To Do Lists and Documentation

Here are some tasks and documentation while we’re developing this site. I prefaced each with whomever I think is primarily responsible for the task per our 6/2 meeting. Page updated 6/3 and again 6/9. BG

Brian, Jacob, John are sharing this page. We might share tasks with Kathy, Heidi, Colin but haven’t yet.

Below these tasks is some documentation of the site design.

Done since 6/2

  • Brian corrected the ‘News Junkie’ slide and linked it to a new page specifying some of our membership requirements — http://wanewscouncil.org/sign-up/
  • Brian added ‘Add This’ type social media buttons to the bottom of every post and page, and to the bottom of every post on the main Blog page. We might want to do more or differently with social media in the future, I’d like to see tweets about posts included in our posts’ comment area for example, but this is a nice start.
  • We ironed out who will log in with what username/password
  • Brian gave Jacob (copied John) all the social media notes he had created to-date, regarding Twitter, Gmail, Gravatar, and Vimeo for ‘WNC’ or ‘wanewscouncil’, and mentioning LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr. These are not yet all coordinated but we’re getting there.
  • Jacob and Brian dug up links to a dozen or so site pages whose content John has started to review
    • 6/9: we’re still moving things around but made a lot of progress
    • 6/9: if a page is still not ready for prime time when the site needs to be revealed, we will change its status back to ‘draft’, unpublishing it without losing our work
  • Jacob and Brian identified old content which should be reformatted in blog posts, such as press releases from the old home page
    • Jacob has published those as posts at earlier, appropriate dates
    • we will link to these from other places in the site, for example linking to posts on the Reed complaint from the Accomplishments page or from within widgets featuring major or recent complaints

More notes about what has been done to-date are inline per type of task, below

JACOB, JOHN, BRIAN: Navigation menu

Decide what pages to have in the navigation menu, and how to organize them, and put them in place. Jacob and Brian ironed some of this out 6/2, and Jacob and John and Brian and John discussed more 6/9.

Example questions to consider: Should ‘Our Supporters’ be at the top level? Which pages should be linked to via other pages, but not be in the navigation menu themselves?

JACOB, JOHN: Categories and tags

I will type a bit more about the differences between the two below. Note that we opted 6/2 to not use category-based navigation, and we will instead use the space built into the design for that purpose to present navigation of the BuddyPress, online community elements — member profiles, groups, forums.

Done since 6/3: Brian eliminated the ‘by John Hamer’ and ‘by Heidi Dietrich’ categories after creating users and assigning posts accordingly, putting each of those posts into a ‘miscellaneous’ category.

Next for Jacob, John: Create suitable categories and tags for posts.

If a post does not belong in the miscellaneous category — few if any truly do — then after adding it to one or more new categories, remove it from ‘miscellaneous’.

More about categories and tags, then a little about how we could use them in the site:

Remember you can have parent and child categories, but you cannot have parent and child tags. There should be at least one and up to a handful of categories per post. Tags are a bit different: generally there are as many tags per post as are semantically appropriate, like keywords for which that post should be returned in search. There might be a few dozen tags for one post.

Categories and tags are considered by our site search engine as well as by external search engines. If I search for ‘Murrow’ and find three posts, factors used to rank those posts include: which is most recent, which has that word in its title, which uses that word more times in its text, which is tagged with that term, and which is in a category which uses that term.

Once posts are well enough tagged, consider using a tag cloud in a widget, on the main sidebar or on the home page. Tag clouds in sidebars are great for generating secondary traffic, visitors often use them for suggestions of related content in choosing to visit a second page/post on your site.

JACOB, JOHN: Home page widgets including featured pages

Decide what to put in the slideshow and six main home page widgeted areas: Middle 1, 2, 3 and Bottom 1, 2, 3. I built them for featured pages or posts, including a special thumbnail image size which fits the home page, but they can take any widget and each area can also display more than one widget.

The WNC user has a gravatar (globally recognized avatar) which is the WNC logo. John and Heidi each should upload an image for their email address via http://en.gravatar.com/ That image, then will be automatically incorporated in this site, in posts’ author boxes, comments, and the featured author widget.

In some cases we might need to create pages to feature existing content, in others we would create a thumbnail image suitable for the home page and associate it with an existing blog post.

