Branding Myself on a Webpage

My final project for my Digital Communications class is to create a website, or basically an online portfolio of all of my work experiences and class projects to use as another way to show my talents to potential employers. Before creating this webpage, I need to have a goal or direction of what I hope to achieve through it. Since I don’t plan on getting another internship post-grad (I’ve had my fair share of unpaid ones), nor do I want to go to graduate school right away, the goal of my personal website will be to land an entry-level job in the marketing or communications field. 

I will use this website as a format to collect all of my past digital projects, including video, slideshows, blogs, etc. and showcase them to potential employers. My audience will mainly be potential employers, recruiters, or people already working in the marketing and communications field who could possibly refer me to someone after seeing my site. 

Therefore, I will also need to have a section for my resume to better explain my past work experience and educational background. 

The homepage of my website will be a brief about me, which will explain my objective loud and clear in a precise manner. I don’t want people wasting their time looking at my website unless they are looking to hire me or network with me.

I also want to showcase my study abroad experience to potential employers, since willingness to travel is something many of them admire in a potential candidate. I have studied abroad two separate times and was a Social Media Expert and Student Blogger for one of them, which I will incorporate into the website. 

Lastly, I will be sure to have a Contact section, which is clearly the most vital section of the website if an employer is interested in me based off of my webpage.

Below are 5 different websites I found, which I am using as inspiration to base my own website off of:

Image

http://webdesignledger.com/inspiration/13-colorful-inspiring-websites

 

I really like the color scheme of this design layout, while it’s still bright and colorful it’s not too “out there”.

Image

http://fluger.com

I really like how sharp this page is, but still has unique elements at the same time.

Image

http://paullandon.net

This is a photographer’s online portfolio, I love how he incorporated his own photographs into his page.

Image

Image

http://www.behance.net/gallery/Montague/11632237

I like how they took the logo and used it all over the website, but in simple, tasteful ways to establish their brand.

Image

http://fixate.it

As a design website I really like how they used their own designs, but kept it simple and clean by using black & white.

 

Standard

Who is my audience?

For today’s reading, we read “Letting go  of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works” by Reddish. He focuses this reading on emphasizes the importance of understanding who are audience is and what is is they want from us. Once we find out this information, not only will we be able to post content that is extremely relevant to our readers, but we will have met both the readers goals and our own.

This got me to thinking about my current internship at TALK Greenville Magazine. One of my tasks is to maintain the social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) of the publication as well as writing pieces for the editor’s blog. One of the first things my supervisor mentioned to me when delegating these tasks to me, was to keep in mind who the target audience for the magazine is. 

Image

For instance, the magazine is read by more affluent people in the Upstate and is split pretty evenly between male & female readers. The age can range anywhere from early 20’s to late 70’s. Hence, I have to keep in mind that I may be trying to target my fellow peers, but also people my grandparents age.

Reddish provides us with 7 steps to better understanding our audience:

1.) List your major audiences.

2.) Gather information about your audiences.

3.)  List major characteristics for each audience.

4.) Gather your audience’s questions, tasks, and stories.

5.) Use your information to create personas.

6.) Include the persona’s goals and tasks.

7.) Use your information to write scenarios for your site. 

Reddish points out if you don’t follow these 7 steps and “you develop the web only by thinking about your audiences, you are working from your assumptions. If your assumptions are wrong, your content won’t work” (28).

Keeping all of this in mind, when developing a home page Reddish notes that you have to make it concise, clear, and efficient for your web viewers. Most people don’t go to a home page to visit the home page, they go there to be directed to another page they want or need. 

First, identify the site by establishing the brand. Facebook does a great job at this on their home page, they say what the site does (allows you to connect with the world) along with three other key functions it allows you to do that other sites don’t.

Image

 

Next, set the tone and personality of the site. This can be expressed through the style, layout, or design. 

Then, help people get a sense of what the site is about. This is important because often times, visitors may be coming to your site for the very first time and want to know what you have to offer.

Allow people to start key tasks immediately. An example would be putting forms on the home page, if that’s the main reason most people are coming to your site.

Lastly, send each visitor on the right way efficiently and effectively. Make it clear what link they need to click on to go to wherever. All in all, don’t expect people to read much on the home page. 

I want to leave off with one last example of a successful website. Say you are looking to buy a dress online for a last-minute event. SO you go to Nordstrom’s website’s homepage and see it has very few words besides a main ad for the latest fashion trends, and a menu at top dividing the store up into sections. This makes it extremely easy for you to go click on “women” which will pop up a menu of options in that section, one of them being “dresses”, which will take you directly to that page. Efficient and effective shopping at its finest.

Image

 

Questions to Ponder:

1.) What’s a website you frequently visit and what audience would you fit yourself into for that site?

2.) Give an example of a successful homepage you frequent.

Standard

The Importance of User Experience

In Jesse James Garrett’s book, “The Elements of User Experience”, he discusses the importance on focusing on the user and their experience with a service or product in order for it to be successful. He opens up the book talking about anyone’s typical unfortunate day, where it turns in to a chain reaction all because of an alarm clock that failed to go off. 

