The Washington Post’s software-as-a-service arm now reaches across the U.S. from one coast to another with its custom publishing platform Arc. The Willamette Week, a politics and culture newspaper in Portland, Ore., is the first licensing client for the Post.
Although the Willamette Week is the first client to use Arc, Post chief information officer Shailesh Prakash said they’ve been working on the platform for awhile.
“This didn’t start as a grand plan,” he said. “It was born out of necessity for the Post.”
Prakash said Arc was designed with the Post in mind because of its sophisticated and complex newsroom. The Post needed a platform that could support all of its products from print, to video, advertising, data and design; a one-size-fits-all solution wouldn’t work. Because of that need, the newspaper began building Arc four-and-a-half years ago. The platform is a suite of publishing tools that can work together or individually based on a newsroom’s need.
Arc works off of Page Builder, a WordPress plugin that is completely customizable, down to each individual webpage. The CMS offers newsroom planning tools, a digital subscription system, a content meter and access to online analytics. Arc also helps reduce load time on websites and mobile pages.
“We’ve reached a point where we can license not just the software, but the templates,” Prakash said.
For the Willamette Week, Arc was the perfect solution. Lizzy Acker, the publication’s Web editor, said they were looking for a new WordPress-based CMS for easier use and to empower everyone in the newsroom to be in charge of their webpage.
Although they weren’t looking for an entire website redesign, the Willamette Week ended up updating their site completely. However, Acker said they were mostly focused on functionality and usability for readers and employees.
Since late September, wweek.com has been running Arc, and Acker said it has been easier to use then their previous CMS.
“It’s actually been fun,” Acker said. “And that’s not a word you’d use to describe a CMS change and data migration.”
Prakash said redesigning the Williamette Week’s website took two engineers only about six months. But as time goes on and with more practice and clients, he said creation time for the Arc platforms will only decrease.