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Archives: March 2008

What color is the news? How to pick the right colors for your site

Red is the color of power and blue is the color of trust. So it should come as no surprise that many popular online news sites incorporate either color in their design and logos. Here are a few side-by-side:

The color choice is no accident: according to several articles on color psychology, red is associated with energy, strength, power, danger, action and adventure. It is also easier to spot compared to other colors, hence its use in many street signs. Blue is associated with trustworthiness, seriousness, power and professionalism.

Picking the right color for a website or for online graphics can be a tough decision: the right color can elicit a natural emotion or reaction from the user. Black may indicate somberness or seriousness while yellow can evoke happiness and joy.

Do you know the difference between lavender and mauve? How about turquoise and cyan? There are so many colors in the spectrum that just identifying them can be daunting. With this interactive color namer or by using useful sites like ColourLovers, you’ll be able to tell that the Los Angeles Times uses Prussian blue for its links and that the trademark Bloomberg orange is also known as golden eye.

For help in choosing the perfect colors to complement your site’s existing scheme, visit Vandelay Website Design and Web Design Ledger for comprehensive lists of color-related resources.

Also on 10,000 Words:

How to select the right font every time
How to design for a computer other than your own
Multimedia Picker: Choose the right medium for your message

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Do children really want to be journalists when they grow up?

I had to laugh when I watched the trailer for the movie Kit Kittredge: An American Girl about a precocious little girl who fights to have her story printed in the local newspaper. “Do kids really want to be reporters anymore?” I thought. Is there some tyke banging down the door of the New York Times, story in hand?

It’s hard to say. Most of us have probably heard conversations similar to those at of aspiring reporters who got the bait and switch: they thought they were getting a job where they would write or report and make a difference, but were eventually put off by crummy editors and lousy pay. Moreover several posters mention that the places where they work are not open to new ideas, especially when it comes to new media journalism.

As media companies across the country slash jobs and reorganize priorities, many community outreach programs that targeted aspiring journalists not yet old enough to be interns are also being cut. Moreover, many kids aren’t even reading newspapers or watching the daily news to see what a reporter’s work looks like.

One of the highlights of working in a newsroom is when a group of wide-eyed students shuffle through the labyrinth of cubicles and offices, amazed at the buzz and excitement generated by a working news staff. For a child, that could be the moment that cements their aspiration to be a journalist.

The good news is according to this Forbes survey and this UK press release, a good percentage of kids do want to be writers. Not journalists per se, but its a good start. Now its up to us to open our newsrooms and give them an occupation to look forward to.

How to invigorate boring courtroom sketches

Here is an example of a typical courtroom sketch (okay it’s actually a Photoshopped screengrab from A Few Good Men, but work with me here). Like other sketches, it’s basically just a flat graphic.

Here is the same sketch with a little multimedia treatment. (Roll over the characters with your mouse. Click here for the .FLA)

Or if you have a series of sketches at your disposal or just cropped versions of a single one, you can create a quick slideshow using Flash, SoundSlides, or by uploading to your content management tool. See an example below (click here for the .FLA)

Both of these Flash files took less than ten minutes to build and add an incredibly useful multimedia element to an otherwise old news standard. For more on the artists behind some of the most recognizable court sketches, check out this post at Ironic Sans.

How newsrooms are using Facebook apps

Not too long ago, very few media companies had invested time in creating Facebook applications. But with the millions of registered users visiting the site every day, there has been a rush to be a part of Facebook profiles everywhere. Examples of great Facebook apps include Time Magazine’s Quote of the Day app, The New York Times News Quiz (which has roughly 1,500 unique users a day), and’s Hollywood Hair Makeover (about 3,300 daily users). All of these infuse an element of fun into journalism and have an element that keeps Facebook users coming back.

Building a Facebook application is still very much for those with technical knowhow, but there are a few third party applications making the process easier. First, start off with this post from Tony Hirst that details a few of said applications, including Dapper Facebook AppMaker.

It’s never to late to create a winning Facebook app, according to Stanford instructors Dr. BJ Fogg and Dave McClure. Some of their other musings: “simplicity and clarity are the key to app success” and “copying success is a cheap/fast way to succeed.” I couldn’t agree more.

Facebook and MySpace are of course two of the hundreds, if not thousands, of social networks floating around the web. But what other social networks are popular around the web? According to this map Orkut is popular in Brazil and India, hi5 is popular in Portugal, Mongolia and Peru, and Blogger is a hit in France and Pakistan.

Online magazines trade paper for pixels

Nothing beats a magazine that you can hold in your hand, flip through pages or set down and pick up later (wait, isn’t that the argument for physical newspapers?). A digital version of your magazine, however, is sure to attract online readers who are not subscribers and who can’t or don’t pick it up at the local bookstore.

Many magazines offer a large amount of their content online, either for free or through paywalls. But very few offer a physical copy of the magazine online. Seems like a no-brainer right?

A digital magazine can be as simple as a PDF of the final layout, which most mags have lying around anyway. Or it can be jazzed up with Issuu, which takes a boring PDF and spices it up with interactivity, animation and a user friendly layout. Issuu also has a lot of interesting magazines that can be browsed for free, including 20 Minuten which looks great in its digital form.

An online version of Fortune Small Business, powered by Olive Software, lets users zoom and flip through its pages, using a Flash-based navigation. (The company also does newspapers.) Space Magazine has made use of the Google Maps API to create an interactive magazine that functions much like a Google Map. I’m still not sold on the tiling effect or the odd navigation, but it sure does look good and is very avant-garde. has an impressive collection of about 175 magazines that are both online and free. A list of its offerings reveals that it is comprised of mostly niche magazines, but still impressive nonetheless.

Traditional magazine readers/ citizen journalists are taking the web 2.0 route and creating online magazines that, like my fave CRAM Magazine, are really impressive in both writing and design. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Putting an entire magazine online for free is the next step in online journalism, but is sure to tick off more than a few subscribers who are paying for exclusive content. It is up to your company to decide whether such a commodity should be free, an online bonus, or available for a fee.