Archive for the ‘web design’ Category

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The Web and Its Components

October 14, 2009

The introduction of internet began around the 1960s, but it wasn’t until early 1990’s that the World-Wide-Web came into existence. The rise of this era was booming technology and innovations. Let’s discuss some of the terminology and the components of the web and how exactly it all comes to play.

There is a significant distinction between the Internet and the World Wide Web. The internet is a network of connected computers where documents can be transferred via e-mail, file transfer (FTP), where these standardized methods for transferring data or documents are known as protocols. The World Wide Web (in short web) is one of the ways that information is shared over the internet. It allows documents to be linked to one another through hypertext link, forming a “web” of information. The protocol used by the web is HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). This may be familiar to you since it is the first four letters of nearly all web site addresses.

The computer that make up the internet “serve” documents upon request, therefore, are known as servers. It is not the particular computer, but rather the server is the software that allows the computer to communicate with others. In order for the computer to be able to run on the web, it must be running a special server software that allows it to handle HyperText Transfer Protocol transactions. Another name for Web servers is “HTTP” servers. The two most popular software options are Apache (Macs) and Microsoft Internet Information services (within the Microsoft family).

Servin’

Every computer (server) is identified by a unique IP address (Internet Protocol address). For example, oreilly.com has the IP address 208.201.239.37, but thankfully for the Domain Name System (DNS) we can refer to the server as its domain name (oreilly.com). Also, it’s possible to configure your web server to host more than one domain name to a single IP address, allowing several sites to share a single server.

Browsin’

Servers serve, but what about the rest? The software that does the requesting is called the client. On the web, the browser is the client software that makes requests for documents and the server returns the documents for the browser to display. This is all handled via HTTP protocol. Although they have been referred to as “documents”, HTTP can be used to transfer video, audio, images, movies, files and other resources that make up web sites. To most of us, when we think browser, a window on a computer monitor displaying a web page comes to mind. These are called graphical browsers or desktop browsers. The most common are Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Netscape.

Side Note: There are also intranets and extranets. Intranet is a web-based network created and used solely within a company. Extranet is like an intranet but allows access to only certain users outside the company. For example, a manufacturing site will provide its customers with an account login and password so they can check the status of their orders.

All-About-URL

URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the address given to each specific web page. Some are short and sweet, some look like crazy characters, and many are found printed on business cards, buses, trains, etc.

There are three parts to a URL: the protocol, the site name, and the absolute path to the document or resource.

http://http://www.jendesign.com/2007/samples/first.html

1) http://

This defines the protocol and signals the server to get into “web-mode”. (Some are seen at https://- this is because they are secure server transactions that hide delicate content, such as credit card numbers when they are transferred to and from the browser.

2) http://www.jendesign.com

This identifies the domain name. The “www.” is the particular host name at that domain and has become a convention, not a rule. There can be more than one web site at a domain, called subdomains. For example, there also may be development.jendesign.com or clients.jendesign.com and so on.

3) /2007/samples/first.html

This is the absolute path to the requested information or document, first.html. The words are separated by slashes to identify to pathway through directory levels, starting with the root directory of the host, to get to first.html.

In summary, the example URL says it would like to use the HTTP protocol to connect to a server on the Internet named http://www.jendesign.com and requests the document first.html (which can be found in the samples directory, in the 2007 directory).

When searching for a site and the URL is typed in, most commonly will pop up the default file (also known as the index file). The server receives a request for a directory name rather than a specific file, it will automatically add on index.html and will send it back for display. The name of the default may vary depending upon the server and how it is configured; some may show as default.htm. If you are using server-side programming, then the index file may be named index.php or index.asp. The index file is also useful for security.

HTML

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) defines dozens of elements that make up a document, such as text, headings, paragraphs, and links. Media, audio, images, and flash movies can all be added to HTML as well.

I will be discussing HTML a little further in more detail.

I hope this helped you to dive a bit deeper into the Web and the elements that make it come alive.

Stay tuned for more!

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The Production Team

October 7, 2009

Chapter 4 discusses the different members that encompass the production team, and make it all possible for the project to be completed and successful.

The writer creates the documents and script, such as proposals, outlines, sitemaps, design documents, and any other form of written material. The tasks that are performed vary project from project, and the needs to be met, as well as budget, and amount of people working on the specific project. The writer may handle only a small portion to handling all the element, some of which being on-screen text, dialogue, story structure, narration, characters, and so forth.

