Lots of news stories are here today, gone tomorrow. But many come back again and again, stories that have twists and turns, a history and new developments that need to be reported. Here’s one example: A crime, an investigation, an arrest, a trial and a verdict. Now consider how those stories are most often covered on TV. If you said “file tape” I’m pretty sure you nailed it. But what about online?
Sadly, timelines on news sites are too often nothing more than text, like the one the Sporting News posted chronicling the Penn State sex abuse scandal. It has all the dates and facts but it’s not in the least bit engaging. Why not take advantage of the medium and add images and links that users can navigate for themselves? That’s what the Seattle Times did in the run-up to an exhibit about the iconic grunge band, Nirvana.
That timeline was created with Dipity, a free online tool anyone can use. You don’t have to be a graphic designer or know anything about code to produce a sharp looking timeline that can be embedded on any site. Trust me. Here’s how:
Another free online tool that can be used to create timelines and more is Vuvox. The Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin, used it to create a minute-by-minute account of the race to save a stroke patient. Projects created with Vuvox look and function a lot like a slideshow and there are lots of options for customizing the content. But a simple timeline or “collage” is easy to produce. Trust me (again). Here’s how:
Remember, the basic editions of both Dipity and Vuvox are free. So there’s really no excuse for posting dull, text-only timelines, is there? Let us know if you try either of these free tools, or if you’ve tried others we should investigate. And have fun!