Monday, March 29, 2010

Thinkature makes me think negative thoughts

My new tool demo project deals with Thinkature. This is a website that seems pretty darn cool. Its goal is to give you a virtual meeting room for you and your work colleagues. You can upload documents, things from the Internet, chat, write various post-its. I imagine it feels a lot like being in the same room with your co-workers, when in fact you could be in the Bahamas on vacation, sitting at a local Starbucks wishing both the weather and you coffee were a bit warmer, or just relaxing in your dorm listening to John Coltrane. (Guess which I'm doing) The homepage is compact, which is solid. The hands on demo is a nice touch, however, the "cards" which explain what you can do with the program are pretty scattered and difficult to follow. It is quite honestly hard to ascertain what exactly the purpose of the site is. The About Us section is very helpful in that respect, but that is to be found at the bottom of the page and were this not an assignment I'm almost sure I would have left this site for greener pastures before seeing and/or reading that section.

The sign in offering is large, attention grabbing, and in good proximity with the workspace demo. I have had trouble signing up (I'm 0 for 4) but that has little to do with the homepage itself and is therefore for another blog post. I'm curious if the member homepage is different. I imagine it is geared towards helping colleagues find each other to do the work assigned them. I am still very heavy handed with this program, but I do hope that with time I can get a bit of a better feel for this program.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Sun Rises and Sets in Baltimore, Maryland

It seems I have saved the best for last. I have decided to take a closer look at Baltimore's primary source for news that matters most.
All playful kidding aside, the Baltimore Sun website really is pretty admirable. The site has easy navigation toolbars at the top of the page that allow the visitor to navigate different topics and stories with ease from anywhere on the site. It's so simple. A tool bar exists for both news types, (sports, local, weather, entertainment, and of course, a seperate link for the O's) and a toolbar for the publication itself, regarding available jobs, homes, and a contact section). The clear seperation of links and what they pertain to, is invaluable to web design ease and enjoyment to the visitor.
The homepage is colorful, with major headlines listed clearly on the homepage of the site. Note that school closings are listed even before these headlines. This is effective because the website seems to have its priorities in order. That is to say that they know what information that the most people of the area would want to know most quickly.
Seperate boxed sections with title headings make it clear what stories will be covered where. At the bottom of the page, are more links to help narrow down what type and what area you want your news to pertain to. This is also the first website I've seen with a clear search box at the top right corner of the page.
There is a lot of scrolling that this website demands which can probably be cut down upon, but then again, there is a lot of news in Baltimore.
The gray columns on the sides of the site prevent having to read too long on the same line. Makes things easier on the eyes.
Baltimore has lived up to its reputation and has developed a top notch newspaper website.

The Best of What's Around

DMB's homepage is pretty flawless in my mind. The page is colorful and symmetrical. With a navigation bar present at the top of the page that can be found at all pages of the site. The boxes show, and tell simply what can be found if you click on the box. The homepage simply helps you find what you are looking for and nothing more. It is informative and not overly elaborate. There is no search box, which could help, but the site is laid out well enough that I dare say, one may not be needed.
New Dave and Tim Vegas album looks far out.

Monday, March 15, 2010

These cats almost ruined my birthday

My driver's licence expired on my 21st birthday. I have not been home to New York to renew it. As a result, my licence is technically invalid and does not scan correctly at bars (such as Murph's) that scan I.D.s to determine whether or not you can get into the place. I was essentially told that after my birthday, I would not be re-admitted until this situation was rectified. As an homage to this predicament, I take a look at the New York State Department of Motor Vehicle's website.

This homepage is decent, I don't like the lowercase links. Without bold font and CAPITALIZATION, those links blend right in with the web page. The links at the left of the screen are pretty clear and helpful and there is a search box available in the top right corner of the site. The various things that the web site offers you are color coded in boxes which is helpful, considering just how confusing the DMV can be. The information in the grey blue area seems kind of clumped together, while related, and though red arrows separating them are better than nothing, I feel as though this could be cleaner. There is also kind of a false bottom beneath the ever-taunting smiling face.

It's really the lowercase letters that get to me, and the information seems a bit intimidating and overwhelming at first glance.

Something else I did (in moderation) on my birthday

In keeping with the 21st birthday theme, I took a look at the website of Samuel Adams brewery. This is a high quality beverage with a homepage to match. It requires no scrolling and have scrolling adds and photos on the page. The links are a bit small and should probably be on the top of the page and not the middle. However, since there is no scrolling anyway, I don't think that the clarity of the site is an issue. What immediately catches your eye other than the pictures, is the text offering a list of their flavors which is what I would imagine, most people would use the site for (unless they wanted to contact the company, which is also quite clear.) The site is minimal, but effective considering that looking and web surfing is not something usually associated with beer.

On a side note, the entering your birthday and confirmation was virtually cumbersome. I'm sure they have to do that by law, but it was still pretty annoying.

"I'm pretty sure life comes easier to you when you are Vusi Mahlasela"

In sticking with theme of what happened on my birthday, I wanted to share some of the music that I picked up from i-tunes. I was able to get a hold of some music from South African singer-songwriter, Vusi Mahlasela. I checked out his website, and was pretty disappointed by the results. The homepage is compact and does not require scrolling, that is a plus. The photo of Vusi with guitar in hand is a nice touch, and does a bit of the "show, not tell" that I referred to in my DMB review. However, the links of the web site are small, white, and at the bottom of the page, making it near impossible to see them. I quite literally didn't even see the ones all the way to the left until after about sixty seconds. I did not like that the writing on the homepage was small and urged you to go to youtube to check him out before you even explored his own site. I would revise that. Beyond the homepage, the site is great, with correct proximity, colorful pics, effective font contrast, clear links present on every page. However, the homepage's inability to draw and keep an audience from even getting to know his site and more importantly, his music. (If you do nothing else for the rest of the day, please click that link.)

In my search for solid tunes, I find a solid web site

My 21st birthday was recently and in addition to bringing about some cotton-mouth, it also yielded some i-tunes gift cards. I used amazon in order to discover and organize the music that I wanted to purchase.

Overall, the layout of the homepage is a pretty good one. The search bar is the first thing that grabs your eye, which is the goal for a web site like this. The search box is divided into several different categories to make searching easier. The search bar is also present on every page of the site.

There are an awfully large amount of advertisements on the site but, in general, they keep a solid proximity distance away from each other, and when you consider that the point of this web site is to sell things, you realize that things could indeed look a lot worse. A plus of the site is that it suggests things that you may like based upon your searches. When the advertisements are geared towards things that you enjoy, they are less overwhelming and bothersome. I did not appreciate the fact that if you were not familiar with amazon, it may take you a while to realize that is a shopping web site. Granted, the search box may be a big hint, but The words "Shopping" and "View Cart" are very small on the left and right of the page in comparison to the web advertisements.