Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Evaluation of second half semester

The second half semester has been quite hectic, we have been continuing with our A11 On the Job assignment along with working on our other assignment A12 Culture Vulture.

For the first part of the Culture Vulture assignment we had the task of performing a five minute presentation on a 20th/21st century design icon, I chose the London Underground Map. I was quite looking forward to this because I felt that it would be a good experience in preparation for our final presentation at the end of the course. After making sure that I had rehearsed and prepared for the presentation I made sure that I arrived 10 minutes early so that I didn’t miss my slot. Unfortunately instead of knocking on the door I waited outside the room for 20 minutes thinking that somebody was still inside. This resulted in me missing my slot and having to come back at the end. I did eventually perform the presentation and I was quite pleased that this ran pretty smoothly and I managed to get all of my main points across. If I were to do this exercise again I would definitely knock on the door straight away as missing my slot highlighted to me just how important punctuality is.

The remainder of the Culture Vulture assignment specified that we had to undertake the design process in reverse. I was quite nervous about this as it was the most creative task we have done so far on the course. Due to the fact that the design process was in reverse we did not know what we were designing for so our ideas were not influenced in any way. I found this quite difficult to get my head round at first and I struggled to come up with a variety of “diverse” ideas. In order to achieve more variety in my designs I decided to look at graphic design books and magazines for some inspiration. I feel that this was really beneficial because I ended up exploring ideas and themes that I would not have considered otherwise.

After I had created a sufficient number of designs we were given our product to apply a design to, this was the M5 Coca Cola bottle
. I was quite eager to get started with this as there was very little time left before the deadline. I wanted to choose an appropriate design as soon as possible as I felt that creating the digital artwork was going to be the hardest part of the assignment. After spending quite a lot of time on this in my self study I began to feel much more confident that I had made the right choice with my rock star idea. I feel that creating the digital artwork has been a really beneficial exercise for me because I now feel much more capable in vector drawing applications such as Freehand. If I were to do this task again however I would definitely try to use another application such as Adobe Illustrator as it is an application I have never used before.

The other assignment we have been working on is On the Job which has been going since the beginning of the second year. This has proved to be quite a frustrating assignment at times in terms of communicating with clients, arranging meetings, getting content etc. I do feel that it has been a great experience though because this is the sort of thing we are going to have to do after the course so being able to deal with clients effectively is a key skill to have. I also feel that the two clients we have dealt with have been completely different. I feel this was advantageous because we learnt that you cannot expect every client to be the same and they all have separate demands and expectations.

I think that we have worked quite well as a team for the On the Job assignment and both clients seem to be happy with the end product. The assignment has seemed to drag on quite a bit over the last few months but I feel that the experience gained in dealing with clients will be invaluable for the future.

Overall I feel that this has been a really productive half semester. I have been forced to move out of my comfort zone by undertaking a design process in reverse and worked on two professional projects. I am looking forward to seeing what awaits after Christmas in what I find hard to believe will be the final quarter of the course!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

BTEC/Skillset or both?

BTEC are an examination board who fall under the
Edexcel brand. Edexcel are a learning organisation who offer many vocational and general qualifications. The BTEC syllabus for Interactive Media is quite a vast document containing the required outcomes and content for each unit of study. They also provide advice on how to deliver each skill and give further guidance such as helpful websites and further reading exercises.

Skillset on the other hand are a Skills Council for the Audio Visual Industry. They are jointly funded by both the industry and the government and aim to make sure the industry has the right people with the right skills. From my point of view as a student they provide a helpful set of National Occupational Standards which state what skills you will need to work in the industry. This is quite wide ranging from Core Skills that are needed in each sector of the industry through to more specific areas such as “Manage Intellectual Property Rights” and “Design Electronic Games”.

The obvious difference between the two is that BTEC is an educational authority whereas Skillset is directly linked to the industry. This means that they both have quite different aims which both need to be taken into consideration by students leaning Interactive Media. The main aim of BTEC is to educate and train students to enable them to pass the course by meeting a selection of learning outcomes. The main aim for Skillset however as stated previously is to make sure the industry contains the right people with the right skills.

The BTEC syllabus contains learning outcomes for each unit with the aim of providing students with certain skills. The outcomes are quite broad however so can be interpreted in a number of ways. A good example of this is in Unit 22: New Technologies in Interactive Media. One of the learning outcomes for this unit was “Using new technology, produce a proposal for an interactive media product”.

The Skillset Standards are much more focused however. A good example of this is on Unit IM7: Code Scripts To Provide Functionality For Interactive Media Products. This section states “Some industry-standard languages you might use are Flash ActionScript, JavaScript, VBScript, Lingo for Director, Perl and PHP”. BTEC do attempt to do this by stating “At the time of publication, the following programming languages would be suggested for use CH, JAVA, Visual Basic, JAVA Script”. This is not a must however and the new technology learnt depends on the discretion of the course leader.

Another main difference between the two is that unlike BTEC the Skillset Standards do not state how you would learn skills or provide additional support. The BTEC syllabus provides instructions on how each unit would be passed and provides support materials such as helpful books. One problem with this however is that the BTEC syllabus has not been updated since March 2005. This may mean that the support materials given are no longer appropriate. Due to the fast moving nature of the Interactive Media industry I feel that more regular updates are essential in order to maintain relevance with the industry.

I feel that relevance with the industry is a key concept when comparing BTEC with Skillset. The main aim of BTEC is to give students the appropriate qualifications to gain employment. The main aim of Skillset however is to make sure the industry remains competitive by containing people with the right skills. I think that they both compliment each other very well and both need to be taken into consideration by Interactive Media Students.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

CD Playlist

1. Graffiti - Maximo Park
2. Paint It Black - Rolling Stones
3. We Are Your Friends - Justice Vs Simian
4. Whiskey In The Jar - Thin Lizzy
5. Welcome to Jamrock - Damian Marley
6. Boys Dont Cry - The Cure
7. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger - Daft Punk
8. Thirteen - Forward Russia
9. Buffalo Soldier - Bob Marley
10. Town Called Malice - The Jam
11. Happy Alone - Kings Of Leon
12. Thou Shalt Always Kill - Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobious Pip
13. Can't Stand Me Now - The Libertines
14. Fix Up Look Sharp - Dizzy Rascal
15. Sally Cinnamon - The Stone Roses
16. Put You In Your Place - The Sunshine Underground

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How about a purple and yellow colour combination?

The best colour combination is purple and yellow. Due to the fact that the colours are opposite to each other in the colour wheel it creates maximum contrast when they are used together. (see image below Copyright ©

When the two colours are used effectively the results can be quite impressive. One of the most extraordinary uses of this colour combination is in purple and yellow tulips (see image below Copyright © 2003 Katinka Matson). The contrast between the two colours makes the flowers really stand out.

Purple combined with yellow can also create some really eye-catching designs. There are several commercial uses of this colour scheme one of which is Galaxy FM (see image below Copyright ©

The two colours also have a more practical benefit which is shown with the Nike Total 90 Premier League Football (see image below Copyright © This ball is used in games where there are low visibility conditions. The purple combined with they yellow makes the ball much easier to see compared to a white ball.

