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.

Testing

I’ve been fortunate enough to find more than enough willing participants for my testing stage of my project.  The demand and anticipation for my web app is much hugher than I had previously recognised!  I am currently in the stages of creating the layout of the mobile web pages for the web app, and am also waiting to hear back from Nick over at Dead Format regarding his PHP code and how he uses it.  Once he gets back to me I will be able to get to work on how I can impliment the data in a moble web environment.

Myself and Scott have had a brief consultation today and we are faily confident that I am on time considering that I hear from Nick soon enough and I can see how the PHP coding he uses works.  In the mean time I will continue to layout my pages and to fill in my log book, as well as begin on my critical evaluation.

Merry Christmas!

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

When I have created my beta I will need to follow a testing plan to ensure that it created a strong flash portfolio for my client. I will need to test that it works correctly and that it satisfies the needs of the end user and my client. I will also be using Jacob Nielsen’s ‘6 quality components’ as an aid to helping me with my testing.

These 6 quality components are:

Learnability
Efficiency
Memorability
Errors
Satisfaction
Utility

I have created a 3 step process to follow to prepare me for my testing after the beta has been created. These steps are:

Step 1: Test the CD-ROM myself

I will be checking the CD-ROM to make sure each page; button and other functions work as they should. This will avoid these errors appearing when the sample tests the CD-ROM.

Step 2: Instructions & Questionnaire

The next step will be to create a set of instructions for the testing sample to follow when testing the CD-ROM. Then when the user has finished testing the CD-ROM they will need to fill out a questionnaire that I will create in as part of this second step. When creating the questionnaire I need to take into account that I am not there to observe, therefore I will need to have open-ended as well as closed questions. This will help me to see if a few people in the sample found areas harder then other as they have the room to state this in the questionnaire.

Step 3: Sample Testing (Target Audience)

Find a group of 10 people to test the CD-ROM portfolio. These will need to be a representative sample of my target audience. However, it will be hard to get hold of 10 media professionals to look at the CD-ROM so I will be showing my work to people of a similar age and location.

There are some contacts that I have made that fit into this target audience. I will be giving them the CD-ROM to look at and a questionnaire to fill in once completed. If I am unable to provide them will the CD-ROM, I will send them the finished Flash file via e-mail along with instructions and the questionnaire.

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

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