Website Critique and Reflection

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   The Proposal:    

       Upon reviewing my website, I noticed that there were various dissimilarities between my proposal, my template, and my final draft. Firstly, my website differs from my proposal in that the Basic Moves page did not include five different moves, rather it only included three. Also, I didn’t include the disclaimer on my page which is extremely important as it to protect both me as the instructor and the student from harming themselves. Although I didn’t follow what my proposal outlined, I believe it was better that I only included three moves rather than five on my Basic Moves page for a couple of reasons.

  1. You can’t teach every move through words, some require actual attention and detail to an instructors movements and this cannot be replicated online through numbered instructions
  2. I selected the three moves out of the five that could be taught through instructions.
  3. Five appeared to be excessive in the sense that, this is a beginner class. Too much writing and excessive amount of lists to go through to learn a move may become dreary and boring. I did not want to lose my students attention.

On the other hand, by not putting my disclaimer on my website I put myself as the instructor at risk of being sued if someone does experience injury. The disclaimer would’ve served the purpose of reminding the student to not push themselves so as to avoid injury. By not including the disclaimer, I don’t caution the students to be careful and again, put myself out in the open for a lawsuit.

                One of the most important things I learned about this project was that Web Design is hard, matter of fact it is very difficult. However by wanting to accomplish this website and have my vision come to life, that I learned so much HTML and CSS through trial and error. I learned that while my topic allowed plentiful amount of colors, themes, and designs, I realized that my website still required a sophisticated and professional look. Writing the content for my topic was not difficult, but simply piecing my vision together with HTML and CSS coding was the hardest part of all.

The Template Assignment:

                My design evolved tremendously from my template state to the final draft version. Originally I wanted two images on the top left and right of the screen with no background image. I wanted two columns below those two images and I wanted a main section in the middle of the page. My final draft template did not include some of these features because as I worked on creating the template and the design of the website I realized the two pictures on the top left and right corners did not contrast well with each other and the entire template. I decided to have a background picture instead which I completely fell in love with. I felt the two columns on both sides of the main section was excessive and very repetitive because not all the sites would require it. I used one column to balance my design out. Also the columns, main content, and navigation bar were all aligned differently and the proximity of all these elements was a lot closer than I expected.

Your First Draft and Peer Review: 

                My Peer review partner advised me to have 2,000 words in my website as well as include the video. I did go back and type more words to reach the 2,000 word count. And while I attempted to embed my video into my website over and over again I was unsuccessful. I reviewed different websites, tried placing the code differently into my HTML but did not work. I learned that by reviewing someone else’s website that everyone was having problems with either HTML or the CSS coding. I didn’t feel left behind as I thought I was when I first turned my assignment in.

The Instructions for the Website Assignment:

By reviewing the rubric in the instructions, I noticed the following:

  1. Correctness: I believe I exhibited correctness in my sentence structure, grammar etc.
  2. Content: I believe my content was concise and addressed my topic accurately. I did include a video but it would not work when I opened it in any web browser.
  3. Design: I think my design was great, however in two of my pages my logo was pushed to the far right side of the page and I could not figure out why it moved. One of my pages exhibited my navigation bar completely different than in the other pages, I know this is something I must fix. I think overall my design was awesome, but there are several changes that must be made to my website.
  4. Deliverables: My website had HTML, CSS, an images folder, and images.
  5. Specifications: I had all the specifications included in my website except the fact that the video does not appear.

Neilsen Norman Group Website:

                My target audience is beginner belly dance students. Because this is an instructional website, I believe my site is accessible to anyone. I would probably add more images and more playful design to catch the audience’s attention.

