Monthly Archives: November 2013

Henry Jenkins made YouTube Prophecies?

Henry Jenkins Headshot “Henry Jenkins is the Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. Jenkins has a B.A. in Political Science and Journalism from Georgia State University, a M.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Iowa and a PhD in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author and/or editor of twelve books on various aspects of media and popular culture” (See link at the name for further introductions into his works).

Nine Propositions Towards a Cultural Theory of YouTube written by Jenkins is based on the compilation of the ideas that he had in 2007 during a plenary session organized by Fred Turner, “What’s So Significant about Social Networking?: Web 2.0 and Its Critical Potential,” which also featured Howard Rheingold, Beth Noveck, and Tiziana Terranova, about the place of YouTube in contemporary culture. He put forth nine ideas about YouTube that some would call prophetic. I would all them theories that are fairly obvious now but don’t really sound prophetic on his platform because he posits them as theories not prophecies. Then again, he says they are adapted from the then 2007 session. Uhm.

The First Idea – YouTube is a space where commercial, amateur, nonprofit, governmental, educational, and activist content co-exists and interacts in ever more complex ways.  He illustrates his point by expanding on the more complex ways part. Complex being that YouTube is a platform for power plays by organizations that are powerful but mask themselves as less powerful to integrate themselves into popular culture. Prophecy? I would say life. I don’t know more than Jenkins but I know that every new and rare playing ground is a place for power to converge and monopolize. He is right to some extent, but I believe that although the more powerful do control a lot of ideas, it is ultimately the people’s desires that control social media. Case in point, Vines. The advent of vines might have been propagated by powerful people making their power, it is still the desires of people like you and me that propagate their need and success. The powerful people are trying to please us, not the other way around.

The vine videos are becoming more popular day by day. This is not to say that the powerful entities aren’t working, it’s just that the little people have more power than Jenkins presumes.

The Second Idea – It was the emergence of participatory cultures of all kinds over the past several decades that has paved the way for the early embrace, quick adoption, and diverse use of platforms like YouTube. I find this idea to be more or less right. Everyday, new Apps pop out of the woodworks to entice us. If the cultures of gamers everywhere didn’t exist, the translator Apps for people who are not extremely into the culture wouldn’t be present today.

The Third Idea – YouTube represents a site where amateur curators assess the value of commercial content and re-present it for various niche communities of consumers. This is becoming increasingly evident. In the past, people collected home videos and shared it within the family, now the home videos are  YouTube videos chronicled for the world. He illustrates this idea by using Steven Colbert’s appearance at the Washington Press Club Dinner. He reminds us that while Colbert saw it as a viral platform, Viacom, the communications company where Colbert’s show is hosted, saw it as a threat to them and wanted to have the remixed clips off of YouTube.

The Fourth Idea -YouTube’s value depends heavily upon its deployment via other social networking sites — with content gaining much greater visibility and circulation when promoted via blogs, Live Journal, MySpace, and the like. This is not completely true. Although YouTube has gained some of its popularity via social media, people go to Youtube.com and surf the daily videos. These videos might be there because they are popular maybe via social media but it also gains a lot of popularity just by being on YouTube alone.

The Fifth Idea – YouTube operates, alongside Flickr, as an important site for citizen journalists, taking advantage of a world where most people have cameras embedded in their cellphones which they carry with them everywhere they go. He is largely right, although I reserve the right to say Flickr is sooooo out of date.

The sixth Idea – YouTube may embody a particular opportunity for translating participatory culture into civic engagement. He is stating that social ideas like politics are being influenced by social media. YouTube can essentially be a platform for social debate during a political debate. These political ideas might not be politically corrupt, they might be racist, sexist etc

The Seventh Idea – YouTube helps us to see the shifts which are occurring in the cultural economy: the grassroots culture appropriates and remixes content from the mass media industry; the mass media industry monitors trends and pulls innovations back into the system, amplifying them and spreading them to other populations. Jenkins has hit the nail on the head here. The big companies are paying the small company to broadcast their ideas when these ideas get big, the mass media machine monitor the popularity and spreads the trends. While the YouTube machine is great for amplification, mass media is slowly taking over the world. Thus, the mass media puts something out tehre, if it is successful, then they expand upon it.