The content strategist will determine the content strategy to be played out, dependent upon the analysis gathered from user’s information needs, technical expertise, favored media, and culture. By researching the client’s goals and needs, the content strategist will gain a better understanding and will present the most effective way of communicating this content for the specific project.

The instructional designer is most concentrated within e-learning, training, and educational multimedia. This is tutorials where a specific subject or skill is taught. The job of the instructional designer is to produce process flowcharts (lay out of sequence and relationship of information) and wireframes (information design of individual screens in rough sketches or prototypes).

The information architect or interactive architect is responsible for the overall structure and navigation of the informational multimedia or web project. This requires some overlapping skill sets of the instructional designer, but instead they are more concerned with making body of information easy to find and use. Same deliverables are required as an instructional designer of process flowcharts and wireframes.

The interface designer is primarily associated with the structure layouts and visual look of a project’s interface, which requires graphic design skills. Sometimes, this position incorporates information architect and instructional designer positions and other times, will be separate.

The game designer is mostly responsible for structure of game play, visual look, and sometimes interface design of the project. This too required graphic design skills.

The usability expert tests the functionality and use of the project from the user’s point of view. Their responsibility is to make sure it is functioning effectively and meeting the client’s goals. This is done through questionnaires, blind testing, surveys, site visits to the user’s location. The usability expert will analyze the results and transcripts and will have a better understanding of the user and their experience.

The subject matter expert is essential to the writer as they are a main reference point for the subject of the project. They will provide reference material, outlines, and will review the writer’s script for accuracy.

The business strategist is similar to subject matter expert, but instead is an expert in the business issues. Their role is usually to write user scenarios, describe typical users, and how they may use the product. This role is most often seen on corporate websites, marketing sites, and e-commerce sites where it is important to understand the client’s goals and how to achieve them.

The art director/creative director/graphic artist plays an important role in the visuals aspect. This role requires creativity and will create visuals, such as background, interface, graphics, screens, animations, etc. These roles work in hand and hand and may work side by side with information architects to deliver visuals that engage the viewer and maximize a positive experience.

The animator is the one that creates the animations, as sometimes this is the best way to present information. It provides a clear explanation of the subject, such as scientific processes. Macromedia flash animation has become an important tool for websites.

The project manager oversees the team and manages the budget, client, schedule, and personnel.

The video/audio director/developer are in charge of developing live-action video or audio. The writer and video/director work together to collaborate content with video, and developer may comment on drafts of the script, and may extend into production. On smaller projects, director and developer may be same person, but larger projects, the director will lead a team of cameramen, editors, lighting technicians, sound artists, actors, etc.

The photographer/videographer is in charge of capturing photo and footage that is necessary for the project. The writer must communicate exactly what images need to be captured, describe the visual needs, and keep in mind the limitations of equipment.

The voice talent and actors are those that perform the script. The writer must listen in when they speak the lines written, and therefore, will help the writer tune the language so it is better suited for the particular speaker.

The programmer/coder writes the codes and program that make it possible for the project to come alive on the computer screen. The writer must establish a good relationship with the programmer so they can better understand the information and story element manipulations that are possible with the tools available for the program.

The product manager works with the client and producing the marketing of the program. This role is sometimes combined with the project manager. If the writer is brought in early, ideas can be thrown around with the product manager, since they are the ones that know the market best and have done their market research.

Depending upon the project size, client, and budget – not all these roles are played out and usually combined. The core creative team is most usually writers, designers, and programmers. The other roles may be extended to many personnel or may be squeezed into the smaller labor available, combining many roles into one. Communication, direction, and development are the fundamentals of a multimedia project and all players on the team work together to produce a successful project/program intended.

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Welcome to the Wonders of the Web

October 3, 2009

The web has transformed itself into an interactive, multimedia display of information, knowledge, and expertise. The evolution of the world wide web is incredible and the possibilities are endless. This is my introduction into the world of design, interactive platforms, and multimedia writing.

“Writing for Multimedia and the Web”, by Timothy Garrand, is my guide and direction to the “Multimedia Writing”
course I am currently taking. In this blog, I will be discussing the readings, opinions, analysis, and experience I take from this book.

The video included is an extremely quick portrayl of website creation, and hopefully, by the end of this course I shall become a pro (or at least semi-pro)!