<![CDATA[NEWS BY DESIGN - Blog]]>Wed, 20 Jan 2016 14:45:43 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[How do people read on their phone?]]>Sat, 16 Jan 2016 19:19:41 GMThttp://newsbydesign.weebly.com/blog/how-do-people-read-on-their-phoneMany sources say they don't unless it's something a reader truly has an interest in absorbing. 

In the age of mobile reads, people skim and scan the information they read on their phone and pick out words and sentences to interpret the meaning of an article, email or whatever piece of writing , according to studies from the Neilson Normon Group. 

The user experience research group published those findings in 1997, and guess what? They still hold klout today. And these findings can be translated to reflect how people read content on their smart phones 

A few examples include:
  • The F-model for reading content: I like to think of this as the hierarchy model. Basically, what's big and first is read with higher priority and more attention than the rest of the content. Also, people in the study(English speakers/readers) pay more attention to the left side of the content since they read from left to right. Makes sense, right? I'm late to discover this model, but researchers proved that people read like this through eyetracking studies. The heatmap below (although it is of a desktop screen)  illustrates this well. Cool right?
Credit: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/f-shaped-pattern-reading-web-content/

So what does this mean for how we write mobile content?

The short of it is, well, keep it concise. That doesn't mean it has to be short (although mobile users do prefer that). It simply means to just write what you mean. People want to know the point of what you're writing and the impact of it in the first few paragraphs. 

<![CDATA[What does social media mean?]]>Mon, 30 Nov 2015 03:50:34 GMThttp://newsbydesign.weebly.com/blog/what-does-social-media-meanPicture
Social media is our image we want to project to the world. Really, anything we put on the internet is.

But, what do status updates, selfies, likes and comments really mean?

In last week's episode of "This American Life," Ira Glass takes a look at what we post means and how it affects us. 

He interviews two teenage girls about the process for posting on their respective social media accounts and why they do it. And I absolutely loved it. 

Although I listened to it this past weekend, I remember one of the girls saying how before she posts a seflie, she sends it to all of her friends to be sure she looks "gorgeous," as she said. 

The girls also said likes and comments are totally different. Likes are for when you want to show you approve of something but the person posting may not be your best friend. You want to show support but in a more distant way. It's OK to get lost in the sea of likes. 

Comments are more coveted. You comment on a good friend's photo or on a post you care about. It invokes something in you that you must write something in response to what someone said. 

FURTHER READING: All engagement is not created equal

Another comical but so oh so true statement the girls made was that they get texts from friends saying, "Go like my photo on Instagram," or "Did you see my selfie on Facebook?"

When listening to this, I wondered, does this apply to an organization's social media feed?

In some aspects, I would argue yes. 

Likes do mean that someone has seen the post and agrees/supports the sentiment it's communicating. They're nothing more than an approval. But they do count for something. It means people are actually paying attention to what you post, which is a good thing especially when we're bombarded constantly with digital information. 

Comments, especially on a news organization's page, mean people are engaging with the post. They have something to say about it, and they will voice their opinion. However, I've found comments are for the braver, boisterous or sometimes horribly opinionated social media users. They literally don't care what people think. 

In the case of an organization or company, comments mean conversation about a topic. Likes mean people are happy with what you're putting out. 

Which is better? Depends on your organization. Shares are good across the board.

But go back to the group chat about selfies. I believe organizations need to do this more often. 

Discuss what you're putting out there, how it contributes to your image, why it matters and what response it will solicit. 

That way, you're not just posting. Like teenage girls, think about, even scrutinize, what you post on social media. It's your image to the world.

<![CDATA[#Winning: Snapchat storytelling is fun for readers, reporters and news org]]>Thu, 03 Sep 2015 03:49:30 GMThttp://newsbydesign.weebly.com/blog/winning-snapchat-storytelling-is-fun-for-readers-reporters-and-news-orgHuffPost Twitter Snapchat Screenshot of The Huffington Post's Twitter page
How many times do I click on the little ghost outlined in yellow to creep on what my friends are doing?

Too many times than I care to admit.

We all do. Since people are on Snapchat, news organizations should be, too.

The Huffington Post even made its Snapchat selfie its Twitter profile picture. To add the HuffPost as a friend, just open the app and stick the camera right in front its profile pic. And, Bam! You’ve added the Huffington Post as a friend on Snapchat.

Other news orgs have caught on. The Washington Post, NPR, The Verge, Mashable, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Dallas Morning News’ entertainment site GuideLive are all using it in different capacities.

Most news organizations say they give readers breaking news coverage, quick bits of information on the app or a sneak peak/behind-the-scenes look into the making ot reporting of a story.

NPR reporters give readers fun facts. 

