Sunday, June 28, 2009

Back to life, back to reality

This past Monday could not be described as a Moody Monday since I was enjoying my time away at the beach. However, tomorrow I must face the reality of going back to work and starting life once again as I know it . . . once again, we will also take the time to learn more about web design. This week's Graphics Lab project was a true test of what we have learned over the past 4 weeks. Creating our own collage became more challenging than I would have imagined compared to the other projects; none the less, it was a great learning experience.

The project this week got me thinking about all the people who start creating web sites thinking, "I can do this quickly and it will be easy!" It can be but many just throw something together because they don't want to take the time to use the creative side of their brain. Letting just anyone create a website is NOT always a good idea; its almost like receiving junk mail in your Sunday paper . . . I only want to read what I am looking for so you better send me something that catches my eye or I am not wasting my time reading it. "What's the point?" My point is, the creator of the web page must take into consideration his/her audience and the usability & accessibility of the web site itself. It is a big mistake to confuse usability with accessibility. Don't think that one is less important than the other. Optimizing a site's usability will help to make it more accessible for a wider audience. In the same breath, making a site more accessible will welcome the usability of that site. So what have we learned?

Accessibility can be defined as the ability to access the functionality and possible benefit of the website by as many users as possible (including able or disabled persons).

Usability can be defined as the effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction of the website by it's users.

"So what's the benefit?" The benefit of creating your own website is simply money! It's much cheaper to do it yourself because you could end up paying someone thousands. This is especially true if you are very particular to what you are looking for in the website. Even than, there are no guarantees on what you will receive for the money you spent so if you have the time, patience, creativity than do it yourself. "But I don't know HTML code as well as a professional!" Lucky for you, technology has come a long way and there are programs out there that can help. By using these website tools, the code is embedded for you as you place graphics and titles. This allows the designer to learn the code that goes into the website design. Even when writing this blog, I see the tab to edit the HTML. When I click on it, several lines of HTML code appear from my web blog. If I want, I can manipulate the code that is already written to enhance (or deform) my web blog.

As you can see, each week we assemble another piece of the puzzle to create our own web page. We are learning how to use tools provided to us by technology in order to create a beautiful web page for our last week of class. Hopefully we will take that education and apply it to our every day lives.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Breaking the law, breaking the law

This week we were asked to complete a HTML lab to present in class. So I plead to the jury that I have successfully completed this assignment and have submitted it on time using the drop box in blackboard. It was necessary for me to do so since I will not be with you on Monday night. "So what!" you exclaim. Well, I have broken some of the rules that we have learned in our readings when creating the vocab html. "How?" you ask so puzzling. Just look at the evidence; our professor might be kind enough to show you the facts of my project this week in my absence. The intent of the vocab HTML page was to practice using HTML code. Based on this fact, I am asking for a reprieve since I broke some of the rules for this exercise to make a point, "I did understand the rules". For example, I underlined the terms but they were not linked (sue me); truly this is not a good practice and personally would not like the misleading information if I were you. I used rainbow colors as text and though you could read them, there was no rhyme or reason for using these colors (what a rebel). I did however align the terms to the left, utilized proper spacing & font sizes, enlarged the title and provided a link to another vocab related website. So people of the jury, I did follow the general rules of the project. I understand that the vocab HTML project I prepared is not the prettiest but I understand my crime and am willing to face the charges (by the way, I was just making a point).

Let's now cover some of the facts in evaluating 2 other websites, the criteria in which the evaluation is done along with how to apply this information to future website projects. I will briefly review 5 areas: authority, coverage or purpose, currency, objectivity and accuracy.
Since I am away on vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, my wife and I took a look at My wife actually wanted to do some shopping with the kids since it was overcast today . . . "wonderful". As I was looking at the website I was being overly critical (Thank you Professor Mislevy). The title page of the website was presentable, warm and inviting. Click on 'enter site' and "BLAM"! Tons of information scattered throughout the page. Blinking graphics, hard to read text, links that do not bring you back to the home page and the list goes on. The website did cover several different activities, was up to date and well detailed but did not use CRAP to it's fullest (do you remember CRAP? If not, reference my week 1 blog, Walking through a spider web).

Since it was overcast, windy and the kids were dying to go to the beach after being here 2 days you would have thought I went to but instead went to This is a very resourceful website that interactively allows you to view the weather anywhere (Hawaii seems nice this time of year). You can easily follow the links back and forth from page to page. You can also select information that covers the weather anywhere & anyway you would like to see it. The website is clear, concise with properly placed graphics, fonts, texts and alignments. As with the Rehoboth Beach website, there is a ton of information that is covered but in this website it is laid out in a format that leads you to where you want to go without getting lost on the linked pages. Lucky for me, I will not need to go to because tomorrow the weather is supposed to be wonderful. The website will get a worse review if they are not 'accurate' about tomorrow's weather but they have clearly covered their purpose, objective, authority and currency in understandable detail.

