R E S E A R C H
O U R R E S E A R C H O N T H E
T E C H N O L O G Y A N D
I N S P I R A T I O N B E H I N D O U R
A P P F O R T H E O D Y S S E Y
M E D I A G R O U P
AMANDA ALLBEE | MAY HITCHINGS | RAVEN RICE | JULIE BOYLAND
Our client is ODYSSEY Media Group, 60-person
media organization at Clarke Central High
School here in Athens, Georgia comprised of a
newsmagazine website, a literary art magazine
and a broadcast program.
Who is OMG?
What do they want?
A greater accessibility of articles
Push notifications for breaking news
Advertisement of the divergent facets of
their publications including PDFs, social
media accounts, videos
The ODYSSEY Media Group wants to spread
their online presence into a mobile app in
order to grow their readership and better
serve their readers. Some of the ODYSSEY
Media Group’s goals for this app include:
Over the past month, we have done an
extensive amount of research to help us create
a functional news app that is clean, and user
friendly. We began our research by taking a
close look into the OMG WordPress site. 
OMG, how will we get
the job done?
The Odyssey News Magazine website looks
great and functions well, but it currently has
no security set up. This makes it a target for
hacking and also discourages users from
opening the site, as some browsers might
alert their users when entering an
unprotected site. The two links below
highlight ways to harden security on
Wordpress sites and how to purchase and
set up an SSL security system.
Hardening WordPress:
https://codex.wordpress.org/Hardening_WordPress
How to Add SSL and HTTPS in WordPress:
http://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-add-ssl-and-https-in-wordpress/
While their web home page looks great, it does
contain a massive amount of information for a
user to take in all at once. Between dozens of
tabs, links, text blocks, and images, it’s easy to
feel a little lost. So for the home page of the
app, we’re hoping to create a more simplistic
homepage and navigation system. After a lot of
reading up, the easiest way seems to be
implementing a Wordpress plugin that will pull
the top ten articles from the site and rank them
based on their popularity. Below is a
screenshot of the code used to sort by post
views.
How to sort posts by views, comments, rating etc. in WordPress:
https://stackoverflow.com/questions/3328560/how-to-sort-posts-by-views-
comments-rating-etc-wordpress
II.
In order for this function to work properly, it
would have to only work on one hidden page on
the site. This page could be seen through a
webview on the app, but not on the menu for
the website. In order to do this, we’d have to
disable the plugin on all the other pages on the
site.
Source:
http://justintadlock.com/archives/2009/08/06/how-to-disable-scripts-and-styles
III.
Below are a few tips from Justin Tadlock on
how to disable scripts and style easily:
Append styles that you’ve disabled to the end
of your theme’s style.css file and edit them
from there to get the look you want.
Combine several scripts into a single file and
load it yourself. I would only do this for things
that use the same JavaScript library. For
example, I often combine scripts that are built
on jQuery.
Use conditional tags for fine-grained control
over when a script or style is loaded.
Julia and May are considering using Github to track
changes in the project, but as neither has ever used this
kind of system, they had to look into the logistics of this
choice. Lauren Orsini wrote a great article on the Git
command line and how to implement this tool into a pre-
existing workflow.
Source:
https://readwrite.com/2013/09/30/understanding-github-a-journey-for-
beginners-part-
IV.
V.
Another very important part of the app is it’s showcase of
Odyssey’s digital magazine, which already exists on Issuu.
Wordpress has a plugin that enables Issuu publication
embedding in a Wordpress page.
Another option would be to use an open-source e-reader like the one
below from Github. This would enable more functionality, almost like
a kindle.
Sources:
https://github.com/FolioReader/FolioReaderKit/blob/master/README.md
App connect to database: https://codewithchris.com/iphone-app-connect-to-
mysql-database/
VI.
Since a lot of this app’s functionality will depend on
other, pre-existing sites and structures, our team is
considering the use of Wordpress REST API. This would
allow the Wordpress site to communicate seamlessly
with other web properties no matter what language
they’re written in.
Sources:
https://www.godaddy.com/garage/industry/tech-
svcs/wordpress/the-wordpress-rest-api-what-it-is-and-why-you-
should-care/
https://developer.wordpress.org/rest-api/
http://v2.wp-api.org/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJesac0_Ftw
One possible feature of the app is the ability to
crowdsource for images, tips, etc. We could also use this
feature to set up an advice-from-the-editor section for
students to ask questions anonymously and in private.
The Odyssey team could then selectively publish these
questions and their answers, either by peers or teachers
or professionals.
Source:
https://www.quora.com/How-can-Wordpress-be-used-to-make-a-
crowdsourcing-site
VII.
VIII.
We hope to use ARKit later in the development of this app to
create a Where’s Waldo-like game for students. We would
create a digital, 3D version of the school mascot and use
Unity to map its movement through the school campus.
Students could then use their phones to search for him, sort
of like Pokemon Go. The first student to snap a pic or tag the
character would then get some sort of prize from the
Odyssey team, like a gift card or a goodie bag. The
character’s accessories would change based on the time of
year: witch hat and broomstick for Halloween, Santa hat for
Christmas, tuxedo for prom, etc. This could increase use of
the app along with school spirit.