The Eight Idea – In the age of YouTube, social networking emerges as one of the important social skills and cultural competencies that young people need to acquire if they are going to become meaningful participants in the culture around them. This is true but stressing the importance of social media makes it difficult to particpate in cultural experiences in our physical world. So, he is noting tha the digital divide is closed, but the bridge between humans and other humans via physical communication is changing.

The Ninth Idea – YouTube teaches us that a participatory culture is not necessarily a diverse culture. As John McMuria has shown us, minorities are grossly under-represented — at least among the most heavily viewed videos on YouTube, which still tend to come most often from white middle class males. He is esentially stating that less diverse media is popular. This is true to some extent, but things are changing.

Jenkins has some very stringent points that are largely true, but in this ever changing world, things are changing. His propositions are enpointé and logical but things are rapidly changing.

Advertisements

Multimedia

See that image up there, that’s a rollercoaster. I have been on several rollercoasters. There was once this roller coaster named “The experience” it was crazy. I was literally upside down at one point. I saw my legs swinging and i prayed to GOD to deliver me. Never gain, I said but two days later i was back again. Adrenaline junkie!

See that video up there, it’s funny as heck. Vines are like a 15 second video of funnyness. It’s awesome! Check it out!


This is a free preview of one of my most favorite songs ever; Holy Grail by Jay-Z Ft. Justin Timberlake! I adore it!

P.S I know you’re probably wondering why all these information is useful but it is a test of my multimedia prowess.

Podcasts and dicovering them

Podcasts are great. I only discovered them via iTunes a few years ago. Of course, being very curious, I downloaded a few and subscribed to some. Unfortunately, I didn’t take to them then because they seemed to me to be useless and full of drivel. I am a reader not  a listener. But, podcasts unsurprisingly has changed. People have found new uses and ways to innovate them. It has become wonderful. People now tell stories on them and edify others on prevalent issues in the society. It has become a legitimate medium.

In a recent article by Scott Pham titled Discovery Problem: Why It’s So Hard to Find New Podcasts, an emphasis on the discovery of podcasts is made. Scott Pham is the digital content editor for NPR member station KBIA.  He’s also the director of the Missouri Drone Journalism Program, a collaborative effort involving KBIA, the University of Missouri IT Program, and Reynolds Journalism Institute. Pham asks, “Why are podcasts so hard to discover?”. This is a legitimate question. Podcasts are becoming very popular. Radio shows are now uploading podcasts of their spiel in order to get more coverage and advertisers are capitalizing on the medium. Pham emphasizes the unavailability of discovery modes for podcasts.  Most people just know of iTunes i.e. moi. He notes that a lot of people just pick whatever is prevalent as the top 10 podcast. He cites Welcome to Night Vale hosted Cecil Baldwin as a show that rose to popularity and was not on the top 10 list. He does this to emphasize the need for discovery because there are good shows out there. We just have to find it.

 article; How to Evaluate Podcasts: Tips for Finding the Best Podcasts is an article that gives tips for finding podcasts. Walsh is the founder of Social Web Q and A and its parent entity SocialWebEnterprises.com. He is also a college instructor and reference librarian as well as the author of Savvy for the Social Web: The New Skills You Need to Survive and Thrive in the Digital Age. Walsh unlike Pham focuses on ways to find good podcasts. In addition to emphasizing the need for discovery, Pham tackles the issue of discovery by putting forward websites that can assist people in finding new podcasts that are not part of the top 10. Such as;

  • Podcast Thing
  • The AV Club, which regularly writes podcast reviews
  • Stitcher, which is a Spotify-like solution
  • Player. FM, a new app pushing the discovery angle
  • Swell, a digital audio app
  • AGOGO, another pusher of digital discovery

Walsh advises that when looking for podcasts that cater to our needs, we should;

  • Determine whether the podcast’s style is a good match for you

‡He advises this because nowadays there are several genres of podcasts. It’s just like TV. We have the new adults, young adults, adult genres.

  • Verify that the speakers are qualified to discuss the topic

‡You want to make sure that if the speakers are speaking to educate you they know what they are talking about. If it is for entertainment, then they can go for it.