So purple and yellow are the best combination of colours. The colours are used to create some really striking commercial designs. Along with this they are also present in nature with the purple and yellow tulips.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Yorkshire Sculpture Park Visit

Today we visited the
Yorkshire Sculpture Park in West Bretton, Wakefield. I was not entirely sure of what to expect before the trip as I have never been to a sculpture park before. I felt that this was a really beneficial exercise however as there were many different exhibitions and projects to see.

When we arrived at the park we all split up into little groups and made our own way around. I was with Drew and Rich and after looking at a map we decided to take the long route around the park as we wanted to see the Winter/Hörbelt “Basket #7.Oxley Bank” and the Longside Gallery. After walking for quite a while we eventually reached “Basket #7.Oxley Bank”. I felt really inspired by this piece and I felt that it was helpful to be able to interact and explore it which was not possible with some of the other pieces. I did like some of the pieces in the Longside gallery but I without doubt preferred the “Basket #7.Oxley Bank” (see image below).

After visiting the Longside Gallery I was thinking that there was not a very large selection of pieces to look at. I soon realised however when looking at the map I had collected that the majority of the sculptures were in fact on the other side of the park. I liked many of the pieces that we came across on the other side (see image below) but I particularly enjoyed the Leaf Stalk Room in the Underground Gallery by Andy Goldsworthy. After talking to the guide in the gallery I was amazed to find out that this consisted of more than 10,000 twigs. You could tell looking at this piece that the artist had put a huge amount of time and effort into it and I was staggered at how the whole thing stayed together.

I also enjoyed the pieces by
Henry Moore in the Country Park. I think that he created some really fascinating sculptures (see image below) and I enjoyed looking around his work. I was surprised to see that he was born in Castleford which is local to me and that he states that the West Yorkshire landscape really influenced him as a young artist. His work is also on display in The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds and this is certainly somewhere I would consider visiting in the future.

Overall I am really glad that we made the trip to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I felt that there was quite a lot of inspiring pieces on display and I would definitely recommend it to everybody.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Design Feedback - Crazy Firehouse

For part of the A11 On the Job assignment I have recently created 3 rough digitised designs. We will shortly be presenting these to the client so that she can choose the most appropriate one. Before we do this however I would like to get as much feedback as possible. I would appreciate any comments you wish to make. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

3 Personal Tracks

Piccadilly Palare – Morrissey
In the summer I went on holiday to Bulgaria, before I went I bought the book “Morrissey: Scandal and Passion”. I usually buy new books before a holiday but hardly ever actually read them! This was different though because I picked up the book on the first day of the holiday and hardly ever put it down until I finished it. Now whenever I hear a Morrissey or Smiths song I immediately think back to being sat on the beach back in Bulgaria.

I Wanna Be Adored – Stone Roses
This summer me and my friends finally went on a lad’s holiday after planning to do so for the last few years. As this was our first time we were recommended to go to Magaluf. Magaluf is dominated by quite a lot of dance clubs and there are only a few places that offer something different. Because of this we spent quite a lot of time in Mulligan’s Indie Club. When we were in here it seemed that this song was played all the time so brings back some good memories!

Milk – Kings Of Leon
This is one of my favourites because it is by a band that I have been listening to quite a lot recently. When I went to Leeds Festival in the summer they were definitely the best band I saw over the weekend. I wasn’t really a big fan of them before but thought that they were really good live. When I got back from Leeds one of the first things I did was to buy their album and I have since bought all of their albums. As with the other two song selections this song also brings back good memories. This reminds me of being at Leeds Festival with all my friends in the middle of summer.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Evaluation of first half semester

The assignments that we have been working on in the first half semester have been A9 Box Clever and A11 On the Job. Along with this we have also been working on our Personal Development Profile’s (PDP) for assignment A10 iMe.

The assignment A9 Box Clever involved creating a standards-compliant CSS webpage (CSS Beauty). I really enjoyed creating the webpage as I felt that it allowed me to experiment with different methods and techniques using CSS. I was then able to build the page using the method that I preferred the most. This also helped as I was able to find solutions to problems that I was facing much easier as I had a better understanding of where I was going wrong.

The project also proved to be incredibly frustrating at times especially when it came to make the page render in all specified browsers. When I had completed the website and began to test it even though it was standards compliant it only rendered properly in IE7 and Firefox 2. This was quite worrying at first but after researching further into this and consulting the book Web Standards Solutions I decided to use a hack. This was something that I had never heard of before but I found it to be an extremely important tool. After using the hack in my page I was quite happy that the page now rendered well in the majority of browsers. If I were to do the project again I would definitely use a hack again. I would however try to use an alternative hack so that it doesn’t have to be applied to a large amount of the code which would make it much more efficient.

The other assignment that we have been working on is A11 On the Job. This has involved working as a team on a professional project. We didn’t get off to the best start in this assignment as we failed to win any of the 2 projects that were on offer. After discussing this in our team we decided that restructuring the team may be beneficial. Shortly after doing this we were able to find 2 suitable clients who needed a website doing so things started to move forward. I took on the role of Designer in the team but although we have our set roles everybody is helping each other with their tasks. I feel has brought the team much closer and everything seems to be going well so far.

Along with the other two assignments we have also been writing our PDP’s as part of assignment A10 iMe. The online journals have changed quite a lot from the reflective entries of last year because now we are given more direction on what we should be writing. This has been beneficial however as we have been doing activities such as locating and applying for an Interactive Media position. By doing entries such as this we are able to have more of an insight onto what to expect after leaving the course. One area that I have definitely let slip so far is commenting on other peoples entries. This is something that I am determined to improve on however and I plan to dedicate myself an hour each week to reading my peers entries and posting suitable comments.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Email notification on comments

Following on from today’s talk about receiving an email when somebody posts a comment on your blog, I have just found out how to do this if anybody would find this useful. On the Blogger “Dashboard” which appears when you sign in click “Settings”, then click the “Comments” tab at the top of the screen. When on this section the last option is “Comment Notification Address”, if you enter your email address in here and then click the “Save Settings” button at the bottom of the page this should allow for emails to be sent whenever a comment is made on your blog. I have just tested this now and it seemed to work.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Interview: Part 2

Describe yourself in three words.
Friendly, Organised, Perfectionist

How would you measure the effectiveness of your interactive media product?
I would use two ways of measuring the effectiveness of an interactive media product which would depend on who I was doing it for. If I was doing a project for a client I would measure the success on if they were happy with it and if they had any complaints. I would also take into account how effective the site has been e.g. have they been receiving more custom since having the website.

If I was doing an interactive media product as part of a college assignment I would make sure that I have met all of the pass criteria. I would also make sure that the site is standards complaint and that I have met any goals that I may have set myself.

How do you handle criticism?
I think that I can handle criticism pretty well and this is something that I have definitely improved on over the last 18 months. I now know that whatever feedback I receive whether it is good or bad is with the intention of helping me to improve what I have done.

Describe a difficult problem you’ve had and how you’ve solved it.
One difficult problem I faced was learning CSS and creating a single page standards compliant website over the summer with minimal reference to staff and peers. I feel that this was a great exercise as it forced me to improve on my problem solving skills. As I was unable to simply ask other people for help I had to perform tutorials and research into books which gave me a much better understanding of where I was going wrong compared to simply asking somebody else for the answer.

