Wow ’em with your website

What makes a great website? Written content? Graphics? Funny gifs? As a part of my multiplatform journalism class, we’re working on creating our own websites to host online portfolios. I’ve been doing some research and found three unique webpages that are effective for different reasons.

1. Portfolio site:
While looking for sample portfolios for inspiration, I stumbled upon this one. I love it, because it’s visually appealing, well organized and informative. It also gave me an idea of what makes a portfolio site effective:

  • Sleek, visually appealing design that still doesn’t distract from the content
  • Utilizing different pages (ex: Home, Résumé, Clips, Contact)
  • Links to the owner’s social media sites
  • A tab that makes it easy to contact him or her
  • A number of samples/clips — this person has them organized by subject!
  • An online résumé that features work experience and relevant skills

2. Online news site:
Another site that I find unique is that of the St. Louis Beacon. I actually used to intern for this newspaper, and it’s cool because the content is 100 percent online. However, the set-up of the site is different from most online news sources, because it looks similar to the front page of a print newspaper, and one can “flip” through the different pages. Some other features that make this site effective:

  • Different tabs/pages: Register, About, Contact, Donate
  • A “News Watch” that shows headlines from other major news sources
  • A ticker that updates with the Beacon’s latest tweets
  • Links to all social media sites
  • The “Public Insight Network,” which allows readers to easily contribute to stories — whether its sharing ideas or acting as a source

3. Miscellaneous Website:
I’ve talked about it before, but I absolutely love Brandon Stanton’s blog, Humans of New York. It’s different than the other sites I mentioned in that it’s centered around visuals. However, he manages to tell an intriguing story with each photo and a simple sentence or two. Besides Stanton’s storytelling ability, here are a few other aspects that make the site effective:

  • Sleek, colorful design that catches the viewer’s eye
  • Multiple pages (again)
  • Easy to navigate
  • The focus is on the photography, with few distractions on the pages

So there you have it! Three websites that have got it goin’ on. Take a look around and see if you can draw some inspiration from them! I know I have.

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I’ve had “Jolene” by Ray LaMontagne stuck in my head for hours.

So now it can be stuck in your head, too!  If you don’t already listen to Ray, you should start.  Right now.  He’s brilliant and his voice is gorgeous.  Enjoy!

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For Boston

Amy L. Marxkors, runner and author, wrote a commentary about the Boston Marathon bombings that does a beautiful job of capturing the spirit of the marathon, its participants and their supporters, and resilience of the running community in times of tragedy.  It’s especially striking to me, since I just completed my first half marathon last weekend, and can relate to the struggles and joys she describes in the piece.  It perfectly sums up the feelings I’ve been trying to put into words since Monday afternoon, and it really speaks to me both as a runner and as a human being.  Please, check it out for yourself.

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Common Threads: Sitting down with UnderGrand Creative

These past two weeks I’ve had the pleasure of working with two other students in my multiplatform journalism class to tell the story of UnderGrand Creative, a new student-run T-shirt business at Saint Louis University.  UnderGrand is the brainchild of Tony Trabon and Colin Hirsch, and was started in the summer of 2012.  Check out their story below!

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No matter how long of a day I’ve had,

the Humans of New York blog never fails to make me smile.

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Five ways to get sued for what you post online (And how to avoid them)

These days, it seems that everyone feels called to share every moment of their lives with the world.  We Instagram our breakfast, live-tweet a boring class, share at least four Reddit cat videos per day.  However, with this Internet freedom comes great responsibility.  Everything we say, do, even think is at the fingertips of nearly anyone around the world if we choose to share it online.  And sometimes those things we post can cause big trouble if we’re not careful.

With that in mind, I present my list of the five ways to get sued for what you post online, and more importantly, how to avoid them.

1. Make up a lie about that person/product/business you don’t like, and make sure everyone hears about it.
Woah, woah, woah — Slow down there, kid.  It’s one thing to dislike someone or something, it’s quite another to defame them.  See, sharing your opinion online is perfectly acceptable, but once you start lying about a person or company, it’s considered defamation and is grounds for legal action.
How to avoid this: Share your opinions online all you want, but make sure its clear that they are simply your opinions and not facts.  In general, it’s best to avoid any personal attacks and simply be aware that anyone can see what you post.

2. Quote someone else’s lie because that makes it OK.
WRONG.  Quoting a defamatory comment doesn’t make it any less defamatory.  If you share libelous material online that was originally posted by someone else, you can still be held accountable.
How to avoid this: Be wary of your “shares” and “retweets.”  It’s always best to fact-check before sharing information.

3. Use others’ pretty pictures to spice up your blog, Twitter, etc.
Copyright laws protect creative efforts like photos, videos, written work and more.  Therefore, you cannot simply re-use another’s work without their permission.
How to avoid this: Take advantage of Creative Commons!  It’s an awesome organization that allows people to share their work with the public through various types copyright licenses — so if you’re looking for outside photos, music or other works that are safe to display on your blog, this is a great place to check out.

4. Share sensitive company information online.
Some organizations and companies may have rules that do not allow employees to post certain company information online.  This may involve trade secrets or other sensitive information that your employer wants to keep private.
How to avoid this: Make sure you’re aware of your company’s social media and online policies, and stick to them!

5. If you endorse products online, don’t let your audience know that you’re being compensated for said endorsement (Don’t want them to get jealous!)
The Federal Trade Commission issued a guide for social media users who endorse or advertise certain products.  If you’re being paid or compensated in any way by a company for your endorsements, make sure your audience is aware of it.
How to avoid this: Always disclose any relationship that you have with companies or products that you endorse.  Better safe than sorry!

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Tuesday Tunes: Folkin’ Around with Punch Brothers

I just flew in from Detroit after a weekend of job interviews, family bonding and way too much Easter candy.  Needless to say, I am not in the mood to get back to reality and the million things on my schedule this week.  Luckily, there are lovely people like Punch Brothers to help me through the crazy.  I think I can actually feel myself becoming more productive with each note.  Enjoy, my fellow stressed-out procrastinators!


P.S.  Now that you’re feeling folky, you should also watch Christ Thile (of Punch Brothers) and Michael Daves’ NPR Tiny Desk Concert.  Because you can never watch too many Tiny Desk Concerts!

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