Comparing two free tools for online multimedia story presentation – without having to learn web design and flash

The continuous improvements at Wix.com and Imcreator.com have made these two free web-authoring tools more and more practical for use as digital news reporting platforms. This post is an update on a previous post comparing wix and imcreator in putting together a multimedia reporting package.

Elements to be included in the package

As in the previous post, I’m using the two tools to create two new versions of a multimedia story about Tent City, a makeshift shelter for homeless people in Lakewood, N.J.

I managed to pull together some contents that are typical of a digital/multimedia reporting project; some contents are created by me, some are not – for purpose of demonstration, let’s assume all these contents are created by me, a digital journalist:

  • texts
  • photos
  • video: a video documentary of Tent City, hosted on Youtube
  • audio: an audio interview with the founder of Tent City, edited with Audacity and hosted on Soundcloud.com
  • audio slideshow: created with Soundslides and hosted on Dropbox, about a Tent City resident reflecting her life in the “city”
  • interactive map: a Google map showing locations of Tent City and the nearest shelter
  • data visualization: an interactive visualization created with, and hosted by, Tableau Public, showing median household incomes by county in New Jersey
  • content curation: a curated story using Storify which pulls together various web and social media resources in telling about Tent City

It’s worth noting that all these contents are created or hosted using free tools/services or free versions of the paid tools/services. The tools/services utilized include Youtube, Audacity, SoundCloud, Soundslides, Dropbox, Google Maps, Tableau Public, and Storify.

The two finished projects are both neat and functional

It took me several hours working on the Wix project: preparing contents, getting to know Wix’s new editor interface, and working on the layout; after that, it only took me about 30 minutes to put together the imcreator project, with all elements already in place and thanks to the familiar imcreator editor interface which has not changed much since I last used it.

Click on a screen shot below to explore the multimedia project in a new window – the first one is for Wix project and the second for imcreator project.

Some observations and thoughts about wix and imcreator as digital reporting tools

In my previous review of these two tools, I was complaining about Wix for not being able to embed a customized Google map – now Wix has made it a standard feature. My complaint about imcreator for not allowing audio upload still holds – although I can embed the same audio clip from my Soundcloud account, the default playback control is a bit difficult to work with.

That said, both tools are easy to work with – without having to learn anything about web design or flash animation. They will prove valuable for people who want to present multimedia contents to a web audience – think about a  a freelance journalist or a small local news site who doesn’t have much of IT and technical support, or a PR worker who needs to send out multimedia materials to client and the media.

One issue I have with both tools is that I was not able to embed a Storify story. I created a Storify story about Tent City, and Storify provides ready-made embedding codes; however, the codes won’t work – nothing shows up in the embedded area.

Also, it should be noted that these two tools are started first and foremost as web design tools, not digital reporting tools. They both come with all the templates for various themes, but there is not a “news theme,” and I feel that a few basic news templates (breaking news, feature stories, etc.?) would make a digital reporter’s job much more efficient.

Related posts:

About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (www.mulinblog.com/mooc), a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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6 Responses to Comparing two free tools for online multimedia story presentation – without having to learn web design and flash

  1. Do not use IMCreator. They don’t provide any customer service and pages delete from our website on a regular basis and they do not have an explanation for the problem. You will spend all your time rebuilding pages over and over and over.

  2. Lily B says:

    I actually had a great experience with IMCreator. Their support was fast and helpful for a newbie like me building my first site.
    Results are great too – altough I used a template, it looks totally unique.

  3. robert coolidge says:

    IM Creator is a nightmare. They host you through Google, you have to verify with Google Apps, then if Google disables your account you are dead. No email. No access. And IM support is ridiculous. They can not help and don’t. No matter how serious. And your site will not look good on Explorer or Mozilla and IM does nothing to help solve those compatibility issues. A horror. Sad too. One of the finest do it yourself design platforms.

  4. John says:

    I just built my site with IM – they do not host through google anymore. took me about an hour to get m,y site live from the time i finished it.
    was fast to create my website and i love the result.

  5. live hotmail says:

    Hey there, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.

    When I look at your blog site in Chrome, it looks fine but when opening
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  6. john says:

    I built a photography website with IMcreator and the results were great.
    i really liked the templates, the drag&drop system and it was so simple to design.
    also didn’t have any problems with the costumer service team. i absolutely recommend IMcreator.

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