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I always find myself giving people these few tips with their spreadsheets, so I wondered… are there a lot of people who would benefit from them?

So you’re putting together a spreadsheet? You’ve already taken the first step toward organizing your information is a much more useful way that simple text documents.

But spreadsheets are much more useful than giving you columns and rows. I’ve opened so many spreadsheets that could just use a few tweaks to be cleaner and more effective. Here are five things you should do each time you create a spreadsheet.

Determine where the file should be saved

One complaint I hear often from teams is that it’s hard to find needed documents. If your using a cloud-based suite, like Google, this is only made more complicated by the ease of making new documents. One link click and voila — you have a spreadsheet. …


How we navigated the city’s history, colorful present and our goals to create a brand for our annual conference

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For the 2020 Online News Association Conference, we look to celebrate what Atlanta is today: a city that has re-emerged as the “new cultural capital of America,” according to The Daily Beast. For the third consecutive year, designer Joyce Rice joined me to collaborate on this year’s conference branding, which brings a stroke of energy to the event.

As we dove into Atlanta’s identity, we quickly were reminded that the city’s journey to today has been a tumultuous one. Its role as a distribution hub in the Civil War made it a strategic target for Union forces. Racial tension persisted during Reconstruction as local and state laws institutionalized segregation. The city ultimately became an epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement, as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s …


Plus, a fresh look for the groups in the ONA Local network

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The main ONA logo, as of March 2019

In October, I shared our first step in refreshing the brand for the Online News Association (ONA). Now I’m excited to tell you about an updated, stronger logo for ONA and new branding for our ONA Local network.

We’ve simplified the main ONA logo by removing the acronym. This tweak allows us to shrink the size of the circle element and enlarge the full name of our organization. I’ve always found it redundant to have our full name and acronym in the same graphic, so going forward we will no longer use this lettermark and wordmark combination in the logo.


Creating the ONA19 brand and honoring a milestone anniversary

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The ONA19 logo, designed by Adam Nekola and Joyce Rice.

The ONA team is incredibly excited to bring our annual conference to New Orleans for the first time. It’ll be a fitting location to celebrate our 20th anniversary with some fanfare. Yet, despite the city being rich in history and culture, it is often overshadowed by Bourbon Street, Mardi Gras, and the alcohol.

In our design for the ONA19 logo, we wanted to embrace the beauty of New Orleans, seen in its architecture, gardens, and people. …


Bringing a structured content approach to ONA with events and profiles

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We’re featuring the Women’s Leadership Accelerator as the hero image on the home page, where we’ve traditionally only mentioned our mission. This is one of several small strategic shifts occurring on the ONA website.

By the end of 2019, my goal for the ONA website is to create a broad network of information with an emphasis on community. We’ve been slowly making a few structural improvements over the last year as part of that process — here’s what we’ve accomplished so far.

Events and local groups

I revamped ONA Local program’s appearance earlier this year with a new landing page, allowing for easier exploration of our network of organizers. These groups hosted 187 events in 2017 and are on pace to pass 150 in 2018.

Our community manager, Meghan Murphy, uploads each of those events to the website to provide a history of the program’s activities and a window into what the worldwide ONA network’s groups are discussing. New this month, we launched a tool on the home page showing upcoming events and a listing page that goes into more detail. …


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Upon arriving at ONA18 in Austin, TX, attendees are greeted by a sea of volunteers in orange ONA18 shirts and registration booths with the ONA18 branding.

The ONA annual conference is our biggest event and since its inception, it has been given unique branding each year. Sometimes that reflects the subject matter, other times the host city.

This year, I set several goals for the process: engage our outside consultant on a larger scope, begin our design process earlier and focus on a holistic package rather than individual deliverables. Some of these goals still need some work in 2019, but I’m excited to share this year’s progress that culminated in the ONA18 Style Guide.

Driving factors for improvement

ONA17 was my first ONA conference as a full-time staffer, and I was amazed by the many materials that needed to be designed to prep for the event. With each item, I struggled to find inspiration and continuity due to the time constraints, but also the lack of creative process. …


With colors, typography and patterns, the Online News Association’s brand is more than a logo

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As we began to implement a new branding process for our annual conference, we revisited the ONA brand itself to generate a similar package and branding guide.

Before developing the guide, I couldn’t answer basic questions. What is our color palette, and how is it used? What are our typefaces? We hadn’t streamlined how we use color and sometimes introduced new ones on an ad hoc basis.

In refreshing the ONA brand, we made strategic choices around three elements: colors, typography and patterns.

Colors

Reviewing the existing colors revealed how difficult it would be to use them broadly across websites and documents. We refreshed the color palette by replacing the secondary color and modifying other complementary shades. …


With many tools available, newspapers focus on advertising more than usability

When The Washington Post launched a homepage redesign in August, it was the culmination of years of work — not as one large redesign, but as part of an iterative approach that began with the article template. ProPublica and The New York Times recently shared that they employ user research when approaching their website enhancements.

However, these processes, while considered best practices, are luxuries in the broader journalism industry

So what type of web technologies do newspaper web sites utilize? To determine the web acumen of the news industry, I analyzed the web technologies used by 3,769 newspapers. …


I’ve walked out of conference sessions before. It’s an inevitable occurrence when attending technical conferences. Soon enough there will be a session that was poorly described or poorly interpreted by myself.

At a one-track conference, this can make me nervous about the investment; but An Event Apart did not disappoint. In fact, many of the sessions actually reinforced and gave additional insight to efforts I was already undertaking.

Designing for Social Behavior

Sarah Parmenter had a lot to say about the social ecosystem — specifically keeping a company’s voice consistent, but also understanding the nuances of each medium and using it appropriately.

She opened with the idea of “social mediblah” because she wanted to get rid of the term “social media.” Amen. I’ll help you with that Sarah. Social media, she argued, is really just “a tool to make something happen” but many people give it a stigma in business. …


While cleaning out my Google Drive this past month, I stumbled one of the oldest documents in there — my final column from the Morris Daily Herald, dated April 2010. This was a companion to a column about my job search.

It’s sad how it took such a short amount of time to make me jaded. In 2006, with the Internet and social media starting to make a major impact, online commenting and declining revenue really took a bite out of my passion.

Sitting at my desk, digesting the four-pound Ethyl Burger from R-Place in Morris, Ill., I’m becoming a bit nostalgic. …

About

Adam Nekola

Senior Digital Manager @ONA; Formerly @nwherald, @pewresearch, @fiscalnote. Softball pitcher; journalist; pizza. Grad of @Illinois_Alma.

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