How to use this site

There are sections is the drop down menu or under the how to category on:

Or all of those sections are in one document called Online Journalism.

There are also other less obvious lessons:

Lesson: All web pages should stand alone

Unlike a print publication that can assume someone reading a box on a page has read the surrounding content first, online journalists cannot assume readers will have read in a particular order – they may have come to a page without having read any previous content.

The Leofric page demonstrates how this can can go wrong. Reading it after first reading the main story and then the Godiva page, it makes sense, but if you came to that page first, it falls down. Nowhere on the page does it mention  Lady Godiva’s naked horse ride or that  it was a dare from Leofric to cut tax.

It needed to say something like: Leofric – who dared his wife Lady Godiva to ride naked on her horse through Coventry at midday market day on the promise he would could cut taxes – was Earl of Mercia and Lord of Coventry.

Lesson: Bullet point consistency

Four of the five bullet points on the Other tax rebellions page begin “The”, one doesn’t. This looks uncomfortable and should be corrected so they are in a consistent style. The rogue one could be The Jack Cade rebellion of 1450.

The Other tax rebellions page does not have bullet points as links whereas the Horses in history and legend page does. Either can be right but both should be the same.

Lesson: Copyright on photographs

One of the biggest headaches for online journalism is copyright in photographs. Sourcing photos can add hours to each post, especially for list-style stories. This is covered at the end of the embedding photos post but worth emphasising.

In order to become a contributor at AOL, the only test I had to take was on the copyright involved in using images, the cost of those images and the need to get the credit right depending on the different sources.

You are more likely to be sued for a breach of copyright than for libel or any other legal mishap.

Lesson: How mobile changed web design

The links in the sidebar give examples of old, archived web pages that demonstrate how web design has changed. The old BBC site was classic, with sidebars left and right and the story in the middle. Often the first three sentences would run round the photo.

two web pages

How early BBC web pages looked

The left side bar was jettisoned because we read from left to right and were distracted by it, delaying how quickly we could absorb the information we sought. But for many years text still ran round photos.

The move to mobile first  – particularly Google’s announcement in March 2015 that it would prioritise responsive (mobile friendly) websites in searches, prompted all sites to drop the text run-around.

With more of the web in the UK read on mobiles and tablets – where the photos appeared across the full screen – it made sense for web designers to incorporate this into mainstream web design, rather than have a separate mobile site.


Whealie is the trademarked nickname of award-winning freelance journalist Chris Wheal. Follow @whealie on Twitter Wheal's Business website is He sometimes blogs at He's on Facebook: And LinkedIn: Flickr: Instagram: YouTube: Vimeo:

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