September 29, 2015

StoryformWe all know what a typical blog post looks like – pretty much exactly like what you’re looking at right now. A main column of text with a sidebar, comments at the bottom, maybe some advertising above, below, and off to the side. There are variations of course: part of WordPress’s popularity comes from the way it allows site owners to choose from thousands of themes that will alter what a site looks like. But, the basic architecture of a blog article is consistent and quite different to the appearance of articles in magazines.

Blog articles are not magazine articles – no great revelation there. They are built on different technology in a different context. But blog designers have tended to ignore many of the lessons about layout, typography, and image use that magazine designers have learned over decades.

With the dominance of mobile and touch interfaces, and the popularity of longform content, it might be time to think about what a blog for the modern age would look like. Apps like Flipboard and Apple News have implemented some of these lessons – slick responsive layouts that put content and images front and center.

Traditional magazine layouts are time-consuming and require meticulous attention to detail from expert designers. Apps like Flipboard use proprietary and closely guarded algorithms for page layout. Storyform is a plugin and cloud service that brings some of the magic of magazine-style page layouts to WordPress articles.

The best way to get an idea of what Storyform can do is to see it in action. Storyform takes a standard WordPress post, and gives it a substantial facelift that includes side scrolling navigation, full-bleed and intelligently placed images with captions, embedded video, beautiful typography, and pull quotes. Essentially, it’s everything you would usually associate with a well-produced magazine article.

One of the best aspects of Storyform is that it requires almost no changes to your standard WordPress publishing workflow. You write articles in WordPress as you normally would, with a couple of extra considerations – the first image in your post will be the title image in the Storyform article; Storyform will use the first H2 title as its subtitle, and you’ll have to indicate pull quotes manually with a button in the editor.

Magazine Layouts

If I have a complaint about Storyform, it’s that the developers chose to implement it as a hybrid plugin / cloud system. The plugin contains basic features, and the cloud platform does most of the heavy lifting – although it should be noted that the article will be served from your domain. The main motivation for splitting the service is likely that Storyform wanted to control themes, especially premium themes, but there are methods of monetization that don’t mean your articles will disappear if Storyform ever goes away.

Aside from that, Storyform is a great way to make something special of your blog posts and get away from the standard layout.


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