Describe how you fit into a team.
I feel that I am quite comfortable with working in a team as I am easy to get along with and enjoy meeting new people. I also like to have the opportunity of bouncing ideas of different people and getting their opinion on things instead of doing everything by myself.

I have had quite a lot of experience of team working as I worked in a team of Claims Handlers for a firm of solicitors. Being able to work effectively in a team was vital as there were quite strict deadlines to meet so everybody had to pull together.

Do you have any questions?
What are your working hours?
Is there the opportunity to progress within your company?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Job Hunter: Revisited

I really enjoyed the exercise of having to answer a series of interview questions. Even though face-to-face interviews would be extremely different I still feel that this was a great experience for when the course is over.

I was quite unsure on what approach to take for the section “Why I want the job”, I eventually decided to show that I really want to work for that company and have thoroughly researched into them. I feel that this was beneficial as it shows commitment and desire for the job. I think that I could have taken another approach by matching up what they require in an employee with the skills that I feel I have. This is an approach that I may take if I were to do this task again.

One area that I had to put quite a lot of thought into was “Greatest weakness”. I didn’t want to put a totally negative answer to this as although it shows honesty I felt it could hinder my chances of getting the job. Because of this I decided to put a positive spin onto my weakness which I think was much more suitable.

One area of the exercise that I was not entirely happy with was my answer to the
“Hero” section. I didn’t really know how to answer this and was torn on whether to state an actual hero which would give a better insight into my personality or state somebody in the industry. I felt that if I chose the latter it would again show my commitment to work in the industry. I originally stated that my hero was Benito Carbone (ex Bradford City player) but later amended this to Dan Cederholm. I think this was partly due to the fact that I have recently been reading his book and partly down to the lack of time. Looking back I feel that it would have been much more appropriate to have stuck with my actual hero. I would certainly do this if I were to perform the task again.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Job Hunter

Interactive Media position
Junior to mid-level web designer
Digital/creative qualification
Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Why I want the job
I see this as an excellent opportunity to join an exciting company working on some really important accounts. Looking on your website it is encouraging to see that your company has done projects for some huge companies such as Bella Italia and Twinings. I have also been extremely impressed with the approach that you take towards web design with “customer needs at the centre of things”.

Greatest strength
I feel that my biggest strength is being able to work under pressure and meet strict deadlines. From the experience that I have had from my previous job and also the last few years in education I have been faced with many deadlines and have not missed one. I feel that I strive under pressure and find that it is easy to motivate yourself for the task in hand if you have got something to aim for.

Greatest weakness
I feel that my greatest weakness is that I tend to spend quite a lot of time trying to improve work that I have done when it is already to a suitable standard. I have often found myself spending several hours on something that should only really take an hour or so. I feel however that this is due to being in a college environment for the last few years and having the opportunity to experiment with different ideas. I fully understand however that moving into the workplace I will not have this time to experiment with ideas so will need to be prepared to work to much stricter timescales.

Doing in 5 years time
In 5 years time I see myself working in a successful design company working on large projects. I would ideally have been working with the same company for several years and gained at least one promotion. I will have gained quite a large portfolio of work and worked on some really exciting projects along the way.

Current innovation that excites me most
The innovation of CSS level 3 excites me the most as this would give designers greater creativity in their designs. Having originally worked with tables and cells I feel that working with CSS gives designers much more flexibility in their designs and can lead to some really effective designs.

Hero/heroin and why
My hero is Dan Cederholm. I have been a huge fan of his since I read the book Web Standards Solutions. I feel that he was a huge help when starting to learn CSS and he helped make quite complex features seem more understandable.

Friday, September 28, 2007

On The Job - Rough Designs
This week we are intending to display 2 digitised designs for our client for approval. The client owns a haidressers in Pontefract. I would welcome any feedback that you wish to give!

This was our first design. The general consensus with this design was a bit to structured and didn't quite flow...

The design was then amended to this...

The second design was where the curve to the right originated. I originally planned for links at the top...

However following feedback from Steve and Rich we decided to put the links below the image...

So at present the ideas we plan to show the client are the second and fourth design.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Design Mechanics Presentation

Dave Pannell sees the Design Mechanics as a finishing school. Employees have opportunity to gain experience in industry staying for around 12 months before moving on to larger companies.

Research should be undertaken and CV’s chased underlining commitment, if not chased applicants won’t be contacted. Portfolio must look professional showing skills in web and print design, emphasis on commercial standard work. Impressive portfolios precede qualifications. Interviews focus on personality and ability to integrate. Need to detach from work and design for client not yourself. Employees should not think they know everything. They must have willingness to learn.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Time to reflect

After having such a long break over summer coupled with the summer assignment “A8 Monkey Business” I was quite looking forward to returning to college and working in the college environment again. I do feel however that it was a beneficial task to complete a whole assignment with hardly any reference to both tutors and my peers as it taught me to be much more independent and work through problems myself.

During the first week back we were handed out the new assignments “A9 Box Clever”, “A10 iMe” and “A11 On the Job”. My first thought as we started looking through the assignments was how much the standard of the work has increased now we have moved into the second year. Even though we had been told previously that the work was going to get much harder and that we were going to need much more stamina this year I feel that it really hit home during the first week. This is something that I am relishing however as I feel that you need to be constantly challenging yourself if you want to improve.

The sessions that we are having with John throughout the first semester are working on assignment “A9 Box Clever”. I was quite eager to start with this assignment as it involves creating a CSS page which I feel is going to be one of the most useful skills to have when it comes to gaining employment. Over the last 3 weeks we have been going through several tutorials to supplement the lectures that we have had. I feel has been really advantageous as I am already starting to feel much more comfortable using CSS than I was before the assignment started.

Along with the tutorials we have also been working on the first essay of the assignment which was to “Evaluate the impact that CSS has had on web design to date”. I have been quite happy with the progress that I have made on this essay as I have completed several drafts to the point where it is now almost complete. I feel that I have really benefited from John being able to look through the essay and suggest ways in which I could improve as I have been looking much closer at what I’m doing. I now feel quite confident that after a few alterations in my self study this week the essay will be finished to the correct standard.

I have also learnt that I have passed assignment “A8 Monkey Business” since I returning back to college. I had mixed emotions about this because on the one hand I was quite relieved that I had passed but on the other was disappointed that I couldn’t achieve a Merit. I think that this was a good experience for me as it has stopped any complacency which may have been creeping in and I am now focused on achieving higher grades for the present assignments. If I were to do the assignment again I would spend much more time evidencing my research as I feel that this was the major factor on missing out on the higher grades this time around. Evidencing my research is something that I am going to be much more aware of for future assignments.

The assignment that we have been focusing on with Steve since we returned is “A11 On the Job”. This assignment involves undertaking a live project as a member of a team. One of the first tasks that we had to do was to decide which member of the team would be the most appropriate for the roles of Project Manager, Designer and Developer. After a brief meeting we decided that I would take the role of Project Manager, Marc would take the role of Designer and Rich would take the role of Developer. One of our first tasks was to give a presentation including designs for a generic Nursery and Sports team. This was an extremely challenging task as we were only given a minimal amount of lesson time accompanied by our self study to get prepared for this. However I do feel that we communicated well for this and were quite prepared for presentation given the circumstances.

