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Teamwork- October Professionalism Blog.

So you are sitting there at your computer coding, photoshopping, blogging ect… So why in the world would you need to care about teamwork? Web design is a loner type of gig right? I mean that is why you wanted to take the course right? Flip on your PC, plug-in your headphones and drift away right?

NOPE… Unless you want to be a freelance Maverick that works from your house or something you are definitely going to need to learn how to work with other people in the web design world. I am currently an intern at Back40 design group in Edmond Oklahoma and one of the coolest things I have learned is how a real design firm manages their workforce. There are front end designers, back-end designers, code fixers, CSS writers, content writers, and although they all sit together in the same large room (mostly plugged into their computer), they HAVE to interact as a team daily to get hings done.

They have multiple clients at a time and while one web site may just be starting out working on the design and content; one may be working on getting out the code bugs or CSS so it is vital that they are able to communicate with one another because one task usually depends on another and sometimes depending on how busy they are or what stage most of their sites are, they have to switch roles with someone to help pick up the slack and get caught up again.

This leads me to my favorite job which is held by Reyna Wilcox at Back 40; project management. She is in charge of finding out what the client wants for their site, how they want it presented, and organizing it for each web specialist THEN seeing if the client needs MORE changes and how to communicate THAT to the right designer. She is the QUEEN of teamwork!

If one person did an entire site from start to finish then teamwork wouldn’t be needed at all BUT as I said; in order to be able to help as many clients as possible they have to all work together. Kind of like bees all gathering honey for the hive; yes they go out on their own to get it but they all meet back up and have to put it in the comb together in order for the hive to prosper.

September Professionalism Blog-Trustworthiness

SO what do trustworthiness and web design have in common? They have quite a lot in common actually and I didn’t realize just how important trust was until I did some research on the matter; here is what I came up with..

Experience has taught many internet users to be skeptical of everything on the web. We’ve all been burned at some point by an untrustworthy website, so you have to prove to each and every user that you are worthy of their trust. You have to prove that the form users must fill out will not increase the spam in their inbox, or that the button you wish them to press will not bring them to an advertising site with endless pop ups and pop unders. SO basically if someone goes to the site that you painstakingly developed and designed; they are not going to trust that you won’t spam them unless your design is professional and clean. This is of course important because what is the goal of making a website? For people to SEE it and GO BACK to it so why would you want to screw that up?

Another big thing are typos.. SERIOUSLY?? I can’t believe HOW many people don’t take the time to see if their site is free of typos. It’s not that hard..  Typos on your website are red flags for the user. If you aren’t professional enough to check the spelling in your content, you aren’t professional enough to be trusted with user information or participation.

Another way to assure people of trustworthiness is by displaying major awards or certifications and provide links to the organizations that awarded them. This is pretty obvious because if someone has to choose between two websites to trust; they are most likely going to stay with the one that has other people who trust them as well. Kind of a no-brainer.

One last trustworthiness factor that I found interestingly relevant was to tell the user what will happen if they click on something.  You want the user to press a button, or to fill out a form. BUT,  to get users to trust your site, you need to make it more transparent. If you want a user to click a button, tell them what will happen if they do click a button. Will they be taken to a form? Will they find themselves in limbo? If you want the user to fill out a form, tell them why and what will happen if they do. By making the actions on your site more transparent, you become more trustworthy.

These are just a few examples of trustworthiness in Web Design and I have found them useful in my own work and I hope you will too. Please enjoy the funny images I found on trustworthiness and remember to be trustworthy not only in web design; but in all aspects of life because it will make you a better business person and human in the long run. Can’t go wrong with trust!

August Professionalism Blog- Choices.

Choices choices choices.. We make them everyday consciously and subconsciously from our shoes to our career.

Choices make the world go round whether we like it or not and sometimes they can lead to the right path or the wrong one and we have to make MORE choices to get us back to where we want to be.

Some choices are easy and some are hard. BUT I think that the way you decide HOW to make the choices you make are what define you as an individual. I guess it is a mix of morality, (immorality), values, intellect, ability to let go of bad choices, and how secure you are as a person.

One of the hardest choices I ever had to make was to let go and be myself instead of following the group and stay safe. Ever since I was a child I had fought being “normal” and tried not to rock the boat too much and be what others expected of me BUT one of the most important lessons I have learned with age is that until you are true to yourself and let go, then you will keep yourself in a cage and be afraid. You limit your choices which makes you feel trapped and alone instead of a part of the world and confident.

Yes, I have made bad choices but at least I was able to make them. I have made some really good ones too and without the bad I firmly believe the good would not have been possible because we learn from our mistakes and even our successes.

So I guess the choice I am asking you to make is to follow your heart and make the choices that are right for YOU and although they may not be easy; they will eventually lead you to the right road and who knows???? But that is the whole fun of it isn’t it🙂

Taking Charge!!

