Multimedia – Webpage Critiques

This assignment requires you to pick 3 websites and critique them (in a document and place them on WebCT) telling what you like/dislike; what the rules the site is breaking; what is usable/what isn’t; what it can do to improve. Obviously I’m not expecting you to jump right in without any background on what is considered good/bad design, so here are some resources:

Top Ten Web Design Mistakes (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/designmistakes.html)
Jakob Nielson is a Web Usability guru (despite the fact that his site is so ugly). Check out the above linked article as well as the other Top Ten Lists at the bottom.

Web Design From Scratch (http://www.webdesignfromscratch.com/basics.cfm)

  • This site is great as it details the process of design and the differences between sites that have focused on art and those that have focused on providing tools. There are a lot of sections (see the links on the right hand side of the page) that are all interesting.
  • Of particular not for this assignment:
    • “How people use web pages”
    • “Other online factors”
    • “The Design Spectrum”

Web Style Guide (http://www.webstyleguide.com/index.html?/pages/editorial_style.html)

  • The whole thing is a good read, but if you don’t want to read everything, Read Chapters 2 and 4 (they are short)

Here is what you need to provide for each site you choose to critique:

  • Provide the Web Address to the site.
  • Answer these questions: Why did you select the site? What interested you about this particular site?
  • Describe features of the site, including the following:
    • Overall theme or main subject for the website
    • Types of materials presented on the website (e.g. letters, diaries, photographs, illustrations, historical summaries, literature texts)
  • Answer these questions:
    • Is the information source trustworthy? How do you know?
    • Who is the website designed for? For example, is it intended to reach the general public, medical professionals, kids, older people, etc.? How do you know?
    • Is the website well-designed to reach that group of people? Why do you think so? Give specific examples (ie., vocabulary, ease of finding information, working hyperlinks, low-tech vs. high-tech video presentation [which is important if you’re calling in on a slow modem!!], visual ‘style,’ etc.)
    • Is the website easy to navigate? Why or why not?
    • Does the site design used by the site match well with the theme/subject and topics covered? (For instance, are the main buttons set up to correspond to key topics? Do the main sections of the website, as organized and presented, work together logically? If there are photographs, illustrations or graphics, do they complement/reinforce the theme effectively?)
  • Describe and critique other design elements of the website.
    • Is the visual display plan effective? (e.g., Is the site too cluttered/busy? Is there too much empty space?)
    • Are the font sizes and designs appropriate (e.g., attractive, easy to read)?
    • Does the website make effective use of color and spacing?
  • What can be improved, if anything?

Score sheet

Points Criterion
15 Web Address Provided as a link
10 Rationale for site selection
20 Description of site’s key features
20 Answers to the questions about: Audience, navigation, theme/topics, etc.
20 Critique of the design elements
15 Plan for improving the site
100 TOTAL

Web Expressions – Lab 2 – Webpage Critiques

Sorry guys. I said I’d get this up yesterday but I forgot :P Here are the Instructions for Lab 2: Webpage Critiques…or if you don’t want to dowload that, here they are:

————————————————

This assignment requires you to pick 3 websites and critique them (on your blog) telling what you like/dislike; what the rules the site is breaking; what is usable/what isn’t; what it can do to improve. Obviously I’m not expecting you to jump right in without any background on what is considered good/bad design, so here are some resources:

Web Usability Studies (http://mlcnet.org/workshop/mla-events/LTD11-01-Instone/)
This is a slide show…quick to read, very helpful for this assignement!

Web Design From Scratch (http://www.webdesignfromscratch.com/basics.cfm)

  • This site is great as it details the process of design and the differences between sites that have focused on art and those that have focused on providing tools. There are a lot of sections (see the links on the right hand side of the page) that are all interesting.
  • Of particular not for this assignment:
    • “How people use web pages”
    • “Other online factors”
    • “The Design Spectrum”

Web Style Guide (http://www.webstyleguide.com/index.html?/pages/editorial_style.html)
• The whole thing is a good read, but if you don’t want to read everything, Read Chapters 2 and 4 (they are short)

Here is what you need to provide for each site you choose to critique:

  • Provide the Web Address to the site.
  • Answer these questions: Why did you select the site? What interested you about this particular site?
  • Describe features of the site, including the following:
    • Overall theme or main subject for the website
    • Types of materials presented on the website (e.g. letters, diaries, photographs, illustrations, historical summaries, literature texts)
  • Answer these questions:
    • Is the information source trustworthy? How do you know?
    • Who is the website designed for? For example, is it intended to reach the general public, medical professionals, kids, older people, etc.? How do you know?
    • Is the website well-designed to reach that group of people? Why do you think so? Give specific examples (ie., vocabulary, ease of finding information, working hyperlinks, low-tech vs. high-tech video presentation [which is important if you’re calling in on a slow modem!!], visual ‘style,’ etc.)
    • Is the website easy to navigate? Why or why not?
    • Does the site design used by the site match well with the theme/subject and topics covered? (For instance, are the main buttons set up to correspond to key topics? Do the main sections of the website, as organized and presented, work together logically? If there are photographs, illustrations or graphics, do they complement/reinforce the theme effectively?)
  • Describe and critique other design elements of the website.
    • Is the visual display plan effective? (e.g., Is the site too cluttered/busy? Is there too much empty space?)
    • Are the font sizes and designs appropriate (e.g., attractive, easy to read)?
    • Does the website make effective use of color and spacing?
  • What can be improved, if anything?

Score sheet

Points Criterion
15 Web Address Provided as a link
10 Rationale for site selection
20 Description of site’s key features
20 Answers to the questions about: Audience, navigation, theme/topics, etc.
20 Critique of the design elements
15 Plan for improving the site
100 TOTAL

Web Expressions – More Blog Info

Yup, once again we will be discussing Blogs in class. I will be handing out and article on Weblog (Blog) History and we will be going over some of the points in class.

