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Archives: September 2007

The great "click here" debate

At the beginning of my multimedia journalism career, I used the phrase “click here” to direct users to different components of a multimedia project or web page. I never had a real reason, I just did it. Later, a mentor from the New York Times told me to eliminate click here in favor of more natural wording. She instead used a few words from a complete sentence as her link text. I used this same technique until I arrived at the Los Angeles Times where “click here” was absolutely necessary element of Flash projects and links were better if they blinked or were a very different color.

So who is right? A quick, unscientific Google search of the nation’s 10 largest newspapers revealed that “click here” is getting some major play.


Click heres per site

1. USA Today – 86,600
2. The Wall Street Journal – 462,000
3. New York Times – 11,300,000
4. L.A. Times – 7,140
5. Denver Post/Rocky Mountain News – 231,000
6. Chicago Tribune – 47,900
7. The Washington Post – 29,900
8. New York Daily News – 5,290
9. New York Post – 25,700
10. Houston Chronicle – 4,530

USA Today ranks highest amongst major news sites in Google Search for its use of the phrase. CNN and Fox News follow close behind.

A recent study shows that “click here” does indeed make users click there. Another study found that “click to continue” works much better than “continue to article” or “read more.”

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The death of the podcast?

Podcasts are popular on many news sites and internet users download them in droves. If you still haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, sites like Hipcast have you covered. Hipcast allows anyone to create podcasts (as well as other content) using their computer or telephone. The site is not free, but does offer a 7 day trial.


Podlinez lets podcast fans listen to their favorites on the telephone. Simply enter the podcast feed url and Podlinez produces a number to call and listen. The site already has a existing cache of podcasts/phone numbers, but any podcast can be assigned a phone number in minutes.

TalkShoe reimagines the one way conversation of a podcast and turns into a talk show that anyone can join. Site visitors, other podcasters or sources can join in on the podcast via phone or computer while it is being recorded. The conversation can then be store and played for other listeners.

If you’re looking to turn your podcast into a readable document, CastingWords offers podcast transcription for a small fee. Impressively, the service is done by actual humans so you don’t receive an illegible mess. The transcripts can be incorporated into the text areas of a site and are especially useful to those who cannot listen to audio, including users who are reading the site at work.

Optimize your site for the iPhone

Apple is on track to selling its 1 millionth iPhone which means its time for news sites to start thinking about bringing content to the handheld device. While building a site around a specific browser shouldn’t be a high priority, it couldn’t hurt to cater to the growing market of iPhone owners.


Many major sites have already been optimized for iPhone including Facebook and several media sites are jumping on the bandwagon including AltWeeklies.com and Texterity.

The iPhone is 320×480 pixels which is a third to a fourth the size of the average computer screen. iPhone users can surf any website, but the touch screen makes it harder to navigate normal websites. MacWorld explains the differences between surfing in a regular web browser vs. the iPhone and why e-commerce sites should make way for the new device. Furbo demonsrates how one line of code will optimize your site for the iPhone, but if you need more in depth help, check out Works on iPhone or Winksite.

How to tackle the online sports section

Many of web editors cite the sports section as the hands down most popular section of their news site. Because of the power of the internet, sports can be a lot more than box scores and comments sections.


The Dallas Morning News’ Cowboys Blog is a shining example of everything a blog should be. Its in depth coverage is complemented by stellar photographs, RSS feeds, and up to the minute scores. A handy calendar in the rail makes the blog searchable by date and visitors can receive Cowboys updates on their mobile device.

RUWT? (Are you watching this?) cuts through the 50 million sports channels and alerts you know when your game is getting good. Games are ranked Guarded, Elevated, High and Severe, which indicates a soon to be classic sports moment.

Totally Scored keeps track of the entire football/baseball/hockey/soccer/basketball game through RSS feeds. Users can select a feed dedicated to a sport or to a particular team. There a hundreds of teams to choose from which would satisfy any sports fan.

CollegeFanz puts sports into an interactive environment, which includes a virtual stadium and a customizable “dorm room.” The site looks great and has some great features but those features aren’t integrated into the site very well. Read a full review at Mashable.

NASCAR fans will get a real kick out of the Formula One Grand Prix Circuit map that shows satellite images of racetracks around the world.

3 Easy ways to make thumbnails

Thumbnails, those tiny images that usually link to a smaller images are the workhorse of any news website. In addition to making a page more visually interesting, thumbnails encourage the reader to click through to inside pages. Usually these thumbnails are created in Photoshop (which plans to launch an online version soon) or some other imaging program, but there are free, online applications that will resize your images quickly (and did I mention for free?)

    

Quick Thumbnail resizes images from your hard drive or from the internet to any size or scale you choose. It even adds filters like grayscale, sepia, or embossing upon request. PicResize also offers quick scaling and filters, but also has options to rotate the image or resize multiple images. It even has a nifty ruler to see how large the original image is. PicResize is a little more user-friendly and the quality of the end result is much better than its counterpart.

To create a screenshot of an entire page like this thumbnail of 10,000 words, use thumbalizr, a quick tool for which you only have to enter the web address. The site will produce a thumbnail which you can download at various sizes.

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