  • Confirm that podcast is active and frequently updated

‡Anybody can post a podcast. It is easy to make. You want to make sure that whatever podcast you choose is being updated frequently unless it is for entertainment and you don’t mind listening to old episodes for entertainment.

  • Watch for excessive advertising

‡You can’t really find any podcasts without advertisements.  It is almost a  most that you will find it for podcasts sponsored by big names. Podcasts operated by smaller, independent companies will have them because it means that they would need some profit for the unpaid work they put in.

Walsh’s tips are good and I used it to find a podcast to listen to. I decided to listen to Welcome to Night Vale hosted Cecil Baldwin. It was almost like reading a book. I was able to find a transcript to go with it. It was awesome and bizarre. It was epiphany-cal. Great stuff. It starts with the main character; Cecil Hawkins (Yes, he’s named after the host of the show) who proceeds to read the news. The news is paradoxical and bizarre. Strange things happen. A dog park opens where no dogs or humans are allowed but that hooded figures might be seen there so don’t go there. Yeah. Bizarre. But awesome! A plane appears in a gymnasium where practice was going on and then disappears afterwards. Celie falls in love with Carlos whom he thinks is beautiful. Carlos is a scientist who has come to investigate the strange going ons in the town. Celie is clearly paranoid with reason. He is also funny. When he speaks of the waterfront with no water located in the desert, he says he’ll just wait for a flash flood before he visits to get the full water front experience. Aweeesooome. Hilarious craziness. Scients were able to hypothesize that a hous does not actually exist but is actually there? What? Apparently Angel and aliens exist. Oh and Angels like salts. Ridiculous. Apparently, thre are ghostly cars speeding unimaginable speeds going from unknown destinations to even more unknown destinations and of course if you match their speed you will not be considered as going with the flow of traffic but guess what? you can match speeds with the mysterious lights in the sky, as whatever entities or organizations are responsible appear to be cautious and reasonable drivers. Hellllloooo. It really doesn’t have a set plot but if you wanna howl out loud in laughter. You should totally listen to it

THE END≈

My Website Accessibility Review

The web conforms to certain guidelines to ensure its usability and accessibility. Two more common of these guidelines are the Section 508 guidelines and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG). According to Jim Thatcher “The legislation referred to as “Section 508″ is actually an amendment to the Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The  amendment was signed into law by President Clinton on August 7, 1998.  Section 508 requires that electronic and  information technology that is developed by or purchased by the Federal Agencies be accessible by people with  disabilities”.My website was created with HTML and CSS. I will be using the HTML section of the Section 508 guidleines to access my website. There are 15 pass/fail criteria for the HTML section.

(a) A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via “alt”, “longdesc”, or in element content).

All the images on my website have an alternate text. Unfortunately, most of the alternate text are somewhat verbose. I don’t have a background image. It’s just plain white. My images are purely aesthetic and not functional. I don’t have any audio content, although i have video. My video has captions as it is an embedded YouTube video. -Pass(ish)

(b) Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation.

The videos on my website have audio that is synchronized as well as captions that are synchronized. – Pass

(c) Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup.

While color is very much present on my webiste, it is not used solely to convey important information. There is also sufficient contrast. – Pass

(d) Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.

Absolutely. – Pass

(e) Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map.

This is not applicable to my webiste.- N/A

(f) Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape.

This is not applicable to my webiste. – N/A

(g) Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables.

This is not applicable to my webiste. – N/A

(h) Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers.

This is not applicable to my webiste. – N/A

(i) Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.

Yes. My video is embedded and has an iframe attribute. – Pass

(j) Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.

No element on the page flashes at a rate of 2 to 55 cycles per second, thus reducing the risk of optically-induced seizures. – Pass

(k) A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes.

-Fail. Although, i must say it’s only text anyway.

(l) When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology.

This is not applicable to my webiste. – N/A

(m) When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with §1194.21(a) through (l).

This is not applicable to my webiste. – N/A

(n) When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.

This is not applicable to my webiste. – N/A

(o) A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.

This is not applicable to my webiste. – N/A

(p) When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.

This is not applicable to my webiste. – N/A

I would say my website is very accessible. I do need to make my alternate text less verbose though.

