Tuesday, 9 February 2010

So far so good

Initially when issued with the team brief there were mixed emotions throughout our team. A mixture of apprehension, uncertainty, anticipation and quite a lot of stress to start with, as we were all finding our feet, trying to establish our self as a team and adjust to our personal roles. Since the start of the course we have always been responsible for our own work, so I guess its only human to experience something like this. To be honest I did take things a bit too seriously at the beginning, however, I feel this was amplified by the fact that I have less time now to commit my self to the course and there is little time left before we graduate.

After that initial hurdle I am pleased to say things have fallen in to place. We seem to be working well as a team and I am happy with the results so far. None of us were looking forward to large amount of written work we had to do, which is why we were so eager to get it of the way, so we could enjoy and focus on the design part, which we are working on at the moment.

Once our personal and team projects are handed in we are then ready to start work on our “live projects”. Fortunately we have quite a varied amount of work in the pipe line. This will be beneficial for us individually and as a team. My only concern, which is understandable from past experience is having our time wasted by a client and work not materialising as a result. Because of this we have been selective and careful with who we intend on working with. Hopefully the outcome will be positive.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Professional folio Analysis

For my online professional portfolio competitive analysis I have chose to write about a freelance designer and developer called Colin Miller (www.colinmiller.co.uk).

I intended like before on finding someone inspirational, however, whilst browsing the web looking for a professionals site I stumbled upon this site and decided to use this for my analysis.

In terms of speed, the pages loaded quite fast but were larger in file size than I expected, this is down to the large back ground image, however everything else is optimised for web.

When looking at the design of the site, I would have to say for someone with 27 years experience I was expecting something a bit more well designed and contemporary. The main element that stands out is the background image, which in my view looks a bit outdated. Personally I would of opted for something a bit more subtle, also and I am not fond of the cliché Esso tiger style photo on the home page.

The logo on the site does compliment the colour theme, and stands out on a white background, but again looks dated.

On a positive note the site is very informative, the navigation is good, all the links work, the site validates (note links at bottom), and it is obvious the designer is aware of web standards as he even has a page educating the viewer on the subject.

In terms of Parc principles there is definitely contrast, elements seem aligned, and grouped and there is use of repetition with the orange, yellow and blue, however the colour theme is disappointing. I would be inclined to change the colour theme colour theme, removing the background image would be a start.

Overall, for someone with 27 years experience in the trade, I would have expected something a little better for a folio site. In terms of information and navigation the site does its purpose, however, I feel the site does not do his portfolio work much justice.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Competitive Analysis

The site under analysis is a portfolio site of student who graduated last year (www.robertladkani.com). I found this site while looking at the D&AD students awards of 2009. The maker of this site won an D&AD award for web design.

I chose this flash site because I wanted to write about something inspirational instead of finding something with plenty of negatives and ripping it to pieces. What attracted me to this site was the its simplicity and quality of work which is complimented by its clean, minimal, clinical layout.

When looking at Proximity, Alignment, Repetition and Contrast (PARC), I would say the demonstrates these principles quite well. Elements are grouped and aligned. There is repetition of a minimal colour scheme and good use of typography which demonstrates contrast.

In terms of navigation, the site works fine, and is easy to use. The internal links work, are labelled clearly, all the externals are distinguishable, and active.

Another positive is the portfolio which is varied in style and medium. It appears the designer is quite versatile and demonstrates good use of print and interactive media. The minimalist flash animations that occur when one rolls over over the links at the bottom of the page also compliment this site.

In terms of information the site also has a biography, a blog, contact page and an online CV which can be downloaded which is useful.

The only negative aspect of the site is the blog which unfortunately has not recently been updated. When taking in to consideration accessibility maybe the navigation on the top right could be a more prominent, but then again am a fan of minimal layout. The site seems fairly fast when loading however I am on a high speed connection. it would be interesting to view it on a slower one as the file size is quite large.

Overall I feel the site does its job. its well designed, interesting, contemporary and legible.The folio is of a high standard, and is easy to navigate unlike some other flash design sites I have come across which seem to have lost their purpose and the value of navigation.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

A9: In retrospect

When we were issued the A9 brief, I knew we didn’t have much time to complete this project in relation to the to the previous sites, and for that reason I wasted no time in getting started.

The actual designing of the website proved a little harder and longer than I expected. This was because I was not satisfied with my initial designs, and I ended up going around in circles for some time.

When it actually came to the build of the website, as with the previous site, I was quite
daunted at first, because this time there was the PHP and JavaScript to be incorporated. Using these scripts were all new to me, however most of it, was easier than I anticipated, and it was quite enjoyable see it work at the end.

Another rewarding part was been able to involve my own photography again. Photography is a medium I always like to incorporate given the opportunity. The challenge on this occasion however was taking an everyday mundane object and portraying it in an interesting way.

The end result of the design and photography was quite pleasing, and I think I did what I set out to achieve, however, I feel at some point I need to step out of my comfort zone, and instead of always opting for the clean, minimal design look, maybe go for some thing more experimental, rustic, or opposite to what I normally produce.
There will be opportunities to build more sites, so I will need to put this in to practice at some point. This will also show more variation in my folio.

