Amanda's Blog

Journalism 347

Responsive Design

Our assignment this week was focused on responsive design and the capabilities surrounding it compared to those of just the typical mobile site design. I found this quite interesting. MSNBC redesigned their site with responsive design. Without requiring an app, a user can view the content on a laptop, mobile device or tablet in the same structure and format. As I began to view websites I view on a daily basis, I began to take notice how many sites actually use and don’t use design option; many don’t and now that I can tell the difference, I find it so inconvenient. When I am on my phone, I am usually in the mode to search quickly and efficiently. I have no time nor patience to scroll around, zoom in and navigate through frustration because I can’t find the content I am in search for. Education websites such as and have adapted this new concept of responsive design making it especially convenient for students, who are constantly on the move while being busy-bodies, to browse on the school website anywhere and on any device. This is just the beginning. Technology is transforming our capabilities as website users to go beyond what we can imagine today.


Photo taken by Alex Weprinn


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Storify Assignment

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The Headlines of the Death of Paul Walker

When it comes to the death of an individual, emotions and nerves take control. Many believe it is harder to see someone close to you on a personal level pass away at any age. When a celebrity dies of natural causes or of a disaster, we as the fans don’t know how to react. Subconsciously, we build  close relationships with certain individuals in the media whether it be musicians, actors or news officials by just watching them on TV. I find this incredibly interesting. As seen with past celebrities of which have passed away, this is no different with the most recent death, Paul Walker. We knew him as the face of the series, Fast and Furious and of whom ironically died in a car crash.

What drew my attention was the blow up of headlines regarding his death. “Fast and Furious Actor, Paul Walker, Mourned”, “Paul Walker dies at 40”, “Speed a factor in Paul Walker’s death”. These were the more factual, specific, to the point headlines with stories referencing the facts of the accident. Once I glanced over the emotional headlines referencing reactions from co-actors, friends and family, it was difficult not to have a torn heart for the loved ones; “Paul Walker’s Dad Breaks Down in Tears Over Actor’s Death; “His Heart was So Big”.

It is interesting which news websites reference the facts, and which reference the emotion. I found news websites such as CNN, MSNBC and FOX News headline the stories based on the car crash, motive, possible causes and factual information. Websites such as EOnline featured headlines pertaining to Walker’s friends, Fast and Furious family, and family touching the audience on an emotional level.

It’s amazing how headlines and stories can draw any normal individual into an event within the life of someone we have never met, such as a celebrity. The emotional headlines create a mental picture in your mind that draws on life as you know it. Mental pictures of disasters or death are difficult to draw upon, but when headlines are simple and to-the-point they are more effective and will result in greater audience viewings.

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Employee Promoters

No matter the company you work for, you will always have some sort of loyalty towards the brand it stands for. The article, The Key to Building and Audience is to Sit at the Desk Next to You, describes how employees are key to brand image and promotion. It says that people are more likely to respond better to the opinions and statements of employees than they are of the CEO. This is quite true. We as society members think CEO’s are out for the money, as sad as it may sound. We see employees as individuals not out for the money because no matter how hard they work to promote the product, they are usually paid on a set salary.

What I find missing in society is personal opinion. So many base their opinions off of others. They make comments based on others. They shop at stores because their best friend works there. They buy a brand of tomato sauce because their brother works for the brand. Would they do these things if they had no relationship to the company? Probably not. It’s just like voting on comments as we had in our lecture. What makes that fair? What makes a good comment? What makes a bad comment? It’s all based on personal judgement, which is our right, but we have to remember it is also others right at the same time.

It’s human nature to take in others opinions and to give others yours, but it is important to step back and understand who you are as an individual. Having the ability to spread knowledge and self confidence whether you are an employee promoting a brand or not, will give to better, more productive and constructive conversation. Building a constructive conversation builds a constructive audience.


Photo taken by Kaiser the Sage

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Paywalls… Good or Bad?

In class this week, our lesson was on paywalls and whether or not they are an effective way for news websites to make money. I went on to do a little research and found numerous differentiating opinions on this topic.

Brandon Barb of the Spencer Daily Reporter wrote an article on whether paywalls are good or bad. He wrote that as newspapers began to put content online for free, they weren’t making any money. To make it worth their while, newspapers implemented a paywall, whether it be a hard paywall such as a monthly subscription, or a metered paywall to limit the number of “free” articles a viewer can see. He went on to say that paywalls have been found to be more upsetting to people searching for national news because there are numerous sources of national news available online. For local news, he wrote that paywalls would work out better for the news websites because there are few sources of local information.

Each and every reporter deserves recognition and more importantly, deserves to be paid for what they write. When reporters wrote stories to be published to print media, advertisements paid their wages. Now with online news media, news websites are having a difficult time making enough revenue through advertisements that they had to implement a paywall. Although, I feel as though there should be other options than implementing a paywall. As the Internet expands and advances, more and more information is available online. In fact, what isn’t available online?

A solution to paywalls? Reporters creating a niche within their writing to attract an audience. The news website creating a specific niche to attract an audience. Whether it be local or national, the website needs to do something no other news website does. Once an audience is attracted, advertisers will be attracted. Once advertisers are attracted, then the news website can make the decision to limit the number of advertisements on the page. Premiums can be charged and reporters can be paid. I think paywalls will phase out. People won’t pay for information that they can find online for free. If they can’t find it online, they will deal with similar information that they don’t have to pay for.


