Lack of Layers

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Comment on the information architecture of the site you have chosen. Are there places where the organization and layering could be improved?

The organization of the site I will be using for my final project happens to be the main issue I noticed, hence why I chose it. The site appears at first glance to be very organized. By this I mean that there are tabs across the top with clear headings, and all of which lead the viewer to a page that contains the desired information. However, the problem is that once the viewer gets to that page, there is no organization to guide the viewer through the page. Each page just has large paragraphs of information without any sub headings at all. There is not one link that brings the viewer to another page. This means that there is literally no layering throughout the site.

We learned that a website is often like a stack of note cards with the top note card having a large topic, which leads you to a smaller and more concise topic each time you flip to the next card. This is symbolizing a website user selecting a heading or broad topic in hopes to go through several guiding layers to find the exact, desired information.

I think that if I took the information seen under each tab and broke it down into categories and sub categories, and then created more headings and links to that information, that it could actually be a very useful site.

I think this is an interesting web design program because it includes a necessary element of good web design, the layering affect, right in the title.

Final Website

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I want to start off by talking about the headings of the website I have chosen to use for the final project. The headings read: Home, Products and Services, Frequently Asked Questions, News, Contact Us, and Client Inquiry. These headings, or tabs rather, are seen straight across the top of the website. They are white text with a red background, which as we learned is common for headings. When you click on the heading, new information appears for each. So, it would seem as if this website is off to a good start. However, once you look at the information and graphics provided on each tab, you might see where the website needs some work.

Under most of the headings, you will find content that is presented in paragraph style. As Redish discusses, there is a type of writing style that one would need to use for an effective website; however, this paragraph style just isn't it. There are no links to continue forward looking through the website. Also, the graphics are simple, slightly irrelevant, and out of date.

Another thing that needs to be updated, as I described actually in an earlier blog, is the news portion of the site. The latest news portion seen on the site is from 2007, even though there has been a lot of current news out there for this company. Also, the copyright on the bottom of the page reads 2007 as well, even though this website is the current usable website for the company.

There are a lot of things I would change about this website, and I am eager to dig deeper into the project.

Poor website breakdown

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As quoted on Web Style Guide, 3rd Edition, "Good typography establishes a visual hierarchy for rendering prose on the page by providing visual punctuation and graphic accents that help readers understand relations between prose and pictures, headlines and subordinate blocks of text."

I am quoting this to help me discuss the homepage of the website I have chosen. On the home page of the Marquette Transportation Finance page, there is one small heading that reads, "Welcome to Marquette Transportation Finance." Below this three lengthy paragraphs are seen in the same font as the heading, yet only seen slightly smaller. The text is not allowing the reading to differentiate between the heading and pictures as the heading is not large enough, and there are no photos between the text to describe it. The only photo seen on the page is to the far right, and is of a un-titled truck. The only thing the photo offers is an idea that maybe some sort of transportation is involved in the company; however, in reality the photo offers little as that information is clearly stated in the title of the company. The text offers us nothing as it is long and has no bold titles. No one would really read through it. Rather, they might look up the company on another page to receive the desire information, or they would continue on to see if there is a more efficient and organized page to review.

I am going to take another quote from this reading to further explain why the home page, along with the entire set up of the site, is malfunctioned. The quote reads, "The spatial organization of graphics and text on the web page can engage users with graphic impact, direct their attention, prioritize the information they see, and make their interactions with your web site more enjoyable and efficient."

The reason I am including this quote is because I would like to touch on the spatial organization of the website. This website does not engage its users because the information they is not prioritized. Although there are tabs listed at the top of the page, each tab relays the same set up of large paragraphs of wording. The only page that offers a graphic that may be of use to the user is under the contact page where a map is listed that allows users to find a representative based on a state. I do not see how a user would find this website enjoyable or efficient.

One might argue that a finance website of this sort does not need to necessarily be enjoyable; however, the one thing I do think this website is necessary for is to prove the company is credible. I do not feel this website proves that, and an example of this would be that the latest news posted is from 2007. In the reading it states that, the site needs to organize the "content into taxonomies and hierarchies of information." The latest news articles may be listed in hierarchies of information as the newest article is listed first; however, does this even matter if the newest information is from over three years ago?

http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/Evaluate.html">

I am including this link because I think it is comical. I went to find another website that could help me evaluate mine, yet found one that lacked usability as it was trying to teach me about a good website.

