GSSPA Spring Advisers Conference on May 3

New Jersey school newspaper and yearbook advisers: Make plans to attend the GSSPA’s spring conference for advisers at Rutgers University.

Don’t miss this chance to take workshops providing information and best practices from student media advisers from around the state. I will be among the presenters (I have not chosen my topic yet!)

Click here for a registration form. Please fill it out and mail it in by April 25th.

Choosing a Domain Name for your Website

One of the first steps in building a website is to choose a domain name for your site – and secure that name before someone else buys it.   Your_Domain_Name _sm

Decide on a domain name

Let’s assume that you want a name based on an existing publication. For example, The Sentinel, at “South High School.”

Start by making a list of possible domain names and alternates, such as:

  • Sentinel.com
  • TheSentinel.com
  • SouthHighSentinel.com
  • SHSentinel.com
  • SentinelSouthHigh.com

You should also consider the extensions .net and .org in your search, but using a “dot com” is the easiest way for people to find and remember the name.

Search for available domains

Most hosting services have a domain search function. Bluehost, Go Daddy and Host Gator and are just a few examples of highly-rated hosting services, according to HostingReview.com. (I’ll get into the topic of picking a hosting service in a future post.)

When I’m looking for domain names, I usually go to Whois.com to see what is available. On the Whois home page, look at the top left area where you can enter the domain name you want. Once you hit the search button, Whois will go through its databases seeking domains that are available for purchase and list the results.

Whois will tell you if the domain name is registered to someone else and will display alternate suggestions.  In some cases, the domain name may be held by someone who has not developed a website. Some domain owners may be willing to sell the name to an interested party.

Buy your domain name

Once you have found an available domain name, just buy it! The cost of a domain name is usually the least expensive part of your web journey – typically ranging from $.99 to $12.99 per year.

You can buy your domain from any reputable hosting site. However, I strongly recommend purchasing your domain name from the same company that will be hosting your website. Even if it isn’t the cheapest choice, it simplifies future steps when building your website.

Related articles:

12 Rules for Choosing the Right Domain Name

The Effective Strategy For Choosing Right Domain Names

After Sandy: GSSPA Fall Press Day is rescheduled for December 17

I hope that those of you who were in the path of Hurricane Sandy got through the storm safely. After a week of no power and no gas, I feel very fortunate to have only minor inconveniences that intruded on my routine. Some were not so lucky. Here in NJ, it will be a long time before things get back to “normal,” although some things will never be the same, especially in at the NJ Shore.

The Garden State Scholastic Press Association’s Fall Press Day Conference which was set for October 29 was postponed and now has been rescheduled for Monday, December 17, at the Busch Campus Center in Piscataway. Details about the conference are in my previous post.

I am still scheduled to speak at the conference. The topic is layout fundamentals, and I will demonstrate how to lay out a newspaper page in under 20 minutes.

See you at the GSSPA Fall Press Day

October 29 is the Garden State Scholastic Press Association’s Fall Press Day, at Rutgers’ Busch Campus Center in Piscataway, NJ. This annual event features speakers, workshops, critiques, a write-off contest, awards, a newspaper exchange, and the chance to network with other student journalists and advisers.

Once again, I will be speaking at this event, and I’d love to say hello if you are attending. I’ll be giving a talk on Newspaper Layout Fundamentals using InDesign, so check the schedule to see when I am presenting.

The GSSPA’s Fall Press Day attracts hundreds of students and advisers from across the state. Their Spring Adviser Conference brings together newspaper and yearbook advisers who are working to keep New Jersey journalism education great. If you are not a member of the GSSPA or the scholastic press association in your state, I highly recommend that you consider joining. The cost is low and the advantages are many.

Joining your state or regional press association helps strengthen scholastic journalism; gives a voice to the people who are in the trenches educating young people; and finally, puts responsible journalism on the map and keeps it there. Scholastic press associations are a crucible for dedicated educators who are strong advocates for active high school journalism programs. Scholastic press associations help advisers and students produce more and better journalism.

Press days are filled with interesting and helpful learning sessions. You might find out about a program, app or rubric that will be helpful to you and save time or money. A single comment made during a discussion, or a tip casually mentioned in the hall, could be just the answer to a problem you are struggling with. Information gained at a press day could make the difference between winning an award or just trying for one.

