Champs Not Chumps (CNC) is an audiopodcast featuring interviews with people who are pursuing creative, social, or intellectual projects. So far, we’ve done episodes on alternative comics, flash fiction, accessible farming, teaching meditation to kids, you name it.
We’re agnostic when it comes to subject areas and omnivorous in our interests–we’re guided, really, by the people we know who are doing something awesome and whose work or ideas we want to showcase.
It’s a labor of love and we have no budget or staff–it’s just me and another librarian. We take turns hosting and I handle all the technical stuff.
So, we wanted our listeners to be able to engage with the show beyond just listening to the episodes, and Drupal provided us with an open source platform to feed the podcast and provide a web presence for the show. I was also interested in Drupal because I wanted a dynamic, customizable site that didn’t require any programming, and I wanted my co-producer to be able to post content (e.g., blog posts) to the site without knowing much about how the CMS operated.
We store the audio files for each episode on libsyn and use a variety of Drupal contributed modules to deliver our episodes to subscribers. Each episode page is a node that utilizes the RSS Remote Enclosure module to attach the audio file (served up by libsyn) to theRSS Feed.
We constructed the feed itself using the Views module, so that we could pick and choose what content was sent to subscribers–in this case, episodes and posts from our blog.
As non-techies, we were very excited by the iTunes module, which we used along with Views to create a stand-alone feed that met Apple’s podcasting specifications. This feed plugs us into the iTunes store, making it very easy for our listeners to download episodes to their mobile devices and to subscribe to the show.
We started with a contributed theme, Magazeen, but as I got more familiar with Drupal andCSS coding, I decided to develop a unique theme for the site starting with Zen.
Since I was learning CSS and Drupal theming at the same time, I found the Firebug module very useful, especially for fine-tuning the layout and trouble-shooting without having to modify the CSS files themselves.
The theme I designed, “Edgar,” has a simple two-column, fixed-width layout. The logo, the image of the 19th century tug-of-war team, the typographical elements, and the search button are, together, supposed to suggest a little bit of olde-timey whimsey or even puffery, as if we were promoting some snake oil tonic that really could transform you from a “chump” into a “champ.”
Each episode features a set of links for listeners interested in learning more about the topic discussed. Whenever appropriate, I also add an image gallery to the node using lightbox2, which makes everything look very slick.
One of the features I wanted when developing the site was a page that automatically listed all of the episodes with links to their nodes, summaries, and images to represent them. Views (in conjunction with CCK) made creating a dynamic table like this a piece of cake. But it was Imagecache and Imagecache Actions that made it possible to completely automate things. Each image in the episodes table has been pulled from an episode node and resized by Imagecache. Then Imagecache Actions takes over and converts each image from a jpeg to a png file and rounds off the corners.
Finally, the episode page uses Tagadelic to bring attention to the keywords associated with episodes and provide another way for the user to explore the site’s content.
I suspect that we’re not doing anything all that unusual, but we also use our standard feed to populate posts to our social networking tools using Facebook’s RSS Graffiti app and the website Twitterfeed.com. Facebook, in particular, has been a great source for new listeners.
We also use a variety of modules to help with search optimization: Global Redirect,Pathauto so that blogposts are automatically assigned descriptive URLs, Nodewords for metadata tagging, and XML Sitemap to create a more complete sitemap for search engines crawling our pages.
And now that we’ve plugged in the Google Analytics module, tracking visitors to our sites is a breeze.
So, even though we may not be doing a lot of totally new things with drupal–we’re not developers or even designers, really–we’ve tried to adopt many of the best practices from the community to create a visually appealing and content-rich site to accompany our podcast.
Moral of our story?: Don’t be intimidated by Drupal; jump in and be the first non-developer on your block to make awesome websites with loads of functionality.