Archive for November, 2008

Project Stages and and Testing Plan

In order to get a better idea of the scale of my project and what it would involve time-wise I have started to break it down into separate stages. In no particular order here are some of the steps involved in the creation of the Flash portion app portion of my project.

  • Work out layout from mock-up.
  • In Flash create layout or various sections and frames etc.
  • Work on navigation between different content sections.
  • Create buttons, apply rollovers.
  • Create introduction + transition animations.
  • Work out and create borders for content pane.
  • Possibly look at some kind of magnification tool for gallery portion to enlarge either all or individual portions of a selected image.
  • Convert the video files (music videos, vlogs etc.) into the various different formats.
  • Prepare any flash-based video files.
  • Create links to social-networking + external sites (for those using the DVD in an Internet connected environment.

Beta Testing

After creating a prototype of my project I will need to test this to make sure that it works as expected so that I can iron out any problems for the final release.  In order to do this I will utilise user testing in order to obtain feedback on the success or otherwise of the beta version of the project.

I will ideally test representatives of my target audience. This however may prove to be problematic as one of my groups of end-users will be music industry professionals, so it may be difficult to obtain a sufficient number of them for my testing. The second group however that my product is aimed at is music lovers and specifically existing fans of my client. I could however for this test use a sample of people who like music of a similar genre.

Testing Plan:

Methods of testing: This will vary slightly for the different elements of the DVD. For the Flash application I will mainly be using observation (personally making notes of peoples individual interactions with the product). As testing will take place on a single, or couple of computers in one location using a screen-capture application may also be of benefit. It could provide as source for statistical analysis providing figures such as how much time is spent on individual sections of the portfolio application.

Standalone DVD player use: Possibility of using questions more than observations as I send DVDs out to people on my clients mailing list either with a paper questionnaire, or a link to a web based questionnaire to obtain my feedback. Alternatively I could set-up a couple of DVD players in a location and ask a representative sample of people to perform certain task whilst I observe them. This strategy may yield more useful information that just a questionnaire, however it means that you won’t get the feedback of existing fans. I may combine multiple forms of testing in this case.

Either in questionnaire testing or observation there are a few tasks that I would like all participants to try carry out, to give me an idea of how the end-user would experience the DVD.

Questions to consider:

  • Find out the the email address of the client.
  • View a music video.
  • Find out what the clients musical influences are.
  • What are the lyrics for a certain song.

Next Week-

For next week I am going to try and follow some of my objectives as set out in my project outline. By doing this I hope to produce a working prototype of at least some of my project.

Testing Plan

My testing plan shall provide information for my targeted demographics regarding the intentions of my finished prototype. My website is targeted towards people whom share an active interest and/or involvement in urban music culture and fashion.

 

These people will be the representative users of my website, carrying out testing on a number of aspects that ensure my prototype meets professional and industry standard. The plan shall encourage interaction with the intended functions and purpose of the site, providing users with further knowledge on the latest music news and releases in electronic dance music.

 

The most ideal way of testing beta includes an observation of the representative and their interaction with my prototype.

 

From here, I can gain results on:

 

– Learnability

– Efficiency

– Memorability

– Errors; faults + performance problems that may occur during observation

– Satisfaction

– Utility; meeting full requirements and intentions

 

In-order to successfully complete the above, I will need to make arrangements with the representative involved in testing my protype. This can be arranged via e-mail, with a direct URL of my website forwarded. Observation may then occur providing a suitable location has been made.

Thoughts on plagiarism:

Need as with reports, essays, and other forms of academic work to correctly reference the work of others within your project. The recommended form for this is using the Havard method of citation http://www.lmu.ac.uk/lskills/open/sfl/content/harvard/ .

When writing and developing code, care too must be taken to properly acknowledge the work of others. Further to the tradition form of referencing in the academic fashion it is also often both possible and advantageous to references withing the work itself. For example when working on code, in my case actionscript for flash, I could comment on what various portions of the code do. This allows me to show that I understand the code and its application. Similarly by using this method I could signpost where I have either directly used code or modified code from another source. Whilst I will be doing this with flash, it is also possible to do a similar thing in most other common programming languages. I am also aware that as far as my project is concerned, its generally quite difficult to see something that has been developed in flash and to directly see how this effect was produced. Unlike say with html code I cannot simply click view source and see the code behind the magic. Due to this I almost automatically have to think how with my experience of Flash I would go about achieving a similar effect. Whilst I have the end result as a template on which to work back from, there may be many ways of reaching the same or similar effect. Even if not copying the code word for word, I need to make sure that I reference the original to show where I started out from. It is not enough to change a few names or tags within the code and to declare it an original work. It is only if you take a basic concept, utilise its basic principals, but essentially rework/redesign it that you don’t have to references the original. I however even in thes situation would probably go with the side of caution and either provide a reference or some other form of acknowledgment of the original inspiration for the idea.

