Archive for RSS

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.

Another reason to go Mac.

After some further research on PHP, I discovered that Mac OS X comes with Apache server as standard and enabling it is as simple as checking the box next to ‘Personal Web Sharing’ in the ‘Sharing’ section of System Preferences. Once you have done this you can place files in /Library/WebServer/Documents to access them on your server. I also learnt that Mac OS X does come with PHP, however the installation lacks any significant quantity of extensions, so it’s still worth downloading the complete XAMPP package I have previously discussed.

Why choose PHP?

There are some compelling reasons to work with PHP. For many projects, you will find that the production process is significantly faster than you might expect if you are used to working with other scripting languages. PHP is used in-order to see results quickly without sacrificing stability. As an open-source product, PHP is well supported by a committed user community and can be run on all the major operating systems and with most servers.

AS PHP allows you to separate HMTL code from scripted elements, you will notice a significant decrease in development time on most projects – an area that drew my attention when researching PHP and its performance. I run on an Apple Macbook at home and was unsure of whether it was possible to run PHP on Leopard. However, I since discovered that it is designed to run on many operating systems and to cooperate with many servers and databases. (It runs on the Windows operating system, Linux and Macintosh OS X). Support is also provided for a range of web servers such as Apache, Microsoft Internet Information Server, Website Pro and more. This is an area I shall discuss further in my developed proposal, as I can draw upon how I can test a project with personal web server and install it on my Macbook accordingly.

Where am I now?

During todays class, I presented my recent findings on PHP, discussing what it’s all about and why it may be useful for my website. I discussed what attracted me to its purpose and the possibilities of embedment into HTML, thus providing the initial framework for my website. After my discussion, I was given recommended feedback by the group, one idea being to perhaps try and develop the RSS feeds I intend to use around PHP scripting. This is something I shall definitely consider when beginning the next stages of production.

Previous skills of mine consit of basic HTML, CSS, tables and some minor flash work. Considering these skills, I intend to further my knowledge on new areas such as PHP, in-order to benefit any future design I carry out. My plans now, are to practise PHP after a coherent understanding of how and why it will benefit my website. I shall do this at home through the use of draft templates designed through Dreamweaver, Adobe Photoshop and Fireworks. By testing the PHP in conjunction with the RSS feeds I wish to incorporate, I gain an advantage as to any problems that may occur during later production stages.

I have also been recommended a book by my tutor, useful in explaining everything I need to know on PHP. I am to begin my drafts throughout the run-up to next class, after conducting further background research on websites such as:

http://www.php.net

http://www.softwareprojects.org/php-what-is-01.htm

http://www.utexas.edu/learn/php/index.shtml

An Introduction to…

PHP!

PHP, (originally standing for Personal Home Page Tools), stands for PHP: Hypertext Pre-processor.

It is a computer scripting language, originally designed for producing web pages. Having evolved to include a command line interface capability, it can be used in standalone graphic applications (a type of user interface). Created by Rasmus Lerdof in 1995, it was released under the PHP License, where the Free Software Foundation considered it as a free and acceptable piece of software. The Free Software Foundation is a non-profit corporation, supporting the free software movement in prompting the universal freedom to distribute and modify computer software without restriction.

PHP is a widely used general purpose scripting language, especially suited for web development and can also be embedded into HTML, (the predominant language I have constructed my previous WebPages with in the past).

It generally runs on a server, using a PHP input code with an output consisting of viable web pages that may be viewable worldwide. It can be deployed on most web servers and on almost every operating system and platform, free of charge.

Being fairly new to the concept of PHP, I was interested in understanding how it may well be beneficial for use with the design of my website on music news and culture. As I have a fairly precise knowledge on the use of HTML, I wondered if it may be possible to embed PHP into a regular HTML document.

After some reading around on the Internet, I discovered a very helpful source that explains how to do so:

http://www.onlamp.com/pub/a/php/2001/05/03/php_foundations.html

Considering my website will be constructed through the use of HTML and the incorporation of RSS feeds, it may well be ideal in using PHP to help enhance the final outcome and design of my site.

Below is an example of PHP embedment in HTML:

An introductory example

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"
"http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">
<html>
<head>
<title>Example</title>
</head>
<body>

<?php
echo "Hi, I'm a PHP script!";
?>

</body>
</html>

(Taken from: http://php.net/manual/en/introduction.php)

I discovered how PHP is mainly focused on server-side scripting, enabling the possibility to collect form data, generate dynamic page content, or send and receive cookies. But PHP can do much more.

There are three main areas where PHP scripts are used.

  • Server-side scripting. This is the most traditional and main target field for PHP. The PHP parser (CGI or server module), a web server and a web browser allow this to work.
  • Command line scripting. It is possible to make a PHP script to run it without any server or browser. You only need the PHP parser to use it this way.
  • Writing desktop applications, (although not recommended as I am not too familiar with PHP as yet.

Hope this brief introduction to PHP has been informative! I shall complete further research at home, thus ensuring I gain a more coherent understanding on PHP, deciding whether it will be useful in using in conjuction with HTML and the design of my website.

SCAMMPER

During todays class, I was informed of the ‘scammper’ technique useful in gaining original and creative concepts for my website design. As previously mentioned, my website shall be based on music culture and the consumption of records, incorporating the use of RSS enabling frequent news updates to user blogs,  e-mails, etc.

Below is an example of the scammper technique I applied during today’s class, looking at an existing website (I wish to take ideas from) operating in the marketing and selling of vinyl worldwide: http://www.discogs.com

Substitute – To create something original for my website, I would substitue areas of the rules specified on discogs and also allow the exhange of records, as well as the overall concept of purchasing records at a fixed price.

Combine – I would combine the use of RSS feeds to records for sale within musical genres, delivering users with the latest sales/exhanges immediately appropriate to their music tastes.

Adapt – I would consider adapting the concept of discogs, applying the idea to my website but also refer to music news and culture as the main theme. The idea of using the discog theme would create an online record store that allow users to interact within a social network.

Magnify – (no ideas as yet)

Modify – I would add audio to the interactive record store concept taken from discogs, thus allowing users to stream audio clips of records they may be interested in purchasing / exchanging.

Put – (no ideas as yet)

Eliminate – By substracting unneccessary textual information,  it would help clean up the overall text:image ratio, creating a more simplistic and easier interaction for users.

Reaarange – I would change the layout of discogs into a theme appropriate to my website,  creating a simple and understandable, interactive online record shop.

More ideas to come.

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