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 Cancelled

Folks, as I’m sure you are well aware, myPlymouth has been acting extremely sluggish the past few days. A few of my co-workers and I have been tasked with finding a resolution and have been instructed to research and fix the problem. As such, I will be unable to attend a lab today…we will do the movie lab on our return from Thanksgiving.

Now, since you will have 2 weeks to prepare for that lab, I think I might add a little bit more to it :)

Here’s what I want you to do for the next two (lab-wise):

  • Think of a topic for a video. Remember the types of video we discussed in class?
    • Explanation
    • Entertainment
    • Tell a Story
    • Personalization
  • Find the resources you want to use for your video and save them to your M:Drive. For this video you will need to incorporate a title screen (or intro), your actual movie (perhaps cutting to text descriptions wherever), credits, music and/or voice-over.
  • Here are some resources:
  • After you have decided on your topic, post that topic on your blog…along with some ideas on what will happen in your video (from music that will be playing in the background, to scrolling text, to actual video footage)

Web Expressions – Sound Lab

You will be messing with Sound for this lab! w00t! As I mentioned before, we will be using WavePad to edit sound. The program is pretty cool, and best of all, its Free! In this lab you will learn some basic concepts about audio as well as get a chance to play around with some sounds to see how it works first hand.

Here’s the prep work:

  1. Open WavePad (You can find it by clicking Start > All Programs > Classes > Web Expressions > WavePad)
  2. Click the Help > Help Contents menu.
  3. Click on General Audio Concepts (Samples, Channels etc..)
  4. Read it. This is key to understanding what we are doing in this lab

Here’s the Audio Editing Exercise:
Use WavePad to edit an audio clip.

  1. Find and download a sound file. Get one from The Daily Wav (save it to your M:Drive in your Home directory)
  2. Open the sound file in WavePad
  3. You should now see a wave pattern in WavePad. Click play (at the bottom of WavePad) to play the sound file.
  4. Now its time to fiddle with effects! Click the Effects menu in WavePad and check out what you can do. Play around with it. As you add effects to the sound file, keep track of what effect your used and what the settings were in that effect. (you will be blogging this)
    • When adding effects, highlight different parts of the wave (by clicking and dragging on the wave) and then adding the effect. This will allow you to add different effects to different parts of the sound file
  5. For this assignment, you need to add at least 5 effects to the sound file! (one of which must be a Simple Speed and Pitch Change)
  6. Once you have the effects that you like on the sound file, save the file 3 times as a .wav format using different qualities.
    1. Save the first version as CD quality (44,100/16bit)
    2. Save the second version as Radio quality (22,050/8bit)
    3. Save the third version as Telephone quality (11,025/8bit)
  7. Now open the 3 audio files that you created and listen to the difference in quality. Also, look at the size of the files and note the relations of file size to sound quality.
  8. Blog your sounds. Use http://oz.plymouth.edu/~your_username/folder/file.wave Your blog should have:
    • a link to the original sound file
    • A list of the effects you applied to the sound file
    • a link to the CD quality sound file
    • a link to the Radio quality sound file
    • a link to the Telephone quality sound file
    • Write a brief summary of the relation between sound quality and filesize
  9. Repeat steps 1 through 8 with a different sound file

If you have an urge to add sound to your website, refer to this tutorial.

(Lab compliments of Dee Brown)

Web Expressions Lab

As we are doing more and more peer reviews in class, I see a need for your webpages get further along. I have decided that rather than working with sound this week, we will postpone it until next week (which will give us time to finish our slides). Use today’s lab to work on your sites some more. I will not be in lab, but send all questions you have to me via e-mail and/or prepare them for Friday’s class. Here are the goals for your sites for todays lab:

  1. Make sure your page loads when you click on the links I have provided in ‘Student Blogs and Sites
  2. Have all your pages that you plan to have on your website created. Put content on those pages (even if you don’t have all the content yet)
  3. Link all of your pages together.
  4. Make adjustments to your site based on the peer review we have done in class.
  5. Update your Artist’s Note.

Web Expressions – Lab 3 – Website Planning

I was out sick yesterday and am still feeling ill so instead of a lab, I have an assignment for you :)

You will be doing a website for your final project. It can be on any subject that interests you or a made-up subject. Here is the criteria you will need to meet:

Criteria
———————————–
As web presences are becoming more and more important to the success of a business, you will need to create a website for yours.
Your website must contain:

  • At least four pages (including your homepage)
  • A central theme that is professional
  • A homepage that describes your services
  • A navigation bar on all pages of your site
  • Product information
  • Links to other sites with similar products

Here is the grading details for the website you’ll be doing this semester:

Points Subject
20 Website Structure
  Site is easy to navigate and is reasonably accessible
  Site meets objectives specified in artist’s note.
  Effectively exhibits various type of media
20 Content
  Scale of work (is it a significant effort)
  Success in achieving objectives
  Initiative and Originality
10 Takes risks by exploring new means of creative expression
10 Shows sophisticated use of technology by applying new techniques
20 Response to Peer-Review
  Effort to address peer-review
  Participation in the peer-review process (as reviewer and/or reviewee)
20 Effective use of tools and file formats
  Appropriate file formats used
  Effective use of file compression
100 TOTAL

For this lab, think about what you want your website for the semester to be about and make a blog post about what that subject is and why you chose it. This blog post will be due by next week.