Design and Usability-
While this page is certainly nothing fancy, I feel as though the pages tie together well, and that the format is consistant. I achieved unity by placing the color bars at the top and the bottom of every page as well as the standard navigation bar at the bottom. I steered clear of using a lot of color because I felt like it was only distracting and detracted from the readability of the text. I also wrote and layed out all the weblogs in a standard format.
No templates were used. The entire site was created in Word and NVu. I also found the Demo of the W3School's Try It Feature to be particularly useful in determining if the html coding would work properly and using it to look up how to code certain things.
I tried to make the site user friendly by placing the navigation bar on every page and by giving a brief description of what stories and weblogs were about under their links. I also tried to make things usable by linking related stories and sites that might be of interest to the reader.
Given additional time I would like to improve my site by incorporating more videos and interactive features. I would really liked to have done a piece with an interview or a video demonstration on a how-to article, but the story ideas never worked out.
I would also love to organize data and graphics into an piece like MSNBC's What We Know or to utilize flash for an article like the Local Heroes site and the other sites we viewed in class. I've never worked with Flash before though, so it's going to take a lot of time and patience.
My site picked up speed as it went, though it was never and out and out sprint. At first the obvious problem of being locked out of getting a VolSpace account combined with the fact that I was really overwhelmed by the prospect of coding in html worked to greatly impede progress. Eventually, after I got a handle on how html worked and how to upload my pages to VolSpace, it became easier because I could actually see my site developing. The greatest help to my progress was NVu because it allowed me to easily add color and tables and to see what things looked like.
I frequently got bogged down in html errors that involved having to upload and re-upload pages to VolSpace 4 or 5 times before they actually worked properly. There was also the scare when my computer was replaced by the sign that said "This Computer is Toast" and some of my files were just gone for a couple of days at the end of the semester. I also initially had a lot of trouble adding images to my pages and getting the text to wrap around them. For a while a lot of my pages had a broken link box instead of an image.
I was also frustrated at times because the stories I chose to write about didn't easily lend themselves to interactive features such as images and videos. While I realize this is entirely my fault because I'm the one who picked what to write about, I was always almost finished with a story before I came to this realization.
As far as my writing style, I really had to adjust to writing in short, visually appealing paragraphs and thinking in terms of adding pictures and links to round out my stories. I had to be especially careful not to try to include all the information in one article, but instead, to provide the reader with the main article and links to the other sites and articles that they could follow if they chose to do so. I often wanted to force-fead information to the reader, but eventually I realized an overkill of information undermined the entire piece.
I feel as though my most interactive part of my site is the Nine Ways to Spend Less Time at the Pump This Summer article because it incorporates images, outside links, and a video. I think it is also written in the most visually appealing fashion since it lent itself to being written in short paragraphs. This is appropriate that this article would be the strongest since it was the last article I wrote, and I was finally beginning to get the hang of it.
I also feel that my weblogs improved in content over the course of the semester. At the beginning I was somewhat unsure of what to look for and worse yet, was often unable to appreciate what I was seeing. I think that as the class went on I was better able to find articles and sites with distinctively interactive features that can only be achieved online.