“Don’t Make Me Think”

After reading “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug, I realized that there really is a common sense approach to creating a good website. Websites need to be organized, pleasing to the eye, and easily accessible for everyone. Krug made this book fun to read by writing conversationally and displaying a lot of images as examples.

The first chapter really helped me build a sturdy foundation for what a good website should look like. For instance, as a website owner, you don’t want people who view your site to have to think about where to click, or where to find the information they’re looking for. Sometimes clever names can confuse people. It’s better to keep your buttons very obvious, so people know where to click and what they can expect to find once they click on it.

One “Fact of Life” Krug gives in this book is that people tend to spend very little time reading most Web pages. Instead, we scan pages looking for information, words, or images that catch our eye. Therefore, a good website would bold important words or include prominent headers and interesting pictures. People are usually in a hurry and don’t have time to read every detail. Creating a clear, visual hierarchy is one tip to build a good website.

The more important something is, the more prominent it should be on your website. This is very easy on the eye and quickly shows what information is most significant on the page. It’s also essential to group related items together in a clearly defined area. “Nesting” things visually is another good tip to show what’s part of what.

For a website to be successful, the pages should be broken up into clearly defined areas. This allows users to decide quickly which areas of the page to focus on and which areas they can safely ignore. Another tip is to make it obvious what’s clickable on the site. Studies show that a large part of what people are doing on the Web is looking for what to click next. Making sure all of the site’s buttons and search bars are consistent is especially imperative. Omit needless words and keep it to the point, which I suggested earlier. Some examples of this are getting rid of “happy talk” and instructions.

An organized, dependable Web navigation is vital to having a good website. Someone is usually trying to find something (that’s why they’re on a website to begin with) and they’re trying to decide whether to “ask first or browse first”. If the person chooses to browse, they’ll make their way through the hierarchy, using signs on the site to guide them. The reason the navigation is so fundamental to the well being of a website is because if users cannot find what they’re looking for, they’ll leave.

Finally, when you believe you have the perfect website a very important step before launching the site is to test its usability. If you want a great site, you’ve got to test it. Krug explains,

“Testing reminds you that not everyone thinks the way you do, knows what you know, uses the Web the way you do.”

I really like that quote because it’s always a good idea to let go of the reins for a bit, and allow someone else to take a ride on your website.

Krug has a lot more information about creating a good website packed into his book, but those are just a few of the big takeaways I got after reading “Don’t Make Me Think.” Overall, I thought it was a simple and insightful read. I will definitely be able to take these tips and use them in the future!


Always Bring Your Rain Boots

ImageThese are my shoes AFTER my wonderful reporting shift yesterday. They were soaked, for hours. They were muddy, and they were gross. I can bet you that they’ll be in the garbage right after I finish this blog post. What a day I had!

ImageThis is me before the humidity, heat, and crazy afternoon got to me. I was ready to take on whatever my TV3 shift had to offer, as always. After the meeting, I sat down at my desk to begin calling out on my story right away. I was reporting on mosquitoes, which I’m sure we’re all very familiar with. I ended up covering the story at Lake Wauburg. With this week’s rain, the lake and surrounding park area was a swampland. So, that’s where my disgusting shoes come in. There is no pathway down to the lake, so instead I had to walk right down the bank covered up to my ankles in muck. I survived… should have brought my rain boots though!


At the end of the day, everything is worth it; the hustling, the sweat, the chaos. Here’s my story to prove it. I absolutely love my college and where I’ve spent these past four years. I think it’s important for everyone to feel that way about undergrad years because after all this is the time to prepare yourself for the rest of your life! Dedicate your time to school, put in a lot of effort, and most importantly have fun doing it. Oh, and one more thing; Always remember to bring your rain boots because the ride can get kind of crazy! Happy Friday to all.

Innovation News Center

Another week has come and go. It’s time to relax and enjoy a wonderful Gator game day. On Friday (yesterday), I main anchored again. I had so much fun and believe it was a great show! Writing scripts and reading on-air is becoming easier for me, and I’m working on my “broadcast voice” right now. Always something to work on and everyone can always find ways to improve!


This week, Courtney was news-ops and my co-anchor was Christina. They switch on and off, so it’s fun for me to work with different people each week. Immediately following the newscast, we walked upstairs into the newsroom and it was packed. The smells of delicious appetizers filled the air, orange and blue balloons hovered above, and many professionals and professors scattered the room. Last night, the College of Journalism and Communications officially commissioned our “Innovation News Center.”


Dean Diane McFarlin, the Executive Director of the Multimedia Properties, and our former Dean John Wright all spoke about what a process it’s been to create our state of the art newsroom, and how far we’ve become. I am so proud to work in such an up-to-date, forward thinking, and progressive environment. The UF CJC is preparing me for my future and the opportunity my college gives me is limitless. It was nice to see everyone come together to celebrate the wonderful Innovation News Center.


When the balloons were released, we all cheered and clapped for the success of the CJC. Once again, it’s great to be a Florida Gator!

Live from KC Crave

Today was another whirlwind of a day! I “GO” nonstop from the moment I wake up, to the moment I go to sleep. I like it that way. Thursdays are my TV3 shifts and today was a lot of fun. I got an exclusive story today with interviews that the other stations in Gainesville did not get. I’m happy with it, but you can tell me what you think by watching it here on my YouTube.

