This week the news apps team launched a fun little user-generated content project:a map with reader reviews of the best, worst, most kid-friendly state parks, and the best places to camp. We put out a reader callout using a Google form to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Washington state parks and received more than 300 responses. We didn't previously have a plan for what we'd do with those responses, but thanks to all the answers being in Google Spreadsheets and tabletop.js, we were easily (ok, not that easy, but still) able to plot the points on a map.
How it works: You click a point. Point pulls up reviews, photos and number of "best camping" votes for that park. You can filter by category. Relatively simple, but it helped us start to define what our standards are for mapping, and create a few reusable templates so we can do projects like this more quickly in the future.
Here are some of the awesome resources we used to pull this off:
- Google forms to solicit answers
- Google spreadsheets to store the responses (had to significantly restructure the responses and do a lot of manual splits because our form was poorly structured in the beginning. Thanks to our awesome intern Daimon for fact-checking the shit out of every lat/long point :))
- Tabletop.js + Flatware
- Google spreadsheet script from Mapbox to handle geocoding
- A flickr scraper thing that I stole from John Keefe
Special thanks to:
- Developer Dean Kramer for ninja skillz
- Digital news production intern Daimon Eklund for fact checking, geocoding, QA testing, and generally good feedback and ideas and catching all our flubs.
- Data editor Cheryl Phillips for helping me merge, split, tear apart and reassemble the original mess of spreadsheets from our Google forms.
- Art director Whitney Stensrud for her eagle eye for UX and colors and fonts.
- News artist Kelly Shea for all the lovely graphics and cute icons.
- Travel editor Brian Cantwell for editing all the content.
- Features producer Holly Henke for managing all the promotion across the website, teases in print, and social media promotion. And for putting together the original forms and doing a reader callout, even though we weren't quite sure yet that we'd do anything with it.
- Engagement guy Bob Payne for feedback and keeping the ball rolling.
Yes, we are highly collaborative here at The Seattle Times, even on small projects. :) Now, time for some summer outdoors adventures!