When a client with several podcasts expressed interest in a simple way to manage their casts from within WordPress, we began with a review of existing solutions and plugins. We quickly identified a gap between bare bones plugins supporting a single feed and complicated plugins designed for advanced workflows, such as sponsor management. To fill that void, we created Simple Podcasting, an intuitive, lightweight, and forward looking plugin that includes beta support for Gutenberg.
Our client’s ideal user story seemed common enough: they offer several podcasts across a network of news sites, with some sites featuring multiple podcasts. They wanted to fully manage and distribute their podcast feeds inside of WordPress, albeit sometimes hosting the media itself externally. Podcasts episodes would be managed as regular posts, and appear alongside their other news, enabling visitors to play an episode right from the website or by subscribing in iTunes or any other “podcatcher.”
Using a custom taxonomy to organize podcasts enables sites to have multiple podcasts, extending built-in core functionality for RSS feeds and archives, and a familiar interface for managing their relationship to posts. Term meta is used to store more information about each podcast, such as a description and cover image. Feeds are extended to include the data needed for podcast providers to ingest and list your episodes, including iTunes-specific tags. WordPress’s built in audio player acts as the player for episodes to be listened to right on your site.
Consistent with our commitment to preparing for the next WordPress content editor, Simple Podcasting is Gutenberg-ready from day one. In fact, we think the Gutenberg experience is the superior way to use Simple Podcasting, and serves as an example of the benefits offered by a block based approach to content creation.
The block paradigm offers content creators a more intuitive experience. In making “Podcasts” a block, we can directly connect the interface for selecting media and setting the episode’s properties. We can also prevent the author from inserting more than one podcast block, to avoid any confusion around the limit of one episode (media enclosure) per post.
Download and install Simple Podcasting, give it a whirl, and check out the code. We welcome any feedback or suggestions on our GitHub repository. We think it can also serve as a useful template for developers and designers thinking about building on Gutenberg.
As podcast audiences continue to grow, we hope that Simple Podcasting makes creating and managing them with WordPress that much easier for a certain part of the market. If you’re interested in embarking on a bigger strategy for implementing podcasts, get in touch. In addition to our plugin, we’ve helped clients like Politico in Europe use Amazon technology to create natural sounding podcasts without a human narrator.