Coding Master

This is a commentary on what we have been learning in class the last couple of weeks. I am by no means great at coding, but I am actually very glad that we have been practicing it in this class. A journalism mentor told me this summer that her best advice for me going into the workforce is to learn as much about the web that I possibly can. It may take a lot longer than my senior year of college, but that is what I intend to do.

I first began learning HTML and CSS last year in my online journalism class. I was completely fresh with the programs, and it took me quite a while to learn the most basic aspects of the language. At this point, I can code a very basic website, but I am still learning and hope to develop my HTML and CSS skills further.

I was very excited when I found out that we would be learning some basic coding in this class. I think it will be very beneficial in trying to find an entry level position in journalism. I have heard from so many different people that the more technological programs you know, the better. It looks great on a resume, and it also looks good to employers who are in need of technologically savvy employees.

After this class I plan on continuing my practice of different aspects of coding through the use of aids such as Codecademy and W3Schools.

In addition to class I am also working on recoding a portion of the Thread website using the WordPress platform. It has presented a bit of a challenge, but I think it is great hands on experience and I hope it will better me in the future.

Inspired By…

This week I presented the co-founders of Food52 for my Entrepreneurial Spotlight. I was inspired by the website’s tagline, “Helping people become better, smarter, happier cooks.” Although that line doesn’t sum up the website, it’s a great mission for its target audience. Even though I’m not quite ready to come up with a tagline for Joint, it feels like the right time to begin thinking about some branding techniques.

In coming up with a tagline, OXP recommends writing down all the words that relate to the business or the message that the product is trying to give. Here is a list of some of those words:

Communication, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Advantageous, Collaborative, Social, Diverse, Simple, Pragmatic…

I want my tagline to draw people in and seem interesting, but I also want it to reflect Joint’s mission and ideals in a short statement.

How about: Communicating in Collaboration

Or: Effective Collaboration

Or: A Simple Way of Collaborating

None of those are that great, but I feel I’m off to a good start.

I found some other websites’ taglines that may steer me in the right direction. Create Digital Media uses the line, The art & science of app creation.” It is very straightforward, but that is what makes the website’s purpose obvious. Apple‘s tagline is “Think different” which is a bit more vague, but it works with its simplicity and catchiness. Finally, all in good fun, Disneyland’s slogan is “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Now that is a tagline that really works.

Values

This week in class we discussed our companies’ values and how those lend to the MVP and mission statement. I have been thinking a lot about those values, and I would like to use them to refine the mission of Joint. Some of the values I brainstormed included, efficiency, accuracy, and quickness. I also decided that the most useful features for Joint will include user profiles, a search feature, and one-on-one chat boxes when matches are made.

I felt that the user profiles are probably the most important, because like with Facebook and Twitter, the profiles help set up a persona for each user, and that is how users can match up and find one another. The search feature is also critical, because for efficiency matters, finding someone who has skills that you know you want or need will be very easy if the user can just search tags for that person. The chat boxes are also important, because like on any social media site (especially LinkedIn) sending messages to the matches will expedite the process of meeting and deciding if that is the right person to collaborate with.

With those values and features in mind, I have updated my mission slightly:

Joint is focused on provided an efficient match-making platform on which small businesses and freelancers can find accurate matches for collaboration.

All In A Name

I thought that at this point in the development process, it’s about time I come up with a name for my project. When coming up with a name, I didn’t want it to be anything complicated, long, difficult to pronounce. In accordance with my company’s values, I wanted something quick and simple. I decided that the best method for that would be to come up with a single word. When I was thinking about existing companies, I realized that many of the ones boasting quickness and consolidation had only one world in the name. For example, Vine is for short videos, Yelp is for quickly finding reviews, and Zite is for quick news clippings.

Of course, those examples aren’t true for all companies like that, but I thought the method would work well for my idea – which is a quick and efficient way to meet other artists for collaboration. Therefore, I came up with the name Joint. It is short, easy to pronounce, and quick to type in a search bar. I also felt that the name worked well in kind of describing my idea. When I began thinking of ideas for the name, I looked up words having to do with collaboration, meeting, or working together. I stumbled upon words like “together,” “alliance,” “partner,” but none of them had a nice ring or really described my idea. Joint, however, means collaboration, joining, and togetherness, but it is also the perfect name for my product.

