Friday, May 09, 2008

Where Am I, and How Did I Get Here? - Part 2

The first thing we were ever asked to do on the course was to write a blog. This blog was entitled Where Am I, and How Did I Get Here?. This blog outlined where we were in our skills and most importantly where we wanted to be in 2 years time. That 2 years is now almost up and now is the time to look back at this initial blog and reflect on where we are now and how we got here from that moment 2 years ago. In this initial blog I wrote

"My main reason for joining the course is to have fun and enjoy it, but I am also hoping to use it as a stepping stone, either to a job, or a full degree at university."
Throughout the course I have had nothing but fun and it has being very enjoyable but more important about this statement was I was hoping to use the course as a stepping stone and the course has allowed me to do this.

In the past few weeks I have managed to gain a job working as an ICT technician for a local school. Although this job is not strictly design based I feel that without the course I would not have being able to get it.

This is because the job requires a very mixed and broad knowledge of IT skills. These skills include web design and programming skills (such as PHP and Javascript) but also the transferable skills which we have learnt throughout the course such as time management and team skills.

These skills I feel are as important, if not more so than the core skills I learnt on the course. This is because the transferable skills I have learnt can be applied to almost any job situation in one way or another, where as obviously the core skills I learnt are specific to certain jobs.

I also wrote in my initial blog
"Presently, all the skills I have learnt about web design, graphic design, etc. have been self taught skills. Something of which I am sure a lot of employers could do without. For this reason, I hope that from the course, I will gain the necessary experience and qualifications to further my career and advance to the next step."
As I have already said, I have learnt skills on this course which have aided me to getting a job which is a testament to the course.

One of the biggest choices I have had to make on the course however was whether to attend a third year at university or not. My reasoning for not doing this option and getting a job is because I feel the course has taught me as much (and more) as I would learn in a third year at university.

Speaking to friends who are at/have being to university in the past it sounds like they are throwing a lot of money away to learn absolutely nothing and so I decided that I would rather put the skills I have learnt so far to work. As they say, you don't really begin to learn properly until you're out there doing it.

Finally one of the last things I said in my initial blog was
"Now, I’m no stranger to hard work, but I know that to get to where I want to be in 2 years will take a lot of hard work, probably a lot more than I’ve experienced before. But at the end of it, when I’ve gotten the right qualifications to get the job I want, I’ll be able to look back, and know it was all worth it."
There is no doubt in my mind that the past 2 years have being the most testing of my educational life so far but as I said in my initial blog I was expecting it. I can definitely say that the past 2 years was worth it too and would recommend the course to anyone who was even considering getting into the industry.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Portfolio Design - V3

(Almost) final version of my portfolio now uploaded.

I am still not happy with the header but due to restricted fonts at college will experiment with more soon.

Also not sure about the colours and may come back to these dependant on feedback from others.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Portfolio - Designs V2

My second screen design for my portfolio is now uploaded*.

I have tried to incorporate the feedback I was given and remove the large black border and text. I have incorporated a smaller grey border around my design (as was suggested by Scott) however I am still not sure about it. I am also not sure about my navigation it seems a little lost and out of place.

I have yet to have chance to experiment with some more colour/logo ideas, though I will hopefully be posting a mid-week blog with these ideas included.

My initial design for my portfolio is also available for comparison.

*Note: The 'Crigglestone Nursery' image is only temporary and will be changed on my final design to one more suitable.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Portfolio - Designs V1

My initial design for my portfolio is now uploaded.

I've gone for a very simple idea with a high contrast border around the outside to hopefully draw the users attention directly into the centre of my site with my content.

Any feedback is as always appreciated.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Portfolio - Competitive Analysis

The first site I looked at was a student site - found through

Upon first entering the site I was a little shocked to see a very small containing box. This made me think almost instantly that it severely limited the amount of work which could be displayed at any one time. I then noticed the picture on the front page with the 'tagline' for the site, 'Great design. Great business.' Although this is quite an adequate tagline I do not think there is a need for it to take up the whole of the front page when it could easily have being some of his work.

The colour scheme I feel could also do with some work. The page background has stripes which are very close together which begin to hurt your eyes after a while and the main body of text is black and a bright orange background. This doesn't give the best contrast and also begins to hurt your eyes after a little while.

Clicking through to the portfolio section of the site what immediately hits me is the navigation. Only one piece of work is shown at a time on the site yet there are 25 pages worth of work. The reason I know there is 25 pages is because the navigation is purely page numbers. This I feel is a very bad way of making the user navigate the site as it is difficult to remember what page has what on it and if there is anything of interest on that page without clicking on it.

As well as this, when hovering over a page number it is actually a different page number which changes to the hover state. (I.e. Hover over 9 and page 8 will change to '9' and be bold but if you try and click on it, it will then change back to 8 - very confusing). The site is also will not validate despite being only HTML 4.01 Transitional and with very little on it. For a prospective employer this could be very important and shows a more in depth knowledge of the industry.

The second site I looked at was a professional portfolio -

This site is very bold and in your face as soon as you enter. The colour scheme is bright pink and could be too bright for some users. The main body of text however uses a white background with black text which gives good contrast between the two and makes the text easy to read.

The navigation is a little awkward from the homepage as it is at the bottom of the site and you must hover over different fish before you can tell what the link is. The navigation is also at text at the bottom of the screen also but to me this would just confuse the user more as it appears that there is navigation all over and new users may not know where to click.

Once on to the portfolio section however the navigation is much better as a list of recent projects are down the right hand side and clearly labelled.

The portfolio is also divided into an ecommerce section and a print section. I personally think this is quite a good idea as it stops the navigation becoming too long and also allows people looking for more specialist services to see them more easily than looking through everything.

Perhaps the biggest shock for a professional design portfolio is that it doesn't validate. In fact it doesn't even have a doc type. This seems like quite a basic mistake to make and would severely affect my views about the company. On top of this the site is created using table and cells due to what appears to be a site created from a template. Although to most clients this would probably not be an issue as they would not know such things, to people with even a little bit of experience it must be very off putting for them.

Monday, February 04, 2008

iTunes Redesign - Feedback wanted

My screen designs for my iTunes redesign are now uploaded to my 'Tune In' blog.

Any feedback would be appreciated.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Portfolio - Delivery Requirements

Filezilla - FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
This will be used to upload all my files to the web server for viewing on the Internet. It will be used for uploading files for testing as well as uploading completed files.

XHTML (eXtensive Hyper Text Markup Language) Strict 1.0
This will be used to create the skeleton of the site in which all the content will be placed. It will be used on every page of the site, no matter what the extension. It will contain code which calls upon my CSS (see below) such as < div id= "___" > etc.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) Level 2.1
This will be used to style my pages. It will be linked to my site externally so it can be used for numerous pages not just one. I will use aspects of both level 1 and level 2.1 but will try and not use level 3 features as these are not as widely supported as earlier versions.

PHP (Hypertext Protocol) 5.2.4
PHP will be used to make my pages dynamic. It will be used on various pages throughout my site such as my feedback form page (to allow users to send me feedback more securely than a mailto: link). It will also be combined with MySQL (see below) to allow me to create a login form for my site which will allow certain individuals to see other areas of my site with more work on which I do not want to show to the general public.

MySQL will be combined with PHP to allow for the creation of dynamic pages. MySQL will be the database which will contain the user names and passwords of individuals who have permission to view the secure area of my site containing other parts of my work.