Archive for December, 2007

Proposal – Revised

To start thinking about a new project I thought about the near future, and what skills I could develop to help with the work I would be doing in the coming months – Most importantly, my third year project which will be taking shape over the next semester. I also re-visited the assignment brief to check what would be an acceptable project.

My new project therefore will be to develop and advance my CSS skills as this is an essential, and to some, quite a basic part of good web design, yet still remains an area that I personally feel I could improve on. 

New Project Outline

To briefly outline my project, I am creating 2/3 separate HTML pages which will all display the same content (this will be content about myself, in a portfolio/CV style) yet will all look different as a result of CSS. Furthermore I shall use a short piece of PHP Code with these pages that will allow a user to click on a link to display the content in the alternative styles without having to load up a separate window.

This is similar to http://www.csszengarden.com/ but instead will be used to present not only my personal CSS skills, but also myself as a web-designer on the whole. Through using CSS to design different ways to present my website I can consequently represent my own personality and individuality in a number of ways.  

Target Users

Although for such a project I won’t have a specific target user, I would hope that by presenting myself and my work in such a way that I would especially attract the attention of employers and potential clients.

Benefits of CSS Presentation

To help with my project I brought the Mike McGrath ‘CSS in easy steps’ book, which has become a handy and useful reference that covers all areas of CSS. For instance in the book the advantages of CSS are initially pointed out, and I have decided to include them within this brief proposal to further support my project’s viability.

‘Advantages of CSS Presentation:

  • Greater styling possibilities than HTML – allowing you to specify text colour, create surrounding borders etc.
  • Easier to use than HTML – allowing you to set or modify the appearance of elements with just one rule.
  • Wider flexibility than HTML – allowing you to create a set of rules in a single centralized style sheet that can be deployed across multiple web pages to provide a consistent website feel.
  • Smarter than HTML – allowing you to easily provide special styles that intelligently override general style presentation.
  • More control than HTML – allowing you to control the appearance of certain parts of the interface, such as the cursor.
  • Better practicality than HTML – allowing you to produce web pages of smaller file sizes, which download faster.
  • Ready for the future – XML may replace HTML as the language of the web, and CSS can readily style XML elements.’  (McGrath, 2005)

My Reasons for a revised project…

After spending several weeks outlining plans for a unique assignment 2 project, the actual start of production became problematic. To develop a Facebook application with PHP, it was required that my computer had PHP installed along side a running server (Apache) – The process of setting these up is where the problems began!

My personal laptop runs with Windows Vista, which as a relatively new system (as I have now found out) is difficult to work with, in the sense that there is little information to assist with the installation process of Apache and PHP compared with older versions of Windows, such as Windows XP. So when it became apparent to me that Apache was not running properly on my system, and which consequently halted my installation of PHP, it became difficult to locate a resolution for this problem.

As the weeks were passing by, and many attempts were made to have everything up and running correctly (even for example trying the idea of using an emulator for an older version of windows) I realised for this project, I was simply not going to have enough time now to make a sufficient attempt at developing such a project. However I still feel the project has a lot of potential, and is one that I shall look to take on in the future when time is not so short, and when there is perhaps more in formation about Windows Vista and PHP together, available.

When reflecting on all of the pre-production work in which I carried out for this project, it would seem silly not to proceed with the idea at a later and more appropriate time; as much of this outlines great benefits from developing such work.

So at the start of December I was faced with the problem of creating a new project for myself, and one that I could complete within the short time I had remaining…approximately 6 weeks.

I have briefly outlined this new project in the blog entitled ‘Proposal – Revised.’ 

Conclusion/ Summary

I am coming to the end of my project. I have carried out user testing on a  variety of representative users and asked them to do the representative tasks- move the cube around and move the picture on the face of the cube around. I realised that my instructions on how to use the cube were not detailed enough. I changed this minor fault and then tested it again and people had no trouble operating it.I have taken into consideration screen resolution, colour and fonts. It is not designed for the internet, so browsers etc are not an issue. Once I had changed the instructions learnability, efficiency, memorability and usability were all brilliant- I have designed it to be very simple and easy to use and it is. Very few errors were made and people were satisfied with the way it looked and worked.

The project demonstrates my ability to use Flash even though I am a photographer, and this is designed to be used on my Photography freelance business card CD. Not only does it show off my images, but it also shows that I am innovative and think ‘outside the box’ by finding a different way to present my images unlike many other photographers. It also demonstrates that I am able to work software that is not considered part of the ‘Photographer’s toolbox’. This is appealing to a full-time employer who needs a photographer, but who may want these skills now and agian- it would save him from hiring  a freelancer to do tasks like this.

Further ideas for development-

I did originally plan to have audio to talk about each picture but did not have enough time- this would be the first aspect I would develop. I could also deveop the cube into a ‘rubic’ cube game, where instead flat colour there is a picture on each side.

I have enjoyed this project and most problems I have overcome without too much hastle using some of the techniques mentioned throughout my posts.

I think this cube will be very useful to have on my CD business cards and improve my CV a great deal.

Targets

Targets to reach (my gantt chart summarised)

By week 8-

Research other sources and ways to do what I want to do in flash. Start to research the code I need to do what I want to do.

By week 9-

Continue to research code, find lots of different ways that people construct code to do the tasks I need. Use ideas from all these and start to write my own code which does what I want the best possible way.

Create the button that will be used as a joystick to move the image (with my personal logo on it). There must be two versions, so I can create a rollover.

By week 10-

Start writing my code in flash and making the project come to life.

(Be sure to make notes on my code so that it can be seen that I understand what I am doing)

By week 11-

Work extremely hard to get the project completed.

By week 12-

Product testing. Make sure it is easy to use and bug free. Do people think the images are suitable? Test on photographers (potential employers) as well as people who are in the target market as potential clients- these are the people that will be using my ‘cube portfolio’ when it is produced.

If there are any problems, fix them.

Write my project up and hand it in

(I will need to hand in my project early as I will be out of the country doing my production project when the assignment is due in)