Final Project

Four months have flown by, and it is now time for this semester to come to a close.  For the final project, we were to design personal websites, reflecting past experiences in hope of kickstarting future successes! Please click here to view my personal webpage. Enjoy!

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The Beginning Stages: My Personal Site

The beginning of every project is a time when the creator must define the direction or pathway for themselves in the production process. Before embarking in the creative process for my own personal website, there are a few directional questions I have to answer in order to accomplish the ultimate goal of using this resource to better my future professional endeavors.

These future endeavors have not been set in stone, I have plans to obtain an internship in the near future, potentially attend graduate school, and ultimately land a job. This being said my website will attempt to address an array of audience members including job recruiters, future bosses, and graduate school admissions officers, among other professionals whom I would like to get the attention of.  In order to satisfy all of their needs, I plan on creating a web page that is clean, professional, unique, content rich, easy to navigate, and one that incorporates bits of my personality.

As my intent is to use the website in order to promote a professional self I’d like to include:

  • An “About Me” section in which a short autobiography, interests, current activities, and future aspirations are included
  • An “Experience” section in which a digital resume is included
  • A “Contact” section in which a school and personal e-mail address as well as my LinkdIn profile name are included
  • A “Selected Projects” section which the YouTube video, Flickr slideshow, podcast, and a writing sample are included

After perusing webdesignledger.com, I found some example sites that were helpful in providing inspiration for how to best organize my information in a design that highlights a professional tone mixed with personality.

I was most drawn to the home pages of people or businesses that included minimal information like the name and a short blurb, in a large, clean font.

simple and engaging

http://www.mottau.co.uk/

 Accompanying the landing page, I’d like to have a navigation bar horizontally on top of the page including the categories previously listed. I’d like to keep my navigation bar like that found on Lukas Lindins page wherein the tabs never go away even when the visitor clicks through to each category. I’d also like to keep my name as the home return button in the upper region.

navigation bar

http://lukaslinden.net/

To go along with the horizontal navigation bar, I want to design all text and media throughout the webpage in a horizontally linear fashion to assist with ease of navigation. While incorporating different sized text and media as well as differently shaped pictures, it would be beneficial to the viewer to keep everything on the same horizontal plane throughout the page to make movement through the site seem less.

lines shape movement

http://adamrudzki.com/

In first thinking about the color scheme, I wanted to avoid neutrals to avoid a plain vibe, but wanted to keep color subtle as to not put off an overly playful vibe. However, after researching, I came to find myself more in line with a black and white, or neutral color, with a pop of bright color that connects each page together.

like amount and placement of tabs

http://www.workdiary.de/

 neutrals with running color

http://www.bookofbeards.com/

Choices made in the creating stages have been centered on a potential audience composed of professionals who will determine opportunities I will be presented with in my future.

To Discuss:

  1. What is the best way to mix a professional and personable tone in a website?
  2. What is the most effective way to present oneself on their own webpage?
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Getting to Know the Audience

If there is one lesson to be learned from Janice Redish’s, Writing Web Content that Works, it is that the audience is the chief decision maker in what your website should be. Evaluating your audience proves to be the most effective way to decide on what to write, how much to write, what vocabulary to use, and how to organize a website.

Redish provides 7 steps to help best evaluate a websites potential audience:

  1. List your major audiences.
  2. Gather information about your audiences.
  3. List major characteristics for each audience.
  4. Gather audiences’ questions, tasks, and stories.
  5. Use your information to create personas.
  6. Include persona’s goals and tasks.
  7. Use your information to write scenarios for your site.

Basically try to get to know potential site visitors inside and out in order to imagescreate the perfect user space for them. In order to write effective and efficient web content, designers have to create hypothetical situations and fake personas to help answer questions on efficiency.

Audience is also important to take into consideration when creating a home page. Home pages should be designed with the intention of making navigation simple and enjoyable for a visitor. To create the ideal home page, Redish puts forth 5 functions of the home page:

  1. Identifying the site, establishing the brand.
  2. Setting the tone and personality of the site.
  3. Helping the people get a sense of what the site is all about.
  4. Letting people start key tasks immediately.
  5. Sending each person on the right way, effectively and efficiently.

In order to evaluate a home page already floating around in the world wide web, I decided to use one of my most frequently visited home pages, that of Pandora.

pandora

Pandora easily identifies itself by flashing “Pandora” large and in the middle of the blue screen before leading into the home page. The logo is then placed in the top left hand corner. They share a very brief phrase about the “music genome project” telling the audience what the site is about.

The personality is expressed through the home page in the simplicity of it, it’s all about the music. The color and design choices give it a modern feel, like a new modern radio.

Audience easily grasp what the site is about by paying attention to the brief statement in the middle screen, and at the bottom several music genres are listed for website visitors to choose from.

The immediate action to be taken on the site is to register for Pandora simply by providing an email address and password, or if you’re a returner, just signing in a the top “sign in” button.

The Pandora home page is simple to understand, easy to use, and seems accessible to people of all ages and demographics.

The key point to take away from these chapters, is that the audience is the most important piece of the puzzle when designing web content and web pages.

