The Final Product

All of my hard work this semester has led here: to my own WEBSITE! I applied all that I have learned in my digital communications class to produce a product that users will WANT to use.

Please visit the site!

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I plan to keep the site very up to date so that it remains relevant in my job search next year.

Keep the Noise to a Dull Roar

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Krug’s work, entitled Don’t Make Me Think, defines usable in the context of a website as:

“A person of average (or even below average) ability and experience can figure out how to use the thing to accomplish something without it being more trouble than its worth.” (p.9)

Krug’s first law of usability is Don’t Make Me Think.

The chapter states: “When you’re creating a site, your job is to get rid of the question marks.” (p. 13)

  • Buttons should be clickable
  • Links should be predictable
  • If things can’t be self-evident make them self-explanatory.
  • “If web pages are going to be effective, they have to work most of their magic at a glance.” (p.19)

 

The second chapter talks about How We Really Use the Web.

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Krug describes a users reality of visiting a website as viewing a billboard going by at 60 miles an hour. We are usually on a mission, know we don’t have to read every single word, and know how to scan.

This goes back to the notion that people visiting websites are either hunters or gathered. Krug seems to identify more with the hunters.

 

Billboard Design 101

Krug explains that conventions are our friends. Users have expectations for where things are located on a webpage, how things work, and how things look. Unless the designer has a better way of doing things, stick to the standard. Its easier for the reader, and that’s ultimately what matters.

One example of a convention to follow is the visual hierarchy of a newspaper. People are used to the design, and it will make for easy reading of a webpage as well.

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Krug says every choice for the user should be mindless, or at most require little thought. Thinks that are clickable should be obvious, and navigation should be natural.

Finally and most importantly: words are usually useless. Eliminate happy talk and instructions when at all possible. People no longer enjoying reading at length and if the designer wants to keep the user on the page, the words have got to go.

 

 

 

Remember the User

Jenny Reddish lists 7 Steps to understanding your audiences in her work entitled Letting Go of the Words. 

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These seven steps are extremely helpful when it comes time for me to design my website. The audience really is the focus of the design. What do the people want? What is their intention in visiting my site?

I am going to apply these steps to my website in hopes that it will give me a better idea of what to include.

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  • future employers, resume readers
  • supervisors
  • peers, friends, teachers
  • family

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My primary audience, future employers, will most likely be professionals that are involved in the public health sector. They will have looked at dozens of resumes for the same position, so mine needs to stand out. The site needs to grab their attention and provide essential information quickly.

Current internship supervisors or past internship supervisors may be more interested in my ability to create a website and look more at the functionality and features of the site. The same goes for my peers and teachers.

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The demographic for most of my visitors will be educated professionals. They will be familiar with technology and expect the site to function well. There will not be much room for patience. They come with a mission and expect to achieve it quickly and efficiently.

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Some questions that I expect for future employers are as follows:

  • what is my job experience in the field?
  • what is my highest level of education?
  • GPA? Major?
  • What do I want to achieve through the internship or job?
  • What assets will I bring to the table?

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The persona I would create for most of my visitors would be a mid 30s professional that works in the communications branch of a hospital or health related company. She will be in charge of PR, Marketing, and awareness. She will be very tech savvy and expect her future employees to be the same way.

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The future employer’s task will be to find out as much as he or she can about me in the smallest amount of time. They will want to get a glimpse of my personality, as well as my credentials. They also hope to see that I am fit for a position in their company.

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Some scenarios are:

  • A postion opened up in the Communications Department of CMC hospital in Charlotte. They need to find an employee quickly.
  • An old supervisor at the YMCA of Greater Charlotte knows I will be graduating soon and is considering me for a position opening up in the corporate office. She needs to confirm my web skills for the position so she explores the site to find out more.

The list provided is a great way to plan my strategy for a website. Users will be taken into account when planning the site, and my purpose will by much more to the point. I must set the tone and personality of my site on my homepage, and make it interesting and an accurate reflection of me.

Brainstorming: Scope and Strategy

In the coming weeks I plan to create my own personal website. Before I begin working on developing the site I must first think about the purpose I want the site to serve. A successful site needs a strong foundation.

