Monday, July 13, 2009

Last week of class

Well, here we are at the last class. I did exactly what I said I would probably wind up doing in my last blog. Right after posting that blog, I completely changed the whole theme of my web site project. I went with a work theme. We make copper wire & cable, so I decided to put together a small information web site. It seemed to have a little more flow to it than the family theme (and like I said, I hate talking about myself). I had the new layout all together for last weeks class, and went completely insane trying to get it together in class. During the week, I tried to mimic it in Webnode (you can check it out at Once you have used both the Frontpage program and Webnodes design templates, you can see that each one has its limitations, and they each have something that the other is lacking. Although FP doesn't have a tone of templates, it does allow you to cusomize them a little by allowing you to make color changes within the cells, change the border colors, and cell spacings. In Webnode, I was not really able to find a way to alter the templates color, but you are able to add "cells" which are just text or picture boxes. I had to make the sites a little differently because of this. I even tried to hack the html code, but it seems it is "view only"(no touchy).
What Webnode lacks in its versatility, it makes up for in ease of use. It is almost as simple as drag & drop to add pictures, and the application manages them very nicely for you. One of the agrivating things about FP is when I drop something in a cell, and that cell changes dimensions. Fight with this for 15 minutes and you will have to just get up and walk away for a mental health break. In Webnode, the "cells" stay the same size. This can be good or bad. It is good because you know how big the cell is going to be. It sucks because you have to make your pictures conform to the dimensions of the cell.
The thing I hate, that both programs do, is when you have everything laid out just the way you want it, and you go to preview it, and see that things do not line up on the web the same way they do in the design view. That is truly enough to drive you over the edge, because you have to try to make a change, toggle to the preview, toggle back to design view to try something else, toggle back to design view to see if that worked, etc, etc, etc...
I feel with more experience in html editing, a program like FP, that allows you to edit the html, will prove more useful than an application like Webnode. Webnode is a good start for somebody that has little-to-no experience in web site designing, but allows them to produce a product that they can be proud of.
Even though we have only touched on the basics of html editing, it is clear that with some knowledge and practice, you can take full design control of any web site that you attempt to create. If you know what you are doing (html editing), and you how to set up the site (do's & don'ts of web site layouts), you can create some pretty amazing sites limited only by your abilities & creative imagination.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Week 5

Well, this is it. Preperation for our big project; creating our own web site. I have been trying to come up with a layout in my mind. Actually, I have come up with a rough draft, but I keep thinking that maybe I will do it a little differently. My topic is going to be my family. Two other subjects that I had tossed around was a work website (but we already have a web site), and a web site for a church (one of my bosses if a pasture in a small church, but he has recently started a site for his church). I guess the home page will touch on my family. This is probably the hardest part since it entails writing about myself (one of my least favorite topics to talk, or write about). The other three pages of my site will be about my wife, my son, and my daughter (three people, three pages. At least that works out well). Each page will have a photo(s) and will talk about that particular member of my family. I have been taking pictures and trying to decide which ones to use on my site. Taking pictures is something that I never really got into. I have a pretty good concept of what I want my webpage to look like and how it will be laid out, but I haven't come up with a name yet. The hardest part is waiting until class to see if I can make it work or not and what it will look like, because I don't have Frontpage on my PC. I think that this is one of the drawbacks for this class, that we are working on software that we cannot even get a trial version of. At least by planning it out ahead of time, I can spend most of my time trying to make the creation match the concept, and not have to waste time on trying to design and create at the same time. The best I can do is try to have my concept, photos and everything else in order, and hope that I can make it work when I am in class. Or, who knows, I may scrub the whole idea and go a different direction (I have been known to make drastic last minute changes).

Monday, June 29, 2009

Week 4

Well, it's more reading about web sites. First off, the book covered how easy it is to start a web page (body text, background color, graphics and hyperlinks, & tables); all stuff we pretty much covered in last weeks class. It also covered planning your site (the site layout as well as the folder layout and the importance of naming your files), just reaffirming more things we covered in class. It all seems so easy that anyone can make a web site, but the web articles warn that there is more to consider if you want your site to get noticed on the web. In addition to design basics (some more are covered in the web articles), they also touch on the use of tags to make your site more accessible to search engines. With all the web building tools availible (the one article is all but a add for Site Build It), anybody can build their own web site with almost no experience. The problem is, if you want the site to get noticed by people outside your circle of friends, you are probably going to have to do a little research and planning. If it is a site to promote a business, you may be better off hiring someone who knows the ins & outs of web page design and the little tricks of the trade. If your budget doesn't allow for a professional programmer, study the basics and prepare to spend some time planning and building your site so that it gets noticed (for all the right reasons).

