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websites with character

  • Jim Feuerstein

Creating a newsmagazine website

LNF Weekly is an online magazine for a cluster of center-city neighborhoods in San Antonio, Texas. It promotes local activities, businesses, non-profits, and artists, and it's completely driven by a database, enabling instant 'publishing' of each new issue.


Visit the website:


This website looks clean and simple, but it’s complicated under the hood. It uses a lot of JavaScript, and it depends on a rich database structure (a content management system) to populate every page. Most critically, it’s designed for ease of updating. Loft 2203 is completely responsible for this site: We designed it, we maintain it, and we’re responsible for the content. We author much of the content ourselves, and we’re editors for content submitted by others.

Basically, it's a magazine

At heart, LNF Weekly is an online magazine.

It’s a local magazine, focused on a cluster of historic neighborhoods in central San Antonio, primarily Lavaca, King William, Hemisfair, and Blue Star. Each of those areas has its own identity, but, for those of us who live and work here, they all blend together into a single, walkable, livable neighborhood.

The neighborhood is full of restaurants, art galleries, non-profits, and small businesses, and LNF Weekly is designed to promote and encourage them. It’s also aimed at giving a platform to other ‘voices’ in the neighborhood; people who have something to say to their neighbors.

We rely on a content manager

Under the hood, the site is driven by a database. When we put together an issue of the magazine, we add everything — articles, artwork, contributors — to the database, and we connect each such database record to the next ‘issue’ of the publication. When it comes time to publish, we simply tell the database to ‘publish’ that issue, and — throughout the site — everything updates in seconds.

All the pages are database-driven

Our home page — the magazine ‘cover’ — always displays a work of art by a local artist as a full-page background. Laid over that art, we provide a scrollable list of the articles that appear in the issue. That list always includes an entry for the artwork, which links to a dedicated page for the piece. Both the artwork and the articles are pulled from the database.

Elsewhere, we’ve got a bunch of ‘reference’ pages that get updated a little less frequently, but offer useful information. The two best examples are the ‘Eat and Drink’ page and the ‘Events’ page.

Eat and Drink Directory

As I mentioned, this neighborhood is full of restaurants, and, even if you live here, you may need a reminder now and then of all your options, so you don’t slip into a rut. We’ve built an easy-to-scroll directory of the (sixty or so) restaurants and bars within the boundaries of our coverage area — all of them within walking distance for anyone who lives here. It’s also a useful guide for people who live outside the neighborhood. We’re a weekend destination for people from the suburbs, and we built the directory to help them discover what’s available when they visit us.

Events Guide

In addition to the magazine, we publish a weekly newsletter that covers all the arts and entertainment events coming up in the center of San Antonio. Each edition of the newsletter describes about one hundred fifty such events, both big (nationally touring performers at the Tobin Center, for example) and small (local bands at local bars). On the website, we have a page that highlights events from the newsletter that we think will interest the most people. Under the hood, that page is a database table, and there’s JavaScript to ensure that the most timely events are displayed each day.

(Check out a copy of the newsletter here: LNF Weekly Arts & Entertainment newsletter)

We’ve also got some mechanical pages (also database driven). A ‘voices’ page that lists all the people — artists and writers — who contribute to the publication; a searchable stories archive to provide access to things we’ve written in the past; and an art archive that shows all the beautiful artwork we’ve used on the covers of previous issues.

Why we've featured this site

We’ve featured this site because it illustrates so much of what we do:

  • Site design -- we think it’s a good-looking and easily navigated site

  • Site maintenance — this site is frequently updated, and we manage that process

  • Content management system — this site is completely driven by a database, and that database makes our updates fast and efficient

  • Content — we’ve authored much of the content, and we think we’ve written some interesting stuff

  • Newsletter -- we create and manage the related newsletter

  • SEO and promotion — the site gets lots of traction in the local community

Are you looking for something similar? Or perhaps just a site that needs to be kept current with fresh content? Contact us and let’s talk about it.

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