To Discuss:

1. How do home pages in commercial sites and news sites have to differ to accommodate different audiences?

2. How simple is too simple for a home page? What is the minimum amount of information that is appropriate on a home page?

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The User Experience

There are few things more frustrating in this life than buying a new product and not being able to figure out how to use it. It looked so cool on the shelf, you just had to buy it. monica closetYou’ve seen commercials on television (another piece of technology which you just figured out how to use fully) but after tinkering with it for a few hours, the cool new product is thrown into the back of your clutter closet because it’s more frustrating to figure out than enjoyable and rewarding. You begin telling everyone you know how much you dislike the product, and voila, a bad user experience just cost a company several potential customers.

In Jesse James Garret’s, The User Experience, he discusses how important user experience is in the design of products, mainly in the design of websites.

In Chapter 1, The User Experience and Why it Matters, Garret defines the user experience as, “the experience the product creates for people who use it in the real world.” He says that user experience is more times than not overlooked in the design process in place of aesthetics and functionality of a product, but that user experience can make or break a product’s success.

In regards to web site user experience, Garret says that it is important that a user not feel frustrated or stupid when visiting a site or they will be driven away, more than likely permanently. When a site is properly functioning, organized, and easy to work with it reflects well for the company it is representing.

imagesCA8VX5ZC

Garret mentions 5 planes for web site design decision making in Chapter 3,  that impact user experience of a site:

1. The Surface Plane- Aesthetics of a site including images/text that perform functions as well as are just their as illustrations.

2. The Skeleton Plane- Beneath the surface plane that determines that placement of buttons, controls, photos and blocks of text.

3. The Structure Plane- Defines how the user arrives at the page and where they go when they’re finished.

4. The Scope Plane- Decisions on the features and functions of the site.

5. The Strategy Plane- Incorporates what the people running the site want as well as what the site user wants.

The design plan for a site should include decisions on each plane moving from the strategy plane upwards to the surface plane. Each layer has to play off of the layers that come before and after because they all impact one another and effect user experience.

Basically, a good user experience can sometimes mean more than what a product or website looks like or how functional it is. If a user feels stupid, frustrated, or lost when trying to figure out a product or web site, chances are they will stop using the product/site and will speak ill of it to others.

To Discuss:

1. Can you recall a time when a good/bad user experience impacted your impression of a product or site?

2. What is the most important part of a user experience,

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Respect to the Online Editor

In Chapter 6, “Getting it Right: Online Editing, Designing, and Publishing”, of Brian Carroll’s Writing for Digital Media, editors are described as having to be multidimensional, flexible in job responsibility and able to adapt to an ever changing digital scene.

As Carroll makes known on the first page of the chapter, web pages are only functional when all the little things come together perfectly. Every detail must be consistent and compatible with the rest of the site. And editors are in charge of making sure all this happens.askeditor

Editors seem to be the superheroes behind digital media on websites.

Carroll describes web page editing as a process and a culture. In the three case studies included, different editing processes and cultures were presented and explained.

Regardless of the specific process, the editor is responsible for a slew of elements included in online editing (120-122):

  1. Identify the reader and purpose of the content
  2. Define document structure and links
  3. Define the Style
  4. Edit for consistency in all elements
  5. Copyedit for consistency in visual design, testing links, and accurate reading
  6. Copyedit II- edit on different levels including understanding, accuracy, and writing errors
  7. Write headlines
  8. Test usability

On top of this list given by Carroll, the editor is also responsible for decisions regarding the inclusion or exclusion of multimedia based on whether or not the media in question enhances the story.

Multimedia is successfully used when it is (129):

  • Shorter
  • Interactive
  • Personal
  • Navigable

Basically, editors have extremely tedious work and are multidimensional in their roles regarding their websites. Respect to all you online editors out there.

To Discuss:

1. In order to cut down on editor work, would it be better for online publications to hire reporters who write better?

2. After reading this chapter, do you think the editor is the mastermind behind every online publication or is there a more prominent figure behind the website?

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The reality experienced by the audience of a production is created by the point of view of the camera. In chapter 3 of The Art of Technique, entitled, Point of View, written by John Douglass and Glenn Harnden, we learn how point of view can be manipulated to achieve different goals held by the creator of a production.

Harnden and Douglass identify three meanins of points of view (POV):

  1. From the eyes of the character
  2. From the prospective of the storyteller
  3. And a portrayal of the interests, attitudes, and belief’s associated with a character or group’s particular perspective

He also identifies how first, second, and third person perspective work to create experiences for the audience. Douglas and Harnden discuss how it is beneficial to stick with one central character’s perspective during a production in order to create the deepest understanding of truth of a given situation.

Jumping from first person, in which we see through the eyes of the main character, to third person in which we are viewer’s of the events occurring, most likely from a certain character’s perspective can be beneficial in creating deeper understanding.

In the (500) Days of Summer, it is common and helpful to the audience to move back and forth from a third person perspective following the main character, Tom, and into his thoughts voiced over by a narrator. We can see what he is going through and instead of having to try to interpret all thoughts and emotions, we are given insight to his particular thoughts through a narration.

To Discuss:

1. At what point does the POV shot from the character’s direct perspective go from insightful and intense, to annoying and fake?

2. What POV creates the most truthful account, in the audience perspective, of a story?