Final Term Project Report

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As this semester draws to a close, I never thought I would be doing a website as my final project. I do, however, much like the fact that there was no written final exam. This class has taught me to really reach into the creative part of my brain and apply what I want to do, with what is required of us as students in EL236. Doing a website made me feel more confident in my html skills which is ultimately the goal of this project for me; not necessarily making an awesome website with tons of content and things to do and see, but more so just being able to do the basics (plus a little more) on my own. Usually I have a question every step of the way or need someone to "hold my hand" while I type the next code, just to make sure I did it right. Luckily I had some pretty patient people to help me out, but near the end, I forced myself to use time outside of class to see what I could do. I was pleased with my own results. I made things work, with a couple tries. But more importantly, I was able to pick out my own mistakes and then conjure up an answer.

For those that I tested who were not familiar with how to create a website, they found GovWorld impressive. I see it as nothing special in the website world because I know what my classmates are capable of. Feedback from my classmates wasn't too painful. I pretty much just got some issues with formating and appearance, since the content is pretty much my own.

Well, with that intro said and done- here are the changes that I made since the beta testing of my website.

  • background- I did not change the picture of the flag, but made it black and white and spaced it larger so that it stretched to the whole screen (which actully made it a little blurry, but I like the effect).
  • margins- Andy (one of my class testers) told me that the writing was stretched out too far across the page and made it look harder to read. I tried creating a margin on both sides but found that everything was too centered. So I only added one on the right side so that my nav bar and headings would still be aligned left, but the writing was centered.
  • spacing- spacing was quite an issue for me. I mostly had problems with pictures and tables. From a few of my outside beta testers, they noticed that not all the pictures were in the same format. Those things seem minor but are actually really hard to fix! Some of the images were too close together, while others were too far apart. It took some keen eyes and small changes to put them to the distances that I wanted.
  • links- My websites definitely needed links within the pages. I knew I needed to do that at some point and got word of it from many of my testers. It makes the website more interactive for the user and gives them the option of navigating to other sites for more information. So I created links to words in the content that provided more information on the same topic. They were also the sites where I got the information while making it.
  • credibility-After I created the links, I thought I should add some sort of a works cited page. I overheard some conversations in class about making sure to credit the sites where you got your content and images from. So I made what I thought was going to be a works cited page. But, Dr. Jerz pointed out that I would need to create some sort of MLA format in the text of my website where I put links to other sites. So instead of going through all that work and making it an annoying experience for users, I made it a useful websites page. Now users know where they can find other helpful outside sources on the content that is in GovWorld.

These are most of the changes that I made after more testing was done and from the feedback I recieved. There were still several problems that I needed to fix but those were things that I found wrong with the site (i.e faulty links, same font styles, uneven pictures, placement, etc.)

I enjoyed creating this site because government is something I am interested in and that I care about. At times I wanted to give up on this project, but I think because it was content that I liked, it kept me motivated to finish.

 

Portfolio 4- The end of a term

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Portfolio number four is the magic number. This is it for my portfolio days for now! However, I do not think it will be my last blog entry. As excited as I am to be done with the semester (term), I have enjoyed being able to go back and look at what I have acompished. This class has provide me with that oppurtunity. Because of these portfolio assignments, I have evidence of what I have learned as a student in EL236. And now, as we have learned from the internet, these memories are practically permanently stored into the world wide web. Oh well! There is nothing I can do about that, but since this assignment requires some of my best work of the semester, I guess I don't mind. So here it is, world!

*Since there was not a lot of reading or new activities to blog about since our last portfolio, I tried to give variety of some of my better work on several topics that we covered during the course.

Coverage- Blogs in which quotes and a lot of thought are put into.

Timeliness- Getting those blogs, readings, and activities in on time...

Interaction- writing, responding, and helping out classmates on their blog entries. During the term project class time, I know Andy and I exchanged a lot of help in the beginning, and considering I sit next to Dave and Maddie, we were able to give each other ideas and answers many a time. This was not documented in any blogs but that immediate help was nice to have.

Discussion- more comments and conversation starters.

Depth- Richly linked essays and topics in which I felt the need to write more than a usual blog entry.

As I come to the end of a term, I look at how I was feeling during certain times of the semester. Sometimes depending on the subject or criteria of the assignment, my blogs were revealed the length, thought, and effort I put into some of them. Others, I enjoyed writing because it was about a certain topic that I cared to express myself in. Some of these blogs were written in the late hours, others during class, and several over the course of many hours. I think it is good for me to create this portfolio; not just as another assignment, but as a milestone for myself and my progress.

 

Portfolio 4- The end of a term

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Portfolio number four is the magic number. This is it for my portfolio days for now! However, I do not think it will be my last blog entry. As excited as I am to be done with the semester (term), I have enjoyed being able to go back and look at what I have acompished. This class has provide me with that oppurtunity. Because of these portfolio assignments, I have evidence of what I have learned as a student in EL236. And now, as we have learned from the internet, these memories are practically permanently stored into the world wide web. Oh well! There is nothing I can do about that, but since this assignment requires some of my best work of the semester, I guess I don't mind. So here it is, world!

