Archive for November, 2007

Website feedback

Right. I’m just about to email the web development team a summary document of the feedback given in response to my post.

Word users can download the original document, or you can get it in html.

It is, of course, a first draft. So comments and suggestions are very much welcome!

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Trust, blogging and journalism

So here’s another thing I’m trying to get my head around:

After picking up on “Anyone want to help design the Birmingham Post website?“, journalism.co.uk must have felt that I was a credible source. They wrote a story about The Post website and quoted directly from my blog.

It hit me that, actually, that is quite an interesting thing to have done. So much has been said about the danger of blogs being potentially unreliable. Yet something made me quote-able. What was it that gave me credibility in their eyes? Context?

But, whatever it was, it was not enough to give the blog the same credibility in the eyes of holdthefrontpage.co.uk. Yesterday, they phoned me up to verify what I had written on the web and to ask for more details.

Two interesting points here: One is that I probably would have adopted the same approach as holdthefrontpage. I think I’d be happier speaking directly to the author of a blog, rather than just wholesale lifting what they had said in a post.

Second is that when they phoned me, I clammed up. I took the journalist’s name and number and said I would pass it on to Marc to deal with (which I did).

I guess the upshot is that I didn’t feel comfortable being a spokesperson for The Post or for the website project. The daft thing about that though is I already became a spokesperson by having free reign to blog about it!

There’s something illogical going on here…

What Geary said!

My blog post on the new Birmingham Post website is still doing the rounds and has now been picked up by the Journalism.co.uk website. Even if it is just a nib (news in brief), I’m pleased.

Strangely, what tickles me about it the most is seeing myself referred to as simply “Geary”.

Now I know that’s the convention for many papers (not ours), but when you see it used for yourself it seems rather odd and I can’t really explain why.

Is it because it makes me sound like a convicted criminal/football player? I’m not sure. I’m going to have to think this one through!

A big “thank you”

…to all of you who have commented on the post about the new Birmingham Post website.

I have been blown away by the eloquent and erudite feedback you have given me. It’s also impressed others at The Post and I can promise that everything that has been posted here has been read and taken seriously by people on the development team.

In fact my job this week is to pull together everything that has been said and put it into a summary document. I will, of course, upload it for further critique from you all!

Today I spent three hours(!) in a meeting with Marc our editor and Steve our head of multimedia bashing out what content we would like to see on the site.

Not sure how much I can give away, but a lot of it follows what has already been said on this blog.

For me, the most important thing is that the site is uncluttered, simple to use and searchable. All the bells and whistles can be added later, but it’s about getting the fundementals right.

We’ve got a nice head start in that we will be using a similar template to other papers in the group such as the Liverpool Post, Liverpool Echo, Daily Post (Wales) and Daily Record (Scotland).

Ours, however, will have a very distinct Birmingham Post feel.

Del.icio.us

Under the recent comments in this blog’s sidebar, you will find that I have got me a new del.icio.us widget displaying my account. (Thanks to Pete for the suggestion)

I signed up to del.icio.us a few weeks ago and haven’t used it a great deal… until now. This weekend I started filling it with things I think might be useful for our meeting on the new Birmingham Post website.

Is there anything I’ve missed?

Anyone want to help design the Birmingham Post website?

Yes it’s true, it looks like the days might be numbered for icBirmingham. We are finally getting a new website!

When Trinity Mirror decided to keep the Post & Mail, part of the announcement alluded to the fact that an upgrade in IT and our websites was on its way.

Now it looks like a shiny, new Birmingham Post website will be launched at some point next year.

To my surprise and delight I have been picked to be part of the development team (I guess it was a good thing those bigwigs were reading my blog after all!).

Part of my job is to shape what sort of content the site should have. I’m going to be studying what’s out there on the web already to see if there’s stuff I think could be useful – and to try and avoid some of the mistakes that others have made.

Now, I know there are some things I want from a news website: a home page that is constantly updated with breaking news; rss feeds for categories of news that I’m interested in; email alerts for breaking stories; an easily searchable archive and the ability to post a comment at the bottom of a story. I am also stupidly addicted to links to the day’s most read and most emailed stories.

I also think there’s a place for video content, especially if it’s giving a slightly different angle to a story – maybe showing the drama of breaking news or, perhaps, the human side of a business deal. One video that caught my attention was a feature from the New York Times on Paypal founder Max Levchin. That really worked for me (except the damn stupid ad before the video).

Speaking of ads: My ideal news website would also have its advertising in a sensible place and certainly NOT have any of those horrible things that follow you around when you scroll.

But, the thing is, I’m just one person.

How I used news sites is different to how others might use them. I know, for example, I’m very biased towards the news side of things. But news websites can also provide other content too (features, share prices, weather, traffic information, directories, etc.)

So, I wondered, what sort of content do other people use news websites for? What features do other people find useful? I guess this post is a call out to people to find out what you might want from a new, improved, Birmingham Post website.

We’ve got a meeting on Monday to start putting all this stuff together. I’m really excited about it as we could soon have a website that I’m proud of, rather than one I have to constantly apologise for.

[Edit: If you want to see the sites and features I’ve been looking at, I’ve bookmarked them on del.licio.us tagged as Jo’sResearch. I’ll be discussing these at the meeting on Monday. Is there anything I’ve missed?]

Lolpolitics

Well now, this is an odd one.

It looks like Flickr is host to a bizarre new breed of lolpics.

Loldeirdre is a user who has posted six pictures of councillor Deirdre Alden that have been lol-ed.

Is this a new phenomenon that will take off, I wonder. Are we set to see a lolNev, or a lolMike user appearing in future?!


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