The Digital Revolution

This blog post is not directly related to my project development, but I feel that it is related to online journalism and our class. I was recently notified that a print magazine I interned for had closed its doors for good. It was a very unfortunate situation, as the executives within the magazine had no idea about the closure, and the publisher notified them in a meeting that they had one week to wrap things up.

For some background info, the magazine was created in 1988 by a married couple who was very interested in establishing a trade magazine specifically for professionals within the food industry. The couple, who had both worked for Harper’s Bazaar among other elite publications, founded Food & Wine, a consumer magazine and Food Arts, a trade magazine. Having a greater passion for the culinary trade, the couple decided to sell Food & Wine and foster Food Arts in their own hands.

Food Arts thrived for a number of years, gaining a devoted following and producing acclaimed content directed toward culinary professionals. Today, however, Food Arts is no longer in existence, whereas the creators’ first-born publication continues to thrive.

As much as I loved working at Food Arts and am saddened to hear of its closing, this is something that I could have seen coming for the publication. Frankly, it was too old-fashioned. Food Arts was so focused on remaining the reputable, artistic magazine it has always been and neglected the fact that media is moving toward technology at a rapid pace. Almost every prestigious magazine I know has a web team and multimedia to go along with their print publications. Food Arts, although it had a basic website, failed to grow with the technological times and become a more modern publication.

I do believe that for print publications to succeed nowadays, an online counterpart is vital. Further development in multimedia, having a video team, interesting web design, digital subscriptions – these are all elements that draw people into a publication. Although many people do still love their print publications, a majority is moving toward the technological aspect. It’s more convenient, it’s cheaper, it’s accessible. That is what Food Arts failed to recognize.

I am truly saddened by this wonderful publication’s closing, and I feel for the other print publications that are struggling. But the media industry is changing. And as long as we recognize that and take initiative, we can extend the lives of print magazines and newspapers.

A Word on Elance

So I guess it’s time I discuss my biggest competitor, Elance. The website is designed as a way for freelancers to find jobs and for freelancers looking to hire. I know it’s a great idea, because I thought of it too. After the fact, of course. That is why my idea is a little different, and it will appeal to a different group of people.

My point of my idea is for people to quickly and concisely find someone to collaborate with. Whether its an employer, a freelancer, or just someone working on a new project, my site will attract those people to create a hassle free profile, and find someone in an efficient way.

Users on my site can easily put themselves into a category based on their profession, skills, work position, and geographic location. That will filter all of one’s matches, similar to the mobile app, Tinder.

Also, as I mentioned in my post about sneezers, my main audience of employers will consist of small or privately owned companies versus large corporations. In that case, the users will need a quick find and a quick reply from someone. Elance is more geared toward people looking for either large-scale freelance positions or corporations looking for employees.

Those differences will definitely allow my idea to attract a different audience looking for more efficiency and smaller-scale projects.

A Word on Joseph Gordon-Levitt

We all know who he is – the pretty boy who happens to be a great actor with talent, charm, and business savvy. Hence, his collaboration web project called HitRECord. Sure, it has great design (I may have used it as an example of great design for my web design class), a genius beautiful color scheme, and an even more beautiful photo of him on the home page.

HitRECord, I submit, is a good idea with a lot of potential. It is quite different from my idea, though. Whereas my collaboration project is an outlet for employers, freelancers, and artists to MEET, HitRECord is a platform for those people to actually collaborate on the site. For instance, an animator can sign up for the site and contribute to a project along with a videographer and editor, to produce a short animated film. The website then tries to promote the project, and that’s how it makes money.

My idea, however, is not for the artists to make money through the website. It is simply a space for collaborators to meet, chat, browse, and then meet up separately from the website and complete their projects.

So the ideas are quite different. Although I may not be as suave and famous as Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I think my project will call forth a totally different audience looking for a different outcome. There, we both succeed.

