Workshop: Website hack session, 4/14/11

To accommodate Entrepreneurial Journalism students, I moved my office hours to Thursday this week. It was scheduled for 5 pm, but no one showed up until 5:30 pm. This was a problem, as there was a rush at the end when I had to leave at 6:30 pm. Overall, three students showed up of the five expected.

It might be more effective to have slots for students to sign up for if I can find an easy tool for this. Also, the whiteboard idea was a dud. I get the sense they only want answers from the instructor (or someone who appears knowledgeable) instead of each other. Making those connections in meat space realtime seems awkward. Next week, I’ll require students to take the pre-workshop survey to save their spot and make connections proactively if I see overlap.

One of the Entrepreneurial Journalism students came by with a whole series of questions about blogging during my office hours this evening. We talked for a few minutes, but I thought they’d be better answered by existing documentation and possibly attending the Blogging Best Practices course. Here are the questions:

  • How do you increase engagement?
  • How to create great traffic on the blog? – tips & tricks
  • How much blogging is too much (overblogging)?
  • How much information is too much on one blog?
  • What do people typically want to read in a blog?
  • What types of blog designs bring readers in?
  • Why do people like certain blogs vs. others?
  • How to create and maintain a loyal blog fanbase as you grow without “selling out” from your original base?
  • How to engage readers into blogs?
  • How to increase participation (ie blog comments, repost, share)
  • Blogging etiquette when using other people’s content
  • Your top 3 personal preferred blogging sites

Another student came by my office hours this evening with more work to be done on her WordPress theme. She has someone else helping her now too, so she’s made progress since last time we met. Tonight, we registered a custom navigation menu for her header. We also tried to port CSS from her Posterous website to her WordPress one with limited success. Posterous’ lack of support for custom taxonomies is why she’s making the switch.

The last student stopped by my office hours this evening for the last 10 minutes. She’s looking for the proper WordPress theme to use for her publication. She has detailed wireframes that will be hard to match exactly without paying for customization, but we found a theme likely close enough to launch with. I opened the door for her to ask the web team for feedback on the themes she’s looking at.