The Verge’s social media manager, Sam Sheffer, says news orgs have to give readers context when they send a snap. He suggests using text and the app’s sliding time indicator and geofilters to do that.
One of my personal favorite stories I found out about this summer is The Washington Post’s use of Snapchat. Its chief political correspondent, Dan Balz, is using it as he reports from the campaign trail. He snagged a video of Chris Christie in New Jersey using the app. 
“I’ve used Snapchat at political events to bring them to life in ways my copy doesn’t, or to provide a supplemental look at what I’ve written,” Balz told Poynter reporter Benjamin Mullin in his July Q&A with the politics reporter.
Personally, I love that idea. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and now Snapchat should be tools that add to reporting. Do they take away from the text? Yes, but in a good way that, I think, better serves readers. 
The Washington Post’s Masuma Ahuja says she’s found “bite-sized is best” when it comes to engaging the Post’s Snapchat followers.

(Click the screen grab to the right to see the full video)

So, how do you think reporters can and should use Snapchat? Next week, I'll tell you how I'd use it in reporting as well as what I like and don't like about other news organizations use of the app.

<![CDATA[I’m hooked, and I ain’t leavin’]]>Sun, 30 Aug 2015 15:36:24 GMThttp://newsbydesign.weebly.com/blog/im-hooked-and-i-aint-leavinYou heard right, readers. I have more topics to discuss, more web pages to explore and just more to say about designing news on the web. I’m here and I’m hooked.

Although this blog started as a class assignment, I’m continuing it. To me, the topic of digital news design is too important, and it’s something that fascinates me.

I want to share industry studies about what has worked and what doesn’t for news orgs. I want to introduce you to awesome news sites you might not have known existed. And I want you— readers, fellow journalists, my parents (thanks for reading mom and dad!)— to recognize the rich storytelling potential the desktop, tablet and mobile platforms present.

It’s amazing what some news outlets who’ve jumped into the digital age have done, and I want to share their work with you.

I’m like a little kid in a candy store when I see a story online that’s purely awesome or just makes sense, and I want to share that excitement with you.

I’ll be posting every Wednesday about topics from digital storytelling platforms, social media and content strategy, digital design and branding. I might even include a rant or two (I’ll warn you in advance) about something that bothers me, excites me or is just way cool in the industry.

If you have anything you’d like me to discuss, let me know by emailing me at maddie.winer@gmail.com.

Let’s explore the interwebs together!
<![CDATA[Bilingual and multilingual site features should be end-user friendly]]>Sun, 26 Apr 2015 02:42:06 GMThttp://newsbydesign.weebly.com/blog/bilingual-and-multilingual-site-features-should-be-end-user-friendlyAs a Spanish translation minor, I’ve visited many bilingual sites and cited them as sources in various projects.

Through this, I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with them. Yes, I love that they are bilingual or even multilingual, but sometimes, the way they are designed just doesn’t make sense.

For example, I hate when the layout of a site is different when you switch languages. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website is a good example. I also hate when the site is only partially translated or keeps some links in English. That is not helping the LEP (limited English proficiency) population that the organization wants to help.

I also don’t like when the site transfers to another language but doesn’t transfer cultural language. For example, if the site uses a photo or color that doesn’t mean the same thing to their target population they are not transferring meaning culturally. 

Most global corporations and government sites recognize this. However, there are some—like Ohio.gov—that aren’t translated. Only the Ohio government’s ancillary sites are translated, for example, like benefits.ohio.com.
I do like how you can transfer between language with a click of a language button on this site, but I don’t like how some of the page is not translated and that the site didn’t change the image when going from English to Spanish to Somali.

According to WebResourcesDepot.com and Omniglot.com, below are important aspects to look for in a bilingual website.

Flexibility in design
According to a story on Omniglot.com, bilingual and multilingual sites should be designed so each page is flexible to fit the text of the target site. For example, a nav bar could change from English to Spanish because some of the links in it are too long or short for the design to look complete. Some languages don’t have spaces between letters or read from right to left (like Arabic). The design of a site needs to be flexible in order to it to make sense when translated into another language.

Linking between languages
As I said before, I prefer seeing language icons at the top of a page, clicking on a language and having the site give me the page’s equivalent in another language. When I’m doing a translation, it helps to see how the two are different. However, site navigation and the thought process behind it may not be the same for  one culture or people who speak a certain.

I also find it interesting how websites indicate they are bilingual or multilingual. Let’s use the Spanish language as an example. Some say “En Español” at the top of a page, which is effective. However, when I see the “Spanish” link at a top of a page, I think this doesn’t help LEP patients on the off chance they may not know what their language translates to in another language. An effective way to communicate a language change is to use flags. For example, a Spanish equivalent of a site usually has the flag of Spain. However, this is also tricky as not all Spanish-speaking countries speak the same type of Spanish as Spaniards do.

