How to Create a Journal Website in 6 Easy Steps

Table of Contents


This article guides you on how to create a journal website that runs optimally to fulfill the website’s role in hosting content and promoting the journal.

Academic journals play a vital role in academic publishing by disseminating new research and ideas. They provide an important platform for researchers across disciplines to share their work with peers after a rigorous peer review process. The research published in academic journals advances knowledge and spurs discoveries across fields.

How to create a journal website

In today’s digital age, academic journals must have an online presence. Building a website for your academic journal can help increase its visibility, expand its readership, and allow for wider dissemination of published research. An online journal website also makes the publication more accessible to readers across the globe.

This write-up will provide a step-by-step guide to creating a website for your academic journal. It will combine best practices and my experience setting up and upgrading scholarly journal websites under my care.

The key steps that will be covered include:

  • Defining your journal’s aim and scope, and target audience
  • Selecting an appropriate platform to build your website
  • Designing a user-friendly and visually appealing website
  • Creating engaging content for your website
  • Optimizing your website for search engines
  • Promoting your journal website

By the end of this guide, you will have the knowledge needed to create an effective online presence for your academic journal publication.

1. Defining Your Journal’s Purpose and Audience

When creating an academic journal website, it is crucial to clearly define the aims and scope of the journal and the intended audience. This will serve as the foundation that guides all your website design and content decisions.

Here are some tips on how to approach this important first step:

Define Your Journal’s Purpose

Start by asking yourself key questions: What are the aims, scope and focus of your journal? What niche or gap in academic research does it aim to fill?

Outlining concise objectives will help keep your website content aligned and on track. Consider short-term goals (e.g., attract submissions for your first issue) and long-term vision (e.g. become a premier journal in your field).

Identify Your Target Audience

Get very specific about who you want to reach with your journal website. This includes not just academics and researchers who will read, cite, and potentially submit to your journal. But also students, journalists, policymakers or any other group that would benefit from access to your journal. Understanding audience needs and preferences will allow you to tailor website content accordingly.

Let Purpose and Audience Guide Design

Keep your defined journal purpose and audience at the heart of all website design and content decisions. For example, prominent submission guidelines and author resources reflect a journal seeking new manuscripts. A strong social media presence caters to a younger, tech-savvy audience. Clear aims prevent scope creep, creating a more focused, user-friendly website.

In summary, taking the time to clearly define your journal’s raison d’être and intended users at the start will provide the crucial framework to craft an academic journal website that effectively serves its purpose. This core foundation informs everything from platform choice and navigation to content themes and tone.

2. Selecting a Platform for Your Journal Website

When creating a website for your academic journal, one of the most important decisions is selecting which platform or content management system (CMS) to use. The platform you choose will impact the website’s functionality, design capabilities, and long-term management. There are many options to consider, so doing thorough research is key.

WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Wix are the main platforms used for building websites. I have worked with WordPress and Joomla, both open source systems.

WordPress is one of the most popular choices for academic journal websites because it is user-friendly, fully customizable, and has a wealth of plugins and themes specifically for journals.

Joomla and Drupal are other open source CMS options with powerful features but have steeper learning curves. Wix is a drag-and-drop website builder that is easy for beginners but lacks the flexibility and customization of WordPress.

When evaluating platforms, consider these key factors:

  • Ease of use – How intuitive is the platform for your team? Simpler systems require less technical skill.
  • Customization options – Can you tailor the design and features to your journal’s needs?
  • Cost – What fees or subscriptions are involved? Open source systems like WordPress are free, but you will need technically savvy people for customization.
  • Security and backups – Does the platform provide security measures and backup options?
  • Scalability – Can the platform easily accommodate growth in traffic and content?
  • SEO capabilities – Does it allow optimization for search engine visibility?
  • Support and documentation – Is knowledgeable support available if needed?

In addition to the major CMS options, niche platforms are designed specifically for academic journals. The most popular is Open Journal Systems (OJS), which I have also worked with at my institution. The OJS seems to be the way forward for us as of the writing.

The advantage is built-in tools tailored to journal publishing needs. However, niche platforms may lack the flexibility and support of broader solutions like WordPress. Carefully weighing the pros and cons of various platforms will help you select the best fit for your academic journal’s website needs and capabilities.

3. Designing Your Journal Website

A well-designed website is crucial for any academic journal looking to establish an online presence. The website design should aim to be visually appealing and easy to navigate and access.

Here are some key considerations when designing your journal’s website:

Create a User-Friendly Homepage

The homepage is the first impression visitors get of your journal. It should communicate the journal’s purpose and highlight new and popular content. A clean layout with engaging visuals, clear navigation menus, and a search bar can help enhance usability.

Optimize Site Navigation

The navigation menu is vital for helping visitors find information quickly on your website. Keep main menus consistent across pages and categorize content sensibly. Breadcrumb trails are useful for visitors to trace their steps. An internal search feature also aids navigation.

Use Responsive Web Design

With internet usage shifting to mobile devices, a responsive design is essential. Your website should automatically adapt layouts and resize them for optimal viewing on different devices. Using a mobile-first approach to design is recommended.

Make Accessibility a Priority

Ensure your website follows web accessibility guidelines. Use alt text for images, sufficient color contrast, heading tags for structure, and clear link text. Such measures will allow those using assistive technologies also to access your content.

Showcase Content Visually

Visuals like images, illustrations, charts, and videos can make your content more engaging. But use them sparingly and ensure they complement the text rather than distract. Optimize images for fast load times and include captions.

With a clean, user-friendly, and visually appealing design tailored to your audience, your academic journal’s website will make a great first impression and effectively showcase the knowledge you aim to share.

4. Creating Relevant Content

Quality content is the cornerstone of any successful website. For an academic journal website, the content should be informative, give a scholarly feeling, and engaging enough to attract and retain visitors.