The other angle we discussed in todays session, and it was one that I had not previously put much thought into was protecting my own work. In producing a new work I may wish to protect my intellectual property rights. We outlined a few methods that may help us with this including, emailing a copy of the work to ourselves.

Analysis and Objectives!

Smart Objectives

 

Specific

  • The CD-ROM portfolio is targeted at a specific group of people (potential employers) and will display the work of one person to reach out to the potential employers.

Measurable

  • The CD-ROM will be shown to media professionals in the area of my clients work to see if it meets the objectives.

Attainable

  • I am capable of creating a CD-ROM and using Flash as I have done it before. My challenge will be to increase upon the knowledge that I already have in this area to create a better project.

Realistic

  • I have access to Flash at university and help is always available if I need it. I will be able to create my CD-ROM as I have access to these things. There are many tutorials online that I can learn from and gain new skills to help me create my project.

Time

  • I will need to finish the project before week 13 in January when the project will be handed in. However, it should be completed before this as I will need time for testing.

 

 

Swot Analysis

 

Strengths

  • Having the portfolio on a CD-ROM will allow the user to access my work with the internet and it can be transportable.
  • As the portfolio is not on the internet the user will not be distracted by other websites or portfolios when viewing the CD-ROM.
  • When creating the CD-ROM I can develop upon the Flash and ActionScript skills that I already have.
  • I could use the Flash portfolio as a Flash website. It could be transferred and used for the web in the future if needed.

 

Weaknesses

  • As the portfolio is on CD-ROM the user may forget about it or even lose it. I will create an eye-catching design for the cover of the CD-ROM so it stays in the users mind.
  • If more work needs to be added to the CD-ROM, new copies will need to be made and the old ones will be wasted.

 

Opportunities

  • The CD-ROM will help me to gain a job/career.
  • It will show the users not just my work that will be displayed on the CD-ROM but also my Flash skills.

 

Threats

  • The work that is displayed on the CD-ROM could be copied. I will need to insure that it is copyrighted. To help avoid this situation I could watermark my work. However, this may not be very appealing to potential employers.

 

 

Pest Analysis

 

Political

  • N/A

Economical

  • A job/career could be gained from the CD-ROM portfolio.

Social

  • Logo or work shown on CD-ROM could be offensive to others.
  • Contacts could be made from the distribution of the CD-ROM.

Technological

  • The target audience for my CD-ROM should have access to a computer to view the CD-ROM.
  • The CD is an older form of disk that stores digital data; therefore a CD drive is standard on most computers.

 

So…

So I missed last weeks lecture and I will be missing this weeks too, I downloaded what resources were available on Moodle and have to say that plagirism within a web design course not only surprised me but scared me too.  I have been refering to a .pdf file made available from the Apple website for coding my web app/web page, and as I read this weeks lecture slides I THINK it is safe to say I am not plagirising but I will need to double check with Scott next week.  I’m off to bed after a solid couple of hours reading through numerous /pdf files from the Apple Web App Dev Center.  I finally begun to code my web app this week, and if you click here you can check out a screen grab of my work in progress.  I have got further than this but I want to keep everything else under wraps at the moment!  In the picture you can see an iPhone simulator running my web page, which I think will prove to be very valuable to me when it comes to testing and debugging my coding in the coming weeks.  Goodnight all!

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

lifehackerFor this blog I want to talk about, how I went about designing my theme in a bit more detail. I have touched upon this briefly before, but in this post I will be more specific.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants essentially means, building upon work that has already been done. You don’t always have to create something that is entirely new and inventive. OK it’s not bad if you can come up with something that is just that. Butt more often than not, you will waste your time
and money doing something that other people have already done.

When I start planning for a project I always try and get a sense of what is out there already. But I also do this frequently throughout the development and design process. If I run into a situation or a problem, where I need a solution, I will look around and see how others have solved it.

In my design I wanted to find the best place for my navigation and how it should be implemented. I specifically looked at the search bar, how prominent it should be? how important would it be for my users. All this would take months to research if I had to do it on my own.

Rather than do that, I had a look at other collaborative blog designs to see how they used the search bar. These blogs are some of the most popular on the web, so I trusted them to give me the solution. It turns out that they ALL had the search bar very very near the top of the page. I effectively decided to build my design around the search box, and made that together with the categories, the absolute first priority of the design.