ARKit keynote:
https://developer.apple.com/videos/play/wwdc2017/602/
Unity/ARKit tutorial:
https://forum.unity3d.com/threads/arkit-support-for-ios-via-unity-
arkit-plugin.474385/
However, we hit a major roadblock about 10 hours into
working on this feature. No one in our group owns a device
with an A9 chip, which is necessary for running a simulation
of the ARKit functions. Our alternative is to use stickers! This
way we could use students’ phone cameras to superimpose
images of their school football team’s helmet or even the
mascot’s face on top of other students’ faces.
Source:
http://bgr.com/2016/09/16/ios-10-how-to-make-stickers/
IX.
Representatives from the Odyssey group have let us know
they’re like the app to have livestream capabilities. So far, it
looks like this would require an extra server to act as a go-
between with the app and the device relaying the live audio-
visual content.
RTMP server tutorial:
https://obsproject.com/forum/resources/how-to-set-up-your-
own-private-rtmp-server-using-nginx.50/
This page was helpful as a recap of how parent/child themes work on
Wordpress:
https://codex.wordpress.org/Child_Themes
https://wlcdesigns.com/2015/08/swift-view-a-wordpress-post-in-
your-ios-app/
https://wlcdesigns.com/2015/07/create-a-wordpress-latest-posts-
ios-app-in-swift/
Explanation of Alamofire updates:
https://grokswift.com/updating-alamofire-to-swift-3-0/
Populate tableview basics:
https://www.codementor.io/brettr/two-basic-ways-to-populate-your-
uitableview-du107rsyx
JSON Parsing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ddIP7NRkmY
In TableView
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhQ5vmbRoPE
Our Inspiration
The Odyssey Media Group prides themselves on the visual appearance
of their news magazine. Thus, it is very important for the application to
be functional, but visually appealing as well. Raven and Amanda have
experience in design, and looked into other news apps to produce a
product that is easy on the eyes.
PEOPLE
Magazine
A customer review said:
It just shrunk the magazine down to iphone size, you have to zoom in on
every page to read. This customer said “why bother even having an app
at all?”
This is why we we want to do more with our app than have it simply be
mobile-accessible version of their website. Why would people bother
even checking the app if they could just use the website when they really
wanted to?
We want to include engaging features that are NOT accessible on the
website
Source:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/people-magazine/id384298160?mt=8
Newsweek
Things this app does well:
-Easy to navigate
-Quick links in a table of contents
Serves as inspiration to condense OMG’s website
into a few categories for users of the app to be
able to easily navigate and not be overwhelmed by
every single category of article
There were complaints about the shareability
function of Newsweek app. Quick and easy
shareability is a big priority for us when building
the OMG app. We want users of the app to be able
to click the Twitter/Facebook/Instagram icon and
immediately be able to share whatever content
they wish to share on their own profiles.
Source:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/newsweek/id370903329?mt=8
Odyssey’s original
app (2014)
OMG had an app of it’s own in 2014, the
complaints from users were that it was glitchy
and nothing worked too well. You can no
longer find it on the apple store, but it is still
available on google play. There are categories
for each different type of article, including
their broadcasts. It was advertised to have
push notifications for breaking news as well.
The inspiration we drew from this is that it
desperately needed to include more engaging
and exciting features to draw in readers from
the rest of the student body. It seems like this
sort of app would only be downloaded by the
students who already consistently read OMG
articles and if OMG wants to expand their
readership and grow their presence, we need
to find a fresh way to get more people excited
about what the app can do for them besides
present articles in a mobile form.
Source:
http://www.odysseynewsmagazine.net/2014/01/10/app-of-the-week-the-
odyssey-app/
BuzzFeed
The BuzzFeed app combines a few different things that inspired us for the
interactivity and engagement goal of the OMG app. Here are a few features
from the BuzzFeed app that we’re hoping to also have in OMG app:
• Use the Trending section to see what stories are about to go viral
• One tap to share stories with Email, Messages, Facebook, Twitter,
Pinterest and more
• Get push notifications for trending stories so you’re always in the loop
• Comment on a post or click the reaction button to share your opinion
It is not too overwhelming and doesn’t lay out every single category of
article that BuzzFeed offers, you have to go to the “explore” tab. There are
only 5 main categories to click on: home, news, videos, quizzes and
explore. The homepage also has a “trending” page at the top, which is
similar to how we would like to have a “most popular” page that displays
the trending and most-clicked articles of the past week from OMG.
BuzzFeed
Their video section has an option to watch a variety of shows, or the
latest. Similar to how we would like to live stream from Youtube, we’d also
like to display old videos for the user to watch.
This app is similar to what want for OMG because it is not too
overwhelming in terms of content, but everything you want without having
to sift through hundreds of articles is there. It’s fun, engaging and easy to
navigate. A user said that it is “much better than a straight news feed...a
lot more variety”
You are able to give an article a reaction by clicking on a button on the
BuzzFeed app; we’d like to be able for users to give an article a “thumbs
up” so that it gets pushed to the top of the popular page.
Source:https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/buzzfeed-quizzes-video-news-and-
beyond/id352969997?mt=8