Colors and images
Colors mean different things in different cultures. For example, the color purple in Western cultures often symbolizes royalty or wealth while it symbolizes sorrow in Eastern cultures and countries like India. In terms of design, Western cultures prefer more minimalistic design while Eastern cultures gravitate toward loud, colorful designs. 

Websites should reflect the needs of the target population, and localizing a site is one way to do so. If there is certain information that is specific to a country, websites should have it updates. In terms of design, if a company knows that  in a certain region, an image or idea is taboo, they should not use it across all of their sites even if it conveys the message they want in every other country.

<![CDATA[How should analytics be designed?]]>Mon, 20 Apr 2015 01:58:51 GMThttp://newsbydesign.weebly.com/blog/how-should-analytics-be-designedThe answer to the headline is user-friendly.

As a website user, I would like to see our student media site’s analytics and know exactly what they mean. I would argue that KentWired’s built-in analytics system does that but doesn’t track certain categories like how people open stories—through email, mobile (which social media outlets), or a Google search.

WordPress’s analytics are lovely, but users have to pay for a better ones.

I would like to use a third party site that is easy to look at and navigate but is also the best out there at giving me real-time analytics about KentWired’s site traffic. I would also like to use it on my personal site.
I would like to use a third party site that is easy to look at and navigate but is also the best out there at giving me real-time analytics about KentWired’s site traffic. I would also like to use it on my personal site. 

I am trying to decide between Google Analytics and Chartbeat, which both offer real-time site analytics. I want something that is easy to use (well-designed and engaging) and accurate.
According to the blog feig, third-party analytics should use a combination of the two.
Information Security Professional Daniel Miessler swears by Google Analytics. 

According to a Mashable article, Google Analytics offers complete visitor profiles as well as a most popular content report and geographic data of your visitors while allowing you to compare overall site visits from certain days, months or years.

Personally, I would like to use a combination of Chartbeat and Google Analytics. However, I have seen more and more on requirements for web positions that an understanding of Google Analytics is key. Despite Chartbeat’s beauty, I’m going to go with Google Analytics since it seems to be the industry standard for news content analytics.
<![CDATA[How KentWired’s mobile site needs to be improved]]>Mon, 20 Apr 2015 01:49:45 GMThttp://newsbydesign.weebly.com/blog/how-kentwireds-mobile-site-needs-to-be-improvedAs my About page states, I am the editor of Kent State student media’s converged campus news site, Kentwired.com. While I have tried to improve the site to the best of my ability this year, I know the site needs a lot more improvement.

For example, the site needs to be more visual. It needs to be easily adaptable to a mobile layout and easy for people to navigate to other stories. Currently, mobile users make up most of the site’s traffic, and they do not use the homepage to enter our site.

They access it through our social media.

But our stories look like this in a mobile platform:

<![CDATA[The importance of the nav bar]]>Mon, 13 Apr 2015 03:39:52 GMThttp://newsbydesign.weebly.com/blog/the-importance-of-the-nav-barNav bars—the navigation bar or the menu toolbar at the top of many websites—is one of the more underappreciated aspects of web design by a site’s users.

More often than not, they get you to where you need to be (unless you’re clicking a link to something from social media). I would argue that they are the most important aspects of a website.

I found this rang true as I started to mess around with code on the website (my portfolio site) that I am working on for this class. Finding the correct nav bar can make the difference in someone spending two seconds on your site to someone spending a half hour on it. 

So, in lieu of this sentiment and my newfound appreciation for nav bars, I give you a list of ones I like below.

I know I’ve said it in previous posts, but I can’t say it enough: Buzzfeed’s website design is one of the most user-friendly out there. It’s nav bar offers categories where you can just click a category you’re looking for. The only dropdown menu is the link that says more, which is appropriate. One thing I don’t understand about Buzzfeed’s nav bar is why it doesn’t have social media icons plastered on it when every other part of the site does. 

New York Times
I like this nav bar for the same reasons I like Buzzfeed’s—it takes you to where you need to go. Looking at different nav bars, it seems to me that what news sites put on their homepage is dictated by the audience. It’s the stuff that the news organization knows their audience wants from analytics or the biggest news that day. The New York Times, like other outlets, uses its nav bar simply to direct people with one keyword, and that’s smart design.

This women’s magazine cuts to the chase with its nav bar. It has buzzwords (most likely the most popular categories) that people search for when they come to Cosmo’s site. I’ve noticed that more web-friendly and popular sites have this, and it’s a testament to how analytics is now how newsrooms operate—so much that it dictates the content in your nav bar. I also like that the nav bar seems to be suited for a mobile platform because it has the infamous menu sandwich I’ve spoken about in the top left in my previous posts.

While I’m not a huge fan of detailed dropdown menus in nav bars, I think Mashable’s is designed well because its unintrusive into a visitor’s experience on its website. There’s nothing I hate more than trying to click on something and you have to scroll over five, mouse-sensitive pop-up links or icons. The nav bar’s dropdown menus are organized and uniform to where it doesn’t hurt someone’s eyes and is pleasurable to read.

