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Web Dev101 For Journalists


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Web Dev 101 for Journalists is aimed at helping people who want to do news and community information projects online understand how to find and work with a coder, think through their site, and launch it.

These slides were originally given at the Knight Digital Media Center Boot Camp. Video of this and other presentations, handouts, and other resources are available at .

Web Dev101 For Journalists

  1. 1. Web Development 101: Getting Your Site Right From the Beginning KDMC Boot Camp for Knight Information Challenge Winners March 21 2 - 5 Lisa Williams placeblogger
  2. 2. What this is • These are slides from a course developed to help winners of the Knight News & Information Challenge develop, launch, and grow online community, news, and information projects. • The original presentation was given as part of a seminar presented at the Knight Digital Media Center at USC/Annenberg. • Session handouts, assignments, and resource material are available FREE on the web at The sessions were streamed live the week of March 21, 2010, and video of the sessions will be archived at the link above. • If this is of interest to you, you should look into the Knight News Challenge and the Knight Community Information Challenge, which fund innovative news and community information projects. You can find out more at
  3. 3. Who this is for • Non-programmers who want to build a new website or add features to/extend an existing website • Project leaders who will be working with others on their team to set up and run a website and web strategy for a project • Particularly for people who know they will be hiring or working with a technical person to help them set up the site • If you are a solo practicioner and want to see what you can do without hiring, see for a list of skills that will help you become more self- sufficient.
  4. 4. Screenshot of Placeblogger
  5. 5. Placeblogger World HQ! (now with free coffee) Cambridge, MA
  6. 6. Lisa on LinkedIn: Lisa on Twitter: @lisawilliams placeblogger
  7. 7. Guy Guy Guy Guy Guy placeblogger
  8. 8. Having a startup islike is like having one long existential crisis
  9. 9. Phase 1: Create & Create the items you want to share with a potential tech Distribute Spec & partner, including a spec and milestones. Project Plan (Lisa) Phase 2 Which vendors are worth spending your time with? Which Assess finalists tech partner do you trust? Phase 3 Are you satisfied with the deal you’re getting – both in terms Award Job of money and how you work together? (Susan, Lisa) Phase 4 Are you getting the site you want – one you’re really excited Site Strategy (Susan) about? Phase 5 Do you feel confident about your launch package – editorial, Launch & Content features, team, what you’ll do on Day One? Strategy (Amy) Phase 6 What are your standards and goals for community building? Community building How do you get and keep people engaged? How will you (Kwan, Amy, Susan, utilize social media to extend the impact of your site across Lisa) the web?
  10. 10. Finding, Landing & Working With Technical Talent for Your Project placeblogger
  11. 11. Where do I find them? placeblogger
  12. 12. You’re not buying, you’re selling. placeblogger
  13. 13. Don’t underestimate the cool factor placeblogger
  14. 14. What type of relationship? placeblogger
  15. 15. How much should I pay? placeblogger
  16. 16. Do I have enough money? placeblogger
  17. 17. Site Startup Tech at Phase 2 Phase 2 Exit/ Capital launch tech financing Uniques Blogher >$10k Movable Drupal NBCi, Acquisition Type Venrock 8M $5M Television >$10k BBforum, MT, Bootstrap, Acquired Without Plone Prospero Advertisers by Bravo Pity 1M TechCrunch >10k Wordpress WPMU Bootstrap, ? ads, 1.8 conferences Huffington ~300k Custom MT, $5M VC Acquisition Post SixApart Rails investment 2.5
  18. 18. Exercise 1 of 3 Exercises are located at placeblogger
  19. 19. Understanding the responses you get from coders placeblogger
  20. 20. Four Basic Approaches Coders Will Take To Building Your Site & What They Mean To You Packaged v. Custom Open Source v. Commercial placeblogger
  21. 21. Packaged v. Custom • Packaged • Custom • Pros: Get features for • Pros: greater flexibility, free when they’re ability to build added, add new something truly new features without a • Cons: hard to support, programmer, easier hard to add new training features • Less flexible – learning • No documentation to work within constraints
  22. 22. Reasons to go custom • If you have a small site, a good developer may be able to get a site up and running very quickly. • You have greater flexibility – you can build pretty much anything. • It’s generally costlier and harder to maintain and train new people on. • If you’re developing something that truly does not exist elsewhere, custom is the way to go. • You might be working with the next big thing.
  23. 23. Open Source v. Commercial • Open Source • Commercial • Pros: No license fees, • Pros: Customer large developer service, possibly community adds streamlined. features for free • Cons: if they go out of • Cons: Less business, you may be streamlined, volunteer stranded. Recurring labor license fees.
  24. 24. Ensuring self-sufficiency First feature after launch Documented or not? Where’s the code? What happens when the site crashes? placeblogger
  25. 25. Write a spec No, really. Write a spec. placeblogger
  26. 26. Five Things You Should Share With A Coder (Even if Your Project Isn’t New) • Wireframes • One page description of user roles • One page of “user stories” • One page list of content types • List of features
  27. 27. Writing a spec = thinking it through placeblogger
  28. 28. Exercise 2 of 3: User Roles Exercises can be found at: placeblogger
  29. 29. Create simple wireframes placeblogger
  30. 30. Exercise 3 of 3: Simple Wireframes Exercises can be found at: placeblogger
  31. 31. Get more dangerous Commit to developing your own skills so that you can add simple features and fix basic problems placeblogger
  32. 32. The Society of Makers • Show your work to other people who make things (& bring your coder, it makes them feel good) • Pecha Kucha ( ) • University entrepreneur groups • Show your work to students • Get to know other people in your area who Make Stuff
  33. 33. Thanks! Lisa Williams placeblogger
  34. 34. Get Excited & Make Things placeblogger