In terms of the technical aspect, overall, I am quite pleased with the project outcome, and once again my knowledge, and skills has improved. I am looking forward to building more sites, however, from now on, each new site I take on, I intend to incorporate something new, whether it is PHP or Javascript, or something else.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Interview Questions

For an employer interviewing a potential employee for a Web designers Job Vacancy.

1. Tell me about your self?

I think this is a good question to start an interview with because it is not a common question, also it may catch the interviewee off guard. I feel it is important to find as much about the potential employee as you can, from this you can deduce whether they have the potential to fit in the place of work.

2. Why do you want to be a web designer?

I would ask this question to find out their personal motives, what drives them, if they are really passionate about the trade, dedicated, and whether the position is suitable for them.

3. What do you know about us, and why would you like to work for us?

By asking this you will find out if they have researched the company, if they have done their “home work” it shows they are keen, and serious about the job, which is a good attribute. Finding out their personal motives for applying, evaluating whether they could make a good contribution to the company, and if they are a good team player.

4. Give me at least five reasons why should I choose you for the job

This may be asking a little too much, but putting the interviewee on the spot with a question like this puts a bit of pressure on them, also it would be interesting to see how they react, and if they could answer with five acceptable reasons.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why?

A popular question, however, I think it is an important question to be asked. This would give an insight to their knowledge, skills, honesty, confidence, and whether they are capable of doing the work required. If the person is uneconomical with the truth, this may show up later, if they are accepted.

6. Where do you look for inpsiration?

Another important question, finding out how the person operates, where they look for inspiration, and their knowledge of Art and Contempory Visual Communication. This will determine whether they have intregrity, and being able to work off their own ingenuity.

7. How do you react under pressure?

To know how the person works under pressure is important, because the design trade is a highly pressured industry,
and to work under stress is imperative for a graphic/web designer.

8. Where would you like to be in three years time?

By asking this question you will find out what the persons long term plans are, whether they want to work for you short term, or stay long term. This will give an idea if they are a suitable candidate for the postion.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Chosen Job Advertisement: Graphic/Web Designer

After browsing several jobs jobs in this field, and much careful thought, I decided to choose the job advertisement above. There are a few reasons for this choice:

Firstly, the job on offer covers print, web design and branding, which means one would have to quite versatile to work in this environment. To me, a role as a print and web designer would be more interesting than specialising in a particular area. The daily challenges would vary, there is more creative scope, and you wouldn’t be always stuck be doing the same thing. Ultimately I would like to work in both web and print, which is why I find this job appealing.

I also have print design, art-working experience, and some branding knowledge. The software
requirements for this job are not out of my depth either, I use most of the applications on a daily basis, and the others for example: Quark, which I have worked on in past, I could easily brush up on.

Another reason for my choice is that, at this stage of my study I wouldn’t feel confident enough to tackle the role of a developers job. I do have a basic understanding of XHTML, CSS, and intend to learn PHP, and Javascript, however, my knowledge in this field is not vast, and I think at this moment time it would be over ambitious to apply for such a role. When looking at my level of ability, I would feel more comfortable applying for the role of a print/web designer, working in an environment where I could expand my knowledge, and eventually build up to a front end developers level one day.

From what I have mentioned above it is apparent of what my strengths and weaknesses are.
So far I have been impressed with my learning curve, and my ability to take the bull by both horns on some occasions, but there is so much more to learn. The XHTML, and CSS seems to falling in to place now, I just need an understanding of PHP and JavaScript, and what else could prove useful. The current brief will help me in doing this, then it is just a case of keeping it up, and producing more websites.

My action plan is:

To build on my XHTML and CSS, to a level where I can hand code, without using Dreamweaver.
To learn PHP and JavaScript, or have a good understanding of both.
Learn WordPress.

Maybe several months down the line I will be saying something different. Hopefully by then
I wouldn’t be so daunted by a developers role.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Glad to be back

In all honesty, after the long summer break, I must say It is nice to have some order
and direction in my life again. The break has been a relaxing period, however for me, too long, andrelaxing. Over the summer period I managed get some design work which was print based, but not enough web work as I wanted.

We were issued with our first brief last Wednesday. I knew this was going to be a bit of a shock to the system, in terms of time management, organisation etc, for that reason I have wasted little time and I got stuck in straight away.

The first phase of the A9: Up Your Street has gone quite well in terms of,ideas generation, taking my own photos, research, etc. The deadline for phase one is on the 7th October, which gives us two weeks. After that the final phase (another two weeks) is developing the web site, which I must admit I am finding this quite daunting at the moment, because this time we have to incorporate new languages like Java script (for the gallery) and a PHP (for the contact form), both of which are new to me.

The sooner I get the site design finished the better, this means I can use time gained to learn what needs to be done for the Java script and PHP.

That apprehension I had last year before the A5 builder brief has come back to haunt me again.
Hopefully once again I hope I can prove my doubts wrong.