WordPress Search Box

WordPress have two search boxes that can be used. You can hard code the search box into your theme, or you can use a search widget. The difference is essentially that widgets can be controlled
by the user, and the hard coded search bar is controlled by me. Because this feature is so prominent for this theme, I decided to hard code this search bar into the theme. It is always good to give the user control, but in this instance I trusted my own judgement to be the best thing for this particular theme.

searchform

Luckily WordPress already provide a search form that calls the database and searches through all the post in the database. This comes with all default Wrodpress Themes and the php files is called ‘searchform.php’. Now to include that in the coding of your theme, you use the php include statement. You can then call the php file by using:<?php include (TEMPLATEPATH . '/searchform.php'); ?>

Breaking that apart; The include statement tells the server to include a particular page here. The between the brackets you tells the server exactly which page to include. Here we have provided a URL that uses the TEMPLATEPATH function that is build into WordPress. When this is parsed by the server WordPress exchanges the word ‘TEMPLATEPATH’ with the absolute path, to the directory in which your theme is placed. The in this directory the server looks for the files called ‘searchform.php’, and then include all the code from this file, into the current page as XHTML code.

The alternative is to just hand code the snippet from the searchform.php file into your current php file. But the advantages with having a separate file for the search bar, is that you only have to type in one line of code every time you want to use it. This makes it easy to reuse the search form over many pages. And equally handy is it if you want to change some of the code, you don’t have to go back and change 5-6 pages or more, you just change that single searchform.php file and it will automatically update on the other pages when it’s parsed by the server again.

/Kasper – on Twitter and Delicious

Shoulders of Giants Business…

newton_1st_gonicka

During today’s lecture, I presented my SWOT, PEST and risk assessment areas that were completed during last week’s class. This was useful in describing and highlighting key areas of my website for analysis.

After the presentation, I then began looking at existing websites that related to the concepts and ideas of my own project. I looked for specific areas that could well be used for my own project, however designed and completed in my own way.

I looked at the following websites for areas of design and coding that I found appealing:

http://www.uptownrecords.com

http://www.xlr8r.com

http://rwdmag.com

An area on Uptown Records which I found appealing consisted of an animated scroller, displaying the images of recent vinyl releases in the dubstep and grime music genres. When hovering over a desirable vinyl, the scroller pauses, allowing the reader time to take in the information and description of the record. Considering my website will have a large focus area on new releases, this may well be something worth considering.

Areas on the other web pages which I found appealing referred to RSS applications, a key area that I wish to incorporate into my website. In the next week, I shall look at what and how this specific tool does what it does and the principles used to do so. This may take some research into the design and coding elements, as I will need to learn and develop my own skills in-order to achieve the embedment of RSS feeds successfully.

During the last part of the class, I was informed of plagiarism and the serious effects it can have on my work. Scott informed how important it is to understand plagiarism and to avoid doing so within our projects. If I were to copy and paste the code of a similar working concept, taking in mind the principles of how it works, as long as I were to make a new code that works In a similar style, I avoid any form of plagiarism. By keeping a record of all coding I do throughout the production stages of my project, I develop a log book which clearly justifies my progress so far. A comment within coding is also another useful method, therefore highlighting to a reader the construction of your own personal work.

Plagiarism. Naughty, naughty

The term ‘plagiarism’ is usually concerned primarily with academic work in English Language, Humanities and the Arts. However, this too can be applied to newer issues surrounding technology. Given that a vast amount of the Western World’s economy is built upon technological products such as software, mobile phones and other consumer electronics, work must be protected in order to protect the original authors.

As Scott said, the line between plagiarism and inspiration is a fine one. We could completely rip off existing work, giving no credit to the people who took the time to create it and pass it off as our own, but this is dishonest and gets us nowhere. If we do not understand exactly what we are dumping on our page we are learning nothing and merely replicating – throwing more unoriginal content out onto the internet.

We have to start somewhere though. We can’t just sit down and turn onto writing ActionScript or PHP without first experiencing and deconstructing the way existing products function. Many a time I have sat and stared at the source code for a website I have found to be particularly interesting, and this is a great way to learn. We start to notice trends, standards, interesting new ways of achieving what we want. Tutorials are a good starting point for learning ways to create working models for our concepts if you can find one that is specific enough to meet your needs. They give us a framework on which to build something worth putting on the internet.

Some useful tutorial sites I have come across for Ruby on Rails amongst other things:

http://www.tutorialized.com/
http://alistapart.com/
http://www.sitepoint.com/ (not all free, but worth looking at)
http://lynda.com/ (who already have a range of Adobe CS4 tutorials up if you fancy brushing up)

When authoring new websites and code we can be protected with intellectual property laws. Creative Commons is a very accessible way of protecting your work and licencing it for use in the ways you specify. This is highly recommended for anyone who is considering writing plugins, widgets, applications as well as musicans, photographers, authors… the list goes on.

Plagiarism

This week Scott has been telling us all about plagiarism and how to avoid it in our work. As I will be creating a flash project and using ActionScript coding I will need to be very careful that I am not taking someone else’s code. When creating my project I will be looking at other peoples work as inspiration but where do you draw the line between inspiration and copying? When creating my project I will be looking at other people’s code to figure out how they did it and then take the knowledge I have gained from their code and create my own. This is a clear way of avoiding plagiarism.