Understanding Web Accessibility

Contents


Introduction

Shawn Lawton Henry leads worldwide education and outreach promoting web accessibility for people with disabilities at the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). The WAI works with several usability experts like Henry to make everyone’s experience better on the web. Henry’s book “Understanding Web Accessibility” is very useful to web publishers. Web Accessibility is according to Henry basically means that people with disabilities can use the Web. More specifically, web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web.

Examples

The Alt Text – Alternate Text

The alt text is very accommodating to people with disabilities and those without. People with disabilities are sometimes unable to view images if they are blind. The alt text will display an alternate text describing the description of the image. For example, if there is a cat image, a description saying black cat or whatever color will pop up instead of an image and people with disabilities will be able to view it or hear it depending on their disabilities. It is also useful for people without disabilities. If people with devices that don’t load images quickly or at all surf the web, the alternate text will be useful because it will pop up to describe the image.

Henry also goes on to expand on the other uses of usability techniques such as audio captions. She states “Captions are also beneficial for people in a noisy environment who cannot hear audio, as well as for people in a very quiet environment where it is not appropriate to play audio.” She also mentions device independence and clear and consistent design and navigation. Device independence is such that people who can’t use the mouse due to certain disabilities or people who don’t have a mouse available due to their device type can still use the web successfully.

She also asserts that usability is very important especially to certain caches of people. People who are older, people with low literacy, people not fluent in the Language, people with low-bandwidth connections and older technologies and new web users.

Interdependent Components of Web Accessibility

Many things need to come together for the web to be completely accessible to everyone. Many people rely on the web to make their world go round. The accessibility of the web not only rests on the author of the webpage, there are many shoulders it rests upon. Web tools are interdependent. The components of the web are divided into the human and the technical. According to Henry, the technical side includes;

Authoring tools which refers to any software or service that developers use to produce, create, or modify web content.

 Web content which generally refers to the information in a web page or web application, including text, images, forms, sounds, and such, as well as the markup and code that defines the structure, presentation, and interaction.

Technical specifications refers to Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and such. They are also called web technologies and markup languages.

Evaluation tools: Software programs or online services that help determine if a web page meets accessibility guidelines or standards. See the “Myth: Evaluation Tools Can Determine Accessibility and Conformance” section later in this chapter for more about evaluation tools.

User agents: Web browsers, media players, assistive technologies, and other software that people use to access and interact with web content.

Assistive technologies: Software and hardware that people with disabilities use to improve interaction with the Web. Examples include screen readers that read aloud web pages for people who cannot see or read text, and voice-input software and switches for people who cannot use a keyboard or mouse. An official definition is: Any item, piece of equipment, product, system or software, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.

The human side includes;

Tool developers: The people and organizations who develop user agents, assistive technologies, authoring tools, and evaluation tools.

Users: People using the Web, sometimes called website visitors.

Content developers: The people and organizations who design, code, write, edit, update, and otherwise create web content. This includes web programmers, graphic designers, technical writers, project managers, blog commenters, wiki contributors, secretaries who edit their organization’s website, and others.

Approaches to Web Accessibility

There are several ways to improve web accessibility;

    1. Involve people with disabilities so that they can provide insight.
    2. Understanding the Issues. A very good method of doing this is to follow the guidelines listed on the website.

Henry also focuses on the myths surrounding accessibility and the relationship between accessibility and usability.

Conclusion

Henry is very proficient and obviously knowledgeable about web accessibility. She has followed the concepts herself by having alternate text for her website. She breaks down the information smoothly. It is very clear but it is obvious that her intended audience are students who are taking web publishing classes. She gives examples that would not be ordinarily accessible to someone who has never taking a web publishing class. She mentions the tools that help the web work and references HTML. This is something i would not have understood before taking this class, so it is easy to note that she has a specific audience. She also frequently references web designers, after all, they are the ones who can make the web accessible to all. Take a look at this website. It is a very fascinating website that is not very accessible to most people. It can’t be enlarged. This whole screen looks like this;

It’s a book that has pictures, handwriting, videos etc. Very Cool. But, it doesn’t zoom. It is tiny and hard to read for anyone. This is dissuading to someone who would like to read it.

