Krug, S. 2006. Don’t make me think! A common sense approach to web usability. 2nd edition. Berkeley: New Riders.

Wodtke, C. 2003. Information architecture: blueprints for the web. Berkeley: New Riders.

Online websites viewed but not cited within the text:

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Week 10

This is the final week of term; it has been an exciting module for the term. I think the deadline extension has really helped in giving us extra time to redesign our website and make sure it is up to the level the tutor will be expecting for potential users, even though the website is just for the course.

Our group had to work very hard to make sure the website was in good shape and I think we have a good website even though most of us are still working on it. I thought that the entire group have the potential to be web designers if they wish to pursue such a career. We have also gathered all necessary documents as requested and have submitted them. I think we have done an impressive job and have also learnt a lot in this module with a high level of motivation as a group of students that had no idea how to create a website before. Website

The W3School tutorials have been so helpful for me as an individual and also for the entire group. I have known about the W3school but I had only visited the site just once before I started the module. The site has been so useful to me; it has helped me be able to create so many things using the HTML tutorials. I also visited several sites sighting their differences, that also helped me when designing my forums thread page.

This module has helped a lot, initially I got frustrated when using certain websites; I assumed that I didn’t have enough technical knowledge. I now notice that some sites are badly designed. I look forward to creating my personal site and asking Cathy to review it for me.


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Week 9

It has always been the same thing week by week even though I am enjoying the course with the help of my group members: I still wish we could had enough time to build an outstanding website. I have been also impressed with the way our group members have worked very hard doing research for the site’s design. I have personally enjoyed working in a group because I have learnt a lot from the other group members and using Google docs has helped me a lot in communicating together and also sharing different ideas for our project to progress. My fellow group members have been supportive right from the beginning, most especially Daniel whom I regularly  call, meet and share different ideas with.

We have been given an extension on the assignment. Even though the rest of my group wants us to finish it on time , I still feel we have another opportunity to check our website and make sure it is in good shape. I had difficulties in designing a forum thread page. I did not want to design the page with tables; I preferred using  blocks of color.

Daniel and I did some User testing with Sarab during the week. The testing really helped us a lot because we noticed some problems with our website. The first thing our interviewee noticed was the site has a good colour scheme but he did not understand at first what it was all about. We hadn’t shown clearly enough what the site was about, he had to read through the homepage to find out what the idea of the website was. This problem is flagged up by Steve Krug in  “Don’t Make Me Think” Our user had to work out what the site was all about which is not a good approach because most users don’t have time to read. This testing helped us a lot, to think of how to redesign our site and make it user-friendly for our future users.

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I came to class this week knowing that we have finished lectures and are now spending the whole day designing our website. I was confident that we would finish our website on time but realise time keeps flying by! I believe we do not have enough time to design a solid website in the time remaining to us.  I wish we had more time but nonetheless, I am confident we can  create a beautiful and solid website by the end of the term.

I learnt about creating a website with Dreamweaver, which I found very useful because it helps you create and edit a page on your local drive and then upload your pages to the remote server s where our actual web pages are stored. It was interesting because you could save your files in your local hard drive while the remote server makes your site public on the web.

I am currently coding the ‘forum’ page under ‘community’ with another colleague of mine. To be honest I am finding it very difficult and challenging creating the boxes for the forum.  I have been focusing on the page content and layout to create a good design for the web pages. I used Christina Wodtke’sInformation Architecture” Blueprints for the web to help me get tips in designing my page. It helped me a lot and I’m starting to wonder if we could change our layout but I realise it is late with little time available to us. The book is very interesting and it can help even a beginner to understand the principle and techniques in creating a useful website. I have been motivated to start thinking of creating a website after my studies. Although I know it could be very challenging it will make me very productive in my country.

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Week 7

This week has been all about coding and it was our last lecture week. We started doing the coding in class which I found very interesting from the beginning even though I was scared thinking about how I would be able to code for a website.