Thank the Lord for techie sites! They seem to always have the best navigation because they know what its audience wants. I think Wired uses the same approach as Cosmo with its nav bar because it has displayed key words or subject areas that its readers click on the most. In a menu icon at the very top of the site is where visitors can access all sections of the site, but you have to click on it (an extra step for those who aren’t just the unique visitor).

I think it’s a smart thing for news organizations’ site analytics to dictate how their site is designed. It makes sense. The people are telling you what they read so why not make it easier for them to access it. Social media helps, but if someone likes an organization’s content, they’ll go to their site, and the nav bar must be ready.

<![CDATA[My Musings: Why I should have learned to code in third grade]]>Mon, 13 Apr 2015 03:30:37 GMThttp://newsbydesign.weebly.com/blog/my-musings-why-i-should-have-learned-to-code-in-third-gradeLast December before Christmas, I learned what a div tag was. 

I learned what it does and when to use it. Now, I can inspect the code behind a website and follow what it means and what it points to. Can I write code? If it’s simple, sure. But more importantly, I can read it. I can understand it, which has helped me understand how computers work. 

With coding so easy to learn, it got me thinking: why wasn’t I taught to do this in third grade?

It’s not that hard, Chris Bosh and Will.i.am. know that.
According to code.org, 90 percent of schools in the U.S. do not teach coding. Not even simple HTML (which, to be honest is the only coding language I can even try to write). Yet, a Mother Jones story about computational learning states that the Department of Labor will add 1.2 million computer-science-related jobs by 2022.

I don’t get the disconnect here.

A U.S. News and World Report story also says only 25 states count computer-science-related classes toward graduation at the high school level. If those are the jobs that this generation will be getting, why aren’t we taught basic programming or even computational learning in grade school?

I get it that this new software is expensive, and schools run a huge risk putting it in the hands of kids experimenting with it. But, like anything, how will they learn and gain new skills if they don’t have hands-on experience?

I think at all levels of education, there should be a greater push to teach about computers. While I do think coding is essential to know, even computational learning—understanding how a computer works, how a click path is formed and how people read online—is essential.

Schools that say they don’t have the personnel to teach it don’t embrace learning. They can be the ones who provide teachers with resources to learn it and teach it to kids.

Now that I do know a bit more about coding, I find it scary that other people don’t. If I want to know why a website looks a certain way or brings me to a certain page, I know how I can find out why.

Economist Tyler Cowen, said it well in a column on the Guardian’s website: computational learning can be the difference between entering a workforce that’s divided between “those who are good at working with intelligent machines, and those who are replaced by them.”

<![CDATA[Design of multimedia elements I love]]>Wed, 08 Apr 2015 04:25:22 GMThttp://newsbydesign.weebly.com/blog/design-of-multimedia-elements-i-loveStrategically placing other mediums in a printed story is hard work. You have to know when the reader needs a break, or deserves one from the test. You have to know how it adds to the surrounding text and especially what element of the story the words used cannot convey.

However, designing these elements for people to click on them takes more skill. Check out some of my favorite multimedia elements some newsrooms use that anyone can add into their blog post or website to make it more sexy.

Timeline JS

The Knight Lab has given journalists this embeddable timeline software where you can insert photos, videos, documents and other mediums to provide a chronological picture for whatever event, person, place or happening a journalist is reporting on. I’ve used this, and it’s easy to use, and it’s super sleek.

Users can also use its navigation at the bottom to click on a specific event they would like to know more about. Thanks to Timeline JS, users can travel through time with ease. Check out Time magazine's timeline, "Nelsom Mandela's Extraordinary Life: An Interactive Timeline" and more examples. below.

We use these interactive graphs in our student newsroom to illustrate numbers. They’re easy to embed and change the size, and the site offers many options for how to display your numbers in an aesthetically pleasing way. Check out how kentwried.com used them in a story about increasing room and board rates.

I always feel like I forget how a powerful audio piece can drive a story. When people can hear someone’s voice and actual noise from a scene, it adds to a written portion of a story.  Check out this NPR story about what makes nursing so dangerous.

This site allows you arrange your photos in a way that suits your story’s needs. For example, if you have a large cover photo and want to break a story into sections, you can do that. If the story has mostly photos, this site offers users layouts to display their work in various sizes in a pleasing way.

Check out photographer Scott Kelby's story on his time in Dubai using the site below.

I am so in love with Storify even though it makes citizen journalism very easy. Basically, this site allows users to pull social media posts about a certain topic just by a simple search. I can grab someone’s tweets, Instagram photos, Facebook statuses, Flickr photos and much more, put it together and tell a story from the different elements I pulled. This not only helps journalists crowd surf but it also allows for them to choose who is apart of the conversation.