Strategy:

I want this website to serve as a platform to send to future employers, colleagues, and professionals that will give them a display of my past work. I want to give samples of my writing, videos, photographs, etc. A website is an awesome make to bring a resume to life. It is almost like an interactive resume that makes everything on the piece of paper hold true by providing proof.

I also want the site to be personable and entertaining. It doesn’t need to be formal to the point that it is dry. I plan to send the link to family and friends as well, so that they can keep up with my work and progress.

Another user group would be the members of my digital communications class. It will be neat to look at everyones work throughout the semester and see our progress.

I hope that users will find my personality within the website, and also see my passion for public health and academics. I also want them to catch hints of my love for travel and food.

Scope

On the website, I want to have links to various documents and websites where my work can be found. For example, last semester I interned for a Lithuanian Member of the European Parliament and I wrote explanatory statements for his votes. They were published on his website for citizens to read and understand important issues in the EU. They are good writing samples that also tie into my public health and food safety career aspirations.

I will post a resume on the site, as well as all of my past projects from the digital communications course.

I want to have an in depth about me page that can give readers a sense of my intentions behind the site, as well as my skills and personality. I want my site to be aesthetically pleasing, so I will include graphics and photographs that I have taken. For instance a picture of me in front of the Parliament would be suitable under the link to the MEP’s website. Hopefully this will make the site more personable.

User Experience Matters

Aesthetic Appeal, Functionality, and User Experience

After reading the text The Elements of User Experience, I understand why some websites are more frustrating than others. I could completely relate to the statement “When people have trouble using complicated pieces of technology: they blame themselves. They feel like they must have done something wrong . They feel like they weren’t paying enough attention. They feel stupid.” (Garret, p.10) This happens to me all the time. And even worse, my poor grandmothers that get so frustrated using the internet because they can’t find anything they are looking for on webpages.

I now understand that it is not their fault, the webpage just has a bad design. It should be user friendly to a large realm of users, not just aged 20-30.  The web design needs to keep all users in mind when creating the site.

I am a big fan of functionality. When I purchase a product I prefer it to do what it is supposed to do. The aesthetic beauty of the product is not nearly as important to me.

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One product that I think satisfies all three characteristics of functionality, aesthetic appeal, and user experience design is the iPad. This product looks fancy, sleek, and sophisticated, but also does what it says it will and is easy to use. The icons for apps are straightforward and there are very few buttons on the product to wrestle with. Both my grandmother and I can use the product and accomplish tasks we intend to when using the iPad.

The 5 S’s

When diving into the making of a website, the reading mention 5 S’s that build upon each other to create a successful user experience. The 5 planes are:

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The 5 planes build from top to bottom and must work together to create a successful website. This model will prove to be extremely helpful when it is my turn to build a website of my own.

I think the most important plane out of the 5 is the strategy, because if the site is not built on a strong foundation with a firm goal in mind, then the other elements of the site are useless.

Whose eyes are you looking through?

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In the context of film, point of view is “a camera shot taken as if seen through the eyes of a character.” p. 31

We are most likely familiar with the term point of view from learning about it in English class growing up. We studied stories told in first, second, and third person. Outside of a literary context, we likely do not take time to step back and consider the point of view, or who is telling the story.

In film, first person is not extremely common. The reading described that some of the most common examples of first person are found in documentaries. This is when the narrator is telling the story from their perspective and is involved in the action.

Second person is also fairly uncommon, but two clear examples of its use can be found in advertisements or how to videos. It would be strange to film a how-to video and not address the audience directly with the word “you.” Advertisements are also catered towards a specific audience.

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Third person is what is most commonly used in film. The films have a narrator that is not omniscient. Within the third person category, the director has a difficult decision to make regarding the character that is chosen to tell the story. The author advised that the character that can tell the most compelling story should be the subject of point of view.

It is extremely important to not forget to identify the audiences point of view. After all, they are usually the reason you are producing the video. Take their experiences and attitudes into account.

In the case of my video, I need to keep in mind that my immediate audience is my class of 15 Furman students and a Furman professor. This group of people is already familiar with the basics of campus, so I need to dig deeper. I will most likely serve as a third person narrator, while relying on my interviewees to tell their stories in first person.

 

 

Storyboard: The Healthy Furman Community

To further elaborate on the different ways Furman fosters a healthy living environment I plan to give real life examples and first hand accounts of students and faculty being healthy on campus.

