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#Podcast – Meeting readers at the front door: lessons in news site homepage design

September 6th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Design and graphics, Podcast

The constantly evolving nature of the web means sites have to regularly update how they present themselves. The New York Times is set to undergo a major overhaul, Trinity Mirror titles have been going through a similar process throughout the year, and ITV News was named “best designed site” at 2013′s Online Media Awards.This podcast looks at key themes in how news organisations present the wide range of news and stories on their websites, and discusses some trends for the future.

We speak to:

  • Grig Davidovitz, CEO and co-founder of RGB media, a company for journalistic strategy and digital tool development
  • William Owen, strategy director and founding partner of Made by Many, which built the new ITV News website
  • David Higgerson, digital publishing director, Trinity Mirror

You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the iTunes podcast feed.

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#Tip: Get the opensource Chartbuilder for simplifying graphics

By Jorge Fran Ganillo on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

By Jorge Fran Ganillo on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Well designed graphics are a quick and easy way to convey complex data or statistics to readers, but creating them quickly and easily is not always so simple.

Over at the Nieman Journalism Lab, Quartz reporter David Yanofsky explains how Chartbuilder is now open-source, helping “all of our reporters and editors become more responsible for their own content and less dependent on others with specialized graphics skills”. It could do the same for your newsroom.

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link.
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#Podcast – Adapting to change: How and why news sites are moving to responsive design

November 2nd, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Design and graphics, Mobile, Podcast

With regular launches of new mobile devices only adding to the different platforms people are consuming news from, a number of media outlets have recently announced moves towards responsive designs to offer users an experience which suits the device on which they are accessing content.

In this week’s podcast we speak to four news outlets about their approaches to responsive design and the long-term impact that they see development today having in the future for the news site. We also look at other responsive matters beyond the resizing of text, such as the opportunities for advertising experience and enhanced visual storytelling.

The podcast features:

  • William Beavis, head of digital, Midland News Association
  • Andy Hume, front-end architect, Guardian News & Media
  • Chris Russell, head of product for news, BBC Future Media
  • Cathy Sharick, managing editor,

Here is more on the responsive designs recently announced by the above media outlets:

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Tool of the week for journalists: Taggstar, for adding links to your pictures

October 18th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Design and graphics, Tool of the Week

Tool of the week: Taggstar

What is it? A tool to add links so when readers hover over a photo they see links to video, audio, text, maps, retailers and more.

How is it of use to journalists? Taggstar launched last month as a free tool to allow journalists and news sites add links to other content from photos.

It is similar to ThingLink (a previous tool of the week for journalists), but, according to TechCrunch, Taggstar is focusing much of its attention on e-commerce opportunities and making images ‘shoppable’ so that readers can find links to buy a product or service.

For example, see how MSN is using Taggstar to show where readers can buy dresses, shoes and a necklace similar to those worn by Kate Middleton.

The TechCrunch post explains how this works:

Not only can publishers make their image galleries ‘shoppable’, but Taggstar’s image search technology claims to be able to interrogate hundreds of thousands of product images from its network of over 200 retailers, and display the best results based on colour, pattern and style. It does this by relying on the tags that publishers add to their images when using Taggstar’s platform and by taking a visual swatch of the product being tagged. It then crawls through the XML feeds of retailers who have signed up to work with Taggstar and automatically delivers results by analysing those product images, as well as the related textual data.

Publishers can add a revenue stream by using Taggstar, and, according to the Taggstar FAQs, there are “more monetisation features in the pipeline”.

Publishers can also link to video, audio and other rich media sources. To test it out we added links to a photo of the Newsstand iPad app, linking to iTunes.

Before tagging an image you will need to add some code to your site or blog or download a WordPress plugin. We tested it out using Tumblr. Taggstar explains exactly what you need to do.

When logged into Taggstar you then right click any image on your site to easily add links.

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#AOPsummit: How ZDNet approaches mobile reporting with a responsive design CMS

October 12th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Design and graphics, Events, Mobile

Business technology news website ZDNet not only has a responsive site which adapts to the size of the screen it is viewed on, but has a responsively designed CMS, which scales to fit the screen size with the aim of making it easy for journalists to file stories from a smartphone or tablet.

The responsive CMS, which was developed internally, was introduced in July, Laura Jenner, product manager for CBS Interactive UK, which publishes ZDNet, said at today’s AOP Digital Publishing Summit.