Jacob and I did one 6/2 in area Middle #2 as an exercise, regarding the AIPCE membership blog post. We created a category, ‘featured posts’ within which the most recent will be displayed in home page widgeted area Middle #2. To expand on that, for example that same widget could also display the two most recent posts in that category.

Neither the middle band nor the bottom band of three widgeted areas on the home page need to have just three widgets, one in each area. The left most widgeted area could show 20 recent blog posts, making enough vertical space for the middle and/or right widgeted areas of the middle band to have more than one widget or taller widgets, themselves.

JACOB, BRIAN: Fix images in articles

  1. JACOB: If an article doesn’t have an image, give it one.
  2. BRIAN: Remove links from images which should not have them (like George Orwell’s).
  3. BRIAN (I HAVE ALL THE PSD FILES AND CAN BATCH THIS): Change the peach-colored border to a standard gray / which depends on how it looks against the page background.

Note: the new design has a built in, CSS-based border around each image so we no longer need to edit this into the graphic itself in Photoshop for a consistent look across the site.

JACOB, BRIAN: Fix formatting on posts, pages

posts like http://wanewscouncil.org/2010/04/12/30-or-60-something-blogging-across-the-demographic-divide/ are using H2 tags because that’s the only way we could hack up a good lay out in the old theme. The new theme has different uses for tags like that, so use more logical tags or otherwise format things in a sensible way considering the new design

BRIAN: Redirect legacy URLs

It takes an hour or so, the code for it is installed. I did it in the old site and will need to do it one more time, here.

BRIAN: Custom “Read More” link

add a custom ‘read all about it’ version of the ‘read the rest of this entry’ or ‘more’ link, as I had done in the old site’s theme

BRIAN: Contact page including form

The contact page http://wanewscouncil.org/contact/ now has a basic contact form. This is a simple example of the same technology we will use for the complaint submission form, on another page.

The contact page still should have basic contact information shown above it, including physical and mailing addresses and phone number. (Maybe don’t publish an email address at all? to reduce spam.)

BRIAN: Complaint and release form

John and Brian discussed details 6/9 including how to arrange these in the site navigation. They should be linked to from a few places so they are easy to find. Jacob sent Brian a PDF of the complaint form and Brian will create an online version.

The release form will probably remain a PDF for download regardless, since it needs to be signed then otherwise submitted — fax, mail likely, only a small percentage of people have digital ink abilities.

BRIAN, Kathy: eTapestry widget? Collecting donations from a home page widget

There is probably an existing solution for this. We might also need to consult with eTapestry.

It could be as simple as a catchy graphic and blurb, with links to eTapestry from that widget area on the middle right of the home page, above the fold. John has also edited a page with reasons to support WNC and we should like to that from this area, then also from that page to the eTapestry donation pages.

Should the main sidebar also have a donation widget, if not at the top right then somewhere prominent on the right? If it isn’t glaring or anything, it makes sense to me (Brian).

BRIAN: Membership system

Membership is complicated, enough that I (Brian) started another page to spell out specs from our 6/2 meeting and my 6/9 conversation with John: http://wanewscouncil.org/sign-up/

BRIAN: Member profiles, groups, forums

In a word: BuddyPress. Brian will be integrating BuddyPress with this site, its blog, and our membership system.
We discussed 6/2 regarding members:

  • Creating profiles for WNC Team, Board members, and Hearings Council members, so we start with some dozens of (100?) members. After creating basic profiles for each, WNC can reach out and invite them to customize their profiles and use them to participate in forums or the site generally.
  • What other groups may want to have profiles, whether news media companies and organizations, bloggers, “news hounds” or “news junkies,” journalism students, … John and Jacob and Kathy had specific names in mind and we should gather a list and strategy for inviting them and growing the community. We may, for example offer not only a member profile but a group for an organization to administer.

We discussed 6/2 regarding the design:

  • the site itself should have the same home page we are building now, BuddyPress elements like “top groups” might be used in widgets on the home page but should not consume the home page.
  • BuddyPress elements should be visible as secondary elements under the page menu, including links to the members, groups, and forums directories. We should place these similarly as post categories could now be placed, and we will not be using that space for post categories.

