Wednesday, May 14, 2003

My Web Site

1. I worked on my website approximately once a week. This weekly session would range from two to four hours, usually late at night, when, not only do I do my best thinking, but I also have my only free time. When I begin a project, I don’t finish until I’m done. So once I get started- there is no stopping until perfection is reached, or morning minyan, which ever comes first.

2. I loved the creative freedom in developing my site. Everything from the product to the look was up to me. This allowed me to explore my inner artist and but together a functional product.

3. The most difficult parts of the site were linking to Angelfire from Front Page. While not an intrinsically difficult process, I found it challenging to first create the link between the two, as well as update the publishing and opening of the site in Front Page for editing. It seems like a straightforward process, which I’m sure it is if you are using a personal computer. But on the network on which I worked, I ran into such problems of insufficient memory, which caused the computer settings to reset each time I used it, so I had to manually reconnect Front Page and Angelfire.

Another problem I dealt with was the artistic/technical aspect of creating the visual technique I wanted to present. Working with tables wasn’t always as smooth as I’d hoped. Trying to even out the graphics and text and create a smooth layout took up a lot of time, as things seemed to always change appearance between the “normal,” “preview,” and actual published pages.

A final problem was with the web components, such as the text boxes. Again, while the technical aspect should have been methodical and simple, it was not. Continuous errors were the reward for my hours of fine tuning. As an aside, it was with great pleasure that one day I received in my email box a completed form- from somebody besides myself or my mother.

4. I was able to work with my site as I anticipated. The organization I had required took some time to configure, but work it did. The only thing I was unable to do was enable my site to work with the results of the forms. Ideally, I wanted to take all the data submitted and be able to issue an online preview of their data (other than the confirmation page), however, the basic Angelfire website was not able to accommodate my advanced needs. One of the most fun elements was the frames which I was able to seamlessly integrate into my site. They provided organization, flexibility, and functionality, all without burdening the layout of the site.
5. My present site is fun. It offers people the opportunity to give a lot of feedback. Since my target audience is friends and family, it provides a way to stay in touch with me, since I solicit a lot of personal information. It was always my hope that through the tangential requests I made on the site, I would be able to get to know my user better.
6. I checked out every page of every website of every student in the class. I mean why not – they worked hard on their projects too. I actually found a number of them entertaining and wanted to check out what they put up. But that’s for the next question.
7. There were a number of different comments and criticisms to offer. There were a number of sites dealing with Israel. They were full of information. And dull. They were very thorough in their collection of articles and links, but probably as a corollary to their being information receptacles, their content was highly textual and not visual for my interests. Some other sites, such as Jacob Asher’s featured some interesting image or visual component, such as his crip-walking stick figures. The “Soul” site had interesting use of Power Point slides to maintain visual interest, although I found the site lacking in overall content. There were also a number of sites dedicated to Israel schools. None appeared to extensive or personal. Providing links to some other institutions site did not really provide a service to me. I would have liked to seen more personal reflections and opinions flavoring the sites. The site dedicated to the “Keyboard sales” was obviously professional, but obviously borrowed from another class. The same criticism is true of Obviously professional, but not produced for this class (or by a student). The pharmacy website was well done. It provided all the elements of a good website, on a scale that showed work was put into its conception as well as its design. And of course I was promoted to Doctor.
8. I used online greeting card sites, such as as a “spiritual” model for my work. While not using any of the text or layout component, it provided the idea that I pursued, the online greeting card. For the actual content, and the request for information detailed on my website, I took my inspiration from another site altogether, one I have never personally visited. I have been told of a site that asks you to fill out a questionnaire, and the site automatically forwards the “embarrassing” results to your friends. My goal was to similarly request personal information which could be “utilized” in whatever way I might deem “appropriate” at a later time.
9. If I were starting all over, I would utilize the same concept, but make two simple changes. Most importantly I would incorporate more graphics into the site. The layout I currently utilized made graphic integration difficult. However, while my background kept my site visually appealing, from seeing my classmates sites, I realize that having creative graphics can create an important variation on the site, breaking up the text content.
10. After reading question 10, I realize that I provided that answer for number 9. So herein I will address question 9. I would adjust the content of my site by creating a more lighthearted approach. Why ask for a person’s mother’s maiden name for security verification when I could ask for their boy/girlfriend’s first name? Or for the longest they’ve ever worn a pair of socks? There are so many oddball requests that I could make- so why not make them?
11. Overall, I would rate my work (Hey, that’s a good idea for a website component. Forget about webcounters.) as a 6 out of 10. I’m a very tough judge, especially on my own work. There’s no real reason for this harsh grade, but I have very high standards. As far as the work put into it, I gave it my all as previously mentioned. I worked until it met my standards for aesthetics and purpose.
12. I thought I approached the design concept in a very organized manner. Before I touched the site, I had an understanding of the service/good I wanted to promote online, and how that process could be enhanced by the internet. Then I focused on what pages would be necessary to accomplish this goal. Then I set about on a design theme that would meet my functional needs. Then I approached each page to make it accomplish what was needed as part of the portfolio.