In the session, which focussed on user experience and responsive (or adaptive) design, Jenner argued the case for responsive design, saying it is is “much better for user interaction” than an ‘m.’ mobile site.

And ease of using the site to download a white paper, for example, is key.

Loyal users are key to building audience as they always have been.

There are also business benefits of adaptive design, Jenner said, explaining that both users and search engines prefer using a responsively-designed site.

“Adaptive design is Google’s recommended option,” Jenner added.

And mobile means “you also have access to readers at times you didn’t previously”, she explained. “In the past you would have to wait until 9am on a Monday until people returned to their desks.”

Responsive design may also reduce the need for native apps and therefore reduce overheads, she added.

Asked how to convince advertisers of the advantages, Jenner said:

We are not forcing users onto another platform, they are already there. And we are providing a much better environment for advertising campaigns.

Asked whether journalists need to adapt articles or headlines to fit mobile reading, Jenner said “we don’t tell [journalists] to write a headline that fits on mobile”, adding that she believes people don’t want a shorter version of the story on mobile but want the full article.

In discussing development costs, she explained that responsive design is probably no cheaper as a one-off cost than developing native apps, but that the option is “far easier to iterate” and develop over time.

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#Tip of the day from – the who, what, where, when and how of infographics

Social Media Today has a guide on infographics, and the questions to ask when planning to tell a story in that way.

The who, what, where, when and how of infographics is at this link.

Tipster: Sarah Marshall

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link.

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#Tip of the day from – ten US election apps and interactives to inspire

The 10,000 Words blog has a list of 10 tools, apps, interactives and other projects around 2012 US elections. Take a look to get some great ideas for future UK elections.

Tipster: Sarah Marshall

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link.

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Magazine app developer praises Windows 8, abandons Android

Digital media developer Daniel Sharp has praised the next version of the Windows operating system for its ease of use when programming.

Writing for the Kernel, the Stonewash co-founder states the advantages of developing digital media products for Microsoft’s as-yet-unreleased operating system over Google’s Android OS:

I’ve just come from another testing meeting. Seven of us around a table looking at an Android app that’s in the mid-stages of development. We’ve found unique issues on each device, every device on the table was running a different version of Android, with different resolutions, capabilities and specifications. Getting this right is going to be time consuming…

Meanwhile, for the past seven weeks we’ve also been working on a super-secret project building magazine apps for the Windows 8 launch. In those seven weeks, we’ve managed to create a solid first version, that works across all resolutions, laptops, desktops and tablets, whether they use a touch screen, pen or mouse. Development was easy.

He continues:

The fact that you can develop native applications for Windows using HTML and JavaScript is huge: in our case, it meant that every single engineer in our company already knew how to develop for Windows.

If you’re looking at a smartphone application then Windows 8 isn’t for you; it’s not for smartphones. But if you’re looking at a tablet application, take a good hard look at Android and the figures. I took one look at them and I’m not convinced.

And that’s why I have paused all our Android development in favour of Windows 8.

Earlier this week the Financial Times revealed that it is working on an app for Windows 8, ahead of the autumn tablet release.

Stonewash develop frameworks for news and magazine publishers to create bespoke tablet applications. Their clients include lifestyle magazine Lusso, Investment & Pensions Europe and the Henley Standard newspaper.

Read the full article in the Kernel here

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Times web app brings tablet newspaper experience to browser

The Times has unveiled an experimental new web application that aims to bring the “newspaper-like” tablet reading experience to ordinary web browsers.

The app, which currently works on Google Chrome and Safari, will be available for a two-week trial from today. Described as “like reading the newspaper, but with all the interactivity of the web”, it features enhanced graphics, picture galleries and videos.

Times web development editor Lucia Adams said on Twitter: “Readers told us they loved the linear reading of our tablet app, so we made it for the web too.”

Existing Times subscribers can test it out here.

Similar posts: unveils new ‘cleaner’ look

February 8th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Design and graphics, Online Journalism

The Daily Mirror today unveils a new-look website, at

Before: how the site looked last week

Mirror Online publisher Matt Kelly says in an introductory post that the “cleaner and less cluttered” design will make better use of photography and video.

Content is organised into seven sections: News, Sport, 3am, Lifestyle, Money, Play and Opinion. Comments are encouraged on stories, and sharing articles has been made easier.

Kelly said:

We constantly improve our website and as much as we believe the new look Mirror Online is a big step forward, we know there’ll be things we haven’t got completely right.

PaidContent has a video interview with Matt Kelly and Mirror managing director Chris Ellis:

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