s publications in ways proven to increase readership and engagement in our modern, digital-first age.  

Feature #7: Content is accessible and SEO-friendly

Web page-based publications come with numerous advantages over PDF-based publications. 

Every issue you publish through Publications comes with support for creating accessible content. Once a document or publication is saved and uploaded as a PDF, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to make further edits to that PDF without specific PDF-editing software. But with Publications, editing and adding accessibility features is easy, especially if you use the accessibility checker that’s built into Composer

Dog image with Accessibility Checker warning

The accessibility checker allows you to quickly and automatically scan for numerous types of common accessibility errors, such as missing alt text, unhelpful link text, and misuse of proper heading structures. These accessibility errors can be particularly harmful when it comes to SEO.  

Speaking of SEO, search engines have difficulty scanning websites for certain types of content, including images, some types of video players, and, you guessed it, PDFs (even digital ones like an Issuu digital magazine). 

Search engines can identify a PDF by its file name, but they can’t search the text content and individual editable fields of most PDFs like they can the traditional web page format that Publications uses. This mean PDF publications aren’t helping improve your website’s SEO; instead, they’re actually hurting your website’s content marketing strategy. 

PDFs are also a pain to edit once they’re created, and they’re not exactly a joy to interact with, especially on mobile devices, which likely makes up a sizeable percentage of the people browsing your website. Zooming in and scrolling on a PDF using a mobile screen is finicky at best, and downright infuriating at worst. 

Skip the needless hassle and create web page-based publications that automatically scales to mobile devices. You won’t find responsive scaling and other mobile-friendly features with Issuu, either.

Feature #8: Create a custom-designed Publication unique to your school

When it comes time to designing your school’s publications, you can choose between one of our beautiful pre-built layouts, or an entirely custom design unique to your school. We give you as much or as little control over the design and layout as you want.

Punahou Bulletin Publicatons homepage screenshot

For those who want the most out of their custom publications designs, you can work directly with Finalite’s design team. Punahou created a beautiful publication (featured above) to showcase their incredible photography and videos, while Baylor School (featured below) used Publications to create portfolios to display their student’s artwork in photo galleries. 

Baylor School Publications screenshot of drawing portfolio

Feature #9: Publications is backed by Finalsite’s secure data hosting

Lastly, and perhaps, most importantly, when you partner with Finalsite to design and build your school’s website, you know that all of your data is backed and protected by Finalsite’s secure website hosting. The same is true for each and every publication you create with Publications.

Whereas Issuu uses Iframe code on some websites to embed content which can cause significant security risks, Publications features modern firewalls with TLS Encryption and encryption of data at rest on top of continuous vulnerability scanning, all protected by 24/7, 365-days-a-year security operation center staffing. Simply put, your publications will always be secure and readily available around the clock.

Key Takeaway   

From weekly newsletters to quarterly magazines, Publications is an excellent way to curate and archive Posts content into beautiful publications, volumes, and issues that can be reused throughout your school’s website. Whether you want to preserve your content or share it with the world, the Publications add-on for Posts gives you the tools and options needed to configure each issue with as much, or as little, customization as you’d like.  


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Andrew Martin Header
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As Finalsite’s Product Marketing Specialist, Andrew writes blogs and creates videos to share information about all the latest and greatest Finalsite products. Andrew has more than 10 years of video production experience and a journalism education from the University of South Carolina. He is excited about bringing his experience and expertise to Finalsite.

 

 


 

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