BRIAN: Correct URLs before going live

TO BE DONE AFTER WE’VE SHOWN THE BOARD AND BEFORE WE ACTUALLY GO LIVE. Then, to be thoroughly tested after going live. Finally then, after testing, turn on Google Analytics in the new site (and off in the old site) but not before else we’ll have a lot of false, test data.

Some links in this development site will not work until we have pointed the nameservers at this new location, because they are hardcoded for our real domain (wanewscouncil.org) where this site will be rendered once it has gone live, not at http://wanewscouncil.org/…

Other links we have created while developing this site, for demonstration or for testing. They work now but would not once we go live, unless we had corrected them first.

A related note: images may also require editing,

http://wanewscouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/3417434696_b5b470551a.gif

should be

http://wanewscouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/3417434696_b5b470551a.gif

to be rendered properly after the nameservers are pointing to this technical location.

This review of all links might take two to four hours, depending how much we have added to the site before going live.

I will try a direct approach in the database first, replacing all instances of the IP address and subdirectory with the proper domain. If I’m lucky it only takes 15 minutes.

Done: Users to create and associated data, features

Brian created and edited profiles for the users WNC, johnhamer, and heididietrich, including one or two sentence bios and links to full about pages for each.

Brian created and formatted featured author widgets for John and Heidi, with suggested text and settings.

Brian assigned posts to the new users, then deleted the legacy categories ‘by John Hamer’ and ‘by Heidi Dietrich’, then assigned each existing post to a ‘miscellaneous’ category. Each post must be in one category so ‘miscellaneous’ is the default, and each post can be in several categories.

Brian test-passed the Archive template and search/sort of each post, accurately displaying posts per author.

Done: Posts and pages to migrate

Of Heidi’s posts, some only migrated partially due to the hacked database on the old site and the better security on the new, so Brian manually copy/pasted from the HTML view on the old site into the new. There were a half dozen posts and pages, total.

More documentation of the site’s design

There are still many bits I have not documented, such as icons (little gray images) for tags, categories, authors, and so on, or the clickable, hierarchical “trail of breadcrumbs” that tells you where you are on the upper left side of every page. Another example is the ‘return to top of page’ link at the far bottom left of every page.

Some of the bits we’re actively using to organize and finish the site within the more permanent parts of its design:

Widgets, the slideshow, and thumbnail images

THUMBNAILS

By default WordPress will create a thumbnail image for each image you upload and the size can be specified in your dashboard under Settings > Media. In addition, this theme creates the following thumbnail images. These are the thumbnail sizes I recommend as the theme is made to fit them perfectly.
  • Slideshow – 600px by 235px
  • Homepage – 280px by 80px
  • Mini – 65px by 65px

On the lower right hand side of a post’s editing view, under the Categories section, there are tools with which you can upload and/or set an image from the Media Library as the thumbnail image for that post. With this, you can have a thumbnail image to represent a post even when that image is not in the post itself.

If you have not selected a thumbnail image for a post, and there is an image in the post, and the site requires a thumbnail image (like for showing in a search result), then the first image in the post will be cropped to be displayed at the required size if it is too large or will be shown smaller than the required size if it is too small.

SLIDESHOW

The slideshow underneath the header is using the WP-Cycle plugin. Configure the plugin by going to Plugins > WP-Cycle. The most recently uploaded image shows first, and they are displayed in order of upload accordingly. Images can link to any URL — page, post, the TAO site, …

WIDGETED AREAS

Sidebar – This is the main sidebar if you are using the Content/Sidebar, Sidebar/Content, Content/Sidebar/Sidebar, Sidebar/Sidebar/Content or Sidebar/Content/Sidebar Site Layout option.
Sidebar Alt – This is the alternate sidebar if you are using the Content/Sidebar/Sidebar, Sidebar/Sidebar/Content or Sidebar/Content/Sidebar Site Layout option.
Home Top Left – This is the top left section of the homepage.
Home Top Right – This is the top right section of the homepage. It is effectively not available, covered by the slideshow.
Home Middle #1 – This is the first column of the middle section of the homepage.
Home Middle #2 – This is the second column of the middle section of the homepage.
Home Middle #3 – This is the third column of the middle section of the homepage.
Home Bottom #1 – This is the first column of the bottom section of the homepage.
Home Bottom #2 – This is the second column of the bottom section of the homepage.
Home Bottom #3 – This is the third column of the bottom section of the homepage.
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