Note: This post is specifically geared for our students at The Oklahoma Daily and Sooner Yearbook.

We know we need to expand the digital toolbox. First up, let’s talk about some ways to do it visually. Here are a few tools to experiment with on that front:

GALLERIES
Photo galleries are one of the easiest additions we can make to our coverage that translate to readers spending more time with our work. We need them to be easy to use and responsively designed. Our tool within the existing site, however, is underwhelming. Until we get around to a site overhaul let’s try some workarounds. Here are some alternatives for creating better galleries.

  • CINCOPA: Ari played with one, today, on the developing Pride of Oklahoma story. We’re already running into a use limit, so you might also want to consider…
  • JUICEBOX: Appears to have a little more flexibility — in size and cost — than Cincopa.

In each instance you make the gallery, generate an embed code and place it in our posts.

HARNESSING INSTAGRAM
Newsgram: As we saw on the Alan Hruby story, a lot of valuable information is sometimes available on sites such as Instagram. Here’s a tool we used in Portland that allows editors to quickly filter Instagram images by location, hashtag, username and more. You can then generate an embed code for placing in our posts.

SLIDERS
JuxtaposeJS: A quick way to contrast before and after pictures. We could use this on multiple fronts. Digging through archive photos and then reshooting them to show the transformation of key campus landmarks through the years. We could also shoot buildings right before renovations start, and then shoot them again when they’re complete and let folks play with the images.

FACTBOXES
Need to take some basic facts and figures and create a simple, embeddable box for a story online? Here are a few quick options to consider. You all should come up with a preferred style on such things, in terms of the overall look:

  • Simple boxes where you make a grid and then manually input the data: HTML Table Generator
  • More complex boxes where you import the data and it generates a chart: Tableizer

MAPS
Google Maps: This offers a lot of simple solutions, starting with basic embeds that are easy to add to stories when the location might not be immediately clear. You can scale that up to customized ones that add more detailed information, to more complex ones that map large data sets.

CartoDB: Joey has been experimenting with this and created a nice ongoing project in which he and Chris map the weekly crime logs. Over time we’ll be able to use the data to find larger trends, which could result in enterprise stories.

DATA VISUALIZATION
Tableau: Currently, Ari, Joey and I have access to this tool, which we are experimenting with under an academic license. Ari has used it to present information on graduate admission rates. The tool has a great deal of flexibility, and can quickly help present very complex data sets in simple ways. If you have an idea for something on the higher end of the spectrum, this might be the way to go. See Ari, Joey or me if so.

TIMELINES
TimelineJS: Like the slider tool, this also comes from the Knight Lab. Ari has put it to use for us on the ongoing Pride story. Great to use this to build out the information in stories you know will be ongoing.

RESPONSIVE DESIGN
Foundation: For when we want to Snowfall, creating a presentation beyond our normal templates, this tool will help us do it with responsive design.

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