A large percentage of professional journalists got their start in high school, and many scholastic press associations provide scholarships and hold contests that may lead to awards for your staff, which, in turn, may help students when they apply for college or for professional jobs.

Student press associations are usually open to school-sponsored newspapers, yearbooks, literary magazines, television/radio and online media staffs. Visit the StudentPress.org website for a list of state and regional press associations.

Creating a Facebook Timeline Cover Photo

I recently held a workshop about the changes to Facebook in 2012 and the new features in Facebook Timelines. We spent a lot of time discussing the challenge of finding just the right cover image. I’m still on the search of that perfect image, both on my Facebook business page and on my personal page. Here’s one helpful article about how to create a good cover image. With a little patience and creativity, you can find a look that strikes the right notes. Good luck!

How to Create a Facebook Timeline Cover Photo: Examples and Best Practices | Design Shack.

User Groups are a great way to learn about Adobe products

I have found Adobe InDesign User Groups (IDUG) to be an excellent source of quality information about InDesign and other Adobe Creative Suite programs. Our local group meets several times a year and provides many helpful tips for design professionals, not just on InDesign, but on other products in Creative Suite as well.

At this past Tuesday’s event, we welcomed a special guest – Noha Edell, a Business Development Manager at Adobe Systems. I’ve seen Noha’s presentations at other events; she is straightforward and knowledgeable. Noha gave us a brief overview of Adobe’s Creative Cloud and also narrowed in on some of the new features in InDesign 6. I was particularly impressed by two of those features, Liquid Layouts and InDesign forms, which can definitely help improve production speed.

The big news is about Adobe Creative Cloud. Right now, Adobe has an introductory rate for current Creative Suite users of CS3 or higher.  For $29.95 per month, you have access to all the familiar programs in Creative Suite, plus some new ones for the iPad. It sounds like a great deal and Creative Cloud keeps you updated with the current version – automatically.  Find out more at http://www.adobe.com/products/discount-software-coupons.html?PID=3269232 (Offer ends August 31, 2012.) .

You can search for a local user group at the Worldwide IDUG website,  There are more Adobe User Groups, covering different Adobe programs, at http://groups.adobe.com/. And if you do some web searching, you’ll also find independent local user groups on Meetup and other community group sites which may work for you. (Check with the organizer to see if they have any fees added.)

Authorized Adobe User Groups are free join, although some groups ask for voluntary donations help pay for dinner. In our group, a small contribution gets you raffle tickets for some pretty incredible door prizes. At this past Tuesday’s event, someone won a full copy of the new Adobe Creative Suite 6.0!

AmboyGuardian.com serves Raritan Bay area readers

The Amboy Guardian, the weekly community newspaper for Perth Amboy, NJ, has a new website, AmboyGuardian.com. This site provides local news to readers in the Perth Amboy, South Amboy and surrounding areas. Local advertisers are encouraged to add the website to their marketing mix.

In addition to developing and setting up the website, I will be the webmaster — updating and maintaining the site on a regular basis.

I Love 123RF

I recently signed up with 123RF.com, a stock image service.

Image from 123RF.com

“RF” stands for Royalty Free, which means a user has the right to a one-time use of a copyrighted photo or graphic without many restrictions. Designers subscribe to one or more stock image services to legally use copyrighted images for their projects. I have subscribed to several stock photo services over the years, but I’m really enthusiastic about this one.

The variety of images on 123RF is what attracted me. New images are continually being added to the site and some are FREE to download (at 72 dpi) for a limited time. After the free period, images go into the regular pricing categories.

Images can be purchased by credit or by subscription. The subscription plan is better for high volume users and the credit plan is perfect for low volume users. Credits expire after one year, so only buy the number of credits you expect to use in that time.

Credits are based on pixel size, so a 1-credit image will be smaller than a 10-credit image. I spent $100 for 115 credits (plus some additional credits from a promotional package). This will last me a while, because most of the images I use are in the 3-6 credit range.

Note: you can download any image as a “comp” (which has a watermark and very fine crosshatching). Comps are used to test how an image will look, in your initial design. Save your credits to buy only the images that end up in your final design.