Web accessibility is very important. If the web is not accessible, people won’t enjoy it and so won’t visit.

Functionality Vs. Aesthetics: Photos as Web Content

With the advent of websites like Instagram and the success of it, it is getting more apparent that users like images. Most People don’t want to just see blocks of text on the screen. These images while visually stimulating can also be ignored by users. It can be ignored when it looks like and advert or when it looks too inconsequential, for example, people will look at background images for like one second before looking to see other images that are relevant to what they want. Jakob Nielsen, on  November 1, 2010 wrote an article on Photos as Web Content. Nielsen holds 79 United States patents, mainly on ways of making the Internet easier to use. He holds a Ph.D  and is a co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g).  The NN/g is a website that researches user experiences on websites. So, Nielsen is very qualified and is a good position to give advice on web usability. His article posits that users pay close attention to photos and other images that contain relevant information but ignore fluffy pictures used to “jazz up” Web pages. As a user of the web, my experience has also been in teaching with his position. He explores certain websites and how productive their images are. Do they give the reader productive and relevant information or do they just exist so to make the page look better?

Nielsen’s articles details results on eyetracking research that he put together. His results showed him that;

  • Some types of pictures are completely ignored. This is typically the case for big feel-good images that are purely decorative.
  • Other types of pictures are treated as important content and scrutinized. Photos of products and real people (as opposed to stock photos of models) often fall into this category.

He uses a set of pictures to drive home his point.

people-photos-fixations

As you will note in the picture above, there is a long list of pictures with paragraphs and names. This picture is a list of all the people who work at a particular company. This list is obviously not to jazz up the page. It doesn’t serve an aesthetic purpose, it serves a functional one. This long list is there so that consumers can have a sense of who they are talking to and connect to them. It is not the feel good photo of people just sitting down posted on the website with no considerate value. It is important to the user.

Take a look at this picture below.

jazzy-photo-not-seen

The people in that picture are obviously not relevant. That page is the Yale page of admission, as Nielsen continues, it has no relevance to the admission page. The purpose of the page is to help people through the admission purpose not show them the high life of the people currently admitted into the school. What does that picture say? It says to me, look at me we are wearing clothes and on a computer. I think to it, “so?”. Not useful.

Nielsen goes on to show the particular merits of having individual pictures in e-commerce sites. It is important to show relevant information pertaining to products in a manner that tells the user that this is why this content is important. He also goes on to show the merits of having large images when requested. When you go on e-commerce sites, you don’t want the image too big unless you request it to be so. maybe you want to see different angles in which the beautiful shoe you are trying to purchase looks. That’s when you should show big images not anytime before.

Nielsen’s article is clear in that it shows the various images and the do’s and don’ts that accompany them. He is very persuasive but since this article was written in 2010, it doesn’t exactly explore manners in which their uses have changed.

Today, images can be gateways to content rather thanjust accompaniments. At the Healthcare website, it is very evident. This is the first page of the website.

healthcare

The four Icons that are shown in the image, the phone, the computer, the notepad  and a network of people are links to different places. Although there is content on the page, it is evident that those icons dominate the page. When a person goes to the page, the image immediately arrests the gaze, it provides information. It says to the user, click me and make things easier for yourself. Ignore all that other garbage, I’m here. Pictures have undergone a little bit of evolution and have gone from fluff and accompaniment to relevant and clickable web content.

Website Critique and Reflection

In The Beginning…

As if anyone didn’t already know, my professor for my publishing for the web class; Prof. Olin Bjork requested that all students create a website. Considering the fact that I had no prior experience whatsoever, I think it is safe to say that I have progressed. Not that I can now build whatever I want, but I now have the basic groundwork. I can work with HTML & CSS. This is a HUGE feat. I am thankful to Allah that I took this class. It has thought me so much.

