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Week 12: Additional Tools

As the term has come to an end, this will be my last post on this blog. The module was great fun and even if I had previous knowledge about most topics, I still learned a lot and got to try out many interesting and useful tools. The last lecture introduced a bunch of new ones, let’s have a look!

E-Publishing & Word Processing

Sigil

Sigil

The most common file format for eBooks is .ePub, which is basically a way to store text using the markup language HTML. Using the free open-source program Sigil you can easily create your own ePub files without needing any knowledge of HTML or CSS. (If you want to learn about these languages however, CodeAcademy is the place to go!) An alternative to Sigil is iBooks Author by Apple, however this application restricts the output to the iBook market place.

Calibre

Calibre

To read eBooks, you can use the free eBook reader Calibre. Looking for eBooks to read without spending money? Try Project Gutenberg!

Scrivener

Scrivener

If you are willing to invest money to further your writing career, the commercial word-processing software Scrivener provides you with a management systems for documents and other useful tools for e.g. screenwriting.

Other resources to help you organize your writing visually are Scribus (open-source, page layout software) and WriteLaTeX (learning & writing LaTex, a document markup language often used in academic writings).

If This Then That – IFTTT

Lastly, a resource I personally found very interesting: IFTTT. This automation service lets you link up a magnitude of social media services via ‘Recipes’.

If This Then That – https://ifttt.com

If This Then That – https://ifttt.com

If you use many social media channels, this will definitely make your life easier. Tired of updating your profile picture on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram separately? Just create a recipe, make one of the sites the ‘trigger’ and the others the ‘action’. This is just one of the many possibilities for this site, so be sure to have a look!


I hope you enjoyed my blog these last twelve weeks and had fun with the module, too. Good luck with exams!

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Week 11: Social Media

This week’s lecture was on social media and how to effectively use it to promote your website.

Social Media Icons

Firstly, let’s take a look at the term social media and how it differences from traditional media. Traditional media, such as newspapers, the radio or television, act as a broadcaster to spread information. They reach you, but you cannot really reach them. Social media however gives you the opportunity to be both the broadcaster and the audience, and makes it easier to interact with both other broadcasters and your audience.

Nowadays, every big company uses social media for promoting themselves and interaction with their community. But the question is, which social media service should be used, and for what?

  • Facebook is very useful for publicity and community building. You can create a page dedicated to your website, friend other people or like pages with similar topics to build a network. Your user base will probably visit Facebook more often than your website, so you can use your Facebook page to announce whenever there is new content on your website. You should also make use of it’s ‚Insight‘ feature to find our when, where and by whom traffic is generated.
  • Twitter ist becoming more and more popular for customer service and direct interaction with your community. Since there is a rather small word limit, it is more useful for short announcements (with link-backs to your website, shortened with the Bitly service) rather than actual content. With the use of #hashtags, you can reach a wider audience and also observe what users have to say about your site or topic.
  • Linked-In is a professional networking site where you can showcase your work history and affiliations, and interact with other professionals.
  • Flickr and Instagram are photography-based social media services. Instagram has a more casual approach and is not too focused on image quality, whereas Flickr is a platform for professional photographers.
  • YouTube and Vimeo are the two big video platforms. YouTube is arguably more popular, but also has a bad reputation when it comes to comments, while Vimeo is more of a platform for actual filmmakers and thus a better place for constructive criticism.
  • Audio Boo and Soundcloud are audio-sharing services.
  • Delicious, Digg and Reddit are link-sharing sites.
  • Tumblr, Diaspora and ello are popular for micro-blogging and can be used in many ways.

Whatever kind of social media service you decide to use, it is important that all actual content ist posted on your website first, and then posted in excerpts (with link-backs) to your social media pages. This will guarantee that your website is the central hub of your network.


Image Source: graphicsfuel.com

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Week 10: Search Engine Optimization

This week we talked about search engine optimization (SEO), in other words how to make your website more accessible to search engines.

Search Engine Optimization

There are several ways you can improve the reach of your website in terms of SEO. Firstly, it can be divided in On-Site and Off-Site SEO. As the name implies, On-Site SEO consists of changes to the actual website to make sure it is found by search engines when people search for the topic it deals with. Off-Site SEO mean promoting your website through external means, such as social media or paid advertisements. Of course, both should be used to create the best effect.

On-Site SEO

SEO which does not make use of paid marketing strategies is called organic or natural SEO, while the opposite is known rather as Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

However, both pay attention to the kind of language which people use to search for the particular topic. This is known as Keyword Research and basically means that the kind of words people are likely to enter into a search engine are the ones that should appear on your website a lot. Keyword tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner and WordTracker can be used to measure the value of a keyword.

Keywords can and should be used about everywhere – website url and name, headings, posts, pages, tags and categories. Even links and images can be optimised through the HTML ‘title’ and ‘alt’ attribute. Most importantly, keywords relevant to each site should be present in the page’s title and first paragraph.

Off-Site SEO

You can further promote your website by submitting it to web directories, such as DMOZ, and to Google Web Tools & Analytics (or OpenAnalytics, an open source alternative). Another big factor in Off-Site SEO is the use of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. They can also be used to interact with your audience and build a network with high ranking sites of a similar topic.


Image Source: www.w3consultation.com

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Week 2: Blogging

This weeks lecture was packed with resources, so I decided to make a list with short descriptions for each of them for future reference!


Mozilla Thimble is a simple tool for easily creating webcontent using HTML and CSS. You type your code in one column and instantly see the output it creates in the other. You can then save and directly share your webpage with the world!


Codeacademy offers completely free step-by-step courses on web developing (HTML,  CSS & Javascript), programming languages (e.g. Python & Ruby) and simple coding projects.


TypeKit has a large library of fonts (more of you pay) you can browse and filter (serif or sans-serif? for paragraphs or headings?) to find the perfect font for your cause, font lists (e.g. ’rounded fonts’) and a design gallery to look at remarkable typography examples.


Google Web Fonts is similar to TypeKit, but is totally free and has exclusively OpenSource fonts you can instantly use, both privately and commercially.


WAVE is a tool to check the accessibility of a website. It shows errors, alerts and other problematic elements and explains how to fix them.


The Oatmeal has a few comics about grammar, explaining and correcting common misconceptions, such as the ever-present confusion of ‘their’, ‘they’re’ and ‘there’.


After The Deadline is a free spelling and grammar checker and can be used with several sites (e.g. WordPress), web browsers (Firefox, Chrome) and applications (OpenOffice).


Grammarly also provides a very advanced Editor for spell and grammar checking, which can be sampled free on the website or with a 7-days trial, but the real thing costs a monthly fee. However, there are also free writing resources on grammar and style available on the website.


ProBlogger has, as the title suggests, a lot of resources for serious and aspiring bloggers.


The Chicago Manual of Style offers – for an annual fee, or free for a 30 day trial – recommendations on editorial style, a Q&A around writing style and several convenient tools for publishing content.


I hope this was useful to you as well. Until next week!