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News Articles: The misunderstood Page Element

06/30/2016, 11:00pm CDT
By Rob Bedeaux

News articles are one of the most useful page elements on the platform as they allow you to share success stories, highlight athletes, and share general information with your membership. However, many SportsEngine users aren't getting the most out of the news article page element. Below, is a step-by-step and best practices tutorial for creating news articles and presenting them effectively.

You Will Learn

  1. What content goes in the news article header
  2. Using templates on news article pages
  3. Adding images to your article
  4. Best practices for news aggregators
  5. Sponsors and social media links

Adding an Article to Aggregator or Slideshow

Creating your first news article on your site may seem a little confusing as there isn't a dedicated admin where you create all articles. Instead you must first create a news aggregator or news slideshow. This page element acts as both a portal through which to display the content as well as the location in which to create the content. 

NOTE: Depending on which tags are selected, the newly created article may not even appear in the aggregator it was created in. See the article on tags at the end of this for more details on how they work.
 

Whats the difference, you ask?

 

News Aggregators provide the ability to give a quick list of many articles in a small amount of space. They can show a headline, thumbnail image, and teaser or preview the text to draw the reader in.

NOTE: Unless you are a creating a feature length article that contains specific teaser which is different than the article itself, do not use it. Also, the preview text field should rarely be used and almost never presented in the aggregator (see Step 1 for details). If you use either of these, the expanded news aggregator article could display in an undesirable way. 

News Slideshows only show news articles that have an image attached to the article header. If you create an article, but don't put an image in the header, it will not appear in the news slideshow. Additionally, if you plan to use slideshows, it is a good idea to use images that are shaped in accordance with the aggregator. Otherwise, you end up with cropped images or black bars on the top and bottom in the slideshow.


Notice how the teaser text draws you into the article but isn't actually the text of the article



Notice how this image is cropped on the top and bottom because it isn't the format of the slideshow

The News Article "Lightbox"

Once you select 'add' article from the aggregator or slideshow, you are presented with a variety of presentation options as well as fields to fill in  the header information of the news article. This area is not the news article itself. Instead this is where you provide the basic information about the article This is the most common mistake people make when creating news articles is to try and write the whole article here.

 Instead, follow the the best practices listed below to create engaging articles. 


News Article 'Edit' Lightbox

What do all these fields do?
  1. Top Template–quickly add a layout to the body of your news article. Create a template ahead of time which contains a photo (or gallery), text block with some place holder text, a tops stories news aggregator, and a comment stream
  2. Bottom Template–attach social media links and sponsors to the article
  3. Status–set the status to draft during news article construction. Once published, it will appear publicly on your site (and if it is tagged to a team page, send a push notification to all athletes on the tagged team)
  4. Publication Date–by default, it is today's date, but can be set for a future or past publish date
  5. Expiration Date–if the article has content that will go stale and you want removed from your site, you could set a date in which it will no longer appear. In reality, you usually don't need this as news content will scroll out of the aggregator as you add new content
  6. Title–a succinct subject of the content of the article. Remember this will appear in aggregators and slideshows so keep it brief
  7. Author–displayed in article, but also important for search engines. If you don't want to call out a specific person,  use 'Staff Writer' or the name of your organization
  8. Teaser–provides more content than just the headline in the aggregators and slideshows. 
  9. Has Image–image that will appear in the aggregator thumbnail, news slideshow, and as a thumbnail on the news article page (if you check "Display Preview Image on News Article Page")
  10. Alt Text–describes images for individuals using screen readers
  11. Preview Text–text editor to add quick summary of an article. It can appear on the article page and/or the news aggregator if you check "Display Preview Text on News Article Page," or "Display Preview Text in News Aggregator Listing." This former is something you rarely use, the latter, never.

The News Article page

Once you complete the article lightbox, you will be presented with the article itself. If you used the the recommendations for the top and bottom templates (see Steps 5 & 6), you will want to 'unlink' the top template and refresh the page. This will allow you to add content to it The bottom template shouldn't need to be edited so leave it linked so you can easily update them all en masse if needed at a future date.

Layout Out Content

After the page refreshes, you can add your news to the text block and any other page elements that would be appropriate. Some page elements that are particularly suited to the news article are:

  1. Single Photo–if you have a great photo that helps illustrator your story, use it here. This could be the image used in the article header (which is what shows in the aggregators) or something entirely different. An example would be that the aggregator could contain a team logo and the article itself could contain a photo.
  2. Photo Gallery–Have more than one photo? Great! Use the gallery.
  3. Link Element–If you are only summarizing an article from an external source, use the link article to link out to the original where your reader can see the rest. NOTE: Make sure you set the link to 'Open in a New Window' so your readers don't leave your site.

Promoting Sponsors

Every organization should use sponsorships to help fund their activities. By providing logos and links on various pages, you provide value back to that sponsor. News articles are one of the most trafficked pages after your home page. Call out key sponsors or have a news sponsor for your news articles. Using the connected templates, you can update this after each season with a single change in the admin control panel.


Sponsor page elements within a connected template

Adding Social Media Links

Every news article you create should include links to your various social media accounts. This allows your users to easily navigate to those sites for more content about your organization. To add social media links to a news article, we recommend you include them in a news article template and place that template on the bottom of every page. Doing so, allows you to update them all at once should they change.


Social media page elements within a connected template

Learn More

Check out the help center for more information on these page elements and features

  1. Adding a news article
  1. Adding a single photo
  1. Using new aggregators
  1. Adding a link
  1. Using news slideshows
 

 

 

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    About the Author

    Rob Bedeaux is one of the Product Marketing Managers at SportsEngine. He is active with many customers and currently the communications director for Minneapolis Lacrosse. Rob has been involved in publishing and website production since the days of Geocities and when 300 bps was cool.

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    Tag(s): Pro Tips