Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Westlake Picayune serves as the primary source of news for the small towns of Westlake and Rollingwood and all other communities in the Eanes Independent School District. The paper recently went online with I decided to analyze the site to see how they are doing, and overall I was impressed.

The content reflects the printed version to which I subscribe, but it also includes blog posts on most articles. It was fun to read what others were saying about the articles. Most of the links were internal links that worked well. I think in the future it would be helpful to include links to external sites. For example, the article about the school board’s bond election could be linked to the school district website or even more specifically to the board report on the website. The reporting, however, is primarily unbiased.

I am not sure who created the page, but I assume the newspaper staff had something to do with it. The paper is owned by Cox Newspapers and affiliated with the Austin American Statesman. As a .com site I know that it is not affiliated with the government or with an educational institution. The pages are set-up logically with the index page titled “Westlake Picayune” and others like “Westlake Picayune – News.”

The overall presentation of the website is professional, but I found several quirky things that need to be tweaked. For example, the navigation worked great from page to page, but there was no link to the home page, forcing the reader to reenter the url or hit the back button to return home. On another page the copy flowed on top of a photo. An email address was used to encourage readers to submit information for publication, but the reader cannot click on the email.

Looking at the code, it looks as if the page started as a WordPress theme, so I was surprised there wasn’t a link to the home page. I specifically like the way the photos rotated as a slideshow on the home page. I would like to learn how to do that on my own page. Overall I think the site is practical and user-friendly.

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