Monday, December 2, 2013

Website Ideas


Site Objectives:

I would love to have my website be a complete guide to who I am (as a student and potential employee) for employers to look at when considering me for internships, and, in a year, jobs. As a Communications Studies Major, there are many fields that I could potentially go in to. Currently, I am not entirely sure what I would like to do but I have interests in marketing, public relations, college admissions, and speech-writing. Based on my interests and the fact that I'm currently looking for a sum mer internship, I am hoping that my audience is potential employers. They need to see my qualifications  and why I am a good candidate for the job. This means that my resume, possibly a cover letter, contact information, and portfolio need to be easily found and accessible.
One possible scenario includes potential employers looking at my credentials to see if they want to hire me. I will include my resume and portfolio and keep a professional tone throughout my website.


Some content and features the I will include: social media widgets (LinkedIn), a contact form and information (email), my resume, portfolio (a few papers, links to my slideshow, video), valuable experience (study abroad trips), and possibly a photo gallery of my experiences.

Design inspirations:

This website has a very interactive home page, is colorful and fun but clearly well put together.

This website is also pretty interactive, but also includes the tabs for navigation as you scroll down. I like that it always allows you to find where you are.

I also like this website because it is simple and pretty and easy to navigate.

Although this is a single page website, I like the (city) landscape background and having the navigation screen overlay it. (In case you couldn't tell from my blog).

On this site, I like that the widgets and navigation tabs are so easily accessible, but not the main focus, and being at the bottom of the screen is somewhat unique.

Bonus! I love that this site is simple and uses pictures as control tabs. It's also interactive and friendly, but still professional.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Redish, "Letting Go of the Words"

Know Your Audience

When speaking, it is important to know who you are speaking to; it's the same case online. However, in addition to altering your wording and phrases, you need to change your look as well. Web users vary in how they want the information displayed, how well they can navigate, and how they view the online world. Once you figure out your demographic and survey your audience, you can create a persona, something that Redish describes as "an individual with a name, a picture, and specific demographic and other characteristics."

This fictional representation of reality allows creators to target their designs to best fit their audience and consequently raise page traffic. Redish discusses how these personas become a part of the web teams, and are referred to throughout the process. The teams go as far as to purchase mouse pads and place mats with the personas pictures on them to constantly remind the designers who they're catering to. To me, that seems a little creepy, but I can see how it would be effective in adequately designing the site.

From the personas, designers need to create scenarios that are applicable to the personas. These vary greatly, and each one needs to be addressed. They can help you understand all types of web users, and your entire website needs to cater to all of the scenarios and your entire audience. Have you ever been on a site that you felt was clearly targeted towards a demographic different from your own?

When it comes to presenting your website to the appropriate audience, you must also consider that most people make judgments immediately, and thus your home page must set the tone. If it is aesthetically pleasing while also being simple enough to understand (depending on your scenarios). What is the first thing that you notice when you visit a site? Are you more likely to continue using it if it is visually appealing and difficult to follow, or vice versa?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Garrett, "The Elements of User Experience"

You had a bad day, you're taking one down

I would first like to formally thank Garrett for acknowledging that every once in a while we have a day that just goes terribly wrong.

Unfortunately, on a day like that, I don't think that all of the pieces that broke down could necessarily prevent a similar day from ever happening again. Do you believe that with technology in particular, the user experience will ever be perfect or will there always be an issue for someone?

User Experience Online

Although I often joke that I am technologically challenged, in reality I can maneuver around the Internet fairly well. However, it is one of my biggest pet peeves when I can't find what I'm looking for on a website, or when the site continually leads me to the same (unhelpful) page. So, when Garrett started talking about usability of websites and how we tend to blame ourselves, I immediately thought of my internship search.

Like I just mentioned, I am generally pretty Web-friendly and can usually find the information that I want. Unfortunately, there is one search where I always struggle to find applicable information; the search for a summer internship.

Trying to find an internship for the upcoming summer is like jumping into a rabbit hole. Respectable companies that you would expect to have clear information about their internships often have links labeled for "internships" but are really entry level jobs. Or, the page for internships claim they have positions available, but other little other relevant information, leaving the user with about a thousand questions.

This search is one I have been on for a few months now, and something that I have done several times before. And in agreement with what Garrett mentioned about self-blame, I used to think that I was missing information or accidentally overlooking links. However, again in sync with Garrett, I have come to believe that it is the fault of the website most of the time. Maybe this is because I refuse to admit how horrible I am at this particular search, or maybe it is true. 
Is there any particular research that you do periodically where you struggle to find what you're looking for?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Carroll, Chapter 6 "Getting It Right"

Editing is Everything

When people joke that they didn't proofread their paper, I may laugh but I know that if they're anything like me, it's going to affect their grade. I am pretty meticulous when writing my first drafts, but since I am usually exhausted when I finish my papers I know that there are multiple mistakes hidden in there. The same goes for online writing, but times ten. Academic papers and newspaper columns are generally the same format and rarely have unique design details. However, everything online is about capturing the viewers eye with design, and thus it must be edited.