Podcasts and YouTube

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YouTube and podcasts change my understanding of writing on the web in a few different ways. I am going to talk about each individually.

YouTube changing the meaning of writing to me because it is website that allows any person to contribute a video to it. By this I mean that the videos posted online are monitored only in a sense of appropriateness, not by content. If the video has inappropriate material, it can be removed, but it does not matter what the content or quality of the video is beyond this. I bring this up because this brings up the question that many debate, "What is art?" In the same sense, what is a good video or good video writing? Someone could throw something together quickly and post in on youtube and say, "I am a movie maker." So I would question whether or not the video can t be constituted as one by looking at the quality of the writing behind it. Also, writing for video is very different than on paper. You have to make sure that the writing fits the images presented, and that it is slow or fast enough to keep the viewer's understanding, along with their attention.

As for podcasts, I think that the writing style is very important. As I read the grammar girl entry, I found it very hard to keep track of all of the different myths she was correcting, as there were several. I found it much easier when I pulled up the script to follow along. With this being said, a writer of a blog needs to either make sure the content is easy to follow by keeping the script simplistic or very well organized, or they need to offer a script to follow along with. I then would question, is a podcast successful as a podcast if a person needs a script to follow along with? Why not just have it in written form if the script is going to be necessary? With these questions, I might re-consider what the definition of a true podcast might be.

http://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/term/159122.html

Usability

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The case study that was provided on Health and Human services website was a very good example on how to test the usability of the website. It was interesting to see exactly which parts of the website were not user friendly on the image on page 47. I think that people generally go towards the search bar first on a web page, especially if they are not finding what they are looking for, so it is helpful to see that on the initial webpage in this study that the search bar was missed. Along with people not noticing that there was a search bar, they also thought that a drop down bar titled, "select a topic" was a search function. It shows that the average website user can often be almost absent minded when searching a page. It almost seems that a user's expectations are so high of web usability that they expect they know what things are, such as the search button, without absorbing what they actually say.

They was a section I want to touch on that talked about what lessons were learned from the case study. The lesson I want to specifically mention is the one that reads, "Someone has to be in charge to keep the home page (and the rest of the site) focused on your users' needs and your business goals." I think that this lesson is the most important one to keep in mind because since things are always changing, and mostly always finding ways to become more readable and usable, web designers need to make sure they are always checking with clients or staff to make sure that the page is still as usable as it can be. For example, approximately every three months facebook changes up the layout of the page. Although users often react annoyed for the first few days because they are now using something they are not familiar with, in the long run the new set up usually becomes favored because it has been adapted to what is now more usable.

Overall, I think that high website usability is key because it determines whether or not a user is going to keep coming back the site.

My preferred usability

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Are you a "linear" or "non-linear" reader? How does your experience compare with readings for this week?

I believe I am a non-linear reader. It is interesting to me because I did not read this prompt questions prior to reading the selected readings for this week. Thus, it was a great exercise for me to review three sites talking about the given topic, without knowing that I was going to answer whether or not I was a linear reader or not.

To support why I think I am a linear reader, I want to explain how I viewed the readings. For the first reading, I went through and read the subheads, and also noticed that there was a chart I was going to review. It was interesting because after I initially skimmed the site, I went back and started reading it. The first paragraph was about how I, as a reader, would skim the text and look for bold words and sub heads. I then went through the chart, and chose which one I thought was the most readable. I choose the combined text as my first choice, and the scannable as my second. I then noticed that there were percentages next to the options, and that my first choice had the largest percent usability. It seems that I review websites and text very similar to other people since I initially scanned the website, and also chose the most popular web format as the most pleasing to me.

