Project Report

Due to the nature of this project I feel that I am unable make my website live due to the video content and copyright restrictions placed upon these files. I have gained these video clips for the project in an unorthodox manner, as I do not have access to royalty-free video footage, which seemed to be the only option available to me. 

The finished prototype was not as I intended and because of this, I feel it could have been greatly improved. My intention was to create an embedded video player to my specifications that would coordinate seamlessly with the website design and not simply use a standard media player. I had intended to use SMIL formatting to achieve this, yet after much testing, trials and advice from my tutor I was unable to get the code to work in the preview mode of Dreamweaver.

User Testing and Accessibility

Once I had completed the website, I carried out a usability survey of eight people to discover how others found using the site. The majority of people liked the concept of the site, especially as half of the people asked live in a non-cable area and are only able to get Video on Demand (VoD) services online. Two people were uncertain of the design and found it “a bit bleak”, yet all liked the simplistic style. To rectify this, the design could easily be altered to have an all white background with brightly coloured links and navigation bars, providing a lighter and fun style.

QuickTime media player proved a popular choice with the test users, who all had the QuickTime application on their computers. However, it may have been better to use Flash media player, which is a universal application without operating system conflictions, but I personally prefer QuickTime.

Instead of forcing people into downloading a download manager onto their computers I would have liked to use something similar to the system that webassist.com uses. This is an integrated download manager on their website that can only be accessed through creating an account and receiving an email to the designated email account which redirects the user to the download manager page. This would be a simplistic method that could reduce piracy. Yet it would not group together files once the download process had completed and could create an unorganised download folder.

I was unable to test the website fully as I have only produced a prototype of the main areas of the website and was also unable to fully design some areas, such as the checkout and the community forum. However, these are common aspects found in many websites, six of the users were already familiar with the eBay/PayPal checkout service, and four had previously used forums.

Developing Employable Skills

Before starting this project, I had a very basic knowledge of using CSS in Dreamweaver and a bare minimum of embedding video content, partly due to new media not being my specialism. I have greatly developed my skills at using CSS by using tutorials and how-to guides to gain a better comprehension of how the process works. This includes using CSS to alter bullet points, a fluid layout, adeptly changing fonts and colours and learning the correct terminology. Something I am glad to have discovered is how to make a fully CSS navigational bar that has the look more professional look of tabs, as I have never been taught how to use Flash to produce an animated navigation bar. However, there are free flash navigation bar generators online that I could utilise to surmount this problem.

I have attempted to learn SMIL, something I had not heard of before this module, but I was not wholly successful. It appears to be an underdeveloped area of web design as there was little help or tutorials to be found online. If I were able to speak to an expert in SMIL to understand how to overcome the problems I encountered, I feel I would be able to competently use SMIL in the future.

Further Development Ideas

With time and money invested into this project I feel TV Heaven could become a valid website. As this assignment was to create a prototype, I saw little need in completing a full A-Z database of TV shows available to watch, as well as each programmes details. This would be a large undertaking and would most likely require a team of developers and researchers to complete the content.

It would also require negotiations with various production companies to gain copyright access to the programmes. This may prove costly and some production companies may not wish to be involved in the project resulting in an incomplete database of television programmes.

By hiring web professionals’ areas like the forum, creating a user account and a checkout system could be added. I was unable to do this, as through researching forums, it seemed knowledge of PHP was needed and checkouts required creating user accounts with bank details, which I felt disinclined to do for this assignment. In addition, greater anti-piracy methods could be developed to maintain a good relationship between the website and the television production companies. 

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