After the lecture, our group has been working on the coding which was interesting. The other group members have been helping me as an individual and also with the group. They have helped me a lot in areas I was having problem with. I never knew I would have to code. I was so scared even though I am learning some coding in my other modules. It was so interesting but also time consuming because we were working on a home page for most of the afternoon. I was getting nervous but I noticed most of the other groups were still working on the home page which encouraged me to realise that we were not as slow as I thought. We were focusing was on making the home page right so we would not have a problem with the other pages.

After the class, I stayed for another 40 minutes checking HTML tutorials which has been very helpful. It helped me to know more about creating a website. I feel designing a website is very interesting but wish I was doing it for pleasure because it was my first time and it was so time consuming. I was doing various researches of different kinds of website, viewing the forums and trying to see how we could build a similar forum page.  We are doing very well and I feel confident that we will deliver a very beautiful website that will be easily accessible to our potential users.

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Week 6

This week was about creating wireframes for each page. We started by identifying our user journeys to help us work out what our site map should look like. The first thing we did was sketch out the layout of the pages contained in the site and then started thinking of how to wireframe each page. In doing our wireframes, we realized that we were creating a massive site which was too much to handle for beginners with a very limited amount of time at the moment. After discussing this together as a group,, we decided to divide the site map into two and drop the module part which was very bulky.

We were all given content to redesign our layout again. We gathered all our layouts and discussed which was the best one to use for the whole layout. I have been looking at different websites trying to see free tutorials for designing websites which might help me gain more knowledge in web design. I realized that the most important thing is to make a site that will attract more users.

I did some research on Information Architect and realize Information Architect is not only about designing a website but the foundation of a great website. A great website is one that is user friendly. According to Matt Beach, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. In the world of designing and creating Websites, if you fail to plan, you plan to have a lot of headaches, late nights and missed deadlines while re-designing your site to fit the content.

In the issue of wireframing, I noticed that it involves not only building a site but also working with links to provide a real feeling on how the information on your site connects together.  I found this extremely useful in keeping me focused on the content. I discovered that when designing wireframes for website project, a person should only focus on the layout without thinking of the colour and other design elements. The website wireframe should clearly show the entire site structure. You should just concentrate on what goes where on your web pages and how you can divide up the space for each component. It is getting more interesting even though I am getting more scared day by day!

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Earlier in class, we started by designing different types of website which I found very interesting even though I am not good at design. I noticed unique design in some of our group members work. I found it very difficult to design a layout that was different from the other ones I did. Every layout I designed was similar. Since then I have been looking at different websites and reviewing how each website is designed.

I discovered most websites have long pages and similar designs. In designing a web site, you should make it straight forward so that the user can enjoy using it. I searched for some images for website designs on Goggle; I noticed that there are some good looking designs even though I was unable to access the website.

We also learnt some coding for the layout of our site which I thought was going to be very difficult. Even though it was basic coding, I found it very interesting and also challenging. I noticed that there are so many things involved in coding the layout and you have to be very careful to ensure your website works. I realised that a website is not all about the design, but a good layout will design attract more users.

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Last week we interviewed our tutor who happens to be our course leader. This week we interviewed our course mate. I observed both interviews we did; the interviewees had no problem using Student Central as I expected. My perception of Student Central is that it is designed more for lecturers than for Student, but after my second interview it changed my thought. I realize it was not as bad as I thought.

Our second interviewee seems highly impressed and really enjoys using Student Central, especially the use of the online library which I personally found very difficult to use. The only thing the interviewee did not like on  Student Central was that although there is a search course box, unfortunately you cannot search for any courses you are not registered on which he feels is annoying.

I started thinking that we will be able to do enough in redesigning the website. We will want the site to be user friendly by making it easier and straightforward so that students and lecturers can use it effectively.

This week we learnt more about Personas. We want to know about the potential users of Student Central.  We started creating our personas in class. It was so interesting more especially when we were creating our personas’ profiles and browsing for their pictures. In creating a persona, the most important thing is we need to know what the user wants.