My Journal and Readings

1. I liked keeping an online journal because of the public soapbox it gave me. Having my own blog allowed me to have fun in expressing myself, and other’s could enjoy the show. I know that it was really only my classmates that probably saw the site, but, hey, there will be a link to it from the class homepage, and hopefully future Jorischites will wander onto my off-beat path and enjoy what I have to communicate.
2. I didn’t find the readings useful. They either rehashed web lessons that we learned in class, such as obvious layout techniques, or they were unrelated to web design, and while interesting, were frustrating distractions from the pure goal of web design, which took up plenty of time as is.
3. I did not read anybody’s journal after the first entry. They took it seriously, and I was disappointed. I was not interested in hearing their summary of an article. I would have liked to see more personality show through each person’s blog.
4. In response to my impression of other’s blogs, I tried to vary my own entries. Well attempting to demonstrate my own completion of the material, I wanted to make sure my own creation was a monster of personality.
5. The work on my journal was perfect until the web page project came along. At that point, work on the website supplanted the journal, as can be noted by the gap in publication dates. While I wished I could have published more regularly, I was happy with the regular participation in the class objectives, even if that necessitated me rotating my time between either the journal or the website.
6. Other than learning about the presence and ease of upkeep of an online journal, I wasn’t really sure what the purpose of the journal was, other than a forum for each student to have with the professor and his classmates. While it was nice to have a reason to keep updating the journal, the assignments themselves seemed to have very little reason behind them other than to keep us logging into blogger.

Course Materials

1. The HTML was basic, but necessary. Even though use of publishing software is prevalent, it is important to know what the coding is that makes it all happen. This allows for tinkering of Front Page scripts without destroying the underlying HTML codes, as well as making more complex adjustments feasible. However, it is difficult to know what HTML is vital and fundamental, and what is better taught directly in Front Page. I thought the level we spent in class was appropriate, despite the fact that I already know HTML from my days in Computer Science.
2. As time is running short, my answers will begin to run more brief. Front Page was very helpful, as it is the practical software for designing webpages. In fact, I felt more time should be devoted to it, especially the more complex elements. These are what will make our sites the most professional, as well as the most difficult to learn independently.
3. What other course material? I would’ve liked to learn more about the artistic side of design, such as colors to use, as well as graphic design for basic logos.
4. I didn’t like the readings. I am a hands on type.
5. The courseload was appropriate. We were forced to do independent work on a weekly basis, but were never overloaded with an undo amount of mental (or physical) labor.
6. I expected myself to work hard, and I did. I tried to attend every class, but I didn’t. That is only half of the work ethic. My other ethic involved the content I used. I refused to copy other’s blogs. I wouldn’t use any other website texts or layouts for my own. That is an ethic that should be taught.
7. The course material was organized and clear. Each week we learned new elements of web design, on a more advanced basis as we progressed.
8. Have fun! No web project is fun if you don’t enjoy it. Take your work lightly – others will take it. Stodgy gets you bored readers. Websites demand attention. Be creative and think uniquely. Why not paint a skunk purple?

Class website

1. I visited the class website frequently. I found it to be an interesting compilation of our common interests, be they web oriented or religious oriented. It’s very important for a group to have a common outlet of expression.
2. I used the class archives. I checked out the midtown class pictures. Frequently. Hey, it’s all important. Keep up the campus connection. Too bad we didn’t have any joint projects. Of course, I also used the archives to see how, historically, other classes have utilized their journals and websites. It was very informative to see all the additional finished sites, as our class was just embarking on each of these significant journeys.
3. Having a course website fills both social and educational needs. It ties us together for informal discussions, as well as supplies us with up to the minute materials which could enhance our classroom experience.
4. I checked out a lot of the links to web design related ideas. These helped supply me with elements that could be incorporated into my own sight, be they design or content oriented.

Class Journal

1. I frequented the class blog at least once a week. This depended on 1) the complexity of the assignment, as well as 2) my attendance pattern.
2. It helped me catch up on material I may have missed, as well as provided creative assignments to provide practice to reinforce the class material. It also let me listen to indirect guidance from the professor, as he addressed the progress of the class. It was also fun hearing about the contributions of certain individuals (the Oscars of Web design) such as Sheinfeld or Steven Mark, who made significant contributions to specific class sessions.
3. Having a class journal ties the class together. Hey, we’re a unit, not 20 something unrelated students. We need to come back to one source of enrichment. That is what the web is for.
4. The web journal also provided a model for my personal journal. Seeing the nature of the entries showed me what my own journal was capable of. This was important, because unlike most journals, our class blogs were not pure diaries, but educational as well. We were posting our projects as well as our feedback on the blog, and so we needed a new model. The class blog showed us how to use a practical blog, one which is more “log” than “b.”

Thanks, Professor HJ, for a fascinating semester!

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