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.