After actually giving the presentation I was not confident that we would be given any of the projects and felt that the dynamics of the team weren’t quite right. A short time later we were told that we would not be doing any of the projects and that we would need to find our own clients which I felt proved that something needed to change. I decided to hold a team meeting to discuss how we felt everything went and how we were going to progress as a team from here. After quite a constructive meeting we decided that the team would benefit from a restructuring of our roles and it was decided that Rich would take the role of Project Manager, I would take the role of Designer and Marc would take the role of Developer.

In the last week we have advanced quite a lot with the assignment and we have now got one client with the possibility of another also. It is not really possible to judge how the team has changed since deciding to swap roles but it is very encouraging that we have been able to find a client so quickly and get the ball rolling.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Skills gained and usefulness to employment

Personal Development Planning
I feel that my evaluative skills have vastly improved as a result of my personal development planning throughout the course along with my organisation and planning skills. This would benefit me for going into employment as I feel that I would be much more capable of writing an effective CV along with showing any potential employers how I have improved over the last couple of years.

Attending lectures, seminars, tutorials etc
I think that I have become much more prepared for lectures as the course has progressed by making sure that I always have the right equipment ready. I have also improved by undertaking further research to supplement lectures and improve my knowledge. I feel that I can now concentrate for much longer periods of time compared to when I started the course which would be a huge benefit for when I aim to gain employment, this is because I will be much more focused on the job in hand and be much less likely to lose concentration.

Seminars, group work, team projects
Working in groups and obtaining and supplying feedback has given me several vital skills in terms of employability. I can now show designs to my peers and be much more prepared to respond to either positive or negative feedback which is a huge bonus. I can also give feedback to other people in a much more constructive manner. I feel that this would be beneficial for employment as I will know not to take any negative feedback to any of my designs to heart and also give productive feedback to other people’s designs. I think that this will be very common in the industry so is a key skill to have.

Oral presentation
I feel that this is the area that I have improved on the most since the start of the course. I had very limited experience with presentations before the course so the fact that we have undertaken several presentations has given me good communication skills and also more confidence. The interactive media industry involves presenting your ideas and designs so being able to give an effective presentation is a vital skill to have looking forward to employment.

Writing essays and other forms of academic writing
I feel that my evaluative skills have certainly improved from having to write essays throughout the course. I also feel that my referencing skills have improved greatly with each essay that I have written. I feel that this will be beneficial for gaining employment as I will be able to accurately evaluate each design that I do which would be effective when having to present ideas to either work colleagues or clients. I would also be much more capable of referencing where I have gathered material which would make me much less susceptible to breaking copyright law.

Maths and statistics
I have used maths and statistics several times throughout the course which have definitely improved my skills. The majority of the time that I spend using this is when I am creating screen designs and implementing the designs. Due to the fact that everything has to be 100% correct and measured accurately it is key that I can calculate everything properly. I have also used maths and statistics when having to undertake research throughout the course and summarising it in the form of a graph or table. I feel that this will be beneficial for when I move into employment as I will be able to evidence any quantitative research that I have undertaken for any project much easier than I would have been able to before the course.

I have used my observation skills several times throughout the course but mainly when I am undertaking a competitive analysis. By doing this task I have had to research into how many competitors are in the local area and the strengths and weaknesses of each competitor. This could be useful when I gain employment as if I decided to go into freelance web design I would be able to monitor who I would be competing with and how it would be possible to gain an advantage over them in any way.

My observational skills have also been tested when it comes to making sure that all my work is accurate and that my work is of a suitable standard before I hand any assignment in. If my observational skills were not to a good standard I would be making silly mistakes, this is something that I have managed to eradicate from my work compared to the early part of the course. This would be vital for going into employment because if I was constantly handing in work with errors it would look extremely unprofessional.

This is a key element of the course and I am often spending many hours a week researching into different areas before I start any given task or project. I think that research skills are essential as they enable to you to gain a much more in-depth understanding of what you are doing which should allow you to create much more effective work. This would be beneficial when gaining employment as I am undoubtedly going to encounter many problems when I enter the workplace and may not have sufficient knowledge in certain areas, being able to effectively research and gain that knowledge would be extremely advantageous.

Exams and revision
The only way that the grades are handed out on this course is by creating portfolio work. This is different to sitting an essay but I feel that it is much more accurate reflection of your ability. The skills that I have learnt from having to create assignments are working to deadlines and being able to create time plans organising how I am going to complete each part of the project. I feel that with the industry being based heavily on time management it is extremely beneficial to be able to plan and complete work to a set deadline.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Being a Project Manager

Last Thursday we were working on our new assignment “A11 on the Job”, we needed to decide which team member would be suitable for each role in the project. After discussing the different roles that would go into a three person team and what would be the main responsibilities of each role it was decided that I would take up the role of Project Manager. I was quite pleased to be given this role as I think one of my key skills is that I am very organised, this is one of the main aspects of the role as it is the Project Manager’s responsibility to make sure that everybody knows what they are doing and how long they have to do it at any given date.

I am sure that the role is going to be very challenging but I feel that the experience of managing a team will be extremely advantageous for the future. As it is my role to liaise with the client along with the rest of the team my communication skills will improve as the project progresses and this would certainly benefit me when I try to gain employment after the course.

Even though it is early days I feel that we have the makings of an effective team where each member is suited to their role. I feel that this is because we decided who should be given each role from the personal skills profiles which we all created. Another promising aspect to the team is that we have been communicating effectively and everybody has been meeting the deadlines we have set ourselves. A good example of this was that Marc was able to get his screen designs for the Nursery and Sports Team online before Sunday night as we had all agreed, this then allowed the team to give relevant feedback and kept everybody on course to give the presentation on Thursday.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Aims and Ambitions

Over the next 6 months I have set myself several targets that I would like to achieve. One of my main aims is to become much more fluent with CSS and start to feel comfortable using it, this is the common method used for creating websites in the Interactive Media industry so I feel that it would be of great benefit to me in the future if I have a good knowledge of CSS.

I am quite eager to get started on our new assignment “A9 Box Clever” as this involves creating a page in standards compliant CSS. I feel quite confident going into the assignment due to my experience of creating a page solely using CSS in the summer assignment “A8 Monkey Business”. The new assignment will be completely different to this however as I will be back working in the college environment and will be able to gain feedback from my peers on any designs which I was unable to do for the assignment over the summer.

In my last online learning journal entry I stated that I wished to achieve 3 merit grades in the second year of the course and I am still quite confident that I will be able to do this. I am aware that the quality of work will need to be improved compared to last year but I feel that the amendments which have been made to the merit and distinction criteria will be a huge help in trying to achieve such grades. As they now signpost how it may be possible to evidence each different aspect of the criteria I feel this will be a huge advantage compared to last year.

Another aim for the next 6 months is to be able to work well within a group on a professional project which I am going to be doing for assignment “A11 On the Job”. As this will be my first group project I will be happy to achieve a pass grade but I will be aiming for the highest possible grade as I do with all of my assignments.

I have also set myself some longer term goals over the next couple of years. I am still planning to do a third year top up degree whether this be at Thornes Park or elsewhere as I feel that this will enable me to build a better portfolio which should hopefully make me more appealing to potential employers after the course. I will also be able to have more time to build up my skills in certain areas such as CSS which I mentioned earlier.

