Category Archives: Web Design For Journalists

My website is launched

If you haven’t seen it yet, is launched.

This is!

I took a web design for journalists class this past semester, and, the final product was a portfolio website.

My website displays my production work, resume, and some photography and articles. I also link to my Vimeo, Flickr, Twitter, and blog.

Since I’m still new to web design, I there’s much more for me to learn and explore, but I am proud of myself for making it this far.

More to come, of course.


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Flash graphics assignment

The following is an assignment for a journalism class at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The best instance of my integrating Flash into my portfolio website would be to do displaying my photography.

I would like the Photography page to display my photos. Users can click on words such as ‘nature,’ ‘people,’ and ‘places.’ A photograph would appear, and sub buttons would appear below the subject buttons. Then visitors can click on the sub buttons, such as ‘Lithuania’ and photos taken in Lithuania would appear.

Flash would enhance the photography page by allowing more room for aesthetics, while HTML and CSS would be much more difficult to manipulate in such ways. Most of my photos are uploaded to Flickr. Using Flash will allow me to feature specific photos. Also, if I have natural sounds sounds that may fit with some photos, Flash enables web developers to apply those sounds, such as in a button.

"Macbeth" at The Globe, London.

I already have the photos. I would make the text and basic graphics in Flash. If I decided to add natural sounds to the photos, I would have to go into some of my videos taken at the time and get sounds from those videos. I probably don’t have audio for every photograph, but it’s something that would be interesting to experiment with (I hope it wouldn’t be annoying).

I currently know how to make buttons and add sounds that would fit perfectly. I would like to better learn how to program the buttons with a motion graphic. I can do both individually, but I am still learning how to program the concepts together.

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Flash and journalism

The following piece is a class assignment for a web design course for journalists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Flash is not only used to make a website look slick but can better convey news stories on the web.

National Geographic developed a very creative site called Inside 9/11, which uses Flash to better tell complex stories pertaining to September 11th, 2001. 

The page features a section of video archives called “Inside 9/11 Interviews.” When opened, viewers see a display of many photos of people, and a side bar on the left. Site visitors can click people’s images, then watch a video interview of the person and/or read a transcript of the interview, read a short biography, and see suggested interviews. Once a person’s video interview has been watched or clicked on, the thumbnail ‘grays out’ so viewers know what they have or have not clicked. The sidebar lists subjects partaining to 9/11, and when the mouse moves over the subject bar, interviews on the topic are highlighted.

I like the Flash piece because it takes the documentary concept and adapts it to the web. Video clips are archived in an organized yet creative way. It widens the opportunity for telling stories and the news, and, now, a piece of history. It also allows viewers to interact with these archival materials. They can easily choose the subjects they want to learn more about. The information provided shows how people and subject matters are connected providing a timeframe and context, while an emotional stories are also told. Other types of media are much more linear, meaning someone has to read or watch materials from the beginning to the end, where as this Flash site allows people to ‘jump around.’

The site is quite complex and I am not sure how it was made in Flash and/or javascript. It seems the author(s) used a function like in Flash’s ‘button editing mode.’ When the mouse moves over a subject in the sidebar, people related to that subject are highlighted. When the mouse clicks the bar, a sound effect is applied and the interviewees are highlighted in red as the ‘lock into place’ for viewers to click on.

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A well-designed journalism website

This is part two of an a assignment for my Web Design for Journalists class at UMass.

Part one of this post involved me searching for a “terribly designed website” and point out what makes it so poorly designed. 

Part two of this assignment requires me to find a well-designed journalism website and make a post about why I like it.

But, as if you couldn’t see this one coming, I have loyally chosen PBS Frontline‘s website.

An aesthetically pleasing example of a well-designed media site.

The Frontline website is aesthetically pleasing, complex yet easy to navigate, and exudes an experience for the user. Here’s how:

  • The colors work. Note the varying shades of blue, gray, and purple. And, what pops out is the copany’s logo, which is classically white on red.
  • The shapes are spot on. Rectangles and squares follow continuous patterns, are spaced fairly, and are lined up like city buildings and skyscrapers.
  • Episodes are featured in two formats, as well as through the program schedule which is clearly marked.
  • Links to a popular topics and current affairs section is also clearly featured and is updated fairly regularly.
  • The user experience is first exemplified by a savvy theme. When users move their mouse over a featured program, an opaque detail card pops up, giving the viewer more information.
  • The front page also features a slick flip-book like rectangle showing off popular episodes.
  • When viewers click around the main menu they are taken to slightly less complicated sub-pages that aren’t necessarily less exciting but are clear and concise – and, yes, aesthetically pleasing.
  • The font and words are easy to read.
  • Their organization is key to helping fans find the shows they love most.
  • The screen fits to the window when it is expanded by a user.
  • Only one scroll bar is necessary.

It’s hip, it’s cool, it’s professional and is accessible.

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Web design ugliness

I’m going to be changing up the pace and kinds of postings on this blog for you all.

I’m taking a journalism course at the University of Massachusetts Amherst called Web Design For Journalists, taught by Brian McDermott. Through the class I will be learning web design skills, taking some quizzes, and producing a website, which will, hopefully, be the new

Part of our first assignment is to find an awfully designed website and write a blog entry about it. Actually what has been assigned:

• Find a terribly designed website. It can be about anything suitable to show in class. Then, tell me why it’s so awful in 150-250 words on your newly posted blog. Be specific. For example, is the site hard to navigate around? Are the colors ugly? Is there too much motion? Make sure you link to the site in your post. – Brian McDermott

My search for an ugly website began. It’s harder to find an awful designed website when you are looking for one. It seems that they just pop out of no where when you are least expecting it.

Initially I typed “ugly websites” in to Google, which resulted in me finding THE BIG UGLY WEBSITE, which is painfully hideous. I will save your eyes for the moment, but you are welcome to click on the link.

None-the-less I stumbled upon some poor web design for the West Virginia Hippie Fest‘s website. I hope they know they don’t have to live this way online.

I hope no one is offended by this review.


Allow me to create an organized list of what is so wrong about this web design.

  • The colors aren’t a great combination, but they are suitable for the site’s content.
  • There are issues with the scroll bar. The site cannot be view in a whole frame, unless seen on a large screen, without scrolling horizontally.
  • Some of the graphics are pixelated, which could be a photographer/designer issue or a web designer issue.
  • The layout of graphics, buttons, and photos is not aesthetically pleasing. There are many awkwardly overlapping squares and rectangles.
  • Because of the odd layout, it makes navigating the site hard on the eyes.
  • After scrolling down, a gigantic table appears. It is hard too read, involves too much scrolling, and, although organized by date, it’s difficult to figure out the information presented because of the layout.
  • What I think they did an awesome job of is including a donation button. It appears to be a PayPal link, but I don’t know for sure because when the page loads I keep encountering errors (that’s a problem)… maybe I will try back later.

Hopefully, I can work on building a site that will not included these attributes to creating a terribly designed website. Stay tuned for my post about a well-designed website.

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