Archive for James Black

Complete.

Finally, I have now completed my prototype website. Each page has substantial content and can be navigated with ease, considering my poor time management and problems that have played effect. Testing has been taking place and has been successful so far. Fortunately the majority of my tables have been broken up into smaller content, allowing users to view content almost immediately. I have previewed my pages in Internet Explorer, giving me the opportunity to see any technical problems and mistakes, such as broken links, uneven tables, etc. All have been fixed accordingly. Unfortunately I have had problems with uploading my site live through a free host. However, all pages can be viewed and navigated on a disc provided with my report.

More problems…

I’ll start with the good news first. That being, my site is almost fully complete with content available on every page, navigation is working fine and rollovers, links, etc all in place. I have been completing my log book accordingly, following a list of tasks assigned to be completed on a weekly basis. My current and final task now refers to the completion of RSS feeds.

My original intention was to have a page dedicated to RSS feeds, in which readers gain content quickly and with ease from other similar music web pages. However, I have been having problems when inputting codes into Dreamweaver. I had researched how to create RSS feeds and was planning on inputting the code of a similar working concept, then making my own, necessary in avoiding plagiarism. However, I was having serious coding problems which I genuinely didn’t know how to fix.

Having left his task to last has been yet another downfall on behalf of my poor time management skills. I simply ran out of time, having spent a considerable amount of time on editing table widths and sizes instead (due to problems occurring in this area). This weakness is something I will need to focus on when completing any future design in web and new media.

Progress reporting…

Where shall I start. I am heavily into the production stages of my website, having created each page through the use of tables in Dreamweaver. Content is being added gradually, predominantly picture images designed in Adobe Photoshop Elements.

I have altered the original mock-up into a more simplistic and clear layout, now having the following pages on my site:

–    News
–    Reviews
–    Releases
–    Features
–    Links
–    RSS

I reduced the number of pages due to poor time management skills on my own behalf. Content is being added to every page, in the forms of images and text. I am trying to keep a fairly even ratio of text / images, necessary in following my proposal adequately.

However, the main issue I am having refers to the PHP elements I am wishing to incorporate. Having researched PHP throughout previous weeks in the course, I felt comfortable with incorporating an area of the hyper text to my site, intending to have code in the middle of my content, keeping the overall per-page overhead down. I had researched that Mac OS X comes with an Apache server as standard, placing files easily in /Library/WebServer/Documents when accessing them on my server. I also learnt that Mac OS X does come with PHP, however the installation lacks a significant quantity of extensions and so it’s necessary to download the complete XAMPP package I had researched previously.

As intended, I downloaded the XAMPP package from here:

http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=61776. Choose “XAMPP Mac OS X”

However, when trying to install and run the program, I was receiving technical errors that caused my system to crash consistently. The only problem I could think of was that there may be an issue with having parallels running on my Mac simultaneously. Considering all my design is completed through Dreamweaver on parallels, I had no other option but to disregard my PHP ideas, due to the errors frequently occurring when trying to install the XAMPP package. This is obviously a big disadvantage in terms of what I have proposed for my website. If my time had been managed accordingly, this risk assessment could have perhaps been overcome. However, I shall continue with completion of my website to the best of my abilities.

Ideas for development.

An idea worthy of development in reference to my websites usability could be that of a search function, allowing readers to quickly locate news on an article that may well have been uploaded. Search functions are common tools found on most, nearly all music news websites, such as:

http://www.xlr8r.com
http://www.lambgoat.com
http://www.chemical-records.co.uk

I feel by incorporating this function into my site, helps follow industry conventions and professionalism, benefiting users whom may be wishing to search quickly due to lack of time, places to be, etc…

To achieve this idea, I will need to research how a search function is first of created, looking and understanding Dreamweaver to the best of my ability. Through secondary research on the internet, plus tutorials in Dreamweaver, I should hopefully have this idea successfully in-place prior to the deadline of the production.

Employability factor…

As I have previously discussed, my project for this module consists of various new areas that clearly demonstrate an enhanced learning of my personal design skills and capabilities. I wish to draw upon trends in the new media industries and the skills required by potential employers, therefore increasing my employment possibilities after graduation. By taking an approach as to what could be done differently, could I do this particular job differently, does it fill a gap…ensures I am keeping positive and enthusiastic about my work.

My idea, a website based on the latest news in urban music culture (specifically electronic dance music), has been created in-order to offer targeted audiences regular updates of all the latest news and events occurring within these scenes. I feel by creating a simplistic website that is easy, minimal and clear to follow, enables all readers to easily understand the content on screen.

I researched my targeted audience prior to the production of the website, gaining all the necessary information that is required, ensuring my designs meet the user’s needs comfortably. My motivation and interests for the audiences needs are to inform and promote new music and artists that they may not currently be aware of. This will help increase an underground producer’s fan base, having their music heard worldwide.

The average age group of my target audience will be from 16+, of both genders and all ethnicities. Their occupations could be in almost any field, however predominantly students and other musicians/deejay’s currently involved in this particular scene. The family may have either a higher, middle or lower class background, with an average income ranging from less than £12,000 a year. A technical profile of my targeted demographics may refer to early adopters and early majority. The internet use can be both PC and MAC, with broadband or dial-up services, baring in mind the simplicity of the site.