After getting our personas (Potential Users) the next step was to create Scenarios and user journeys for each persona. I did scenarios and user journeys for Alex who is a lecturer. Interviewing a lecturer helped me a lot in doing the scenarios and user journeys for Alex even though I thought lecturers have little to do on Student Central. I remember she told us that she uses Student Central every day far more than any other website. She tries to check and update materials always. There is a strong link between students and lecturer and Students Central tries to be that link.

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Week three is about Interviewing and Observation of Student Central Users.

The first thing we did was to identify the users of Student Central which are the student and lecturers. Suggestions were made for everyone to interview their course lecturer and a fellow student. Daniel and I are studying the same course, so we have decided to conduct the interview together. We conducted our first interview with our course leader. We will be interviewing one of our course mates next week.

We started the interview very formally. Some information we knew about our interviewee already but we had to ask again, which made the interview sound a little bit silly. The entire Interview took us about 45 minutes. From there we went to the computer for observation of tasks.

During the observation, I noticed that she was very familiar with Student Central which made it simple and easy to use. She quite enjoyed using Student Central even though she believed that it has so many links which makes it very difficult to know where to get certain information. I was not surprised when she complained that you can only update one piece of material at a time which is very time-consuming consumes. She also complained that editing materials was so complicated especially when the materials are attached to the system. I was impressed with the way she used Student Central, which was not as complex as I thought. We asked if there was special training for  staff on how to use Student Central but she responded that there would be training if the system was upgraded but she did not have any training on using Student Central. She also told us that she uses the site more often than any other site especially at University. This helped her to find the website easy to use. She mostly uses Student Central for uploading course material, she said Student Central allows her to upload information and keep it invisible to students.

After observing the interviewee, my opinion was that Student Central is more user friendly to Lecturers than to students. Recently, I tried to view the school calendar in student Central for almost an hour but all I could see was the school calendar for the 2009/2010 academic year. It was annoying that the current academic year’s calendar had not been updated in Student Central.

The next thing I did was to write up the interview notes as a Goggle doc. All the interview we did during the week were posted in our group’s shared folder and I found it very interesting hearing people’s opinion about Student Central. The use of Google docs has been very effective; we communicate and make suggestions which makes it easier for everyone. Whatever we do, we send it to Google docs for everyone to read, make suggestions or observations. Working in a group can be very interesting, I learn a lot from people’s opinion. There was also a suggestion from one group member to answer the interview questions ourselves which I think is very interesting because we will find out everyone’s opinion on the website. This will help a lot when redesigning it.

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I started attending the course in the second week.

I have always been interested in learning web design. During my first class, I learnt that each website has its own pattern and design. It was of great interest to me because I never knew what was the right way and wrong way to create a website. Even though I have no knowledge of web design I noticed some websites were more user friendly than others. I started thinking about our website’s competitors and how to critically review certain sites and also review them.

During the group discussion, we talked about Student Central at the University of Brighton and how we can redesign it. I have been having several problems using the Student Central. When I first entered the Student Central website, I was confuse when I saw the log in page. There was no home page before log in or registering as I expected. It took me a long period of time before I was enrolled on my current course. Student Central is too complicated; sometimes you had to click almost everything before you can find an area of interest and there is no search box to help find any information. I always receive constant warning alerts whenever I use it.  It appears to me that everyone has been complaining about this website.

I have been looking at other Universities’ sites which are similar to Student Central and noticing their differences. I saw that most of these sites at various University are restricted access, you need to register or log in before you have access to them. I decided to review University of Bradford’s Student Central to see what it looks like.

My first impression of the site was the different colors used on the home page but I noticed that there were so many adverts and lots of dead space on the home page.  According to Steve Krug (Don’t Make Me Think) a good website shows the user clearly what the site is offering on the home page.

In doing any competitive review, you have to assess how users feel about the site. A good site should attract lots of users. This helps me a lot because any sites I am using now, I always want to analyse the website critically. I am a football fan; I have currently visited about 10 sites of different clubs and compared them. Some sites look good on first impression, but they have so many links and also a lack of useful information on the players. It is often better to use Google or Wikipedia to search for information on football players than their club’s website

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