By Lhanzi Giambrone
May was an exciting month, I completed one of my biggest projects as an AmeriCorps VISTA! I helped create and redesign the Teens in Print’s website. Launched by Write Boston, Teens in Print (TiP) is the only city-wide newspaper written by and for Boston’s youth.
My formal VISTA title is, Teens in Print 2.0 Associate. Some of my responsibilities include, updating social media, updating website and exposing students to storytelling through video. Our May/June issue is currently out, take a look here!
When I first arrived, I noticed that TiP’s website was outdated and difficult to navigate. Write Boston specifically designed my position to address the need to improve and update Teens in Print’s online presence. In order to do that, we must have an inviting website. People, especially teenagers, rarely read print newspapers anymore as everything is online. Having an attractive website is important to grab readers and maintain our online presence.
The new homepage for Teens in Print!
I decided to take on this project because it is so valuable for the future of TiP. This was a big step for me, because I had limited web design experience. I thought I’d use online resources and watch video tutorials, which is doable but requires a lot of time. Luckily, through my supervisor, I met Ryan Catalani. Ryan is an expert web designer and offered to help us out.
Developing a website involves a lot of coding. Coding is how we communicate to the computer, it is filled with numbers, signs and letters. I did not know how to do this, so to have Ryan’s knowledge of the technical aspects of web design was very helpful.
Together, we spoke to students to understand their media usage. This was very important for us because we wanted to design a website that they would be interested in. Then we designed the mobile version, since it’s the most popular medium for teens. From there we started to create the website. First we made a design and then started coding. The coding was the hardest part because it was tedious and required a lot of patience. We met almost every week for 3-4 months to work on the project. Ryan trained me along the way.
Our goal was to launch the new website with the new issue of the Teens in Print at our annual publication party on May 19. And, I am happy to announce, that we achieved that goal!
The May/June 2016 issue, fresh off the presses!
Our new website is fresh, modern and edgy. It has big pictures and is easy to navigate. A new feature we added is the Story Map. The story map is located on the homepage, its function is to locate and pinpoint stories that come from different countries or states. This piece is especially important for TiP because it helps readers connect on a global and national level. I am very proud of it, but most importantly, this is a fantastic new beginning for TiP! Now the articles our students write are represented on a teen friendly platform.
WriteBoston promotes deep learning through writing. They offer training and coaching for teachers, along with writing opportunities for students, built on the premise that powerful thinking and writing are inseparable. Learn more about their work here.