Website Resources to Enhance Blogs


 

 Journalism and Technology column 
 
By Julie E. Dodd and Judy Robinson,
University of Florida faculty members
Published in Fall 2011 Quill & Scroll magazine

 

Useful websites can help improve design and content of your Web product

 

Almost every high school media class, every high school journalist and every high school media teacher is interested in having an online presence.

Not long ago, only “online” publications were online.

Now, yearbooks and newspapers that distribute print editions are going online. The Web is a great way to promote their print products and to provide immediate distribution for photos and stories that otherwise would wait weeks or months for distribution – or might not make the print edition.

Individual students and teachers also see having an online presence as a way of having a digital portfolio, sharing views or building community.

Here are three sites that can provide ideas for how you can improve your online presence – whether it’s for your publication or for you as an individual, whether you are thinking about starting your first blog or you know how to hand code a website.

 

  • “Freshly Pressed” on WordPress.com

Go to the homepage of WordPress.com and click on “Freshly Pressed,” and you’ll find 11 blog posts that have been selected to illustrate good practices in blogging.

Blogs featured on WordPress.com are selected based on a set of criteria (strong writing, good photography and more) to become “Freshly Pressed” on weekdays.  When you follow “Freshly Pressed,” you’ll see the range of topics people cover in their blogs and see some interesting strategies for posting content effectively.

“Freshly Pressed” is a great site for a publication staff or individual who is starting a blog or improving an existing blog.  You’ll get ideas for different kinds of posts (lists, Q&A, photos, etc.), effective headlines, and photos and artwork. WordPress.com is free and provides a number of easy-to-set-up-and-use templates.

 

  • Adobe Kuler to assist with Color and Design

When you care about the color strategies for the spaces you design – online or print – you will appreciate how Adobe’s Kuler can help you choose color schemes.

If you need ideas for a color scheme that will evoke the right tone, you can surf through five panel schemes others have designed.  Save them to your own work area and call them up later to show your design team.

Or, if you have a dominant banner or photo, you can upload that photo to Kuler and select a range of colors to go with that photo for your website, blog or spread.  Access to Kuler is free online at http://kuler.adobe.com

Keep watch.  Any day now Kuler will be released for iOS (think iPad) and Android.

 

  • Stroll through the CSS Zen Garden

If you need ideas for increasing the visual appeal of your online spaces and you have never strolled through the pages of the CSS Zen Garden, you owe yourself the experience.  The Garden has been online for a few years, but there are still submissions from around the world being added regularly.

CSS stands for cascading style sheets – which is the part of the code in a blog or a website that shapes how online pages appear.  The CSS Zen Garden is a place where the written content of each page is exactly the same, but each page’s CSS has been designed by different people around the world to have a different theme and style.

In the Zen Garden you can see how the same words can be delivered to you from the depths of underwater or from the wilds of remote safari lands. You don’t have to be a CSS coder to visit and get ideas for how you might use visual metaphors and designs for your online paper or yearbook.

Posted at http://www.csszengarden.com you’ll find 210 Zen designs have officially been accepted into the Garden and 1,039 designs that didn’t make the cut.  You can view both categories to get inspiration.

You’ll find these websites both inspire and provide specific strategies that you can incorporate into your Web work.

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