Monday, June 22, 2009

week 3 amendment

Shame on me. I forgot to post the addresses of the web sites that I evaluated in my previous post.. They are

Week 3

Wow. Lots of reading and homework this week. The reading was kind of teadious, but it was also kind of fun to play around with HTML. Granted, we are just learning the basics, but it is neat to be able to create a web page from scratch. You have to be careful though, HTML language is very precise. One mistyped and letter, and you could be looking at your page and go "what the heck just happened!". A lot of the text book reading that we had to do this week, had to do with how to initually plan out and set up your web site. The main points for the web site is to make sure that your home page is laid out properly and to plan out the navigation between your pages. Your home page is the first thing surfers will see when they enter your site, so you want them to feel welcome (not overwhelmed or confused. This kind of expands on the CRAP that we learned about in week 1 when dealing with ads), and the navigation around your site has to be easy for everyone (graphic buttons are cool, but alt labels & text links are good to have for those that can't see the really cool buttons that designed to impress them. The majority of our web reading had to do with evaluation of a site, which is trying to discern who the author of the site is (what is the URL, who is the author and is he/she credible?), the relavancy of this site (is this a biased or factual site), and can the information contained on this site be backed up (other works or web sites sited as corraborating sources)? For my assignment of two web sites to evaluate, I just turned to our web based reading and pulled two of the sites from the "Writing1:Evaluating Websites" homework assignments.
The first site I chose was the presidents website 1. The first thing I notice is that this is a site about the White House, and the .gov extension on the URL would suggest that this is the official government site of the White House (boy am I glad it wasn't, that could have been embarrasing:). It would seem that the purpose of this web site is to keep the viewer up to date on current affairs. With daily blogs, and almost daily updates on the progress of legislations, as well as press releases, briefings, history and info on other branches of government. All these (and more) are accessible through labels at the top of the page, and also through text links at the bottom of the page. When you go to the "contact us" page, they provide you with an email link, phone numbers, additional info/contact sites (Facebook, My Space, Twitter, etc), and the most famous address in the United States. I really like the way this site is laid out, because the page designes really show a uniform theme throught this site, and on almost every page there is a list on the right hand side of some of the most important information, such as news on the budget, the spending for recovery, and sites to visit for additional info (no searching for hours to try to find this stuff, inquiring minds want to know, now).
The second site I chose was the MLK website 1. This is a site about Martin Luther King Jr. The first thing I noticed about this site is that the URL ends with .org. This tells me simply that this is a site that is presented by some type of organization. Immediatly upon reading, you understand that this site is not to honor the man that it is named after; it is designed to discredit him and what he preached for. The site does site many quotes to support their claims and backs them up with source info, but you can definitly feel a very biased vibe here. I beleive the name of the group that is sponsoring this site is called Stormfront (a white supremesist group). The site is not too flashy, and there are some elements of organization in it, but some of the things that throw me off are the different colored hypertext links contained on the home page (some are blue, some are orange and some are white). The plain grey back round is another thing that kind of makes this site look "cheap". Another thing about the background is that it is on every page of the site (at least they are consistantly cheap) except one (oops! The historical writing page has a white background). They do keep their list of graphic buttons on the right side of the screen , except for in the Historical writing page (double oops!), but they do not have alternative links to these pages should we not be able to display the buttons. I would give this site a C, it is not entirely horrible (except for the subject matter).
Well that was my asignment for the week. Hope your eyes arn't bleeding from all the reading, but like I said, there was a lot to go over this week.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Week 2, even more to consider than in week 1

Another week of reading, and it seems to be drilling the same concept into our heads(in the book and on the web sites); it doesn't matter how much you are capable of doing, if you are going to be sharing it with others on the web, "dumb it down" so that everybody can enjoy it. The thing that gets me is that it seems that most professional web sites ignore this rule. Almost every time you go to one of these sites, you need to download the latest & greatest software in order to view it (and that is assuming you have a computer that is capable of handling it). OK, sorry for the ramble, but the bottom line is that although we like to buy the latest & greatest in techno equipment, and we have the ability to display phenominal images and make web pages that would make others cry with envey, not everyone has the hardware or software to appriciate what we have created. It seems that most of these "dumb it down" techniques not only apply to allowing others to optimally view you work, but it also has the advantage of reducing your file sizes (which makes it quicker & easier for others to view, as well as taking up less space on your host server. Something those proffesional don't have to worry about). Some of the techniques that we learned about involve limiting your color palette (no need to have all the excess colors that you are not using taking up space in your file), lower the resolution (the higher the resolution, the bigger the picture and the more space it will take up on lower resolution monitors. A low or even moderate reduction in resolution will save big in file size), Compression (saving the image in a compressed format, such as .jpeg or .gif, will help reduce file size and speed opening), reduce the ppi (monitors only display at 72 to 96 ppi so there is no need for anything higher if it is just going to be displayed on the monitor. This will also help in reducing file size, opening quicker and keeping others from printing your images with clarity. Proffesor M has already drilled this into our heads.), and leaving your images aliased (by not smoothing the edges, also known as anti-aliasing, you will not add more to your file size). Our last chapter this week dealt mostly with typography, and it pretty much follows the same principles as images. You have to take into account that everyones browser may not have certain fonts, so you have to type with reading & legibility in various different browsers in mind.

Monday, June 8, 2009

How confusing it can be

Well, it's been a hectic week, but I finally got my assignments done. I guess I never really gave it much thought, but there is a lot more that goes into graphic design than I thought. Most of my work is centered around business and work applications, and my web experience only consists of searching & surfing, but it seems that there are actual "rules" that you follow when bringing all these graphic layouts together for viewing. Contrast, Repetition, Alignment & Proximity all play key roles in creating a layout that will either capture someones attention or have them just pass it by. This is your first (and possibly only) chance to get someones attention and make an impression on them. And it gets even more complicated when you take into consideration your medium. The rules for designing on the web differ from designing a job that goes to print. When designing for the web, you have other browsers and other monitor resolutions to contend with, as well as having to take into consideration if the images are going to be printed (picture resolution & color are key here). All-in-all there is a lot that goes into the planning of any design layout, whether it is going to be printed or displayed on the web.