WordPress for Radio Stations – More plugins, themes and ideas

In July 2012, I did a post about using WordPress to build a radio station website.

This post builds upon what was discussed in there, bringing in some new plugins and themes as well as news about future WordPress releases that will affect radio stations.

Themes

As usual, there are literally thousands of themes out there.

My main source of themes is ThemeForest. The new design for Cre8 Radio‘s website is a theme I bought from there and customised.

The only downside to any theme collection website is that sometimes you don’t get a feel for the features until you’ve actually bought it. If there  is the option to log in and play around with the ‘Theme Options’ panel, do so. You will get a better feel for how easy/hard it is to customise, as well as see if it truly have what you’re looking for.

On Twitter, why not search for “WordPress themes” or something similar. You may have to be picky with what links you click, but there are some gems out there. It’s just finding what you’re after.

The other option is to build your own. This can be a difficult process if you don’t already know how to use PHP or the WordPress loop system. My first attempt at designing a WordPress theme from scratch was the KingsStock Music Festival website, which uses Twitter Bootstrap as a framework for coding structure.

Plugins

There were was a great plugin suggestion on my previous post which I will give a mention here.

Radio Station – WordPress.org/plugins

This is based on Drupul’s ‘Station‘ plugin. It has some pretty neat features and means you can do things with playlists, the role of ‘DJ’ for users and widgets which generate the current ‘DJ’ on air.

I tried it out on an RSL station’s website and found that it was difficult to work with at times. That might have been because I wanted to really customise how it looked and how the widgets were laid out.

I can see the promise in the plugin, however things like the presenter profiles didn’t work for me out the box and I couldn’t find a way to fix it.

If there was an update or explanation for this error, then I may have continued to use it, but it’s certainly one to watch.

Audio/Video Plugins

There are some big changes coming to WordPress 3.6 which mean we can dispense with many of the audio or video plugins.

I previously mentioned that WordPress Audio Player plugin, which uses a shortcode to generate an audio player of your choice.

However, I’ve been playing around with MediaElement.js for my live streaming players (see Cre8 Radio and One Media Radio).

Previously there was a plugin which brought that library within the WordPress system, however it will soon be within the core of WP!

Audio/Video support in WordPress Core

With MediaElement.js within the core of WordPress, it means we no longer need to have plugins to generate those players for (many) podcasts or short clips that give context to a post.

Instead we can simply type audio src="audio-source.mp3" (in square brackets) and the player with MP3 will appear. It even supports WAV and OGG files. You can specify just one or all of the file types and the WP core will handle how the file is delivered to the user.

It even works in IE7! And can deliver native player options to devices such as iOS or Android.

It remains to be seen how exactly we’ll be able to manipulate the library or even if there is any visual customisation, but it is certainly a step to help us use less plugins!

You can read more about MediaElement.js in WordPress Core over on the Make WordPress Core blog.

Post Formats in WP 3.6

Along with audio/video support, WordPress 3.6 will add post formats.

The theme I use on this site has post formats built in, but now WP have added that to the core.

For radio stations, it will help you distinguish audio content, from YouTube videos and galleries of photos from community events you’ve popped along to.

New themes will be able to harness this information and display content differently and interesting ways. Imagine how easy galleries could become!

I was really excited to read the post I mentioned above about Post Formats in WP 3.6, however they have now been pulled from the core and will instead live as a plugin.

Post formats are powerful for radio stations as it will help you distinguish audio content, from YouTube videos and galleries of photos from community events you’ve popped along to.

I’m not entirely sure how this will now work, but it should enable us to make interesting content easy to find and display. Again, this is a topic that might be worth a watch.

Conclusion

Hopefully this post has given you some more food for thought.

What could the future of WordPress mean for radio stations? Will it make our lives easier or make us work harder for the medium we love? That remains to be seen.

But as always if you have any more plugin, theme or ideas to suggest, then feel free to comment below or pop me an email at oliver@oliverneedham.co.uk

 

Article image: Erik Pettersson / Flickr

This article contains affiliate links. While I only ever write about products I think deserve recognition, I may earn a small commission if you click through and buy the product in question.

