Thursday, May 15, 2008

Final Summative Evaluation

In a quest to make it big in the design industry, I decided for my major stepping stone be the HND Interactive Media course at Wakefield College. I had little design experience before i joined the course and when I was shown some of the previous students work at the interview I was hooked, I knew that this was exactly what i wanted to be a part of.

Two whole years i spent at the Thornes Park campus and enjoyed pretty much every day of it. I started the course at a very basic level but knew that I could make the most of the two years that would follow and gain enough knowledge to ultimately get a job in the industry.

The course has taught me pretty much al the basic things I need to know about building web sites and creating graphical work. I can actually build a web site from scratch which in it self is an achievement. However, I have also learnt some things that have nothing to do with web design but equally as important. The lifelong learning unit is a prime example and knowing that I can teach myself anything I want/need to know is very reassuring.

The second year brought along new goals for me and a Cascading Sytle Sheets was at the top of my hit list. A lot of hype sorounded the importance of CSS and I knew that i would need to know it pretty much inside out before i left the course. Thankfully, I can report that can now use CSS, I'm still not an expert, don't get me wrong but I feel comfortable using it and have built every web site in the second year using it.

Overall, I don't really have many complaints for the last two years. From an educational sense I think I have learnt probably more than I first thought and from a general sense I have made some friends for life, had a great time and hopefully the ultimate goal will soon be realized of entering the scary place of the working life.a

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Final Screen Designs [Portfolio Site]

Folowing the feedback that I have recieved over the past week or so, I have now took some of you advice and have come up with what I hope will be the final screen designs. Sorry to dissapoint some of you but the textured background is staying, purely because I feel it makes it slightly more interesting and different.

Home Page

Interior Page

I have also created the site structure diagram to go with this.

Site structure

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Screen Design Version 2

Folowing the feedback left for me from my last post regarding the screen designs, here are a new set that I have derived from the original. A few changes have been made, including shades of colour and the background colour. Again your help is always appreciated.

Home Page screen design

Interior Page Screen Design

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Portfolio Screen Designs

Here are a few variations of what could possibly be my web portfolio. The designs are only very basic and are the first major part of the design process. Any feedback or comments are welcome.

#1 - Simple and effective
Here I have chosen to make it as simple as possible in an attempt to make the work speak for itself.

#2 - Simple but with colour
Here I have again tried to keep the design relativly simple but this time have added a bit of colour to just liven it up a bit.

#3 - Something a bit different
as an alternative I tried to just design something that I would normally not, just something a bit wacky and different.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Competitive Analysis
From the beginning I think that it is very obvious that this portfolio is supposed to not over power the work as it is very simple and plain. I’m sure that a company like this has created hundreds if no thousands of websites so what they have tried to do is pick only the best 6 and the ones of the highest profile and only display them, which is something that I am also looking to do in my own portfolio.

Its simplicity is also very appealing to me because not only does it allow your work to speak for itself but also provides a user friendly environment that is easy to navigate and understand.

Each of the websites that they have designed has a small preview, a description of the project and then is finally linked to the live website. All three of these are something that I must also consider when designing my own portfolio.

There is a small section outlining some of the current clients that the company are working with, but seen as none of them are links to anything and don’t go into any kind of depth about the project then it seems just a bit pointless.

Overall the portfolio part of the site is I believe a success and the only thing letting it down it the lack of more examples of work. Only six examples seem to be somewhat too little for what seems to be a fairly large company. Its also reassuring to see that the page is actually valid which make a change from most design companies.
This website on the other hand is the complete opposite. The designer has opted to make the portfolio itself a design task and has made it very flashy and arty. This approach still works but in a different way, what he has done here is actually distracted the users from being able to easily view his pieces of work that they have came on the site to view in the first place.

The designer has also split his work into five different categories which is helpful for the potential employer to differentiate some of the pieces in order to find what they are actually looking for.

Dark blue text on a black background also was not the wisest choice and it proves extremely difficult to read at times. Also when you hover over the thumbnails they turn black and white which I can’t really understand because the whole point of a mouse over is that it makes the selected item stand out even more from the rest and not make it even harder to see.

Something else that I found strange is that there are actually three menus on each page and all three are the same, two at the top and one at the bottom of the page.

Overall this is not a particularly bad site even though it does have many flaws, the designer has opted to almost try and make the site itself a piece of art but has somewhat failed in my opinion, simplicity I believe is the way forward.

This page is also not Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Refined Target Audience...

Primary – Educationalists
Gregg is 37 years old and works at the examining body BTEC. Gregg is fairly self contained and spends a lot of his time on his laptop computer. He has a 17” widescreen laptop with a screen resolution of 1152x864 Pixels, his operating system is Windows Vista and the browser he uses is Internet Explorer 7.

