Sunday, June 28, 2009

Blog Week 4

Is it always a good thing that virtually anyone with a computer can create a website?

For the most part, I beleive it is an incredibly positive thing. The Wiki we use at work has enabled hundreds of average employees to create their own work related site. A site where they can store all their most commonly used information (phone lists, maps, procedures, workflows, job aides, helpful hints, links to internal as well as external sites.) Their site, once approved, is visible to all their co-workers within and outside their own departments. We are sharing information at the click of a mouse speed - it has been an incredible journey.

I also beleive the family and personal sites have allowed those who live far away to feel more in touch than ever before. So, to that end I find this element of website design to be positive.

The only drawback is that the same power is available to individuals with less than desirable and less than moral motives.

Advantages to creating your own website:
  • Cost is substantually less
  • Changes/updates are inexpensive and can be completed with less red tape
  • There is a certain satisfaction knowing that you created the site on your own
  • Anyone can do it with minimal technical skills
  • There is a ton of information available to help you build your site
  • Your site could get discovered and you can keep all the profits

Disadvantages to creating your own website:

  • It takes lots of patience and time to build one that is complex

Difference between usability and accessibility, why are they important?

  • Usability of a website refers to how easy it is to navigate a website to find what you need or desire. Usability is important because web surfers scan for information and if they do not find what they are looking for at first glance they will either become frustrated or move on.
  • Accessibility refers to how accessible a site is through search engines, are the keywords associated with a site pushing it toward the top of the search results list? Accessiblitiy is important because if a site is not easily found it does no one any good.

Note on Frontpage - I found this software very easy to use (its "usability"rating is high). Unfortunately, it is not an application I am doubtfull anyone in our class will use due to its obsolete nature and due to all the Web 2.0 apps available now.

Note on Photoshop - I found photoshop vague and full of technical jargon only a certified professional photographer would understand. There could certainly be an entire elective class devoted to teaching photoshop - I'd be interested in it. I beleive once you understand the jargon it is a remarkable application.

I am learning a tremendous amount in this class that I will be able to put to good use. Just the right amount of HTML knowledge. I would challenge Albright to provide the applications being taught in future classes since nearly every DCP student is doing homework long past the time the satelite office is closed since most have fulltime jobs.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Blog Week 3

Blog Week 3

Reflection on Week 3 readings on the web, textbook chapters 7 and 8, article and class material:

I loved the “Not-so-good Checklist” and the “So-much-better Checklist” on pages 162 thru 164. These really summed up the chapters in this section well. You can bet that I will be using these sections when I build my website. I liked the navigation bar with the stage lights, how clever. This gave me a great idea for my Rhino Linings website. I’d like to have little rhinos in the navigation bar that change color when in use or switch to a different style rhino (maybe just the head) when the link is in use. Consistency and repetition are critical on all related pages. I want my linked related pages to appear in a new window rather than overriding the home page. I also can appreciate the no scrolling side-ways emphasis – the 800 x 600 pixel resolution and size is great to know. Stressing negative space is also very important – if there is to much to read it is overwhelming and will not keep the reader’s attention. Indexes and Site maps are never overrated.

I found these characteristics to be most helpful when evaluating a website: Purpose, Authority, Objectivity, Appropriateness, Currency, Responsibility, Clarity, and Accessibility. Here were some other characteristics that I had not know about or was less familiar to me – text only alternatives for visually impaired. It is so important that the evaluator take into consideration if the author or sponsor’s objectivity or bias is explicit or hidden and then they need to ask themselves if the objectivity impacts the usefulness and validity of the website’s content. Is there a hidden agenda? Knowing the author’s credentials, references and contact information will allow the reader to determine if the content is usable or not. For instance is the content verifiable, are references provided and are the referrals given supporting or corroborating the content with accuracy. And finally, what is the coverage scope and depth? Knowing this will help the reader to determine if the website content is what they were looking for.

Kim Guenther’s article, “What’s Your Style, Organizing Information for the Web” was also insightful. I liked Jakob Nielson’s suggestion to write in a “style that facilitates scanning” of information. People generally do scan rather than read websites so this is a valid point. Along with this writing in concise or direct segments and using small bite-sized nuggets of information or “chunking” will help the reader scan quickly and digest the information faster. I like to see navigable and intuitive paths with the inverted pyramid writing protocol. Having a style guide to organize prose is definitely a great suggestion. I love using breadcrumbs. The metadata and indexing section was especially helpful.

Evaluate 2 websites:

Site 1
This Yogi Bear Camp Resort website I used recently was one I found especially informative and fun to use. It is easy to navigate and easy on the eyes with the greens and yellow text on blue background. The negative space is used wisely and forces the reader to focus on the center picture. It is easy to see the purpose since all critical information is close to the top of the first page. It is authenticated at the bottom of the first page with all relevant contact information and details about who provided the content and who designed the website. All the link icons are appropriate and are used to keep the reader’s attention. The site provides all pertinent information, including the local weather, for campers.

I like the use of the left side quick launch bar since it provides link to all relevant and related pages. It does not disappear when you navigate to another page.