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My Analyses on the Article Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design

The article Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design written by Jakob Nielsen, poses several interesting mistakes made by Web Designers today.  The article includes valuable factors and reasons why each mistake would reduce the potentiality of a website. Below are the list of Web Design mistakes according to Nielsen and a brief summary of each:

  1. The first mistake web designers make according to Nielsen is Bad Search. A search box cannot be too literal as it should handle typos. If a search box is too literal, this can be quite frustrating for the elderly but all users as well. Also the order in which the information is populated should always have relevant information first then followed with popular information. A simple search box is best.
  2. The second mistake is a website having all their content on PDF files while browsing. PDF layouts are optimized by paper and not the browser therefore it is harder to navigate through a PDF file. PDF files should only be used for printing content and not for displaying purposes. All other content should be on the website.
  3. Navigating through a website is journey for the visitor; therefore by changing the link colors when a link has already been selected, it will prevent them from going back to the same page and causing confusion.
  4. Non-scannable text is not recommended; a website not utilizing sub heads, bullets, short paragraphs, or highlighting words can be intimidating.
  5. Web Designers should allow user to resize their text as needed. In CSS, one should specify font sizes in relative terms not through number of pixels.
  6. Because search engines are micro content, a website must have their company name in the HTML tags. The titles must also contain specific word in reference to the page.
  7. Users will ignore anything that looks like an advertisement therefore Web Designers must not utilize banner blindness, animation avoidance, and pop-ups.
  8. Webpages must be consistent; when a website is consistent and meets visitor’s expectations they give the customer a feeling of control while on the website. If it is not consistent, visitors will feel insecure and lost.
  9. Web Designers should not default the new page to open in a new browser as this causes: polluting a visitors screen, the feeling of taking over the visitors machine, and disables the back button. Visitors have the ability to open a new page in a new window.
  10. The ultimate failure is the inability to provide the visitor with the answers they’re seeking. One example of this is not listing the price of products or services.

 

Upon reviewing these 10 mistakes, I made a search for a website that could potentially fall under this category. While I pondered on how long it would take to find an actual bad website, I was astonished to find that by simply googling the words “bad website design”, three sources down I found the title World’s Worst Website and selected it. The website contained several pop ups, difficult navigation, hyperlinks that didn’t work, no available information, and many boxes of content that looked like advertisements that I overlooked. The link is listed below.

http://www.angelfire.com/super/badwebs/

Reference

Nielsen, Jakob. (2011). Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design. “Nielsen Norman Group.” : UX Training, Consulting, & Research. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Nov. 2013. <http://www.nngroup.com/>.

Too Shimmy or not too shimmy…Too Shimmy!

belly_dancing

                                If you’ve ever eaten at a Mediterranean restaurant, chances are you’ve seen a belly dancer there. Or if you’ve ever heard the powerful and transcendent beats of Middle Eastern music, you probably imagined a bellydancer in a coin belt. Whether or not you’ve seen or know what a belly dancer looks like, you might be surprised to know that this dance is everywhere! A vast amount of videos of belly dancers are available on Youtube, dances can be seen at local festivals in and outside the city, workshops and Hafla’s (which in Arabic means a “get together”) can be found in different venues many times a year! The fluidity and beauty of this exotic Middle Eastern dance is so captivating and intriguing, that for some women (and men) their fascination can lead to considering taking a class. I know I was so captivated by the dancers I saw at a parade years ago, I immediately searched for the nearest classes available when I got home that day! Although it took me a lot of courage to enroll into the class, I can honestly say now that it was the best thing I ever did. I currently dance in a troupe, teach a beginner class, and attend advanced classes to further expand my knowledge in this wonderful dance.

                Because people know I belly dance through Facebook and other Social Media sites, they often ask me where they could get started themselves. I’m always flattered and very pleased when I get someone interested in the dance; I tell them I teach a beginner class and explain what the class consists of. I also always refer different instructors and belly dance events available in the Houston area as well, I realize that I help someone out even as a referral. But then I started to think about those without even the slightest bit of knowledge of belly dance, where even the simple referral and class explanation would have helped them. For those people captivated and intrigued by this dance and anxious to start learning, it can be quite intimidating not knowing where to start and might lead them to ask themselves “too shimmy or not too shimmy?”