*Since there was not a lot of reading or new activities to blog about since our last portfolio, I tried to give variety of some of my better work on several topics that we covered during the course.

Coverage- Blogs in which quotes and a lot of thought are put into.

Timeliness- Getting those blogs, readings, and activities in on time...

Interaction- writing, responding, and helping out classmates on their blog entries. During the term project class time, I know Andy and I exchanged a lot of help in the beginning, and considering I sit next to Dave and Maddie, we were able to give each other ideas and answers many a time. This was not documented in any blogs but that immediate help was nice to have.

Discussion- more comments and conversation starters.

Depth- Richly linked essays and topics in which I felt the need to write more than a usual blog entry.

As I come to the end of a term, I look at how I was feeling during certain times of the semester. Sometimes depending on the subject or criteria of the assignment, my blogs were revealed the length, thought, and effort I put into some of them. Others, I enjoyed writing because it was about a certain topic that I cared to express myself in. Some of these blogs were written in the late hours, others during class, and several over the course of many hours. I think it is good for me to create this portfolio; not just as another assignment, but as a milestone for myself and my progress.

 

Another Progress Report

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As I continue this frustrating game of html-ing, my website is surprisingly coming along. Through all the tweaks and turns, I found that I get really distracted with little things in my website; like design and style. It's difficult for me to ignore tiny spacing errors or pictures that aren't all sized the same, or fonts that are not alike. I kind of forgot about the big picture and skipped out on some important stuff.

However, now that it is beta testing time, I can seriously take a look at the little mistakes that have been bugging me. I have fixed a few of the major ones that were mostly just problems with spacing and have moved on. Now I am looking at things that users may find helpful in my site.

I have decided to add several more links within the site to make it more interactive and to include more information for the viewer to use outside of my site. GovWorld has kind of turned into a base for those seeking general knowledge about the presidency, congress, and current political news. I also included a few more pictures and logos to make it more interesting and appealing as well. I thought about adding more information considering most of my pages are fairly short, but I also don't want to take away from the simple aspect. Viewers often don't want to scroll through paragraphs of texts. The information is easy to spot and right to the point, so I don't want to change that.

Some things I am considering changing however, is the background. I am thinking about just having the home page keep the current black and white flag, and creating a more plain background for the information pages. I need to try out that idea. Also I want to make a page that contains works cited information; a list of the websites I used to get information and pictures, I also want to include contact information about me in their to give myself some credit.

Within these next couple of days, I think I can accomplish what I have set for myself as far as goals go. I haven't made any drastic changes to the site because I haven't really felt the need to but with a little feedback from my testers (once I choose some) I think I will be set. 

GovWorld=One mess

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Here's another progress report. I feel really overwhelmed now about the website. I'm filling in more information but it is starting to get cluttered I think. I need to find a way to make it look.....no so cluttered for lack of a better term. I also am no longer happy with the style, i.e background, fonts, colors, etc. Maybe it's because I've been looking at it for too long. I think I need to step back and make a to-do-list. I could also use some more usability testing although there still isn't very much to do on my site as far as navigation, but a fresh eye for design might not hurt.

TO DO LIST
  • make margins on the side to decrease the width of the pages
  • add links to words within the text
  • only make the home page have the background of the flag on it?
  • decrease/increase fonts
  • move pictures around
  • work on spacing in general
So far thats what I've got to do. I keep trying to do the touch ups before I even put all the information in. Perhaps that is why I am obsessing over the image. But, appeal is one of the main things that attracts users to your site.




Progress Report

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So I haven't done too much more on my website. I started creating the other pages and I changed the background. Now I realize I want to change the set up of my home page but am having difficulty moving things around where I want them. You would think that would be an easy task but I seem to be having problems. I need more content but I'm not quite sure how much to include.

I also appreciate the feedback and html help and ideas I got from people! Thanks keep em coming:) 

Alpha testing results

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Today in class we practiced some usability testing with our classmates on our partially finished products. I didn't have much done, just the homepage and links to my other pages included. I'm still not really happy with anything I've done yet. It just doesn't look very professional which is kind of what I was going for. But, I only know so much so I feel like that kind of limits me.

I recieved some good feedback from Andy and Denamarie who both looked at my site. I also had some help from Dave who showed me how to do some simple html things that I had forgotten. It's been a while since I have done anything with html so this whole process is going really slow. It took me several hours just to get a simple home page out. But maybe I'm being too particular. Anyway, I recieved some feedback that I should put a margin or border on the pages so the text isn't so stretched out across the page, which I agree because its a lot easier on the eyes. I also got the suggestion to include links to actual political news sites on my current news page and link. I already thought of this I just didn't get to implement it yet. But I think that will be a nice touch, and I have pictures that you can click on to go to the front for the story behind the picture.