The only thing I did notice was (except for the weather section) there was a lack of ability to determine when the site was last updated. However, this is not as relevant for the majority of information.
Site 2

Even though the first page of this site is busy, it is obvious that it was well thought out and organized. Navigation is a cinch when moving from one page and back home due to the menu bar staying in tact at the top and bottom of the screen on each page It has been an incredible help for those of us who volunteer for teaching Sunday School and also for those of us who participate in the worship ministry. It fits the screen well and has links to all critical information on the first page. It provides a revision date a great site map, links to everything on both the top and bottom of the first page, and a way to contact the church. It utilizes the top left to bottom right scanning strategy to point the reader to areas that require their participation.

Criteria used to evaluate the sites:
I used these criteria for evaluating these sites: Purpose, Authority, Objectivity, Appropriateness, Currency, Responsibility, Clarity, and Accessibility as well as elements of the check lists found in our text.

Will I be more critical of websites I look at in the future with regards ot the information they contain? Absolutely. I will never look at a website the same again. My expectations will be much higher.

How will this information apply to your website project you will be creating? As I stated earlier, I plan to use all the checklists provided, organize before I begin, be certain to only provide critical information on the front page, and size the site appropriately. I will ensure all the links work,

Monday, June 15, 2009

Homwork Blog - WK 2

This photo manipulation segment of class has been one of my most anticipated parts of this website design course. I have had numerous challenges in the past trying to send photos via email.

The image resizing in class was quite enlightening. I now know there are a number of steps I can take to change the size of a photo to make it work for various purposes. I found out that it is definitely a good idea to make changes to a photo so that it is easier to read in an email or on the web. I have the ability to crop (trim the edges), resize using the image/resize options in photoshop, change to a jpeg by choosing that file extension, change the resolution from max to medium or low, save the photo for the web, remove unneeded layers, and change the algorithym. I further learned in my readings that by using the indexed color mode and creating a limited number of colors in a color palette I can reduce the size of a photo. I learned that if I want to email a photo to someone I should reset the resolution to 72 ppi (pixels per inch) which is equivalent to a 4 x 6 photo on a Mac or reset the resolution to 96 ppi which is equivalent to 3 x 4.5 photo and the image size that will display on the screen. I now understand when it is appropriate to use a GIF vs. JPEG file format. GIF is useful because it is a cross-platform format, it compresses the file with a “lossless” scheme, you can use a transparent color, it has an interlacing feature, and you can create animations with these type files. GIFs are primarily used for images with substantial areas of solid, single dimensional color – things like logos, text as graphics and cartoons. JPEG file format include most of the same GIF file format features except that when a JPEG compresses some quality is lost and you cannot make any part of a JPEG file transparent.

I was particularly interested in reading about how to create thumbnails and alternate labels since this will be useful in the building of my company website.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Week One

What did you learn about graphic design and how does graphic design play a role in our daily lives and activities in both the print and web?

As a mother of two active children, a business owner, a college student and a full-time employee, variety, convenience and accessibility of information are the features of the web that attract me. My time is so limited and the time of day that I have available to research issues is typically late evening.

However, I must say because I am an avid reader, I still love print. I still get the daily newspaper, I read numerous magazines and I can appreciate a well organized textbook. I am a firm believer in balance and I despise spending any more time than necessary on the computer to save my eyesight.

I learned the difference between color in print (CMYK) vs. color on the web (RGB) which is far more versatile. By forcing us to define all the applicable terms, I learned the meaning of acronyms I use on a regular basis that I could not have told you what they meant such as URL. I have encountered the following in websites I use on a regular basis and didn’t realize they were necessarily “outdated features” standard grey, counters, under construction. I am glad I am learning what not to do.

I learned that narrower columns of text are the correct way and it makes sense because I also prefer that type of reading – magazine reading. Ahhh, a page you don’t have to scroll to see – now there’s a novelty. OK, maybe not so much anymore but there is definitely something to be said about the 800 x 600 pixel web page. Vague links are a pet peeve of mine so the underlined link is a good recommendation. Site maps are awesome. I recently learned these existed and it has made my navigating experience so much better. I love the “last updated” feature – this is great for those of us with busy schedules. I love the “last updated” feature – this is great for those of us with busy schedules. There is nothing more annoying than no feedback feature.
I love the thumbnail theory. There is nothing worse than clicking on a link to a picture that is enormous.

Dark backgrounds drive me crazy. I was hoping to see that as part of the “don’t do” column. I am sure it is used to deter people from printing web pages but I find it highly annoying.

What is your understanding of designing for the web vs. design for print?

Advantages of Web:
Web publishing is far less expensive than print.
Web is interactive, print is not.
With Web you have unlimited pages in which navigation is key where in print you usually only have one page to get your message across.
In the Web your space is measured in pixels whereas in print your space is measured in inches. In Web design you must consider all sizes and resolutions of monitors whereas in print you know the size from start to finish and your reader always sees the same product.
In print colors can be “proofed” and are picked from a palette whereas on the web colors can vary from one monitor to another and they are represented in “hexadecimal values” (6 digit numbers). Your range of colors on the web is vast in comparison to print.
Cross marketing and ease of information distribution is a huge plus for the Web vs. print.
Ease of responding on the web is invaluable.
Sound and animation are always attention getters on the web and not available in print.

One common thread between the two is the challenge to keep up with technology in both the print and web industry.

Advantages of Print:
Print is faster viewing, no download times.
Print is more easily transported in most cases.
Print is cheaper to read.
Though we are getting more comfortable with the web, for most people print is more familiar.
Since electronic devices and water do not mix, print is more easily read in the hot tub.
Print has been around a lot longer and is therefore a more developed tool.
Print is more predictable.

Monday, June 1, 2009