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Easy solutions to web production's most common problems

In my role as multimedia producer for California Watch and in other newsrooms where I’ve worked, I am frequently approached by reporters to help them with web-related issues. Often it’s how to post content on the web, how to edit something, or how to do something I’ve never heard of (which I later google).

Here are some of the most common question I’m asked — and if you are a web producer, you are too — and the answers to those questions.

 
How do I post a document online?

Usually reporters want to embed a document within their article, blog post, etc. I usually direct them to Scribd which allows anyone to upload Word docs, PDFs, Excel spreadsheets and more and embed them in a site like a YouTube video. The entire process is really easy.

 
How do I embed audio?

Usually I’d refer people Odeo to upload and embed their audio for free, but since the site has been down the last few weeks, the option no longer exists. Now I refer people to eSnips.com which lets users upload various file types, including audio, and the site outputs an embeddable audio player.

 
How do I resize this photo?

I assume the person is not familiar with Photoshop and redirect them to the free online tool Resizr. To use it, just upload a photo, enter the image size/dimensions and the tool spits out a newly-sized image. FotoFlexer is a great tool for more detailed photo editing like cropping, resizing, etc. Also, check out this list of free online photo editing tools.

 
How do I quickly turn this data/spreadsheet into a graphic?

Upload the spreadsheet to Google Docs and follow these instructions to create a simple graphic.

 
How do I create a quick embeddable map?

Check out any of the simple mapping tools like UMapper and Atlas that allow the user to place a point on a map and create an embeddable map within minutes.

 
Should I use Flash?

No.

 
Can you teach me how to use Flash?

No.

 
How do I include special characters like the ñ in piñata or the ö in Motörhead?

Bookmark this handy reference guide to HTML “entities” or special characters. Just copy and paste the bit of code you need to create the character and place it in your post.

 
Have you seen my cell phone?

No, but you may want to check out this site.

 
Are there are common questions or simple tasks that are missing here? Please share or feel free to ask questions in the comments.

 
Also on 10,000 Words:

7 Essential multimedia tools and their free alternatives
10 Reasons why online news sites suck
The multimedia tools I actually use (and you should too)

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