We may not realize it, but the reason the alarm clock didn’t go off was completely out of the user’s hands…it was because the company who produced it failed to pay attention to one crucial detail: user experience, which is “the experience the product creates for the people who use it in the real world” (6). 

The ideal goal of a product or service is to have one that is “a well-designed product that does what it promises to do” (7). A good example Garrett uses to describe this is a company producing a chair. However, if you go to sit in that chair it it breaks, then clearly it is not a well-designed product since it is not serving its purpose or producing a satisfactory user experience. 

Image

 

User experience on the web is extremely vital to a websites success. If you post broken links, low quality videos, misspelled articles, etc. clearly the user’s experience will not be very high. Garrett calls practicing user-friendly experiences via the internet, user-centered design.

Garrett also describes what he refers to as the Five Planes of a website:

1.) Surface Plane – what the site appears to be with images & text

2.) Skeleton Plane – placement of buttons, controls, photos, and blocks of text

3.) Structure Plane – defines how users got to a page and where they can go from there

4.) Scope Plane – what the features & functions of a website are

5.) Strategy Plane – what the people running the site want to get out of it and what the reader wants to get out of it

The five planes are very important aspects to keep in mind of a website. Ultimately, what is the end goal you hope to achieve through your web page.

Questions to Ponder:

1.) What are examples of websites you have been on with great user-experience?

2.) What is an example of a tangible product you have used that has failed in it’s user experience? 

 

Standard

This is my video I’ve worked on for my project throughout the semester focusing on food trucks in Greenville, SC. I placed an emphasis on how these four food trucks incorporate social media into their marketing campaigns in order to spread the word about their business. Many thanks to Neue Southern Food Truck, Thoroughfare Food Truck, Asada, and Henry’s Hog Howler for helping out and for the delicious food!

Online Publications

For this week’s class we read chapter 6, “Getting it Right: Online Editing, Designing, and Publishing”. Carroll goes into great detail about the specifics of publishing work online throughout the chapter. 

He opens up the chapter with a very good statement:

“Web means less attention to detail, less time spent checking, re-checking, verifying and vetting, when in fact the complexity of online media means that there has never been more to inspect” (119).

In essence, although publishing material on the Internet has become efficient and straight-forward, we still have to be sure to go through the same editing process we would for a print publication.

Carroll gives us a step-by-step process for editing material online:

1.) Identify the readers and the purpose of the content

2.) Define document structure and links

3.) Define the style

4.) Edit

5.) Copyedit

6.) Write headlines

7.) Test usability

Additionally, an online editor has to take on the responsibility of many other tasks in order to achieve a successful publication. Often times they have to create multimedia elements for a post, incorporate social media, and online forums for discussion amongst readers.

The role of an editor is evolving alongside all of the innovations in online publication platforms. Whether there is a misspelled word, broken image, or a video that fails to upload, there are a lot of places and editor has to go back and double check to ensure the publication is published correctly. 

With the ability to publish news instantly via the Internet, editors have to be careful to maintain their publication’s credibility. Is it more important to be the first to publish a story or the first to do it the best? 

Questions to Ponder:

1.) Do you think it’s riskier publishing online?

2.) Do you notice errors more in online publications than print?

Standard

For this Thursday’s class we read an article by Douglass & Harnden titled, “Point of View”. Throughout the article they discuss the various definitions of point of view in relation to film. It’s important to understand the different definitions in order to understand the basic story in a video or film.

There are three types of point of view Douglass & Harnden introduce to us. First, it can be “a camera shot taken as if seen through the eyes of a character”. The second definition “refers to the perspective of the storyteller” meaning it can be “an eyewitness account of an incident or an expression of the storyteller’s thoughts and theories”. Lastly, point of view can refer “to the interests, attitudes, and beliefs associated with a character’s or group’s particular perspective” (31).

Point of view shots are used in films to put the viewer in the perspective of one of the characters. It often times build suspense and because of this it is used in horror movies and action movies very frequently. One example I always vividly remember is in the movie theater the 30-second intro before a movie begins when they play the video clip of a rollercoaster ride on a film strip. It makes you feel as though you are on the ride yourself experiencing the thrill.

The perspective of the storyteller is also an important element for the editor to consider when shaping their story. The first person voice is generally used in documentary films in order to state an opinion on important matters. An example of a director who frequently uses this method is Michael Moore.

Third person narration is common in many Hollywood movies, but is less emotional than the first person point of view. It’s also not normal for an opinion to be stated in a third person narrative.

When choosing whose point of view to express in a film, we must keep in mind the attitude we are trying to portray to our audience. The following is an example Douglass & Harnden brought up:

“Consider how different a production about timber logging might be if it were sponsored by a lumber company as opposed to an environmental group” (39).

Clearly, their attitudes would be in direct opposition.