 

First I want to shoot some footage of Furman’s campus to set the stage. I will show the lake and the mall, two of Furman’s most distinct scenes.

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Then I will ask students what they think is the thing on Furman’s campus that promotes a healthy lifestyle the most. I will most likely have the question written out on a whiteboard and have them write in a one or two word answer. I think this is a nice, clean way to lead into filming more about that aspect of Furman.

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One thing that I definitely anticipate will make the list is the swamp rabbit trail. I plan to talk about the trails history, its use, and the plans for the future of the trail. I will look to Dr. Reed in the Health Sciences department to help explain more about the importance of the trail on Furman’s campus. I also plan to film many people using the trail

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I also plan to film people working out in the PAC. This includes intramural sports, using the machines, and pickup basketball games. I know it will be hard to get good audio in a gym, but it would be nice to interview friends playing in games!

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Finally I plan to interview a friend that tries to eat healthy and see if she thinks Furman makes it easy to eat a balanced diet. She was formerly on the track and cross country team and is a member of the culinary club.

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From here I will wrap up the video providing an analysis of all of the interviews and finish with clips of people working out with friends and enjoying it.

Making Meaning Through Video

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Editing

Editing is a key step in creating a high quality, meaningful video. It is easy to tell when a video has been poorly edited. More than anything a poorly edited video is distracting.

One tip mentioned in the chapter entitled “The Aesthetics of Editing” is to have ample footage to choose from. This will give the editor lots of options and scenes to choose from when attempting to convey a message.

A quote by Louis Malle made an awesome point early on in the chapter: “I keep telling my editors that if you win an award for editing, I won’t work with you anymore. Your editing shows.”

In the best movies, it doesn’t even cross my mind that they were edited because it all seems so real and natural. The professionals have me convinced almost every time.

Continuity

One of the sections I learned the most from in this chapter was the author’s discussion of continuity. I know that this will be my biggest challenge when filming my video project around campus. If I film in different places on different days, I need to make sure that I do not break continuity. This would be considered an error of technical continuity, where there is a technical inconsistency from shot to shot cause by changes in lighting, audio levels, or image quality. Natural sounds must match from shot to shot.

The concept of continuity is challenged in many TV commercials where editors are forced to tell a quick story. The chapter provides an example of a cell phone commercial jumping from a person holding a cell phone to a cut of the same person with arms crossed and no cell phone. Because of time constraints this jump may be necessary.

Sequencing

Another rule that stood out to me in the chapter was the concept of sequencing. “A sequence is a series of shots that relate to the same activity. The purpose of the sequence is to add interest and sophistication to a scene and provide the viewer with a better understanding of the scene.” p. 239

The author gave a perfect example of sequencing when describing Rachel Ray’s cooking show. I love cooking shows so this example helped me understand the concept perfectly.

 

Screen Position and Placement

In a chapter entitled “The Two-Dimensional Field: Forces Within the Screen”, Zettl describes the six major types of field forces. They are: main directions, magnetism of the frame and attraction of mass, asymmetry of the frame, figure and ground, psychological closure, and vectors.

It was fascinating to read about these small tactics and factors on the screen that make a subconscious, significant difference to the viewer.

First, directions of lines are something that convey movement and emotion. Horizontal lines depict peace and tranquility. Think of a beautiful sunset or the horizon along the ocean.

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Vertical lines portray progress and fast motion. Think of skyscrapers and big cities.

People have a keen sense of their vertical horizon. We automatically can tell when a picture on the wall is crooked. Needless to say a frame on a screen that is crooked for a prolonged period of time will drive us crazy!

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High and Low Definition

“The constant mental activity necessary to make sense of a low definition presentation requires considerable mental effort, however subconscious, from the viewer, which can lead to fatigue. This may be one of the reasons why we find it much more tiring to watch a three hour film on television than on the large, high definition screen in the movie theater, even if we have the same amount of popcorn and soft drinks available.” P. 117

This statement is completely accurate. Even more true than watching a movie on a TV screen is watching a movie on Netflix on a laptop. I almost always fall asleep before the end of TV shows or movies on Netflix. Something that we perceive as mindless actually takes a considerable amount of subconscious effort.

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This is because computer screens can be very low-definition, and it takes effort to create closure with the image.