I will be keeping a log book of all the code I will be using to help me avoid plagiarising. In the log book I will show how I have developed my understanding of ActionScript and how I created my own coding. Another way in which I will show my understanding of the code I use will be to add comments within the code to explain each part. This will allow the user to see that I have a clear understanding of what I have put and why I have used that particular code.

Deep Thought… Project Analysis

On looking at the slides from last weeks session, I went about trying to break down and analyse my project using a number of the different frameworks outline including SWOT and PEST.

SWOT 

Strengths-

  • Compatibility mans it should reach satisfy the largest potential audience possible. Flash is quite adaptable and by downloading flash player results can be viewed on OSX, Windows and various Linux distos.
  • Potentially already established target audience through fan-base of my client.
  • The development of this DVD could serve to produce a template that could be applied to other artist and projects in the future.
  • Relatively low development costs.
  • Large Flash community with a plethora of online and print information and help available.

Weaknesses

  • Limited initial market.
  • Can’t guarantee platform compatibility, especially with mobile devices where formats could change rapidly.
  • If there was a need for mass duplication of the final DVD the costs for this could prove to be quite expensive.
  • Limitations of DVDs as a format.
  • Either a computer or a DVD player is necessary to initially access the content, can’t be transferred/ accessed directly on mobile devices. 
  • Difficult to quickly change or update content.

Opportunities

  • Specific target audience.
  • Promotes myself within the industry.
  • Enhance the functionality of the DVD.
  • Provides a replicable format.

Threats

  • Compatibility / usability issues with multiple formats.
  • Reliant on some externally produced content.
  • Dependent on the quality, and success of the musician as to how wide-spread the product is distributed.
  • Would need to outsource mass DVD reproduction.

PEST ANALYSIS

Political

  • Some users of the product will be part of the structure of record labels/ music industry the politics of this may come in to play e.g adhering to in-house styles and preferences.

Economic

  • Music industry professionals look at product as a potential indicator as to the economic viability of an artist.
  • Initially unlikely, but the project could potentially reach a stage where by it becomes a commodity that fans of the artist would purchase.

Social

  • Music lovers / musical experts.
  • Want interactivity.
  • Social networking.

Technological

  • Early adopters.
  • Technically capable / literate.
  • Use multiple platforms / devices e.g. PC, DVD player and a mobile phone to view content.

SMART OBJECTIVES

  • Specific: Appeals to, and satisfy the needs of two specific groups of people.
  • Measurable: Feedback from clients / users via a forum or questionnaire?
  • Attainable: Achievable objectives and possible to produce given resources and time-frame.
  • Realistic: Designed using readily available software e.g. Flash, Adobe Encore etc. Existing readily available and well supported delivery medium of DVD.
  • Time-Limited: Outside of the constraints of the assignment deadline I would have to work to the time-scale of my client, especially if there is a specific time that the DVD’s need to be sent to record labels etc. For me as a freelancer, TIME=MONEY. 

Defining The Project- TIME. SCOPE, COST.

  • Time: Fairly short development period. However involves time-consuming tasks such as reversioning content for various platforms, possibility of completion clause in the contact with my client.
  • Scope: IN – Producing a hybrid DVD, optimising content, making menus, animations etc.
  • Scope: Out – Making promotional website / social networking page, producing some of the content, disc duplication etc.
  • Cost: Software + Hardware, could be quite expensive however I already own the relevant equipment and software to produce the project, consumables for example blank disks to show the client drafts however this is low as the media is cheap.

MOCK RISK ASSESSMENT

My project does not have many risks in terms of health of safety but here are a few remote possibilities.

RSI

  • I have identified the risk of RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) sitting and typing, staring at a screen and operating a computer for long periods of time.
  • Efforts to minimise risks : Taking regular brakes from working at the computer and walking around this takes me away from the screen and allows me to change my posture.
  •  Adusting my positioning of seat, keyboard / mouse  and monitor until I feel I am in a comfortable posture.
  • Blinking regularly to keep my eyes refreshed.  Have an eye break focusing them at a distant point. Adjusting settings on the monitor so that text is clear and I do not have to strain to read it.

Electrical Malfunction

  • It is possible given that I have a lot of electrical eequipment in one place that there may be an electrical malfunction. Especially given that I have many running from a single power socket.
  • Control measures: Turning off / unplugging eequipment when not in use. Using a residual current detector and surge protector to help keep eequipment safe. I have a fire extinguisher available that is suitable for electrical fires.

Some none health and saftey related issues:

  • Data Loss: I backup project files in case of power surge/drive failure.
  • Issues with software: Consulting project documentation/ user guides.

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