Here’s a sweet quote from the article:

Media is a corporate possession…You cannot participate in the media. Bringing that into the foreground is the first step. The second step is to define the difference between public and audience. An audience is passive; a public is participatory. We need a definition of media that is public in its orientation.

Something else to note:

The original weblogs were link-driven sites. Each was a mixture in unique proportions of links, commentary, and personal thoughts and essays. Weblogs could only be created by people who already knew how to make a website. A weblog editor had either taught herself to code HTML for fun, or, after working all day creating commercial websites, spent several off-work hours every day surfing the web and posting to her site. These were web enthusiasts.

Also: :)

By highlighting articles that may easily be passed over by the typical web user too busy to do more than scan corporate news sites, by searching out articles from lesser-known sources, and by providing additional facts, alternative views, and thoughtful commentary, weblog editors participate in the dissemination and interpretation of the news that is fed to us every day. Their sarcasm and fearless commentary reminds us to question the vested interests of our sources of information and the expertise of individual reporters as they file news stories about subjects they may not fully understand.

And:

The blogger, by virtue of simply writing down whatever is on his mind, will be confronted with his own thoughts and opinions. Blogging every day, he will become a more confident writer. A community of 100 or 20 or 3 people may spring up around the public record of his thoughts. Being met with friendly voices, he may gain more confidence in his view of the world; he may begin to experiment with longer forms of writing, to play with haiku, or to begin a creative project–one that he would have dismissed as being inconsequential or doubted he could complete only a few months before.

Another article that I would urge you to read (or simply skim) is: Educational Blogging

The quote I like from this is:

“The blogs give us a chance to communicate between us and motivate us to write more. When we publish on our blog, people from the entire world can respond by using the comments link. This way, they can ask questions or simply tell us what they like. We can then know if people like what we write and this indicate[s to] us what to do better. By reading these comments, we can know our weaknesses and our talents. Blogging is an opportunity to exchange our point of view with the rest of the world not just people in our immediate environment.”

And:

Many writers assert that blogs came into their own only after the events of September 11, 2001. As Charles Cooper writes, “If you were scouring the Internet for news and context during those first terrible hours, you could have done a lot worse than eavesdropping on the free-wheeling mini-universe of Web logs chockablock with first-hand info and spirited commentary about what was going on. . . . For my money, some of the best stuff was being served up in this most unlikely venue.”

And also:

Whether you’re a warblogger who works by day as a professional journalist or you’re a teenage high school student worried about your final exams, you do the same thing: you use your blog to link to your friends and rivals and comment on what they’re doing. Blog posts are short, informal, sometimes controversial, and sometimes deeply personal, no matter what topic they approach.

So what are blogs?
I want you to answer this more in depth on your blogs before next class. We’ll be looking them over on Monday. Dig deep. Don’t just tell me “its a place to post stuff on the web.” Put some thought and feeling into your answer. What are blogs? What do you think they mean to you? To other people? How are they changing the media? What kind of impact are they having on everyday life? That kind of thing.

So…assignments for the weekend:

  • Prepare for Monday’s Quiz!
  • Do the blog entry I mentioned above.
  • Start thinking about what you will be posting throughout the week.
  • Next week we will be talking about e-mail, mailing lists, search engines, encryption, online shopping, phishing, netiquette, spyware, cookies, etc. Head on over to http://www.learnthenet.com/english/animate/animate.htm and read bullets 1-9.

Web Expressions – Creativity

Creativity In an assignment I gave on the first day of the Web Expressions class that I’m teaching, I assigned the reading of an essay then asked everyone to answer these questions:

  1. When are you the most creative?
  2. What are the necessary conditions for creativity?

I received an e-mail from someone asking me to clarify what I was asking you to do. Here’s my reply: (I made some edits so the e-mail looks prettier on my blog)

This assignment is pretty free-form…and should be answered however you can think to answer it. This class is a combination of web-centered topics AND creativity…which is what makes it so cool. (in my opinion) The article I had you read delves into a creative process and explains how it isn’t always as easy as one might think at first glance. It takes practice. As the article states, art is a mixture of ideas, logic, order, harmony, drawing, line, form, passion, romantic ideas, feelings, and masses of color.

With the questions I’m asking, I’m not assuming that everyone is an artist, but people can be creative. Art and creativity spans from painting to doodling, from music to planning an activity with friends, etc. The two questions that have been asked aren’t necessarily separate questions and can be answered as one. I want you to think outside the box. There is no right answer, so think deeply :)

So:

When are you most creative? What are the necessary conditions for creativity? (i.e. what environment do you like to be in? What mood? What time of day? What events need to happen? Can you only be creative while wearing a bear suit and standing on one foot? That type of stuff)

If you haven’t been introduced to the wonderful power of Wikipedia, now’s your chance. Check out Wikipedia’s entry on Creativity. Its got some decent info that you may find interesting and helpful in answering your questions (if you have reached a stumbling block).

You may be wondering…”Why are we even discussing creativity?”
Well, thats a good question. If you see this prior to class, give it some thought. I’ll be asking you to answer this on Friday. (a.k.a. class participation)

If you have anything to add to this blog entry or would like to spur a discussion, by all means use the comment feature on this blog. (a.k.a. class participation)

To make comments: There is a link on the top line beneath the title of this article that says “Comments.” Click that then scroll to the bottom of the page where you will see a place to enter your name, e-mail, website, and your comment.

UPDATE:
Oh, and here is the agenda for tomorrow’s class:

  • Creativity Discussion
  • Creativity Activity
  • More on Blogs
  • Moron Blogs