To support that I scan websites before I read through it in a linear fashion, I am going to include an example from the website with the eye patterns on it. Before I even read the opening paragraph, I went down to the photos and looked at them. It was interesting because I tried to decode what they meant by looking at them before I thought of reading the descriptive paragraph above them. After the photos interested me, I was very interested in reading about them. It proves that I must prefer learning visually, and that perhaps a website that has descriptive photos would be the most beneficial to my learning style.


http://www.directcreative.com/blog/eye-tracking-websites

This site relates to this blog, and shows further examples of eye tracking and usability for websites.

A book's Life

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Do you think the book is here to stay?

"Hypertext seldom exists as pure text without any graphics. Today, hypertext is usually hypermedia, as it is on the World Wide Web, and hypermedia offers a second challenge to the printed book." (Bolter).

I took this quote from Bolter because I think it supports the answer I am going to provide for this question. I want to first touch on the fact that it is very true that hypertext generally does not exist without any images to support it. I think this is the case mostly because images supporting text has become very appealing to people. In fact, I find myself often looking at the images on a web page and maybe a small description below them to decide whether or not the surrounding text is what I was looking for.

I see how this can be challenging the printed book because, with the exception of recently published books, books generally are not overly filled with images. It is difficult in a book to remember where you read an interesting quote, or where you found a paragraph you want to use for a paper unless you are very diligent at marking it down. With the Internet, you can simply bookmark the page, or copy and paste the link and desired text to a word document for later review. Books will never have this capability, unless they are being reviewed on a digital device such as the kindle. Coming full circle to answer the posted question, I think the book is here to stay. However, I think that traditional, must read books will be the books of choice for most. This type of book is one that you would gain a different experience from reading a tangible copy in a cozy chair, rather than reading reviews on the Internet about it. Other than this type of book, I can foresee us finding anything we need on the Internet. As a lasting comment, I also think that book publishers should stop trying to add too many pictures to books to simulate the experience one can find on the Internet. I do not think this will extend the life of the book, as people are not looking for an "Internet" experience when they decide they are going to read a book; they are looking for that stable, comforting experience, in my opinion.


http://tashian.com/carl/docs/compbook/ (Here is a link that provides information relevant to my blog post. It is interesting because this article looks more like it came from a book rather than a posting on the internet. It lacks any extensive visuals or hyperlinks).

HOW has technology changed the way we communicate?

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To me, the obvious answer as to whether or not technology drives/determines the way we think, read, and communicate is, "yes, of course." However, I think the more difficult question is how does technology determine or change the way we communicate and portray our thoughts? I am not confident I quite know the exact answer to how technology determines this, but I do have a couple of insights that I would like to share that begin brainstorming an answer to this question.

The first thing I would like to touch on is the lack of patience I find myself having when required to read long articles or chapters in books. It's odd because I have spent my whole life continuously enrolled in school, thus one would think that reading long articles or text is something that is so second nature to me, that I wouldn't mind it. However, I hate to admit it, but sometimes this is not the case. I find myself become a bit anxious towards the end of a long article, sometimes feeling the need to skim the rest. In the article, "Is Google Making Us Stupid," this idea of us no longer being able to read lengthy material with ease is touched on. The most interesting part of this phenomenon is that I actually find the articles I read for classes very interesting, generally always keeping me attention in the category of interest. So, I find myself in a battle of whether or not my interest of the article can override my anxious feelings of it being a bit lengthy. I have no answer to why this is or which one prevails over the other, it's just something that has come to mind upon reading this article.

One comment made in this same article by Nietzsche read, "We are how we read." I think that this may possibly be an idea to answer the question of how technology changes how we communicate. I come up with a very different end result in my work if I am writing in a notebook versus on a computer. Perhaps having a screen in front of my face or the lack of a pen in my hand somehow alters the way I produce work. An analogy of this might be how the clock changed the way people felt about time by adding such a structured format to it. Overall I think that we definitely have an altered sense of communication now that the use of technology is becoming more second nature than picking up a book to read.


*An article with a similar topic to the one I commented on to further the thought on this can be seen at:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7459182.stm

Refashioning technology, or our mindset?