For your eager eyes: http://www.hitrecord.org/records/1676923

Narrowing it Down

Our in-class activity today really forced me to research who my true sneezers are. I know I previously labeled them as company workers and freelancers, but with supplemental research, I was able to narrow that down even more.

I have found sound evidence that freelancers are on the rise in the workforce, and the number is nearing the amount of people who work for a company or corporation. A report by Forbes last year cited that there is an estimated 42 million American freelancers who aren’t tied to any company. On the other side of that, both large and small companies have found an increased need for freelance workers in recent years.

Fortune magazine noted that in 2012, a survey found 3,000 freelancers used Elance, a website for freelancers looking for work. Of those, 57% had an increase in income since using the service. In addition, 42% of employers were expecting to hire more freelancers the following year.

These numbers proves the need for both freelancers and company workers to have a way of matching up and finding either employers or workers.

The same Forbes report stated that the majority of companies looking for freelancers are small companies hoping to find someone quickly for a one-time project. A smaller company would include locally-distrubuted magazines and newspapers, independently owned websites, or independent video production companies.

Deskmag released some demographics that help define the majority of freelancers looking for work. In Elance’s survey, it found that half of their users were in their twenties, while The Freelance Industry Report found that only 12% total freelancers are in their twenties, with the majority falling in between the ages of 30 and 50. Considering this project will be similar to Elance as it is a digital forum, my key audience will be the Millennial generation.

The Freelance Industry Report also determined that 65% of freelancers were full-time with no other company ties. The same report found that more than half of freelancers are the primary earners in their households. Further, the average income of freelancers is $50-59.

Those statistics lead me to my more specific sneezers: small, independent company owners and full-time, middle-class freelancers in their mid- to late twenties.

The hive? Larger company owners and workers, corporations, older/younger and part-time freelancers.

Sneezers and the Hive

This week in class we discussed finding an audience for our ideas. Our discussions and the reading from Seth Godin’s Unleashing the Ideavirus have really made me think about who my “sneezers” are and what my “hive” is. I’ve been collecting statistics and other information on who my main audience will be, and why they will be interested in my product.

My initial idea for the audience was just to open the website up to any type of artist – that would include musicians, videographers, photographers, designers, architects, writers, developers, decorators, etc. I then realized that though my idea may expand to that eventually, I need to hone in on just a few of those categories.

I also realized that choosing one of those categories would take away from my whole idea of collaboration. The point is that someone with particular skills can have a forum on which to find someone with different skills in order to collaborate on a project.

So then, I landed on my two main sneezers: company workers and freelancers. When paired together, the two are complementary in working on a project. Companies almost always need freelancers and freelancers typically need a company for which to work.

Once I’ve narrowed my sneezers down even more, my hive will be all the other company workers, freelancers, and others who wish to collaborate with someone else or another company.

Now that I have a general idea of who my audience will be, I need to narrow it down even more and determine some specifics as to who will actually be my main target.

Humble Beginnings

I am editor-in-chief of a student-run digital magazine much in need of a web developer. We had a website upgrade last year, which unfortunately resulted in a number of glitches and empty spaces on our site. I was left with a task unfit for my limited knowledge in coding and development. I am much more of an aesthetically-minded person. So for the last few weeks, I sought out a knowledgeable and willing student web developer with little luck. And in those moments of stress and desperation, an idea ignited. Wouldn’t it be useful to have a dating site for developers?

Think Tinder, the infamous dating app on which one swipes right if interested and left if not, but for the common creator in need of collaboration. Say a videographer needs a photographer to complement the work. Or a blogger needs a web coder to build his/her site. This project will allow those people to connect and potentially work together in a quick and efficient manner.

The user will create a simple profile including his/her geographic location, medium/field, skills, and what he/she is seeking. That last bit is important, for that is how the program will be able to match you with potential collaborators. You then match up with someone who fulfills your needs, someone who is also interested, and the rest is history.

My biggest competition in this venture is the suave and handsome (I guess) actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, with his artist collaboration site called hitRECord. Boring. But, I assure you, mine will be much different and MUCH more innovative.

I still have quite a bit of developing to do based on this idea, so stay tuned to be a part of this exciting process.