After I finish education I aim to gain employment in the Interactive Media industry and begin to start working my way up.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

First year review

When I started the course back in early September 2006 after being out of education for over a year I felt like I was stepping into the unknown and this was something that I was quite nervous about. There were several thoughts going through my mind from little things like will I be able to make any friends through to bigger things such as will I be as good as everybody else on the course. Looking back now though and comparing that with the whole feelings of the class as a whole I think that this was synonymous with the feelings of my peers too which helped to set me at ease a little bit.

One thing that I think really helped to gel everybody together was the introduction week where we undertook several different activities which helped to break the ice and get everybody talking to each other. We were also told from the first day just how demanding the course was going to be and what was expected of a student on the course. I felt that this was really beneficial because you knew exactly where you stood right away and I knew that if I were not to put in the required time and effort that I was never going to get anywhere in this course and consequently nowhere in the industry.

One major thing that I had to come to terms with on the course was the fact that sixteen hours self study needed to be done each week. I found this to be quite a struggle at first as I had just left employment where you can finish at the end of the day and then not have to worry about it when you get home. This also doubled with the fact that when I was at college previously I found it difficult to concentrate at home and never seemed to get anything done. One thing that I feel really helped me with this was the introduction of the weekly time plans, I felt that these really helped as It gave you more of a structured environment and you could then plan exactly what you had to do in any given session. I am now at the stage where I can set aside two full days each week to get this done which I feel is really beneficial as I have got into a routine now and it is starting to become second nature. I feel that if I were to start this course over again I would definitely try to use this method again.

The first assignment that we did was “A2 That’s the Plan”. I felt that this assignment really benefited me because even though it wasn’t as large as the ones we have done recently it helped to settle me into the course and get a feel for how deadlines are handled and work is marked. I think that this was always going to be difficult as it was the first assignment and I felt that once this was out of the way I would feel much more comfortable with the course and be able to start enjoying it a bit more. I gained a referral for this assignment which I was quite disappointed with at the time but I feel that this was a good experience as I knew what I had to improve on to pass the assignment.

The next two assignments that I was given were “A3 Back to Basic” and “A4 Picture This”. I was more confident going into these assignments as I now had the experience of completing the previous assignment and understanding a little better how everything works. I enjoyed both of these assignments as I felt that it allowed me to be a little bit more creative especially assignment A4. I felt quite confident handing these assignments in and I was aiming at achieving the higher level grades. I was delighted to see that I had achieved a merit grade for assignment A3 but this was tinged with disappointment when I found out that I had gained a referral grade for assignment A4. This was due to me making silly mistakes that I had made in the first assignment. The fact that I was making silly mistakes this far into the course was quite a worry for me and I decided that next time around I was going to strive to eliminate these and check my work much more thoroughly before handing anything in.

By this time it was quite apparent to me that the standard of the work was increasing each time but I felt that this was extremely beneficial as it meant that you had to push yourself that much harder. I feel that the only way to improve yourself is to put the time and effort in and this was something that I was determined to do.

The next assignments that were given out were “A5 Builder” and “A6 Revert to Type”. I felt that these were the most beneficial assignments that we had done so far as they involved skills that would be essential in the industry. Assignment A5 involved making the website that I had previously planned and A6 involved work being handed out spontaneously and having strict deadlines to get it finished. This is something that is common within the industry and having spoken to several previous students who have now gained employment this is exactly the environment that they are working in. I feel that by this time in the course I was being much more conscientious about the work that I was doing as I was determined to stamp out on the mistakes that I had made in the previous assignments. Because of this I was delighted to have achieved merit grades for both assignments and this was also quite a relief as I dint want to have to worry about working on referral work during the last big assignment of the year.

This assignment was “A7 The Fax of Life” and this was certainly the biggest assignment that we had done by quite a distance. This assignment though was not running alongside another which meant that I could concentrate solely on it which I found extremely useful. As this involved creating another website I was determined to improve on the one that I had done previously. I think that the course is constantly getting harder so I feel that you have always got to try and improve on the work that you have in the past done in order to better yourself. This will be much more apparent when the work goes up another notch for the second year but I feel that the nature of this assignment really helps to prepare you for that.

Looking ahead to next year I am determined to try and achieve the higher level grades and I am well aware that to do this I must improve the work that I produce. I feel that this will be quite a challenge but certainly one that I will relish. I am still aiming on doing a third year to complete the degree for this course whether that is at Thornes Park or at another university. I feel that this will not only improve my skills but will also allow me to have more time in creating an effective portfolio which I see as vital in gaining employment.

Goals for next year:
  • Pass assignments first time so that I do not have to worry about referral work interfering with other assignments
  • Building a site completely using CSS as this is a vital skill to have judging by the reports that we have had from previous students who are now in employment
  • To be able to time plan everything effectively so that I meet all of my deadlines
  • To create a portfolio site that contains all of the work that I have done on the course and externally if appropriate
  • Gain merit grades for 3 assignments. It may be difficult to achieve merit grades right away as the criteria will change making it harder to achieve these grades, hopefully though I will be able to achieve these later on in the second year.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Going Photoshop mad!!!

This week has been really productive because even though I am not 100% on track with my time plan I am quite confident that I will be able to get everything finished on time.

Due to the fact that this time last week I was still fretting about my style guide website I am quite happy that I have been able to get this finished on Wednesday morning. This was a huge weight of my mind as I was anxious to get this out of the way so that I could finally focus on the CD design. If I were to do this assignment again I would definitely try to get the website finished during our three week break so that I could go straight to working on the CD for the run in to the deadline.

On Wednesday afternoon I was able to develop ideas and create designs for pages 1 and 4 of my CD booklet this week. I was a little apprehensive about this task because I have never done anything like this before and I found it quite a challenge at times to create designs that I was happy with. It was also quite difficult in some instances to find relevant images that accurately matched my ideas and were of a high enough quality to use. This was something which I spent quite a lot of time on but I feel that this was advantageous as I now have a set of images that are suitable for my ideas. If I were to do this again I would definitely spend time researching and gathering accurate images before making any designs because it is all good having a great design but if you cannot find a particular image it will never be made. Below is the design for pages 1 and 4, I have not created any of the text yet but I would welcome any comments you may have.

On Thursday I was again focusing on the design of the CD and after ironing out several problems I had with pages 1 and 4 of the booklet I was able to start designing for the inside of the booklet (pages 2 and 3). I found this to be quite difficult to design as there was only a very minimal amount of text that needed to be fit onto one of the two pages which meant that you had to think of other ways to make a visual impact. After creating several roughs and developing them I decided to stick with a similar theme to what I had used in pages 1 and 4 by using the same background to ensure consistency between designs. I am quite happy with the designs that I have come up with for my booklet because I don’t really have any experience with Photoshop apart from the photo restoration that we did previously in the course. Below is the design for pages 2 and 3, I have not created any of the text yet but I would welcome any comments you may have.

As we are now fast approaching the deadline I am aware that I have still got quite a bit to do but I feel that by this time next week I will have got my CD completely finished which will leave me in quite a good position. The remainder of my time will then be focused on my evaluation and pre-flight documentation which will then result in everything ready to be handed in!

Friday, April 27, 2007

The pressure is on!!!

