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!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Team work, where do I fit?

This week’s blog entry is a little bit different from usual, I am going to analyse where I feel my position would be if I were to be put into a team working situation.

I feel that several of my personality traits would fit into the criteria for a selection of the different team-roles stated on the Belbin website ( One of the positions that I thought I may have fitted into was the “Teamworker” role. I felt this because I think that I am a quite mild person and like to avert friction wherever possible. However one weakness of a “Teamworker” is that they are indecisive in crunch situations, I feel that in the past this may have applied to me a little bit but the recent timed tasks that we have been doing have made me become much more focused. I am now beginning to decide on my design choices much quicker and easier without mulling things over.

Another section which I felt I may fit into was that of an “Implementer”. This is because the traits of an “Implementer” are that they are disciplined, reliable, conservative and efficient. I feel that I have improved on all of these areas since I started on the course due to the fact that amongst other things we have to plan and complete 16 hours of self study each week. This has forced me to be much more disciplined and reliable so I believe that this certainly applies to me. Again however I did not feel that the weaknesses of an “Implementer” applied to me, one weakness was that they are slow to respond to new possibilities. I don’t feel that this applies to me because I tend to relish and look forward to new possibilities whenever they arise.

The section that I felt most suited me was that of a “Completer Finisher”. I feel that almost all of the traits of a “Completer Finisher” apply accurately to me. Two things that I consider myself to be quite strong at are the ability to deliver on time and to be quite conscientious. These are two criteria which fit into the “Completer Finisher” role along with being painstaking, anxious and someone who searches out errors and omissions which I also feel applies to me, I am aware however that I need to improve on the latter if I am going to cut out on silly little mistakes. I also feel that one of the potential weaknesses applies to me which is that I am inclined to worry unduly. This is something which has been one of my traits for as long as I can remember and although I do get myself in a bit of a panic over the littlest of things it can also be of benefit sometimes. Because I do tend to worry I occasionally feel that I over prepare for things and do too much but I would much rather be like that than under prepare and not do enough!

My previous experience of working as part of a team was when I worked as a Claims Handler last year. This was because we all used to work in little teams. This was very different to what I expect team working will be like in this industry though as everybody all had the same job and just got on with their own work.

One recent little group task that I have done was to plan and perform a short presentation about a recent trip to The Design Mechanics in Huddersfield. I did this with Drew, Craig A and Craig B and overall I thought that this turned out to be quite a success. I felt that this was because we all fit into different sections of the “Team-Role Descriptions” and each have something different to offer. Even though it was only a short task I feel that Craig A took the role of a “Resource Investigator”, Craig B took the role of a “Co-ordinator”, Drew took the role of a “Implementer” and I took the role of a “Completer Finisher”. I think if we were to work in this group again we would be able to do a good job. I also feel that I would be quite happy to work with anyone within the group because everybody seems to get on well and should be able to work well together.

Friday, February 02, 2007

To London and back…down to earth!!!

It has been quite action packed this week with plenty of things going on, starting with our trip to London on Wednesday and the start of our “as and when” tasks for the A6 Revert to Type assignment on Thursday. Even though there is plenty to do on the A5 Builder assignment I found that it was nice to have a little break from the routine and enjoy a day out. I was a little nervous about visiting London as the only previous time I have been was to go to Wembley in 1996!

It was certainly different from my expectations and the pleasing thing was that I found it to be a little less hustle and bustle than I imagined it to be. For the morning part of our trip we visited the Tate Modern museum, I was looking forward to this as I felt that there would be plenty of inspiring pieces which I could relate back to which would benefit me for the more creative aspects of this course. Because of this I was extremely disappointed to hear that because of recent strike action the museum exhibits were closed!

We were then given the rest of the day to explore the city which I enjoyed as it allowed me to sample some of the shops on offer! We were planning on going on the tube to visit several places but to our frustration we could not find an entrance to the tube stations anywhere and could only find the stations that stated “No Entry”. This meant that we spent quite a lot of time meandering and trying to find our bearings. To avoid this we could have returned to Leicester Square and got on the tube there and if I were in that situation again I would definitely do that. I do feel however that this trip was a good experience and even though the Tate Modern was closed I am glad that we made the trip.

After having around 6 hours sleep on Wednesday night due to the trip I along with the majority of the class was feeling pretty tired on Thursday morning. I soon realised however that I needed to get myself back into the right frame of mind as there was to be several “as and when” tasks throughout the day. I was quite looking forward to participating in these tasks because after my trip to The Design Mechanics last week I realised that this would be how tasks would be distributed in the workplace.

The first two tasks that we were given were pretty simple and I felt quite happy about what I had produced. The third task (typography design for a paint tube) however was much more complex and needed much more aspects to be taken into consideration. I was quite worried about this task at first because the brief was pretty strict and I felt that I would struggle to come up with enough thumbnails that were different from each other. I feel that this was a good experience however as it took me out of my usual comfort zone and forced me to work a little harder to get things right. I feel that I could have improved on my developmental work but due to the time restrictions on offer I did not find this to be possible. I do feel that if we were to do this task again with the experience that I have now gained I should be able to do it quicker and my developmental work will have improved.