I also got some compliments on the design. Dena said it was nice that there was no scrolling on the home page and Andy said he liked the layout. I was told it looked professional so thats a good sign I guess!

Now it's time to get to work on the other pages! 

Term Project Proposal

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So this is a scary adventure for me. In EL236 (Writing for the Internet) we are required to do an end of the semester term project. I chose to do a website. Now the reason it's scary is because I was never very good at html-ing when we started it. I improved a little but I still may need help so fellow classmates, hear me out. My goal is to keep improving here. 

Since I know that I like government and politics, I am basing my website on that criteria. I want to focus it on more current politics such as the recent election and what the President-Elect (Obama) has in store for the new year. I also want people to be informed a little on what is going on in the House and Senate. People complain too much about how ill-informed people who call themselves citizens of America are, so this is going to be a simple, informative couple of pages. I may need suggestions on where to narrow it down or some specific information about our current government that people may want to know. But the key word here is simple. I don't want to make politics more confusing than it already is. Also, Dr. Jerz gave me the idea to keep up a political blogroll that corresponds with the website. So I might give that a try but it probably won't go up until I have the website done.

Here are some informative government websites where I can hopefully take a few things from and apply it to my own site.

 

Portfolio 3- Intermediate

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As I reflect on the past few weeks since the last portfolio I submitted, I look back at my progress in EL236. I chose the title of this portfolio, intermediate, because I think it describes my position in this class (Writing for the Internet). I am past the beginner level and not yet an expert so therefore I would fall somewhere under the intermediate level. It also ties in nicely with the games we have been playing during this section of the class considering those are common words used in playing any kind of computer game.

This portfolio displays my work and thoughts throughout this portion of the class where we discusssed things like hypertext readings, IF adventure games, learned about usability testing, created inform 7 games, and got some great tips from Kilian and Krug on how to make a successful website. So here goes- Anne Williams' Portfolio 3.

Coverage- this shows links to readings that we did where quotes were included and a link back to the course homepage to view the assignment.  

Depth- This ones pretty self-explanitory.

Interaction- This shows peer comments on my blog entries and other responses I have gotten.

Timeliness- Basically blogs that I wrote and submitted on time.

Discussion- This entails my ability to keep an active blog relationship with my classmantes.

I expect that my next porfolio will contain new things that I have learned in EL236 with new insights and new ideas. Perhaps I will still be at an intermediate level or maybe I will become in expert! It is all in my hands, but in whatever I do, I learn. And thats all that counts.

Krug Critique

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Although it has been some time since we have finished the Krug readings in EL236, the chapters still remain in my head. I think this book, Don't Make Me Think!, has stuck with me more so than the other required readings. Krug's way with words and simple descriptions really get readers involved and make creating a successful website seem easy.

Yes it seems easy but look at how many people write in to him and ask him to do usability tests on their sites or give feedback of what he, as a professional, thinks. You would think that by simply following his tips in the book on organization, home pages, navigation, etc., there would not be problems. But we are all human, which Krug takes into account based on his humbling messages that make people feel okay when they screw up! It's not the end of the world and I believe Krug really stresses this fact by trying to ease readers fears about creating a webpage.

As far as this book being created in 2000 goes, I think its pretty universal in the fact that this information is not going to change. His ideas and tips are basically standard for creating a website and doing usability testing. Some of the sites he references to (like Amazon) probably change every year, so an updated book may have more updated websites that apply to his teachings. However, I think this book could last another 10 years.

I don't have a lot of constructive criticism to give out but there are things that I think should not be changed given the knowledge that another book would be coming out. I thought the use of pictures and example sites was a nice touch. Having that visual really put it into perspective for me and I was able to compare what he was describing in the reading with an almost life-like experience. I also liked how he kept his chapters short (give or take a few). By doing this Krug is, as they say, 'practicing what you preach'. The same efforts were also found in the Kilian readings.

Here are some more of my thoughts on Krug that go chapter by chapter.

Recent Comments

John on Krug's Last Stand: i agree with the point that we
David Wilbanks on GovWorld=One mess: I think you got a few of those
Aero Windwalker on Term Project Proposal: I have a webpage done in this
Dave Wilbanks on Term Project Proposal: I agree that the focus might b
Dennis G. Jerz on Term Project Proposal: I agree with Jed... you might
Jed Fetterman on Term Project Proposal: I don't want to sound too crit
Jackie Johns on My Edits are gone!: You point out some interesting
Jed Fetterman on Wikipedia Comparisons: I got the impression that some
Daniella Choynowski on Wikipedia Comparisons: I didn't really get any inform
Daniella Choynowski on Wikipedia: Creating a Welcoming Environment!: I read the wikipedia rules as
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