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.

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.

Project Management

Today’s class has been very useful in understanding how to manage my project accordingly. I learnt of how a project is usually defined by time, scope and cost, thus devising a list of processes, SMART objectives, risk assessments, task allocations and more.

 

I shall now provide 3 examples of the project management areas in relation to my website prototype.

 

 

SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) analyses for my prototype:

 

S          Good topic, use of web and new media content

W        Not entirely original, lack of skills in some technical areas

O         Gain media interest, concept may be developed further

T          Many competitors within this field

 

 

PEST (Political/Economic/Social/Technological) analyses for my prototype:

 

P          Copyright issues with content information

E          Will it benefit targeted users with new information? Is the content informative?

S          What types of demographics does my site appeal too? What genres?

T          Does my site compete with others in terms of content, usability and layout?

 

 

Risk assessment for my prototype:

 

An unlikely risk of my home server being incompatible, meaning for a negligible seriousness of consequence, would therefore result in a low chance of any risks to occur during the installation of PHP.

Developed Proposal

After completing a draft proposal stating my main technical and professional objectives, I shall now devise a developed proposal that further defines my intentions for my project and the chosen subject area.

Being a fan of urban music culture and electronic dance music, I am a regular contributor to various music discussions online and a daily reader of music news and releases. I feel I am part of a local music scene in Birmingham, having toured in previous bands, a regular consumer of vinyl in various independent record stores and now currently enjoying deejaying within local clubs and events around the city. I frequently read music content online, specific areas discussing; artist news, features, reviews and releases from a selection of websites accelerating in music culture. It is important to keep up to date with the latest occurrences within the industry and so regular visits to appropriate online content is essential. However, with so many websites and forums to visit, I sometimes feel pressured to keep up to date with everything I want to know. This is where my initial challenge for my project came in to play, that being, why not keep interesting and relevant content under one site. This will save time for targeted readers searching endlessly for their desired content, instead finding everything they need to know with minimum effort.

The project will consist of the following:

– Music news
– Releases
– Features
– Reviews
– Forum
– Contacts
– Links
– RSS feeds

As mentioned in my draft proposal, I shall be creating the project through the use of Adobe Photoshop Elements, Macromedia Fireworks and Dreamweaver MX. I shall design most of my content in Photoshop, slice images in Fireworks and arrange tables in Dreamweaver MX. With previous skills and experience in past web design and music online modules, I feel more than comfortable with doing so. This time however, I shall be incorporating the use of PHP coding with HTML, an area I have researched extensively at home.

After a visit to the university library, I found several books that allowed a reader to teach themselves everything they need to know on PHP. Being a personal objective of mine, I learnt exactly how to install PHP on my laptop, discovering the other applications that were needed to complete the installation. After installing a multi-package available for free online, I was able to attempt my first script at home.
When running the script successfully, I discovered exactly how beneficial this form of coding is, with a notably faster production process, allowing my creations to occur quickly without sacrificing stability.
Another benefit of using PHP is the fact that it is an open source, offering users additional support from an accessible and committed community whom offer their own expertise and knowledge on any problems that may occur. As a beginner to this form of coding, I feel this is extremely useful, as any problem I may encounter can be answered easily with little research, saving time on my production. For instance, if I were to experience a bug once my project goes online, I can have the issue resolved as the bug was found. This enables maximum professionalism of a conventional and realistic working website.

After further research on PHP, I discovered that its overall performance is far more superior over other server scripting languages and may also be improved if a caching tool is acquired. I have understood exactly what makes PHP so popular, a favourite amongst many web designers and programmers.

My next set of objectives includes to further research the language of PHP and how to execute my commands accordingly. By completing further secondary research into appropriate literature and online sources, I will be developing my personal skills and abilities. As I will be combining HTML and PHP, I will need to bare in mind such factors as browser compatibilities and accessibility. I have discovered that the examples of coding I have practised conform to Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML), which I have learnt is an XLM based version of HTML that can be pared and validated. This form may be validated, allowing it to be more accessible to lightweight browsers running on small memory devices.

The above examples demonstrate an understanding of technical areas that I have researched necessary to incorporate during the production of my website prototype. I have stated how any problems may be resolved and the strengths of using a technical configuration such as PHP scripting.

I aim to produce a simplistic website that incorporates a large use of images, creating a more user friendly and eye-catching appearance. The name of my website shall be entitled; “dubtime”, a suitable choice for the type of music and cultures that will be covered. Initial ideas regarding my sites layout are currently being designed, a theme that is suitable towards the type of target audience I aim to be attracting.

I have also completed a mock-up of my homepage, an example of which can be found below:

homepage-mockup-copy

I look forward to beginning my production, particularly when incorporating my new skills and objectives that I have developed throughout progression of the web and new media module.

Website Analyses

website-analysis-11website-analysis-21

The above analyses show two similar working websites that discuss the main topic area for my project. I have completed theses comparisons in-order to gain a further in-sight into creative ideas and concepts, that will be worth applying to my own website.

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