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In Bolter, it is explained that writing space is a combination of what materials you are working with along with the cultural choices and practices. "Moreover, each space depends for it's meaning on previous spaces or on contemporary spaces against which it competes (12). I am including this quote and paraphrase to preface the rest of my entry. Each writing space we have utilized throughout history has been less advanced than the one to follow, creating an upgrade as each new space is created. An example of this is used in Bolter by the comparison of the hierarchal order of the scroll, to the codex, to the written book; each was an upgrade from the previous. An example I personally might use would be an upgrade from written work, to the typewriter, to the computer. However, although we could compare several forms of writings spaces to another and argue which is an upgrade from the next, I think the more important stream of thought to consider is that found in a quote in bolter.

"Writing, even writing on a computer screen, is a material practice, and it becomes difficult for a culture to decide where thinking ends and the materiality of writing begins, where the mind ends and the writing space begins. With any technique of writing--on stone or clay, on papyrus or paper, and on the computer screen--the writer may come to regard the mind itself as a writing space" (13).

Bolter suggests that although the form with which we choose to record our thoughts down on might change, the writing space itself--the mind--does not change at all and in fact stands as the writing space throughout history.

With these thoughts laid down from my writing space, I am now going to answer a more interesting question. What does hypertext refashion? I think that hypertext refashions a technology, and not a writing space. Hypertext just allows us to move from one web page to another in a speedy fashion, while steering us directly to an image, table, or page of information that we wanted to gain more insight on. (This example is described in Bolter between pages 33-34). With this being said, I see the hypertext as refashioning the previous webpage that lacked the usage of direct links. However, I do think the idea of hypertext follows the reformation of a new writing space--the way we think about things in our mind. Nowadays we want to move to from one thing to another with great speed; hence I think we are refashioning our technological options to fit our refashioned writing spaces in our minds.

To further understand the definition of hypertext and relating vocab please visit:
http://cyberartsweb.org/cpace/ht/htov.html

Digital Native

I would definitely consider myself to be a Digital Native because, as described in the reading by Marc Presnky, I am a native speaker of a digital language surrounding computers, technology, and the Internet. I put myself in this category because I have been raised in a time period where the use of technology in everyday life is a norm. Since my first day of kindergarten I have been familiarized with the usage of a computer. Along my early exposure to the computer, I was able to use a telephone, play video games, and understand the concept of a pager at a very early age. As I could multiply these examples with several more, my point of them is to support the fact that I have been taught to use technological devices, most used as communicative tools, my entire life. I have been conditioned to use and understand technology for simple things such as calling a family member or friend, to utilizing my computer to fulfill the entirety of a ten-page research paper.

I bring up the example of writing a paper because I want to compare my usage of technology to help me learn in schooling to that of an example from the readings. In the same article I noted earlier, by Mar Prensky, the idea of that thinking patterns of Digital Natives being altered is presented. Dr. Berry I quoted in the article saying, "different kinds of experiences lead to different brain structures." I am including this quote because I know that I use a computer to write and research for a paper because it is the main experience I have encountered when writing papers during the entirety of my life. Thus supporting why I am a Digital Native--using my computer to fulfill such an assignment is the only thing I have ever known to be normal.

Following the previous example, I want to touch on the idea of creating video games or short movie clips to help teach Digital Natives. A few teachers/professors were quoted in the article saying that they feel like some students no longer appreciate the education they are being offered. I agree with Marc Presnky with the idea that it's not that Digital Natives don't appreciate it, it's that we are trained to soak up information in an alternate way to that of Digital Immigrants (those who were not born in the digital world). Thus, I think we would appreciate the knowledge teachers/professors are offering us if it was presented in a format that we could decode. With this, I think that the usage of video games to teach subjects might very well be effective. Although I do not personally spend time playing video games, I can relate with the idea of loading information onto a screen, and then soaking it up by completing some sort of game or test. I am looking forward to reading more articles on this subject matter in the future as I believe the information in the three articles listed for this assignment are on the right track to finding effective ways to deal with Digital Natives vs. Immigrants.

For more information review the entire article:
http://www.twitchspeed.com/site/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.htm

Recent Comments

  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Yes, I can see the lack of organization in that read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Hi Angela, You have two good places to start for read more
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  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Hi Angela, Thanks for sharing your insights about the Grammar read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Good comments here on the case study in Redish. You read more
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