WEBSITE PROPOSAL

In my first proposal, I posited that I was going to make a website that would track how words are created and disseminated.  It was supposed to be able to enable people to be able to create words, track its movement  online and by word of mouth. Every member on the website would have had to catalogue their words and put up a definition and at least two examples of its uses. My professor proposed that it was too huge a project. I concurred. He gave me suggestions which I approved. This new website would discuss  strategies to assist people in tracking words, discussing how new words become popular and make it into dictionaries, and introduce good sources on etymology can be beneficiary to the English language. To some extent it has fulfilled that role but it needs extensive work regarding the one example I gave. I was going to add a wiki for people to add in words. This idea did not come into fruition because I was unable to find a free wiki that would enable members to total over at the very least 6 members. In the end, i decided to change my idea and have  a reference page rather than a wiki page.

WEB DESIGN

Web design is hard. First you have to learn it. Yeah. It was hard to learn, mainly because I didn’t do the exercise in the textbook. I spent countless hours in the library figuring out how to use Dreamweaver. It was grueling work but in the end I learned.  My Original site diagram looked like this.

Site Diagram Below

It was supposed to have a homepage that led to several new windows. The current site has that. It was also supposed to lead to member sign-in pages, a reference page (Link for Dictionary), two tracking systems (How to track words & How new words usually spread), examples, Wiki, FAQ and Profile page. My new website doesn’t have all of this. This is my current homepage.

Current Homepage Below

As you will note, there is a homepage, a tutorial, examples, references, extra, about me and FAQ menu. It is vastly different from my original plan. There is no profile page or member sign-in page, there isn’t a How to track words & How new words usually spread tab. There is however the FAQ and dictionary/reference page. In my current page, there is a About me and extra tab that isn’t present in the site diagram. The wiki was sadly too much for me to handle. I had imagined all these amazing things that didn’t some to fruition either because I didn’t know how to do it or because it was too huge a project for the semester.

TEMPLATE DESIGN

Here lies my template design and my actual website draft…

Site Template Below

Site Template

Site Draft Template Below

The site template has a search box, the website draft doesn’t. The proximity of the vertical navigation tab compared to each other is the same except for the margin on the website draft. They both have a horizontal navigation bar that is more or less the same. The banner is certainly larger for the draft while the template’s is smaller. The template has a promotional sub-banner, the draft doesn’t. There also isn’t a new section in the draft. The footer of the template is not present in the draft. The website draft is austere compared to the rich, full template.

WEBSITE PEER REVIEW

My professor assigned to the class peer review partners. Mine was Justin Mueller. He had quite a bit to say. He recommended that i put titles for my webpages, something I originally forgot to do as I copied my Index page in order to duplicate and edit webpages. I gratefully took his advice. Since I had initially wanted a wiki and did not not in fact get one, he proposed that I change the name of the ‘Wiki’ tab to references since I only had references there. My initial banner did not have a clear pictorial element and he mentioned that which made me add one. My horizontal navigation tab was not delineated from the banner because they were the same color, he advised me to change it and I did. He also advised that i have links supporting my examples page, I did and he didn’t catch that (Ha!){lol}. He also felt that my contact and about me pages were small and that my FAQ was redundant. Although i already felt these things, it was particularly painful to hear it from him. At the end of the day, I changed things around and he was right {I did not admit that!}.

WEBSITE RUBRIC

As a teacher, my professor of course had to grade my work. He had a rubric. The criterion included Correctness, Content, Design, Deliverables and Specifications ( Page number, Audio/Video component, HTML, CSS, Markups, Title/Headings, Banner, Navigation, Links, Text are and Image area). He has asked me to grade myself. I mean what better way to catch a mistake than to make my feel-guilty, don’t lie persona grade my self (And they say teachers don’t catch things!). With my correctness, I think I had correct grammar and proofread my work diligently. I would give myself a 9 1/2 out of 10. The .5 being for a margin of error. As to the content, I will give myself a 9 (Ok. 8.5 :() out of ten. I din’t give enough exploration into my topic, something i hope to correct when he gives us revisions at the end of the semester. I will give myself a 10 out of 10 for the design. I love the improvement i made. The banner is beautiful and the fonts and navigation tabs compliment it.  As for the deliverables, i think i did 10 out of 10 also. I attached a style sheet, my markup is validated (I think), I have two videos and several links to other sources. Last i checked, all my links work. So awesome on the specifications too! I definitely need to improve on my content though… Definitely.

