All 2 entries tagged Web Design
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February 04, 2007
Introduction to Designing Web Sites for Accessibility with Dreamweaver
When approaching the design for a website one of the most common errors is considering the issue of accessibility right at the end of the process. Making revisions can be very time consuming and if you are in a commercial setting it can be a very costly process.
In reality designing for disability access should only be an extension of good design parameters in any case. Filling a site with stunning graphics tends to ignore the fundamental issues of usability and ease of navigation. Remember you are creating a communication tool not an artwork in itself. Matt hogwood of Sapient UK a web design company summarises the situation very effectively:
What is 'good' web design?
The best designers are those who test their work and who are receptive to changing the design based on what they see users doing. Some designers focus on pizzazz only. they will get away with this until customers complain or stop visiting the site. (Kara Coyne, Research Director Nielsen Norman Group, cited Dreamweaver the Essential Manual p 40)).
Using the Dreamweaver Accessibility Features
Dreamweaver already has built in a range of features to ensure accessibility. To find out how to switch these on go to the Macromedia site at http://tinyurl.com/67378. alternatively when you open Dreamweaver open the Edit drop down menu. Then select Preferences and then select Accessibility. Tick all the boxes and then tick OK. This will activate the accessibility help system.
Once you have switched these on you will be given prompts as you design to add elements such as Alt tags to ensure that reading devices for visually impaired people work effectively.
A good example of a site which has taken accessibility very seriously is Tesco's. Julie
Howell the policy officer at the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) has commented:
Work by Tesco.com to make its home grocery service more accessible to blind customers resulted in revenue in excess of £13 million per annum... (Cited Dreamweaver the Essential Manual p 38).
Useful Websites and Articles
The RNIB free rescource centre for Web design
Out-law.com This site is from an international law firm who specialise in ensuring that a site is compliant with UK laws.
A useful site with design tips is Accessibility 101
January 31, 2007
A2 Media Studies Production Unit: Making a Website
The planning phase
In the overall specification for this unit you will need to place your website in the context of the rapid development New Media Technologies. Below I'm using a case study of the CD / Music industry as this has been strongly effected by New Media and social networking. There are several things that you will need to do:
- Briefly research 6 websites that relate to the kind of service or product that you wish to make your website about
- You should now think about your target audience and carry out some initial research into that target audience. You should be finding out how much your target audience use the internet to find out about the cultural things that interest them. You should also find out how they use the internet: ask which search engines and which search terms they use, and whether they follow up from word of mouth.
- Now choose what you consider to be the best sites and do some textual analysis on them. Note aesthetic factors such as the colour and layout and all the other aspects of mise en scene. Think about whether the site is too 'busy' whether there are too many adverts etc. If images are used what do these images signify and how do they do this? You should also consider how effective the navigation is and evaluate whether there are useful links to relevant sites.
- The Current Industry Context. Quite a number of people are doing music related websites such as promoting a band that you know. It is particularly important to be aware of the latest business stories that relate to the upstart independents such as the Arctic Monkeys whose success was largely based upon an excellent web presence (See below for other links). This success can be compared with the struggles of the conventional 'record' industry. Look at the recent EMI results for example (see "Death of a Dinosaur?" below for stories about its problems). You should also consider the problems of the Music Zone chain You should have up to date information and think about how to apply this information to the aims and objectives of your site. You should be commenting on new forms of distribution such as iTunes. Make sure that you keep a bibliography and webliography
- Once you have analysed the current industry context you must start to plan out your own site. Remember that you must have a Home Page and at least four other web pages. These plans of the overall site must be handed in as a part of the assessment.
- You must take at least 4 of your own images and manipulate them in Photoshop or Flash. Print offs of these original images must be part of the planning section of your portfolio.
- You must submit drafts of each of the pages you are going to put in your website: "...drafting is expected"
- Since the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act (UK) you must design with disability accessibility in mind. please see separate posting for more commentary on this. As far as your action plan is concerned you must show that you are aware of this
- You should also be aware of the business issues concerning your website dealing with problems such as how will your target audience find it? You will need to be aware of the issue of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
- You should also be aware of the latest business tools which can help you to track how well your site is doing. These tools are provided free of charge by Google through their Google Analytics programme
This image from Google Analytics tells you how many of the day's or week's visitors to your site hahve visited before. There are an enormous range of parameters within the programme to help you make decisions about which the most popular pages are. For example on this blog I know that the podcasting pages have been quite popular with visitors from a number of countries.
Death of a dinosaur? The latest on EMI. Will the rest of the majors be affected?
Below are some recent comments of the state of what was once an very important player in the music industry. New Media Technologies have put it on the back foot. The issues are: will it adapt and how can it do this?
Implicit in the EMI announcement is an admission that the company has failed to change fast enough to match the rapid shifts in its marketplace, that costs remain bloated, and that an old guard respected for its deep relationships with artists may not have what it takes to prosper in the era of iTunes, MySpace and YouTube. (Financial Times)
But for the moment, the digital music market is still dominated by Apple’s iTunes, a distribution partner which has not proved very profitable for the record companies. The problem is that Apple makes most of its money from sales of the iPod device, while charging little for the individual tracks. (Financial Times)
EMI Shake Up You can get to other recent Financial Times EMI stories from this link.
Music successes via Web 2.0
This Guardian website has many useful links regarding the state of the music industry and the Web.