Recent posts

Cleaning Up the Right Rail

Part of adapting to a sideways world involves de-cluttering your sites to provide a cleaner, more focused experience for your readers. It is still important that we use every page to showcase some the great stuff that we have to offer. However, it is equally important that we don’t create a chaotic a visual experience in that effort.

To that end, the DC team has dutifully considered all of the right rail widgets and whittled them down in order to provide some clear guidelines for what we think should–and shouldn’t–be living in your right rails. Here’s what we’ve come up with:

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Showcasing Your Data Assets

Data-rich resources created in the course of your reporting—be they GoogleMaps, filterable tables, bang-up applications or some other interactive—can be long-term resources for your audience. We have found several of these resources (e.g., Shale Play, school test scores) to be among some of our most regularly visited pages long after their initial launch dates.

Apps, maps and tables like ShalePlay, shown here, ought to be displayed in a way that makes them as useful and accessible to your audience as possible.

It is key, then, that we work to make them easy to locate.

As such, we have developed a relatively simple, four-step process to help you showcase the types of resources that readers might want to refer back to again and again. They are as follows:

1. Place interactives (e.g., GoogleMaps, filterable tables, images linking to bigger apps, etc.) in your posts before the jump so that readers see the added content and useful data before deciding whether to click through or scroll down. When linking to a previously published map or interactive, use a screenshot of that feature and hyperlink it to the actual page or app or place where the action happens. Continue reading

Featuring Multimedia on Your New Topic Page

As you can see in this documentation, StateImpact topic pages have gotten a facelift. They include some new functionality for you to feature your best posts on a topic and to feature your data apps or interactives that live outside the traditional post format. Those apps or interactives will need to be added as “multimedia” and tagged, just as you tag stories. So here’s the workflow:

  • Choose “multimedia” and “add new” at the dashboard.
  • Add a title, an excerpt, and the URL of the original page or post.
  • Add tags with all the topic pages you want it to appear on.
  • Set a featured image for the multimedia.

Adding Lawmaker/Legislation Widgets

As part of our state legislative coverage, we’ve partnered with the Sunlight Foundation to make it easy for our reporters to include information about lawmakers and bills in their WordPress posts and pages. We’ve created a tool that automatically pulls in data points from the foundation’s Open State Project and places them inside widgets.

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