When I first decided I wanted to take classes, I found myself in this situation because I didn’t know where to take the class, who to take a class from, and what the beginner class would actually consist of. As someone who experienced this first hand, I would like to introduce belly dance in a different manner, by including an introductory class online on a website. I propose creating a website that provides instructions on belly dance through images and videos to give people a sample of what a beginner class would be like. I envision the website being titled TooShimmy! And it consisting of the following pages: Main Page, About Me, Posture, Basic Moves, Combination, and The Houston Scene. The Main Page will include an introduction of the website and the mission behind the creation of my website.  The About Me page will include background information on me as far as where I’ve been dancing who or which troupes I’ve danced with etc. The Posture page will include instructions on proper posture and positioning of the body. The following page will include instructions on 5 basic movements: shimmy, hip lift, figure 8, snake arms and the camel. The Combination page will include instructions on how to put these moves together into a short choreography. And lastly, The Houston Scene page will include information on other belly dance events, Halfa’s and Workshops in the area. While I will be promoting myself, I intend to promote my second home and family, the belly dance community. On each page I will include a disclaimer that states the following “Please consult a physician before attempting these moves” to protect myself as the instructor. Creating this website would further launch my name in the Houston belly dance community as an instructor and performer.

                One might argue that there are several books available and many online instructional videos on Youtube, however they all lack the connection that you seek to have with an instructor. There is a special relationship that you build with your class instructor and while it may be difficult task to accomplish, the same relationship and bond hat I have developed with my teachers is what I hope to achieve through my website with the students. Also, the new student will have the option of continuing their classes with me which is something the Youtube videos don’t offer. I have a passion for this dance and truly enjoy sharing my knowledge to others. Belly dance creates a special connection with your body, allows you to express yourself, and allows one to express their femininity and sensuality. Most importantly, Belly dance is for any person, age, shape or size, and for any level of dancing experience. I currently teach a beginner belly dance class and therefore have experience with instruction. I intend to share my passion and love for belly dance by sharing my knowledge to those interested in the dance. And for those who were unsure of what a beginner belly dance class would be and contemplated taking a class, by viewing my website and following my videos, they will already know that the answer to the question is Too Shimmy!

 

The Frugal’s Masterpiece

                Just two weeks ago I was invited to attend an Astros baseball game for a company event. Although I was excited and eager to attend my very first baseball game here at the Minute Maid Stadium, I shuttered at the thought of not having a single piece of clothing that had an Astros logo. And while everyone else in the office submerged themselves in conversation as to which jersey or t-shirt they were going to wear in the evening, I hid behind my desk ‘googling’ stores that sold Astros attire. I was aware that the store branch Academy would be my best bet for an Astros t-shirt however with the store being so far out of my way, I was keen to find a different store closer to me for the sake of time and money.

                Alas after searching through several stores close to my home, I found the shirt I was looking for. The following day I attended the baseball game in good spirit and enjoyed representing my home team with the rest of my co-workers and fellow Houstonian fans. However I couldn’t shake off how immensely complicated it was to search store by store simply to find a t-shirt. The process seemed almost primitive; the act of driving to different stores is something that is not common these days and can easily be considered foreign. In this day in age, when people search for something they pull out their cell phones and ‘google it’. Despite me ‘googling’ stores that sold Astros attire, I was unsuccessful in my search. And despite my adamancy to locate a nearby store close to my home to avoid going out of my way, I failed there too. I knew immediately that something was wrong with the picture: How else would one know about bargains if Google doesn’t know?

                This is when I thought of creating a website that would serve as a central location for different sales and bargains in the Houston area. The website would be dedicated to finding and listing the best deals in the city and surrounding areas. It will also include both online or in store sales in Houston. I envision having members on the website to create more of a “community”; people will have the ability to sign up and register their account on the website. The new member would complete an entry form and select particular interests, merchandise, or deals and can opt in to receive notifications such as emails or text messages from the website when there is a deal on their area of interests. I intend to include a forum in which members of the website can post different deals that they came across themselves that are not already listed on the site.