After my 9:30am to 6:00pm reporting shift, I had to trade in my dress pants for a more comfortable pair of jeans and head off to Gator Hotline at KC Crave. No matter how crazy my schedule may be, I will always make room for this show. This is my third year working for the Gator Vision radio show and I wouldn’t trade the fun experience for the world. I am their “microphone girl,” which means I get to run around the restaurant, chat with the fans, and allow them ask questions to Coach Muschamp (or whoever is filling in for Will Muschamp). As simple as this task may be, although sometimes it can be tricky, I love this opportunity. 


There’s no better way to get everyone in the Gator spirit and pumped about this weekend’s game. It’s great to be a Florida Gator, especially a College of Journalism and Communications Gator! If you’d like more information on the show, click here.

UF Forecaster, Lauren Rautenkranz

Tuesdays are one of my most favorite days of the week. Why? Because I get to anchor the weather segment for WUFT’s First at Five newscast. As I’ve blogged before, I report on Thursdays and am main news anchor on Fridays. Weather, however, is a completely different beast.

ImageThe only picture I had time to take today was a quick “selfie” in the mirror before I headed to Weimer Hall. My grandmother bought me a new outfit for my birthday, so I had to send her a picture of course! Anyways, I headed off to the newsroom at Weimer and began planning my forecast right away. Every day is different and the weather always changes, which makes meteorology so much fun.

I love the fact that I can be myself on air with weather. We have no scripts, everything is constantly changing, and there’s always a story to tell. I’ve always promised myself that my dream job would allow me to be my quirky, idiosyncratic self. Weather does just that!

Although I have a long way to go and a lot more to learn, I truly enjoy every minute of forecasting and presenting the weather to people. People care about the weather! They want to have a connection with their local meteorologist to chat about the weather with. They want to know if they’ll need their umbrellas, should take advantage of a great beach day, or need to prepare for a big storm. I’ve realized that I want to be that person. I never want to let go of my reporting roots, but I have such a passion for weather forecasting that I know it’s something I cannot simply let go.

Like I said before, I have a ton to learn and a lot of areas I can improve in… but I’m enjoying every second and have that itch to get better! I think that’s a good thing, right?

Going Live in 3, 2, 1…

Good Saturday morning to you! My busy week is through and it’s time to unwind for a couple of days. Family is in town to celebrate my 22nd birthday, which will be fun. I love spending time with them! Last night, my parents and grandparents were able to watch our first live show for WUFT First at Five, which I main anchor every Friday.


The picture above is my co-anchor and I getting hair and make-up done before the big show. We always like to goof around together, which makes the whole experience very fun. Courtney is a good friend, which also helps our chemistry on-air.

We were expecting yesterday’s show to be a breeze, since our past two practices were such cake. Our Friday crew is excellent and full of hard workers. However, it may have been a coincidence, but it was “Friday the 13th” and someone somewhere wanted to challenge us. 


Well, about 20 minutes before the show we found out that our main reporter’s story crashed in Final Cut Pro. It was supposed to be our lead story! She lost all of her work and had to frantically try to put the package back together before 5:00. Courtney and I had to stay calm and simply put on our smiles for the TV. The two of us were quickly shuffling around our scripts and listening to the producer speak to us via IFB.


As always, the show must go on! I heard my producer tell us in our earbuds, “Ok, people… We’re going LIVE in 3… 2… 1!” The rest is history. For the amount of craziness that DID occur on Friday, the entire crew came together and made it work. Granted, there may have been a few rough spots in the show, but we all had fun and learned how to be flexible with last minute changes.

I can’t wait until next week!

Faith, Hope, and Love

Today was a big day. A big, long, busy day. It was my first TV3 shift of the Fall 2013 semester. What is “TV3” may you ask? Well, it’s an advanced reporting class for Telecommunications-News majors at the University of Florida. You are no longer with a partner, or handed the easy stories. You are expected to report and shoot footage on your own. Essentially, you’re what everyone calls a “One Man Band.”

So, today I set off on my very first TV3 shift. I was excited, but nervous to see what the day had in store for me. I was assigned a story about a new church that was having a grand opening. This wasn’t just a typical grand opening, however. This church, Spirit of Faith in Northwest Gainesville would be replacing the former Dove World Outreach Center. The Dove Center has been in the public eye on multiple occasions in the past, and never for positive news. The leader, Terry Jones, stood for anti-Islamic views and received much criticism for burning the Quran.


…But that’s all besides my point here. I was reporting on a story (the LEAD story of the day) all on my own. As exciting, adventurous, and nail-biting it may sound, “One Man Band” reporting can be quite a challenge. I had fun doing it don’t get me wrong, but I was sweating, thirsty, hungry, and exhausted from running around all day. For my human element of the story I wanted to get a neighbor’s perspective. I must have knocked on 25 doors today. 24 of them were “no’s” and only a single one of them was a “yes.”

That single “yes” made my day! Miriam White was the kind, 92-year old lady who welcomed me into her home for an interview. At that point in time, I wasn’t worried about my deadline or the riveting story I was chasing. It was all about Miriam. I realized how much I simply love talking to people and hearing their stories. Everyone is different. Everyone has a story. I could have sat and chatted with Miriam all day long, but unfortunately I had a deadline.


I went back to the church, watched the ribbon cutting, and listened to the opening ceremony. Gainesville’s Mayor Ed Braddy ended his brief speech on a familiar Bible quote, which hasn’t left my mind since. He quoted, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Miriam mentioned something to me as I was walking out her door today. With almost a century’s worth of wisdom, she said to me, “Dear, I thank God every day for another day of life, and I know I couldn’t do it without all of the love in my life.”

After all, “One Man Band” reporting isn’t too bad if you appreciate the people you meet and realize that everyone has a story. Everyone has a story! Remember that. If you’d like to watch my story, here’s the link. Enjoy!