Website Design Mistakes

Undoubtedly, i must have made some of the mistakes I discussed in my last website about the top ten webdesign mistakes. Fist thing that pops to mind is not having a search box. Oops. Now people can’t search my site :(. My font was specified using CSS. I hope people know how to Ctrl +. I shall have to fix that as soon as i can.

The End

So yeah, it was a roller-coaster ride  
I can now safely say that I am better at web mark-up and design than when I started this project. I have learnt my limitations and I am better for it. Hopefully when that revision comes, I will be ready.

Now…The End 

Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design

Jakob Nielsen wrote an Article in January 2011 about the top ten mistakes of web design. I happen to agree with most of them with the exception of the eighth one which I mostly agree with. I believe that innovation is the key to extending the user’s schema of what websites should look like. It’s important that websites follow the norms but it is also at the same time, important they deviate to challenge the user and the web. I have listed the ten web design problems that Nielsen posited with my own context and mainly subjective views.The top ten mistakes in web designs according to Nielsen are very common to the populace.

When you go to a page and things don’t work as they are supposed to, you get dissuaded and close the page. This is unfortunate for both you and the author’s page will not have optimal use and the user will not get the information needed.The first is ‘the bad search’. Take a search engine like Google. When you type in misspelled words, it automatically prompts you to change it and also provides you with the correct information. For many other websites, the opposite is true. For example, when you go to a dictionary website, a very obvious example, and you enter a word, it might not come up. Sure, it’s a website for grammatically correct words, but isn’t the reason you are going to an online dictionary either to find the correct spelling or pronunciation or meaning. When you type in a word whose spelling is incorrect, it replies you,’ no results found’ and will not suggest other words. When I go on a webpage and I can’t immediately find what I am looking for, I immediately look to the right hand corner of the page to locate a search box and type in the word I am looking for. Sometimes, there’s only a random number of phrases I remember about something, I type all the random words in the search box, if it brings it up, I am happy. When it doesn’t, I exit the page. It is very important to have a good search engine as it promotes prolonged and satisfying usage by a user.

The second problem are PDF’s. PDF’s are great; when I want to print something or use animation within a page. They are greatonly when embedded in a page. Scrolling down page, if I come across a PDF, I don’t want it to link to another page that I have to wait to load up. It is terribly dislocating. The PDF layouts are usually optimized for a sheet of paper which is good for printing after you download it. Sometimes the PDF’s are embedded and have browser like commands such as printing and enlarging which is good when you open it as a link without saving, but this is only available in a page exclusively build to open PDF’s promptly. PDF’s are also usually long and don’t have enough white space within it (within the borders of the words) to relax the eyes and improve the flow of a reader because PDF’s are usually converted from pages intended for printing and not online reading. PDF’s are not editable within a page, you have to save it then download it. Annoying. Sometimes, when you want to quote something and you cut and paste it on a word document, it comes out with crazy formatting. Disconcerting. It is import to only use PDF’s for what it is intended for, printing and distributing manuals.

Thirdly, Visited Links. Imagine a list on a webpage. You pick randomly in other to source good information. If the visited links are do not change color. You can end up clicking on it twice and finding the same document. This can lead to frustration and disuse of a webpage.

Fourthly, Non-scannable text. Pages should be interactive and user friendly. In the old days before the improvement of the World Wide Web, the web was just a notepad. Walls of text aroused the reader’s interest because the web was a new phenomenon and those walls of text also disinterested the user because it gave them a headache. Information should be inputted smoothly and spatially. White space gives the illusion that the web content is small and easy to digest. Huge walls of text just make the reader turn off their brain. This is precisely why most people don’t like to read contracts due to the tiny letters and spatial definition. That’s why corporate lawyers have a job. When a web page is a huge blob of content, the reader exits the page. There are several ways to prevent that, such as using subheads, bullet heads, highlighted key words, short paragraphs and white space.

Fifthly, fixed font size. Presenting your webpage with a small font size is your prerogative, but there are people out there with optical problems. With the advent of CSS, an author can easily disable a browser’s ability to increase or decrease font size. This is off putting and has the reader do more work for something that should be easily amendable. A user should be allowed the opportunity to resize text just like an author has the prerogative to produce text in one size.