             The website would be titled, “Frugalities of Houston” with the mission statement “Sharing sales and deals to one Houstonian at a time”. I imagine the website having at least four pages: 1) The Homepage/Introduction 2) Houston Sales and Bargains 3) Houston Frugalities Forum 4) Member Info. The Homepage will include an introduction of the websites mission and will portray a person holding up money in their hands (to portray savings). The Houston Sales and Bargain page will be the feed in which all the discounts appear in the area. This page will also include a search box in which members can search for a particular item without going through the entire feed or changing their interests on the page. In the Houston Frugalities Forum, people will be able to post different deals that they have come across. The deals will also appear as a feed including the profile pictures of each person that contributes the feed.  The deals in the forum, if found to be true, can then be included in the second page Houston Sales and Bargains to appear under the feed. The last page will include information on the individual member, such as their personal information, interests, and profile picture. If a website like this existed when I had to search for my Astros t-shirt, this would’ve saved me money and time which was my intention in the first place.

                Yes one can argue that this would be much like a local Amazon website or a bargain loaded “Craigslist for Houston”, however I would argue against this notion on a different stance. My website would differ in that it would combine the Amazon website image and the “Craigslist for Houston” idea meanwhile serving as a host for a variety of businesses in the area with different sales and allow Houstonians to inform each other of different deals. The website http://www.amazon.com is a great marketplace website for selling items abroad; however there is no opportunity for people to share items with each other. Jim Craig’s website http://www.craigslist.com can get away with allowing people to share information with each other but the website mainly includes used items under the for sale tab. My website would include new merchandise, allow members to share deals and bargains with each other, serve as a host for big brand stores and local business, and will primarily cater to Houstonians. Rather than searching different sites or traveling from one store to the next, this website would be the first place one would search for a discounted item in the Houston area.

                My idea for the website came as sudden as if a light bulb was turned on in my head. I envisioned a small mediocre/forum website where people could post deals around in Houston, but I could not settle for that idea. In order to make the website worthy and successful, it would have to be legit and dependable with an attractive appearance. I have created a website once before on a different subject, but this website is a project of a different dimension. I know that I am a great candidate for developing and creating this website not simply because this was my idea, but because I have a passion and understanding of what it could be, the small mediocre/forum, to what it should be, the successful, dependable networking site! I have experience creating a website and I understand the level of effort that is required, the creativity that it entails, and the dedication that is essential in making the website come to live. The idea for this website appears complex and different, but all website ideas seem that way in the beginning. Before, we would look through the advertisements for sales in our Sunday newspapers but now we can have the ability to find all of the same information if not more through this website, without shuffling through all that paper. Let’s put that primitive action aside and let Houston take advantage of Web 2.0. and create of a community of Houstonian Frugalities!

   

sales

References

Amazon. n.d. General Format. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/

Craig, Jim. n.d. General Format. Retrieved from http://houston.craigslist.org/

 

Interpersonal Communication though the Internet

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     During an unusually cramped elevator ride to one of my classes, I overheard a fellow student say “Interpersonal Communication hardly exists in today’s society; people don’t talk to people face to face anymore because of technology”. Although I was not a part of the conversation, I dwelled on this question intensely after hearing the other student’s responses.

     While I agree that interpersonal communication is indeed lacking in our lives, in part I believe that through the advances in technology it has actually enabled us to interact even more at a different level. Despite the fact that we may not be interacting or conversing in person, the internet permits us to socialize through different mediums almost instantly.

     With that being said, I would propose a similar but different argument: our children are the ones who lack interpersonal communication at a young age. The lack of exposure to human interaction could potentially lead to unsocial lifestyles. We see this in young people these days; young children prefer to stay home and play video games rather to go outside and interact with other kids. Some kid’s version of interacting may only include socializing through social media.

     Some of us do fall victim to that assumption also, however our generation had a different childhood experience. We saw the home phone turn into a simple flip phone and the simple flip phone turn into a mini computer. In essence I do believe that our society does lack ‘in person communication’ however we do interact through different mediums, and with social media we are able to even more.