Questions to Ponder:

1.) What are techniques you have noticed in films to help establish a point of view?
2.) Is there a certain director whose films you enjoy because of his/her point of view? If so, who and why?

Edit & Edit Again

This week we read an article by Ronald Osgood and M. Joseph Hinshaw titled, “The Aesthetics of Editing”, which discussed how important the editing phase is for all aspects of digital communications. 

The editing phase is known also as the “post-production stage” where “footage is reviewed, shortened, and arranged. In addition, sound track elements are modified and mixed, graphics and animation composed, effects added, and all video color-corrected ” (227). 

Editing is the process where the whole story finally comes together and to life. While editing itself is relatively simple, there are so many techniques one can master to enhance their work further. There are many aspects an editor should consider when finalizing their pieces. These include some of the following:

1.)  Image & Sounds

2.) Shot Order

3.) Shot Relationship

4.) Time

5.) Rhythm & Pacing

These different elements each involved several decisions, which need to be made by the editor. Whether or not sound effects will enhance an image, the arrangement of your shots, the relationship they have to one another, the use of time throughout your piece, and the rhythm and pacing of the whole piece are what essentially make up the narrative you are trying to tell to your audience.

Image

 

However, not every story is best told in a narrative format. Some editors turn to sequencing, which is “a series of shots that relate to the same activity” or topic (239).

An example they use in the article is a scene from the show Thirty Minute Meals with Rachel Ray. Often times when they film her preparing a meal, “instead of covering the scene with one wide shot, the scene shows a variety of close-ups to illustrate the process. These shots may include an establishing shot, a close-up of her chopping vegetables, a reverse angle of her face, and another close-up of the process” (239).

Transitions, or “the change from one shot to another”, is another element editors must pay careful attention to (240). Rather than abruptly cutting pieces at awkward times, it’s important to maintain a natural flow in your project so you don’t lose you audience’s attention. 

Editing gives a special power to the editor. As Osgood & Hinshaw say in their article, “the power an editor has in altering reality is enhanced with numerous techniques and tricks developed through years of experience” (244). While it may be the last and final step in the creative process, it is most definitely the most important and influential one. 

Questions to Ponder:

1.) What have you found helpful in your own editing process?

2.) Do you find you put most of your emphasis on the editing process?

Standard

Onto the Big Screen

We’re finally moving on from dealing with solely photos to working with video! For class we read an article by Herbert Zettl titled, “The Two Dimensional Field: Forces Within the Screen”. It was a good introduction into the topic of video.

Zettl discusses what he believes to be the “six major types of field forces” in video. These six forces are as follows:

1.) main directions

2.) magnetism of the frame and attraction of mass

3.) asymmetry of the frame

4.) figure and ground

5.) psychological closure

6.) vectors

The most basic element, which I believe to be the most important, is the main directions of video footage. By this he means whether a scene is shot horizontally or vertically. As we all know from watching television, YouTube, Netflix, or whatever it is we are all watching our favorite shows on these days, most footage is filmed horizontally. Zettl says this is because horizontal scenes “are in keeping with this new attitude of glorifying the human spirit,” which was introduced to us in the 1400’s during the Renaissance (102).

An example of this horizontal footage and its wide use in television is pretty much any interview you see on a talk show or morning news program. Here is a still shot from the LIVE with Kelly & Michael daily talk show:

Image

 

It’s in our nature to view horizontal video footage as the norm. An excerpt from Zettl’s article illustrates this further:

“Our sense of vertical and horizontal accuracy is so keen that we can, for example, judge whether a picture hangs straight or crooked with uncanny precision even without the aid of a level” (103).

Sometimes tilting an image can be beneficial, however. For example a high-energy video or photo can be made appear to have even more energy when tilted. The best example Zettl uses is the image of a rock concert:

“There is no video of a rock concert that does not have the horizon tilt at least a dozen times. Because this adds intensity to the already high-emery scene, such an aesthetic device is usually justified” (104).

Take the photo below, for instance:

Image

 

When it comes to the magnetism of a frame, Zettl discusses “graphic mass”. Images with a larger graphic mass tend to have “highly saturated colors” and they also have a greater “graphic weight” (109). Hence, the greater the graphs mass, the more power and image or video will have. 

The last thing I want to make note of in Zettl’s article is screen-left and screen-right symmetry. Zettl says, “even if the screen is not divided symmetrically, we tend to pay more attention to the right rather than left side” (110). I notice this in myself when watching movie, reading a magazine, or looking at an advertisement. Zettl concludes by saying “if you have a choice you should place the more important event on the right side of the screen” (111).

Questions to Ponder:

1) Do you notice advertisements or billboards placing more important information on the right side?

2) What do you think the most important part of shooting a video is?

 

Standard

The Price of Illegal Downloading

Above is a link to the podcast my group has been working on. Our topic discussed illegal downloading, also know as online piracy. We talked about the legal ramifications involved, the impact it has on the music industry’s economy, and on how it impacts the individual artists. So take a listen and let us know what you think!

Link