Photo taken by Intomobiles

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2013 Top Ecommerce Website Analytics Benchmarks

After this weeks lesson on Google Analytic’s, I decided to do a little research on how to improve analytic reports and stats.  ClickTale  compared small eCommerce to big players based on web analytics and user experiences in 2013. Based on the results of the bounce rate, active time and time spent, they found that the small companies had some work to do.

ClickTales reasoning behind the better statistics for the bigger players include both higher shares of returning customers and optimization. Larger players in the eCommerce industry have the ability financially and resourcefully to conduct more tests. Because small companies are usually more financially strict, they don’t have the ability to spend excess on tests of which can, at times, be risky.

What can the small company do to gain more audience and understand their audience better? According to ClickTales a few suggestions include promoting clear and concise messages. Single messages provide simplicity for a wandering eye. Low loading time. People are impatient. Period. A few more are listed on their website, but I found them all quite interesting. Small businesses are everywhere especially in the eCommerce industry. Excessively large ones are not. It is important that websites such as this are out there for people to learn especially when they are either starting a small business or running one and don’t have the financial means to pay for extracurricular tests such as audience analytics.


Photo taken from the Right Media Blog.

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Farming Data Strategies

Each year brings new challenges to those who farm. Each season, new produce is planted and harvested with intentions of successful production. Sometimes, seasons don’t follow suit as they should and leave farmers with unsuccessful crops. Weather related obstacles such as freezes, droughts, natural disasters and floods are just a few possible occurrences that can dramatically affect a farmers crop. For large, commercial farmers, hardships such as these can affect not only the farmer, but depending on their output, states, regions, and countries. Today with social media and Web 2.0, people around the world can be instantly informed on produce notices and recalls, which has proved to be extremely important, especially during cases of diseases and food borne illnesses.

Journals such as the Farm Journal provide numerous resources for all people interested in the agriculture and farming industry. Farmers, critics, analysts and distributors have the ability to not only look up information, but provide information. Spreadsheets throughout the website provide statistics such as average temperature, average rainfall, quality, noticeable defects, quantity and prices to name a few. Spreadsheets help farmers keep track of their produce as well as critics, buyers and journalists to keep up to date on crop quality and production. In times of crises, spreadsheets, also known as market reports in the agriculture industry, also help with detailed and factual statistics if needed immediately to inform the consumer.

There a science and a craft to the art of farming. Some years go well. Some years go bad. Spreadsheets help create the databases needed to continue the family relationships farmers across the world have created and will continue to hold.

Photo taken by author of Eat Close to Home

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Local News; Door County Style

After analyzing three news websites this week for our class discussion, I decided to look up and analyze my hometown newspaper website, the Door County Advocate. As a local news website, it could use some work on its design, but similarly to the Daily Union, it is funded by the community and I believe they have worked well with what they have been provided.

Photo taken by Dick Eastman

Photo taken by Dick Eastman

On the front page, the header shares the banner with the navigation menu. The navigation menu features links to individual categories including news, sports, people, obituaries and opinions. Directly over the header banner, they included a navigation menu providing links to individual, local, community columnists categorized based on town location. Directly under the header banner, another navigation menu is featured to provide links to other Door County publications such as Your Key to the Door, Door County Magazine and the Arts Guide. They feature one advertisement banner below the three navigation banners, as well as advertisement’s uniformly placed in the right side bar.  They use a tab system to highlight top news and most popular news. Their color scheme is quite simple, with the use of black, blue and white, but they make good use of their white space, as the front page is not too cluttered with content.

As a local news website, I find it convenient that they include the weather report (video) as well as daily/outlook forecast first on their front page. It is a great feature for locals who missed the news report on TV to look it up online and not have to search through the website for it. As I scrolled down to the bottom of the front page, they also provide social media links including Twitter, Facebook, email and RSS subscriptions. This gives them a chance to directly connect with the community and it allows the community to have a certain sense of opinion and input. Although this is not a design feature, I find the Door County Advocate especially intriguing because it truly focuses on the community and everyone who takes part. Whether it be a cancer survivor, a track athlete, a charity run, or a 12-year-old who shot the biggest buck in the county, they make a point to headline it and I think that’s special.

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How Entertaining is E! Online?

I have come to discover I am obsessed with entertainment news. I love the drama, the gossip, the fashion, the celebrities, etc… E! News and E! Online provides its audience up-to-date entertainment news from around the world pertaining to its network shows, actors, musicians, reality stars, sports players, health and fitness; all of which provide its audience with news on what entertains us as a society. What I find most fascinating is the degree to which the E! News network attracts its audience. It’s network on TV, website and blog all mirror a vivacious and vibrant format, structure and layout. Within each blog post, a link, video or visual is provided to attract, engage, relate and retain its audience. There are also links to related posts pertaining to the story or subject, giving the audience easy access to continue their time spent surfing E!.

What is entertaining to me? It isn’t just the content; it is the delivery. E! has a way of making the visuals and videos appear so engaging, as the resolution is so clear. Each blog headline is specific and dramatic-a way of not giving you the option to skim over the story. It has a way of connecting with the audience, whether it be a story, a blog post or a video. E! knows its audience. E! is entertaining.


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