In terms of visual appearance, it must be clean and appealing in order to attract and keep viewers. When it comes to factual and grammatical accuracy, that may be even more important. Gaining credibility online is difficult enough, but having small mistakes almost instantly repeals this authority, almost permanently. Have you even encountered a grammatical mistake online? Did it completely discredit the source or were you more empathetic?


When I was in 5th grade, my teacher always used acronyms to help us remember things. One that I remember well was KISS-Keep It Simple Stupid. The meaning of this is obvious, and usually she was referring to math and writing, but Carroll advocates keeping multimedia presentations simple. Considering how short our attention span is becoming, this is completely accurate, especially when it comes to videos. Unless it is the most intriguing thing I've ever watched, videos that are more than 3 minutes can sometimes feel like a chore to watch, even if I'm only watching it as a distraction.

However, when I am watching TV, I can watch for hours (sadly not an exaggeration) without feeling bored. But videos online that last 1/10th the time of a regular TV episode, I fidget and wonder if I should end it early or tough it out so I don't feel like a quitter. Am I the only one who struggles to watch 3 minute videos online but loves half hour or full hour TV shows?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Douglass & Harnden, "Point of View"

Douglass and Harnden discuss the differences between first and third person storytelling in film. On point they make is that third person is generally seen as more credible by the audience than first. In academic papers, I was taught (over and over again) in high school to never use first person in our papers. Any use of I, me, mine, etc. called for an immediate 10 point deduction. At first I found this difficult and didn't understand why it mattered. However, I quickly realized that my opinion on such large issues rarely constituted anything in scholarly works--at least when I used first person. Despite what tense you use on paper, it is your opinion whether or not you clearly state that, and only your credibility is questioned.

The issue of first person credibility also appears in film, but the idea of opinions in storytelling does not. In movies, if you are treated as an outside viewer (third person), then  you trust what's happening but feel removed from the decisions of the characters. In first person, audiences still feel like they have no control (and they don't).

However, first person point of view is very popular in horror films, especially as the predator. Seeing the victim from the predator's eyes helps build suspense, while also letting the viewer know that something is about to happen. Although, there are some shows that I've watched where the camera angle is from that of the attacker, but something happens to thwart their attempt and the camera goes back to third person point of view while the attacker retreats, but is never shown. This tactic builds suspense in both the present, but also the future since you know the attacker will be back to finish the job at a later point.

What do you find to be the most effective point of view for cameras in movies? Do you like first person camera angles, or does it frustrate you since you have no control over the characters actions?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Osgood & Hinshaw, "The Aesthetics of Editing"

More than You Could Imagine

It's interesting that our reading today discusses editing and starts with a quote that attempts to describe the challenge of proper editing. The reading also shares how the crude videotape editing in the 1960s required editors to get creative with how they manipulated footage; one in particular was for the show Laugh-In, in which the editors had to splice tape using a razor blade under a microscope. This made me think of a Buzzfeed post (embarrassing, but what's new?) I was reading yesterday about how incredibly complicated it was to create the stop-motion picture film, Nightmare Before Christmas

This one piece took 24 frames!
For me, before I started editing my video, the craziest fact was that one minute of the movie required an entire week of filming. That is so much time and work for a minute that probably feels like a few seconds to the viewer. However, once I truly understood what a frame was and how difficult it is to edit, the most astonishing fact was that each second of the movie had 24 frames, resulting in 110,000 frames for the whole film. Just the idea of that is beyond daunting, and I can only imagine the patience and incredible skill needed to create such a coherent movie from such a monstrous editing process. If this movie were to be made with today's technology, do you think the editing would be just as tedious?

Time Constraints

Television programs and commercials have designated time slots, leaving the film and content to become very manipulated by the editors. Since I have enough trouble trying to make page requirements on my papers, I completely understand the struggle of time constraints in video editing. I haven't filmed enough scenes for my video project for me to start worrying about meeting the time requirements just yet, but I'm sure that I will struggle deciding which frames to cut or keep. In fact, when I was working on my slideshow, I photographed and edited many more pictures than necessary and faced serious internal conflict when deciding which pictures wouldn't make it to my slideshow. It's even more difficult for TV shows with consecutive story lines to show scenes and how they relate in less than 27 minutes. For commercials, it's 30 seconds that they have to tell a story in, which can be very challenging. Do you think you could create a meaningful story in that amount of time?