SO my assignment today is to take a look around and decide if I enjoy doing this whole Web Design thing.. Well.. I will be honest with you there are some ups and downs for sure. BUT I will say that I do get that tingley feeling when I think about creating CSS and finding out new ways of improving and tweaking a site so I guess you could say I am hooked. Last night as a matter of fact I think I had multiple dreams about designing a website and although I can’t remember particulars; I DO remember the feeling I had and it was good..

Those are some of the good feelings; now the bad.

I don’t know just a whole lot about the new systems such as Windows Vista and I have felt like a blind person feeling around in the dark AND it takes me about 4 times longer to do my assignments because I am having to pick up on basics like Photoshop and the Windows operating systems. That has not been fun and at times quite teeth clenching but it is getting easier. I enjoy the Lynda.com tutorials and of course youtube is one of my best friends right now because they actually have some good tutorials on them about basics that I should already know like “FTP” and HTML.

I really like that the occupation is always growing and changing because I am one of those that likes to stay at the top of my game. The web design community seems to be a tight knit group as well and I like that because it will be easier to network for a job and be able to share ideas with people. Speaking of which.. I have met some really cool people who are passionate about the class like myself and it has been a relief knowing that other people are not “experts” like I thought and that the ego factor is lower than I expected which is AWESOME! People seem to really be in a sharing cooperative mode and not in a cut-throat competitive mess. I am BIG into working with other people who are supportive and I am really getting that here.

I have been researching a lot of the new technologies such as web design software, and I can see myself staying up WAY into the night “geeking” out on them. I love getting to that comfort level of really knowing a program and what it is capable of and these new programs really have it all. I am looking forward to seeing the new direction web design will go in and I think I have decided that the marketing and P.R. side of web design is where I would like to focus my efforts. I like to find new ways of getting peoples’ attention without compromising quality and making the site user-friendly  not just to the average person visiting it; but the client as well. I have an outgoing personality and LOVE to be with people AND create code so I think I could really succeed at that and be a valuable asset to a web design firm.

Until then; I will plug away at the keys and continue to learn and grow because this truly is something I have a passion for.

Honesty and Intergrity in the Web business.

According to “Wiki Answers” The definition of “Integrity” is as follows..

“Integrity comes from the Greek words ‘integritas’ and ‘integra’ meaning whole. It enters into any aspect of one’s life. It’s belief system without faltering no matter how dangerous, how unpopular the person makes themselves to others. It includes: sincerity, keeping one’s word and agreements, honesty, truthfulness, ethics, fairness and justice, punctuality and never faltering for what one believes in. A quote regarding integrity is ‘It is better to have an enemy who keeps his word, than a friend who does not.'”

Something in this definition resonated with me. Going against the grain to do the right thing almost seems like it never happens these days. Stepping out into the unknown of non-conformity is a blurry line at times but if you keep core values of what is right and what is true then it can be achieved with minimal effort and reap great rewards. Always do the right thing when no one is looking because if you don’t; it could come back to haunt you. Look at what happened in our financial sector this year. A LOT of companies and banks were not acting with integrity and thought it wouldn’t matter but BOY did it come back to bite them when millions lost their homes and jobs because of it. If they had just stopped to ask themselves if risking SO much was worth it for the American people (not just their own pockets) in the long run then America would be a LOT different right about now.  It is the same when you are designing a website.

Honesty and integrity are two KEY elements because if you become known as the developer that puts inaccurate information on your sites or blames others for your mistakes then not many companies will want to hire you. We are after all trying to create websites that create some kind of revenue so if you are known for inaccurate information then people will not know what to believe and be wary of any product you are trying to sell or any advertiser that is on your site.

My dad used to have a saying; you know, one of those that annoyed you but deep inside you knew it was true.. “It’s the right thing to do”. I have tried to follow those words my whole life and they have always steered me straight. Don’t make things more complicated than they should be. Just Do the right thing, act honorably, and good things will happen.

Home Page Designs Reviewed.

So as an activity in my web design class I am supposed to look at some successful websites and not so successful ones and give my opinion on them. Well, if you know me at all I don’t mind giving my opinion so here goes!

Websight 1- A non-mainstream website:

http://supperthymeok.com/

This website first of all is from a company that has broken off from the main franchise for whatever reason and they address that in the “home page”. It is actually a Word Press blog disguised as a website believe it or not. I don’t know if that is clever or cheap and lazy? The colors are HORRIBLE and there are not any pictures. My goodness the person picking those colors is color blind.. Oh my..  Ok, first impressions aside; lets digress to how I got here. Well, I looked up Edmond businesses and saw them on an article in “Edmond Active” magazine online where it directed me to, you guessed it, that crazy main franchise website where I tried to look up the Edmond location and could not find one. I then Googled “Edmond Supper Thyme” where I was AGAIN directed to the main franchise page… How are people supposed to find this business? I thought maybe it had closed so when I googled “Edmond Supper Thyme closed” it randomly took me to a link where I saw the date was April 20, 2010. I then went into the article where I found the link to this website….. That leads us to the actual MEAT of the site.