Sixthly, the page title. It is important to name a web page in such a manner that the name tells you what the content is. If a user goes to your page and favorites it, it is most likely the tag that would pop up as a default save name. It is also important to tag webpages. When a reader is looking for something via the internet, a few phrases are popped into the search engine. Take a blog for example, when you publish a new entry it is immensely useful to tag the blog entry with several informational tags relating to the main points of the page. When a person types a particular phrase into the search engine, webpages with tags exactly like the terms searched or relating to it will pop up.Seventhly, Adverts. Ugh. Those are the worst internet phenomenon ever created, from the user’s perspective. Pop-ups are a very close second. When a user goes to a page to find information, it is very important that they don’t have sections that are part of the page looking like adverts. When a person sees an advert-like section, it is automatically inputted in their brains as unimportant and disturbing. Flashy adverts and pop-ups dissuade the readers from looking at information because it is slated to look like an advert, although pertinent to the webpage.Eighthly, Violating design conventions. People don’t like change. When a website deviates from the norm, it invariably fails unless it’s a totally new phenomenon, like Instagram which recently rose into popularity. The webpage is just pictures and videos, but people use it because it is a relatively new phenomenon and Instagram arguably set the trend. Facebook is an old hat. Sometimes, they change the way they do things, and every time they do, they lose people, example, me. They overhauled the system about a year ago, and that pissed me off. I was confused and agitated because it didn’t look like it used to before, there were new problems that I had to deal with. It is important that a website be consistent with the norm unless it is a niche website; a website that is particularly devoted to a certain thing, like Instagram. When a link is clicked on, it should turn purple and when a website consists of more than one page, it should have a recognizable theme.Ninthly, Opening new Browsers. A page almost invariably has links to several other pages. It is accepted. It is also the user’s prerogative to be able to open the link on a separate page if they want to or keep it on the same page if they want to. With a page that has several links, opening it in a new browser window is particularly agitating. A user might prefer to open the new page on the same page without having it pop-up in a new tab to cloud their computer. An author should have the website opening to the same page because most computers have a pop-up menu that can open the link on a new page, if so preferred. A default mechanism should be that the new page replaces the old one unless specifically slated as such. One of the websites in particular that bugs me is the University of Houston-Downtown Blackboard web page. There are several links to take a user to the Blackboard page. When one clicks on blackboard through the e-services page,

Blackboard Entry Page 1
it links to a page prompting you to once again click on blackboard.

Blackboard Entry Page 2
When you click on the blackboard link, it automatically opens a new tab linking you to the sign-in page.

Blackboard Entry Page 3
This is very annoying and exasperating and has forced me to store the direct link to memory so I don’t have to go through it again. It is very important to give the user a choice to open a new webpage so as to encourage them to continually use the webpage.

Tenthly, Not answering user’s questions. The other day, my friend wanted to know how much an internet plane would cost. So like any web-savvy person, she typed in the website address for the internet company. She was unable to find the price of a basic internet service plan and had to call customer service, then wait for minutes before they picked up, then had to give them her name and address before they told her how much a basic internet service cost. At the end of the day, it was too expensive. If the website had simply put the price online, my friend wouldn’t have had to go through all this trouble to find out that she couldn’t afford their service and now they have her address and so can send her junk mail.

In order to improve the usability of websites, one should strive to avoid mistakes that drive away users. Nielsen’s list is more prevalent in 2011 than in 2013 because of the advent and popularity of niche websites like Instragarm and Vine. It is also less prevalent because people are more of the mindset that the Internet is an ever changing idea. One of the problems that I find with web design in 2013 are screen sizes. With the advent of this tablet and that that tablet nowadays, it is important that whatever layout we use for our website is fluid. Applications and mobile versions of the website are also very useful. The mobile versions are a little iffy though. Mobile versions usually don’t have the same information and images and videos are not usually optimized properly due to the size. Every tome I surf the web on my mobile device, I always choose a desktop version. Another problem with this is that website authors usually default to the mobile versions. It is unattractive because as a user I should have the choice to use which ever I use. Perhaps a screen could pop up asking if one wanted to use a mobile version or a desktop version rather than sending the user by default to a mobile version.