Some guidelines for creating great content for your journal’s website:

The Compulsory Details

An academic journal must include the following information on the website:

  • The aims and scope of the journal should be clearly stated on the home page.
  • ISSN (or E-ISSN or both if you produce both printed and digital versions).
  • Editorial board members, including the affiliations and link to board members’ profiles.
  • Contact details of the journal and the publisher (full address, email, phone number, etc.)
  • Publications that include the latest issue, past issues (archive), and additional sections (if applicable)
  • Information on publication charges (e.g., Article Processing Charges).
  • Submission guidelines, with links to the manuscript management system (where applicable).
  • The databases the journal is indexed in. New journals will not have indexing yet, but this part can be updated as time goes on.

Provide Value to Readers

The content on your website should offer real value to your target audience. Consider what information they seek and create content that educates, informs, or helps them somehow.

For an academic journal, this could include article summaries, literature reviews, academic news, career advice, etc. The content should be relevant to your journal’s scope and field of study.

Optimize Content for Online Reading

Online readers tend to skim and scan rather than read word-for-word. To accommodate this, use concise paragraphs, subheadings, bullet points, and bold/italic text to break up long blocks of text. Embed relevant images, charts, or multimedia when suitable. Content optimized for online reading will have higher readability.

Engage Readers with Multimedia

Incorporate engaging multimedia elements when appropriate. For example, you could embed a relevant YouTube video, infographic, photo gallery, audio clip or presentation slides. Multimedia adds interactivity and visual interest to your content.

Write in an Accessible Style

While the content should be academic, avoid using complex jargon and write in an accessible style (outside of the academic articles). Explain discipline-specific terms when needed. Using plain, easy-to-understand language will make your content more readable.

Include Varied Content Types

Have a mix of content types like research summaries, commentaries, interviews, book reviews, journal updates, etc. Varied content caters to different reader needs and keeps the website engaging.

Update Content Regularly

New content should be added regularly to your website, at least weekly, if not more frequently. This ensures there is always something new for returning visitors, such as calls for papers, event promotions, etc. Promote new content through email newsletters, social media, and other channels.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can create content for your academic journal website that attracts, engages, and retains visitors.

5. Optimizing Your Journal Website for Search Engines

Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for ensuring your academic journal website gets found by your target audience. By optimizing your website for search engines like Google, you can improve its rankings in search results and attract more relevant traffic.

Explanation of SEO and its Relevance to Your Journal Website

SEO refers to strategies and techniques that help a website rank higher in unpaid, organic search engine results. The higher your website ranks for keywords related to its content, the more visible it becomes to searchers. SEO is relevant for journal websites because it can:

  • Increase website traffic and readership by making it easier to find in searches.
  • Boost discovery and dissemination of published research.
  • Establish the journal’s reputation and authority online.

Tips for Optimizing Website Content and Design

Here are some tips to optimize your journal website’s content and design for better SEO:

  • Use relevant keywords in titles, headers, content, URLs, alt text, etc.
  • Create unique, high-quality content that answers searchers’ queries.
  • Use headings, lists, and multimedia to break up long blocks of text.
  • Ensure fast load times, easy navigation, and mobile-friendliness.
  • Include metadata like descriptions and structured data markup.
  • Get high-quality backlinks from related authority websites.

Importance of Using Relevant Keywords

Using relevant keywords throughout your website’s content is crucial for SEO success. You should research keywords related to your journal’s focus area and target audience. These keywords can be incorporated naturally in titles, headers, page content, URLs, image names, alt text, and metadata. This helps search engines understand your content’s topic and display it for relevant searches.

6. Promoting Your Journal Website

Getting the word out about your new academic journal website is crucial for attracting visitors and expanding your readership. Here are some effective strategies for promoting your website:

Leverage Social Media

Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are great for spreading awareness about your journal. Create accounts on relevant platforms and share links to new articles or issues.

Use relevant hashtags and tag influential researchers to get more eyes on your content. Consider paid promotions on social media to reach wider audiences.

Email Marketing

Build an email list of target readers like researchers, academics, and students in your field. Send regular updates with links to new content. Offer an incentive like exclusive access to articles or subscription discounts to encourage sign-ups. Segment your list based on interests and engagement levels.

Academic Outreach

Contact departments, libraries, academics, and institutions interested in your journal. Offer print subscriptions, free digital access, or discounted memberships for students. Ask partners to share links to your journal website.

Attend Conferences

Set up booths, give talks, or sponsor events related to your field at academic conferences. Hand out flyers and talk to attendees about your journal. Offer discounted subscriptions for conference participants.


We have now come to the end of this step-by-step guide on creating an academic journal website. Let’s do a quick recap of the key steps we covered:

First, we discussed clearly defining your journal’s purpose and target audience. This helps guide important decisions around your website’s design, content, and features.

Next, we explored different platforms you can use to build your journal website and factors to consider when selecting one. Popular options include open source platforms like WordPress, Joomla and OJS.

We then looked at key elements of designing an accessible, visually appealing website, including the homepage layout, navigation menu, and content structure.

Creating engaging, informative content is crucial for attracting and retaining visitors. Regularly update your content to keep things fresh. Optimizing your website for search engines through SEO can improve its visibility. Use relevant keywords and optimize technical elements.

Promoting your website on social media, email marketing, and other channels is important for driving traffic.

By now, you should have grasped how to create a journal website. The key is planning thoroughly, designing a user-friendly website, populating it with quality content, and promoting it widely. Your journal’s website can be an invaluable tool for reaching a wider audience.

I hope you found this guide useful! Do you have experience creating an academic journal’s website? Feel free to share!

2 thoughts on “How to Create a Journal Website in 6 Easy Steps”

Leave a comment