How to get my Web Design Job

staffsunionI started working at Staffordshire University Students’ Union (Staffs Union) in December 2010 as one of two web designers. I’m based in Stoke-on-Trent and my colleague was based in Stafford.

Last year, Stafford based Andrew went on a placement year and I became the sole web designer for the Students’ Union.

Since then I’ve taken on all kind of tasks; from adjusting text on a page through to a full blown redesign of the site!

In July this year, I graduate from the Staffordshire University, which means it’s time for me to leave my web design job at the SU. During March/April the Marketing Department are looking for someone to fill my shoes.

When I applied for my job there were some things that would’ve been really useful to know. Not so much about myself, but about what the job entailed.

I want the person who goes in after me to have the same enthusiasm and passion for the SU’s website. So here’s some tips if you’re thinking of applying for my job.

Research the CMS/Platform

When I started I had no clue what the SU’s CMS was. It turns out it’s much much more than just a CMS and is a complete platform that not only deals with the web face, but also the whole membership system!

Before going in, know this. The SU aren’t looking for a new platform or for someone to reinvent the wheel. It’s a web design job, not a web developer job. My boss told me how when I applied (and when Andrew’s post was re-advertised) that lots of applicants talked about what great things they could develop for them. The SU aren’t moving from the system any time soon as it controls and does so much! It can be a pain in the bum sometimes, but it has fantastic power behind it.

You don’t have to have already used it or know how to do anything with it, just be expecting to learn a lot about it in a short time!

I’m not going to say what the platform is, as a bit of digging around on the current site will bring up what it is.

Be prepared to redesign

As I mentioned, I redesigned the entire website style during the summer of 2012. It is highly likely that there will be another redesign called upon. The nature of Students’ Unions is that there are new officers every year and they have a different idea of what the website should do (whilst marketing has their own!).

Think about the website now and how you’d like to improve it. Look at the current coding structure to get an idea of what might be possible. Learn what it’s on now and whether it’s good or not. Do you have a plan for how the website would work on mobile?

Again, don’t try to reinvent the wheel, just try to think differently and creatively. Show the interviewers what you can do!

Look at the site and SU as they are now

I was very interested in what the SU was doing as I was part of the student media group when applying and had previous experience of a students’ union.

You don’t always need that detailed knowledge, just have a good idea of their values and aim. What are they trying to do and how are they currently going about it.

See what the website is like right now. Explore it and try to use it without a web design head on. How is information presented? What sort of features does it currently have that help students?

If you’re apply just because it’s a web design job, you might not get too far.

Think of your ‘customer service’ experience

It’s always funny when my boss has to do a Personal Development Review and comes to the question about my ‘customer service’ performance. I don’t serve ‘customers’ as such but work with many different departments within the SU; Money Doctors, the Student Advice Centre and Activities to name just a few.

How would you interact with them and ensure you’re getting the best information from them, whilst feeding back your thoughts to them.

I personally had very little experience of this before the job, but have certainly learnt more about how to deal with people’s web design requests. What is possible and going beyond their expectations.

Be yourself, but don’t waffle

Knowing my bosses, if you get through to the interview stage, don’t waffle on!

They like getting straight to the point and it being explained in plain English. It’s no good trying to explain something in a round about way and completely missing the point of what the question was asking for. This point may be a generic job interview point, but it’s certainly worth making!

 

What I’ve mentioned are no guarantees to get you my job, but they should certainly help you!

I have loved working at the Students’ Union and will be sad to leave after two and a half years there. I just want to see the website continue to flourish and grow better and stronger.

If you want to actually apply, you can get all the relevant details on the SU’s Jobs page; just click “Job Opportunities for Students” when you get there.

 

Just so you know, these are my own views and not those of the Students’ Union. Also to be transparent, I will be helping out with the recruitment process, so I may well be helping to short list and sitting in on interviews!