This ­­week has been extremely hectic as time is fast running out to get things done. I feel that this has been a reoccurring theme with my blog entries over the past few weeks and this is something that I can see myself still worrying about right up until the deadline! I do hope however that this time next week I will be feeling much more confident about things and will have been able to get quite a lot done.

On Wednesday I was quite disappointed to learn that the corporate colours that I had chosen and that were used in all of my designs were not compatible between all media. This was a huge problem and I spent several hours trying to correct this and find similar colours which would be compatible, because I was doing this it meant that I was unable to crack on with more pressing matters which at this stage of the assignment is quite unfortunate. I feel that this happened because I had not really put much thought into the colours when I chose them in the design process and simply picked colours that I thought looked effective, it did not even enter my mind that they may appear differently in other media and this is something which I will definitely put much more thought into next time around. I will be determined not make the same mistake twice. I do feel however that this was a good experience because I now have a much better knowledge of what will and what won’t readily transfer between different media.

On Thursday we had to bring in all of our sketchbooks so that they could be quickly assessed to see if any improvements could be made between now and the deadline. I was quite confident going into this because I have always tended to evidence anything significant in my sketchbook as we have always been told that if we don’t evidence things properly then it is going to be extremely difficult to prove that you have actually done it. I have also made a conscious effect throughout the whole of the first year not to forget about that assignment even though we were working on several others at the same time. The main area of concern that I did have was the “Cultural Contexts” section which I tended to spend quite a long time researching into but never really got the results that I was entirely happy with. I did however manage to find something of relevance eventually as I stated in my last blog entry. Even though I have tended to worry about this assignment more than I should have I do feel that it has been really advantageous as sketchbook work is going to be even more important next year so will be a key skill to have.

By the time I return to college next Wednesday there will only be two weeks until the deadline so I will be striving to get the style guide and everything finished so that I can fully concentrate on the design of my CD!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Time to knuckle down!!!

I can’t believe just how quickly this Easter break has flown by and going back into college tomorrow there is now very little time left before the deadline, it is certainly time to knuckle down and get things done!

I have always thought that this assignment was the largest and possibly most difficult that we have had to do so far, I do feel that this is really advantageous though because Steve has never hidden the fact that there is going to be quite a step up next year so the experience of doing an assignment this large can only be to our benefit. I am under no illusions however that the work will be more difficult and the grades will be much harder to achieve in our second year.

As the assignment is so large I had hoped to have got the majority of the work out of the way over this holiday period and to a certain degree I am quite happy with what I have been able to do. I had planned to have completed the style guide website by tomorrow but I have found that my efforts over this holiday have focused more on actually creating the elements that will eventually go into this e.g. letterhead, business card etc. I have been able to create several ideas for each of these elements which all follow a certain theme to achieve the consistency between each of them. I was able to do this by deciding on my corporate colours, fonts and sizes before I started any creative work which I feel has really helped and stopped me just designing things “off the cuff”. If I were to do this again I would definitely use this method.

Even though I haven’t finished my style guide website I have managed to create the template file from which every page will be created. Due to the problems I had with my last site where I had to start afresh as the deadline was not far away I feel that doing a template will certainly enable me to create the site in a relatively short space of time when I have all the content ready. Hopefully this will be completely finished by this time next week so that I can concentrate solely on the CD design in the final weeks before the deadline.

I feel that throughout this break I have spent quite a large chunk of time researching into several elements of the style guide as in some areas I had limited knowledge or no knowledge at all. This was particularly relevant to the press release and the HTML email template. I do feel that I have really benefited from this though as I did not really know what a press release even was several weeks ago never mind how to create one!

One big worry of mine over the break was that I would still not be able to find anything of any relevance for the “Cultural Contexts” part of out SketchBlog assignment. Before we left for the break we discussed in our group feedback sessions just what could qualify for this criterion. One of the areas we discussed was how accessibility is influenced by different cultures and whilst researching into this I found the book Designing Across Cultures by Ronnie Lipton, I feel that this is extremely relevant to us as this contains several useful quotes and examples. One example was that an image of a rice bowl with upright chopsticks has been used before and in some Asian culture this means death!

One useful quote was also:
“You can't assume what's culturally relevant to an ethnic group (or subset of that group) that you don't belong to -- and, that it's not even safe to assume it for a group you do belong to”

I also found a review of the book and found it available to buy on Amazon.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Approaching the run in!!!

I am quite pleased that I have been able to get quite a lot of work done in this last week and I certainly feel that everything is now starting to come together. After completing the template for my Style Guide a couple of weeks ago I have been able to focus on the content that will be going into it.

As I began to create each of the items it quickly became apparent on how much worked is involved with the “full creative development process” that is stated on the assignment brief. When you consider that this can take around two hours for just one idea then it is easy to see just how large task 2 actually is.

I am quite happy that I have been able to get my email template for Ambient World finished this week as it is something that I have no real experience of. Because of this I decided to research into different types of HTML layouts and more importantly how they are created and used! After spending a couple of hours browsing several different sites I started to design my own template. I feel that if I had not done this research I would not even have known where to start and I feel that I have now got 3 decent ideas which be appropriate for Ambient World. I have posted these ideas on the bottom of this entry and I would welcome any comments that you may wish to give.

I can’t really believe that it has been 3 weeks since we were last in college and it has certainly flown by. I am grateful for the break though and I think that I have managed to get quite a lot done so I now feel enthusiastic about the run up to the deadline and the end of the first year of the course!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Busy in the break!!!

I have quite enjoyed having the little break from the work so far but after spending the first week relaxing and not really doing much I have decided to dedicate a large chunk of the next two weeks to getting things done.

I stated before I went into the break that when I came back into college I wanted to have everything to do with the style guide finished allowing me to focus solely on the design of the CD when I return. This is still something that I would like to have done but bearing in mind just how much work that has to go into this I may not be able to get it as complete as I would like, this is why I have decided to spend quite a lot of time on it during the remainder of the break so I can get as much done as possible.

Over the last couple of days I have spent quite a bit of time creating the rules for my corporate identity such as my corporate font, corporate colours and logo usage. This has then allowed me to make a start on the other things which will go into the style guide by using these rules. At the bottom of this entry are a few rough business cards that I have come up with and I would welcome any comment that you wish to give.

So I can certainly see myself being really busy over this next couple of weeks and hopefully I will be in a good position when we all return on April 25th!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The results are in!!!

I feel that I have managed to get quite a lot done this week and I feel quite confident that I am well on track as we are to begin our Easter break.

As I arrived on Wednesday morning I was soon told to check the board as the results for our “A5 Builder” assignment had been put up. Even though I was quite confident in my work for this assignment I was also wary of the fact that I have slipped up previously by making silly little mistakes. This was something which I was determined not to do this time and I was very happy with the fact that I had achieved a Merit grade. After experiencing many problems with my website for this assignment and having to start all over again with several weeks to go I am pleased that I have been able to achieve such a good grade.

After speaking to Steve in our group feedback session on Thursday he explained to us how he the assignments are graded. He told us that we get the good marks by completing the learning outcomes for each assignment and not by reading the plain English descriptions. This is something which I am definitely going to have to be more aware of for upcoming assignments and also the SketchBlog assignment which is being handed in soon.