The construction of it is a typical template (looks like) and although boring and UGLY; are somewhat effective. The content is there but it is being served on a dirty trash can lid. The “Choices” tab is first and should be second after the “How it Works” tab that is 3rd.. Wow.. This is a REALLY bad site. I am only in my first semester and I could do a better job and that is saying something! Yeah.. Might hit these people up for a job…

Successful Websites:

#1-  http://www.overstock.com/

I am a fan of this website because it is easily navigated, doesn’t have crazy colors or flash advertising, and is a great example of “simple busy” product placement. I love to cruise this site for good deals which is what they want me to do so it obviously is a good site that is doing it’s job. I really like the way it remembers where I have gone and what I looked at and it even suggests similar products when I am looking closer at a product which has led me in the past to what I really wanted to buy. A feature I also like is the search bar proudly and largely placed at the top and I have NEVER had any problems with it. The site is also  SUPER easy to navigate and I go back regularly because I know it is a site that I can be at for a couple of minutes or an hour and enjoy my experience.

#2- http://oklahomacity.craigslist.org/

Ok.. This is one of the most popular sites on the web and I believe it is because it has stuck to the BARE basics. No sexy flashy ads, crazy colors, or funky fonts and windows. PLAIN for the plain web surfer. I keep expecting them to re-vamp or do SOMETHING different but it never does and I am actually cool with that. This site meets the needs of it’s readers and doesn’t need to do much more. It is just the ULTIMATE in simplistic design that gets the job done. Hope it never changes.

Unsuccessful Websites:

#1-http://www.amazon.com/

I KNOW.. This is a VERY popular website but for SOME reason it annoys the living heck out of me. The organization is just weird and scattered and it has advertisements on the side which are SO uncalled for in a company this large. Just seems kinda greedy to me. I put up with ads in sites where a growing company can use a bit more revenue but AMAZON?? please? I personally think they waste a bit too much home page real estate on trying to accomplish too much such as sell me EVERYTHING they have on the site even telling me what other people are buying (like I am supposed to give in to peer pressure or something) and even what other people “wish” for.. It would be nice if they tried to spend a little more space trying to direct me to what I REALLY want instead of blatantly trying to sell me crap I don’t want or need. This site to me is just a big ole mess. HOWEVER once you get into the site and focus on what you want to buy such as a lighting fixture, then the reviews and comparisons on the product are pretty good. Just sad you have to go through a lot of crap to get there.

#2-http://www.speedwaychev.com/

OK, Here is a PERFECT example of ANNOYING pop-ups and weird “help” floaty windows that follow you around like one of their annoying car salesman in this City Chevy website. You aren’t there for 5 seconds when an annoying “Click here to schedule your oil change” window takes over the screen. The navigation isn’t as bad as some I have seen but it has this CREEPY “live help Chat” window that follows you throughout the website eerily even if you change pages 200 times. I know car salesman have the tendency to think more is more BUT in this case More is just really making me want to click away. They should take them off and use more of a softer sell.

Well, that about does it for this installment of “My opinions on websites”. Check back again with me soon for more exciting topics and discussions on web design and web related activities.



A word about “Anger Management”..

SO I know you are probably thinking.. “What does Anger Management have to do with Web design?

I was pondering that myself and the only thing I could really come up with was what I am dealing with now.. CODE..

At this point in my studies I have been tackling code and how it relates to websites and all of the commands that make the site really do what it does. It is kind of like learning a new language in that you are telling the computer how to translate what you want into what it thinks you want. As in any new communication learning process; it has been quite frustrating and has lead to some anger management issues.

You know the feeling.. the heat that rises up through your brain and makes you want to slam your fist into the keyboard and make the computer hurt as much as you do.. But you slowly come to the realization that the computer really doesn’t care and although is it subservient to you, it controls you at the same time. The only luck that I have had in dealing with this problem is to pretty much get up and walk away. Things really do look different when you take a breather and go to Facebook, or grab a snack for a minute and return with a fresh outlook on the problem. It is kind of like training a dog. You can’t really get mad at the dog because it pretty much is your fault for not communicating exactly what you wanted it to do. The computer doesn’t know any better; it is just trying to make you happy and throwing it across the room really just makes things worse. (although cathartic in an awesome evil kind of way).

As in any communicative relationship; it is taking time and patience and sometimes intervention from my instructor🙂 but it seems to be getting easier and I am actually starting to like it believe it or not!