Moving forward, I have learned my lesson about bad website designs and will follow the CRAP I have learned. I will take into consideration the authority, purpose, currency, objectivity and accuracy. For more detail on evaluating these areas, please visit

Sunday, June 14, 2009

You say you'll change the resolution . . .

"You say you got a real solution, well, you know . . . we'd all love to see the plan (the Beatles, Revolution)." If you remember from last week, the web was actually around in the 60's, so maybe John Lenon was on to something when he wrote this song and maybe, he meant resolution!
See, the story goes that Ringo was actually trying to send John a picture of Chairman Mao over the Internet. Unfortunately, John was tired of waiting for the picture to load and the rest is history, thus the song!
This was a bad idea to just attach and send the picture. If Ringo would have taken the time to do a little homework, he would have understood a few basic concepts when dealing with digital photography (just play along).
The original picture of Chairman Mao was originally printed using CMYK color. When the actual digital picture was uploaded, index color was used. Though the pic might looked dithered, RGB colors would now be used on the computer image (yes, all 256 colors).
There are several different forms of file formatting that Ringo could have used in this situation (TIFF, JPEG, GIF, etc.) The file format tells the computer what kind of file it is. Typically with a picture, Ringo should have saved the image as a JPEG. A JPEG file can contain 16.7 million colors also known as 24 bit which is preferred for digital photographs.
Ringo could have also compressed the file. There are several ways to compress a file. Cropping the picture by cutting out all the unnecessary "white space" changes the amount of pixels being sent. Since Ringo probably didn't know any better, 800 x 600 pixels is a safe way to send the picture using 72 ppi. He could have re-sized the picture which would have changed the size of the picture without affecting quality. He could have also sent the picture using a medium quality versus a higher quality resolution.
To ensure better speed when opening the photo, Ringo should have checked the KB of the photo. It is good to keep the image between 30 & 100KB. He could have also used a feature called re-sampling but this changes the pixel dimensions and negatively affects the quality of the picture.
After all of this, you ask, why didn't he just scan the original printed photo instead of uploading the digital photograph. Great question! See, a scanner analyzes an image by use of OCR (optical character recognition). So in this case, Ringo's scanner did not have the best optical resolution so interpolation could have occurred which would have derogated the quality of the photo.
Lenon finished his song, "But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao, you ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow. Don't you know it's gonna be all right." John wrote this song for Ringo explaining the importance of resolution and it was all right, all right, all right!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Walking through a spider web . . .

What is the web? No, not what is a web . . . we all know that spiders spin webs and I guess now that you mention it, a web could be symbolic of the World Wide Web. We use the Internet to travel the information highway all around the World as far and as Wide as we can imagine all interconnected like a Web. Newsgroups, mailing lists, search engines, blogs, podcast and even Nana's baked lasagna recipe that you were not supposed to post. "Shame on you!"

I discovered that the web has been around since the 60's but everyone was trying to change the course of history and didn't really care about it than. Oh well, its pretty popular now and it was nice to learn what all these acronyms actually stand for (i.e. URL, uniform resource locator). But FYI, it's OK with me if we use the abbreviations.

Honestly, even though I know better, I'm the guy that expects the search engine to bring back exactly what I was looking for. A search engine searches through a database using robots and spiders (there's that spider again) to identify another site's content for what you are searching for. Directories are broken down into subject categories and are a more efficient way to drill down to what you are looking for. No more getting tangled up in the web for me!

You all know how much you like junk mail another form of printed advertising. So why don't we all just create web pages instead? Well, there is a time and place for printed advertisements and web pages. In a nutshell, I now understand that printing is more portable, cheaper to read, better developed, reliable and space is measured in inches (did I mention its easier to read in the bathroom . . . sorry). Yet, the web's advantage is infinite. It's cheaper to design, easier to update, has a better visual spectrum of colors, you can archive information using minimal space, you can utilize "cross-marketing", improve ease of customer response, space is measured in pixels . . . I think you get the point!

At this point, you can see I have learned CRAP. Come on, relax, that's not what I am talking about. CRAP is an acronym for Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity. Now that I am over analyzing every newspaper article and catalog, my time in the bathroom has increased two fold. Contrast can be defined simply as creating a focal point for your eye ensuring that other elements follow a hierarchy on the referenced page. Repetition ensures that the elements of the page are being tied in together. Alignment brings order, DON'T MIX ALIGNMENTS! Proximity refers to the relationship between items on the web page and how they belong together. All of this spun together creates a spectacular web page of CRAP! By the way, check your spelling . . . the acronym should probably be CRAPS!

Graphic design obviously plays a vitale role in our every day life. Whether it is at work or at home, it all depends on the application, a good designer needs to understand their audience so that the best source (web or print) is utilized to grab the consumer's attention. The designer must also keep up with the latest technology so that they can stay a cut ahead of the competition.

Check me out next week for more Moody Monday Montra!