I have been able to get quite a lot done this week and after giving a presentation to the group on Wednesday of our logo’s and receiving feedback I was quickly able to create my finished design. I felt that the opportunity to get feedback from everybody at once was very beneficial as you began to get different opinions and suggestions on how things could be improved. I feel that this is much more efficient than if I were to go round everybody individually with designs from my sketchbook as I think that you are able to display things much easier on screen.

I was also able to finish my screen design for the website along with the site structure diagram which now leaves me with gathering the content and building the site over the Easter break. Ideally I would like to return to college being able to focus my attention on the design for the CD that I have chosen.

I spent the majority of Thursday researching into several elements of the assignment and looking at some examples of other people’s style guides, I feel that this was a good experience as it allowed me to see the good and bad features of each individual guide which I can hopefully take into account for my guide. I then focused on trying to create the CSS for my new site as this is something which I struggled on last time. I did this by creating a test sheet and then creating a style sheet to apply to that sheet to see if everything was working correctly. I feel that this is a good way to do things as it eliminates any chance me getting it messed up half way through as I did last time. This is definitely something that I will try to do when I build future websites.

At the end of Thursday I didn’t even realise that the results for our “A6 Revert to Type” had been put up on the board until I saw several people standing around the sheet. I was extremely nervous about this assignment as I felt that I really did make quite a mess with the final timed assignment. Because of this I was both delighted and surprised that I had achieved a Merit! I am very pleased that after several referrals earlier in the course I am now beginning to get better grades which I must try to maintain. Bearing in mind that the work goes up another notch next year I know that it will take much more to achieve Merit and Distinction grades next year but it is something that I am definitely striving for!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Logos, logos, logos!!!

For the majority of this week we have been concentrating on working on our Ambient World logo. I was quite worried about this on Wednesday as I was not entirely happy with the quality of my designs. Despite putting some time aside in my self study to come up with around twenty rough designs I felt that this was nowhere near enough and I did not really feel that any of the designs would be appropriate for Ambient World. I felt that this was because I had focused on stereotypical musical elements such as musical notes and microphones, after having the experience of listening to the type of music that they sell it was quite clear that I needed to take a different approach to my designs altogether. I quite enjoyed coming up with the new designs as I felt that they were of a much higher quality compared to my earlier efforts and would be much more suited to this type of music. For the majority of my designs I tried to incorporate some kind of space/electronica theme and I would welcome any feedback you may have on my designs at the bottom of this entry.

After listening to my album Planetarium this week I was pleasantly surprised that it was not as bad as I thought it would be. It is definitely not something that I would go out and buy but I feel that is the whole point of this assignment. You cannot always expect to be working on something that you like so being able to create designs for something which is not familiar to you or not to your taste is something that we need to learn to do. I am however definitely enjoying this task and quite pleased with some of the ideas I have come up with so far.

One thing that Steve has stressed to us this week is the importance of keeping accurate weekly planning sheets and overall time plans for the whole assignment. After the experience of the first assignment where Steve planned what we should have done by what date I immediately felt at ease knowing where I should be at any stage in the assignment. When on the start of our second and third assignments we had to make our own mini-deadlines I knew that I had to put more time and effort into time management and I feel that it is now something which I am quite comfortable with and really helps when we have larger assignments such as A7 The Fax of Life. I feel that if I didn’t plan as much as I do I would definitely fall behind and not be able to manage the workload effectively as I would like. I think that management of time is probably one of the key skills to have if you were to go on and get a job in this industry so being able to do it well now can only be advantageous for the future.

As we are fast approaching the Easter break I hope to have a completed logo drawn up in Freehand by this time next week and also have full screen designs for my style guide website.

Logo ideas:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The big one!!!

This week saw the arrival of the new assignment “A7 The Fax of Life”. I find it very hard to believe that this is our final major project of the year and time has certainly flown by!

It has been quite a relief to start a new assignment and forget about the stresses of last week. My first impressions of the assignment were that it seemed to be quite a lot larger to what we have been accustomed to, however, if you take into consideration the fact that both college days and all of our self study is going to be focused on this project it seems a lot more manageable. I do feel quite prepared for this assignment due to the fact that Steve has spent the majority of the week in college thoroughly going through things and clearing up all the issues. I feel that this has really benefited me and I have been able to compile a lot of notes and highlight the key points which will be good to refer to as the assignment progresses.

I have decided to do quite a bit of research into this assignment before I start any creative work as I want to be able to create better designs when I eventually come round to doing them. I have found the Storm Thorgerson site quite inspiring as he designs anything from CD covers to Logo’s which is extremely relevant to this assignment.

On Wednesday former student Marc Bowers also gave us a visit to let us know how he coped with the course and how he has found work since leaving. I feel that by occasionally having former students visit is a real confidence booster and it lets you see that all the hard work will eventually be worth it. This was something that Marc really wanted to put across in his presentation and he felt that he would have been able to achieve much better grades if he would have put a little more time and effort in. This is something that I will definitely try to be wary of as I want to be able to achieve the best grades possible. Marc has however found himself a good job which he is very happy with, as I have had the experience of having to go to work everyday to a job that I really didn’t like this is something that I will ultimately strive for.

One site that Marc said that he used was Graduate Link and he actually found out about his current job on this website. I was quite surprised to see that the majority of jobs were not really fussed whether you had a HND or a Degree and this would certainly make me think twice about doing a top up year as I had originally planned.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A6 Evaluation

When we were first given the A6 Revert to Type assignment my initial fears were geared totally towards the presentation that we had to give at the end of the project. I felt that this would have been the most difficult part of the assignment by far and did not feel that I would struggle too much with the rest of the assignment. However, I soon began to realise that this was not the case.

As I began to do the “as and when” tasks I soon realised just how difficult they actually were. I was quite excited about them at first because I knew that jobs in the industry require you to work at a very fast pace so this would be great experience for the future. The first timed task we did was to produce an article on musician Jonathan Gee using a given set of elements. I was quite happy with the design that I did for this and I felt that I benefited greatly by getting the whole design done with quite a lot of time to spare. This meant that I could spend time thoroughly checking the work and improving it. I could have spent more time on the planning process for this design but this may have left me with little time to spare meaning that I wouldn’t be able to check it as thoroughly as I would have liked. If I were to do this task again I would certainly try to get everything done with time to spare so that I could make the necessary amendments which would lead to a higher quality of work. This was something which I tried to do for every practical task in this unit but unfortunately this was not the case for all of them.

The next task we did was to design a paint tube for a range of oriental paints. Again this task involved working to a set brief which I immediately felt at ease with. I enjoyed this task as I felt that it was quite a challenging brief due to the small amount of space available to put the elements. I felt that this was a good experience because you cannot always expect to be given large amounts of space to create designs so being able to design on a small scale is a key skill to have.

We were then given the task of creating a job advertisement to a given brief and again this was something that I did not really struggle too much with. I felt that this task had a much more commercial feel to it compared to the tasks we had done previously and again I was pleased to see that I had left myself with plenty of time to check the work and make any amendments. I felt that this was possibly my most effective design out of the tasks that we had done and if I were to do the design again I would probably stick to the same design.