He mainly uses his computer as a means of communication when he is on his travels and often uses his computer on the train. The main other uses he has for his laptop are internet viewing and word processing. His skills in using his computer are not really that great but he can comfortable use it for his requirements.

As he uses his computer a lot on his travels he has a 3G mobile connection so the speed is not as high as broadband but is still higher than dial up. He also has a monthly download limit of 3GB.

Secondary – Potential Employers
Trevor is 35 years of age and is the owner of a small design company based in Leeds. His company is only 5 years old but has managed to establish itself as one of the best design companies locally. His pay is based on the number and level of clients that they receive, but is generally in the region of £40,000 P/A.

Trevor has access to a number of computer systems; at home he has a 15” Mac Book running the OSX operating system. On this computer his screen resolution is 1152x864 and the browser he uses is Mozilla Firefox 2.0.

At work he has also uses his Mac Book but has in his office he has a 20” iMac that is also running the OSX operating system but this has a screen resolution of 1280x1024 and he also use Mozilla Firefox 2.0 here as well.

Tertiary – Private Clients
Carl is 45, is married and has two children. He is a homeowner and is self employed. He owns a small shop which involves selling home made furniture that he and his brother produce. Their business is started well but they would like to extend into the national market and appeal to customers all across the UK and because of this they are looking to create a website.

Carl does not have any notable experience with computers and only uses it for email and the occasional catch up on news websites. He has a fairly old computer system in the back room of their workshop.

It’s a very basic computer and not very fast. It is running Windows XP and has a screen resolution of 1024x768. He does not really understand how to update his system and is still using Internet Explorer 6 as his browser.

Carl would require some form of training on how to use the website for processing orders and some basic requirements for the website are contact information with a map and he would also like customers to be able to place orders online and would also require a method of online payment.

He does not necessarily want the site to be all singing all dancing and would prefer if it worked well rather than looked nice.

Delivery Requirements - Portfolio

CSS Version 2.1
This is something that I have only reacently picked up and am looking to improve upon even more. CSS will be the vital ingrediant to the look and feel of the website as it will be used to style all of the pages and their elements. In order to create the CSS I will be using Dreamweaver.
The style sheet will also need to be validated using the W3C Validator.

XHTML 1.0 Transitional
XHTML is now seen as the standard web language and has replaced HTML. I will therefore use it to place content onto the web page, which will then be styled by the CSS.

FTP (Dreamweaver)
The file transfer protocol (FTP) within Dreamweaver will be used to upload the created website and associated files from my local machine to the internet.

I will also look to incorporate some form of Flash in the design, this will not be anything major, but as it is a new skill that I have learnt reacently I will be looking to show off some of the techniques I have learnt.

Feedback Form
This will be the main and preffered method of communication that the users will be able to use to get in touch with me. There will be a small box where the user can input their comment and also a drop down menu where they can select how they have managed to come across my website. The feedback for itself will be linked to my email adress.

This program will be used for the actuall build of the site. It will also be used for the creation of the CSS code. The FTP within dreamweaver will also be used, so this is a piece of software that I will be using throughout the majority of the build process.

Adobe Flash
This software will be used for creation of any flash elements, whatever they may be.

Adobe Photoshop
Photoshop will be used for creation of any graphical work on the website. The look and feel of the site will ultimately be decided on the type of graphical elements that are on the page, which is why Photoshop will have a major role to play in the creation/.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Portfolio Target Audience

Primary Audience - Educationalists
The design of the portfolio is for use in the final presentation where there will be a number of educationalists present, so it makes sense that they are my primary target audience. An educationalist is generally someone who will be able to appreciate good design when they see it and will also be very specific in their likes and dislikes. Age wise I think generally between 30 and 50.

Secondary Audience - Potential Employers
The level of web experience that a potential employer will have is quite high. They will be very specific about what they want to see. Generally an employer will have experience in actually creating websites and graphical work. The reason that they will be on the website in the first place is to try and spot someone that they see potential in, so the portfolio must only show the best of my work.

There is however some potential employers who have no experience in web development at all and are simply in charge of the business because of their management skills. This type of potential employer will probably be more difficult to please as they will not be able to appreciate some of the work that goes into creating even something rather simple.

Tertiary Audience - Other Designers
As is often the case I find myself scouring the web for other peoples portfolios, often just for that bit of inspiration to keep me going when I lose concentration. I hope that my website will be used by other designers to offer them inspiration.

The profile for a designer can vary drastically. It starts with beginners or “baby designer” as the phrase goes. The baby designers won’t have that much experience in web development or graphic design. Baby designers are in most cases students between the ages of 16 and 23.

On the other hand there will be the more experienced and probably employed designers who will be generally between the ages of 20 to 40.