The next task we were given was to create a grid for a newsletter article and then design all of the content. As there was much more to do in this task compared to the previous tasks that we had done I knew that I had to try and work a lot faster. This has not really been a strong point of mine in the past as I tend to spend quite a lot of time dwelling on things and changing things. Due to this I tried not to dwell on things too much and just try to get it done as quickly as possible, I was not really entirely happy with this design as I felt that I might have rushed it a bit too much even though I only just managed to meet the deadline with minutes to spare. Due to this I decided not to submit this piece of work as I did not feel that it was designed as well as the others that I had done. If I were to do this design again I would definitely try to speed up the rough design process as I feel that I spent much more time than I need to on this.

The last timed task we did came as a real surprise as we had to design multiple fact sheets and supply all the material. This was the first time that we have had not been given the content for a task and this was something that I really struggled with given the amount of time that we had. I was quite confident that I knew the majority of the content so I decided to write as much down as I could and then save it as a text file ready to be imported into PageMaker when I needed it. I was quite disappointed with my performance in this task as I had planned to make 5 sheets at first and then when I realised just how much time I had left I amended this to 3 sheets. In the end though I only ended up with having just over 1 and a half sheets finished before I ran out of time. I feel that I ran out of time purely because of the way that I had designed the sheets. I had designed the sheet to have roughly 10 definitions on each page and bearing in mind that I had to create the illustrations for each definition I just did not have the amount of time to create them. I felt this was a good experience however as I realise just how important management of time is and I feel that if I were to do this task again I would only put around 5 definitions on a page which would save me a vast amount of time.

One part of the assignment that I am happy with was every aspect of the presentation that we had to do. This involved creating a visual presentation along with an accompanying handout. After spending quite a lot of time on the design of the handout I am very pleased with the end result. I felt that everything that I had learnt from doing the “as and when” tasks really helped me with this design as I had a clearer knowledge of all the different typographic techniques. I was also quite happy with my design of the visual aides as I felt that they contained a good balance of information and images. If I were to do these tasks again though I am sure that I would be able to improve on them due to the experience that I have gained throughout this assignment.

The actual delivery of the presentation at the end of the assignment was something that I was worried about the most. Due to this I wanted to try and know the presentation inside out and also give myself cue cards to remind me of any important pieces of information. I felt that this was a good technique to use as I felt that I did quite a good job with the presentation and my nerves soon disappeared. If I were to do this task again I would certainly use this method as I felt much more confident compared to presentations that I had done in the past.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Presentations and Purple Giraffe’s!!!

Even though we were only in college for one full day this week as well as practicing our presentations I feel it has been very productive.

On Wednesday we were visited by former student Jonny Haynes who came in to give us a talk on his experiences with the course and what he is doing now. I was very impressed with what he had to say and it was good to hear from somebody who has done this course and gone on to get a decent job out of it. As he works for Technophobia who are quite a large firm in Sheffield I was eager to see what he had been doing since working for them. As he began to show us what he had been up to since he started there it became apparent that the work he does is very different to that of The Design Mechanics who I visited recently. The main difference really is that Technophobia deal with much larger clients and work on projects for long periods whereas The Design Mechanics need to have a quick turnover in work to attain any profit. He also stated that it took him almost six months to gain employment after finishing the course so that proves just how difficult it may be to get a job in the industry when the course is over.

On Thursday we came in for a short period to practice our presentations. We were able to go through the presentation in front of Steve and the rest of our group and gather any feedback which would make the presentation any better. I was quite happy with how this went and I feel that because of the feedback I received I will be able to deliver a better presentation next week. One regret I have however is that I didn’t really rehearse enough before our practice session. If I were to do again I would definitely rehearse more so that I will feel much more confident about the whole thing. After John helped out by giving us a little exercise on presentations it became apparent that the key element to any presentation is just confidence. If you go into the presentation in a confident mood you are much more likely to do a better job.

With the deadlines coming up next week I am definitely going to dedicate a lot of my time to trying to know my presentation back to front!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Time to relax…no chance!!!

I have quite enjoyed the little break from college this week and this has enabled me to get quite a lot done.

One of my aims for this week was to finish everything to do with the upcoming presentation (slides, handouts etc) and apart from rehearsing the actual presentation I have been able to do this. I had been quite worried about the handout for the presentation due to the fact that it will also be marked. Because of this I have tried to take into account all the little typography tasks that we have been doing recently and after spending quite a bit of time on this I am quite happy with the end result (see below).

Another thing that I have spent quite a lot of time on this week is trying to fix the problem with the navigation of my A5 Builder website in Firefox. I was quite disappointed that the site did not render properly in Firefox but despite many attempts to alter the coding the problem still remained. This is something which I will continue to try and fix but at the minute I haven’t had any luck! I think that I had been having the problems with my website because I had created a template and tried to create every page from the template, this seemed a good idea at the time but when any meaningful changes needed to be made it proved to be pretty difficult. I will definitely put more thought into whether to create a template page next time.

I also decided to take advantage of this week by trying to address some areas of the SketchBlog assignment which we were given at the beginning of the course. One area that I felt I needed to address was “Analyse the cultural contexts in which graphic ideas are communicated”. This has proved to be a very difficult task and after what seemed like endless searching I was unable to find anything of any real relevance. This has proved to be quite frustrating as I hoped to get quite a lot of this done during this week. This is something which I am definitely going to revisit at a later date as without this it would be extremely difficult to pass the unit.

I am quite looking forward to next week at college as we have a former student visiting and we are practicing for our upcoming presentations. It will be interesting to see how another student has found leaving the course and going into a job after speaking to former students at the Design Mechanics several weeks ago.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The stress of timed tasks!!!

The deadlines are slowly creeping closer and although they are not until another few weeks this will be our last full working week. This is because we are now embarking on a week’s holiday and then when we return one day is dedicated to the practice of our presentations. Because of this it has been quite pleasing to see that things are slowly but surely coming together.

On Wednesday we undertook our usability testing for the A5 Builder assignment. I was looking forward to this as I was eager to see what other people thought of my website and what possible improvements could be made. I spent quite a lot of time thinking about what questions to ask in my questionnaire because I wanted to be able to capture the best quality feedback possible. I think that this was beneficial as during our group feedback sessions with Steve last week it was apparent that we needed to create a blend of both quantitative and qualitative responses.

I was quite happy with how everything went and because of the feedback I received I was able to change several pieces on the site. I feel that I could have improved on this by including a section stating “Any other comments” or something along those lines. This would enable be to receive more qualitative responses and this is definitely something I will consider doing next time. See the latest version of the site.

On Thursday we were greeted by another timed task. The first part of this was to create the grid for a newsletter and the second part of this was to organise the content into the grid previously created. I was looking forward to this task but I soon began to encounter several problems with creating the original grid. As we were only given an hour to plan and create the grid time was certainly of the essence. I feel that I spent too much time doing my roughs and drawing my chosen design out which left me with very little time to actually create it. This resulted in me creating a design which I was not entirely happy with and I would certainly have amended it if I had the time left over. Even though I did struggle with this I still felt it was a beneficial task as it reminded me just how important time in this industry is. If I were to do this task again I would certainly remember this and spend much less time on my rough work leaving me with more time to create my final design.

Even though we are about to start a week’s holiday it is no time to relax as there is plenty to do. With the presentation to master along with the upcoming deadlines I am certainly going to be busy!