Monday, 23 April 2012

Note to the moderator

Welcome to the blog for my AS coursework this blog will evidence my skills progression and development of ideas from the first week of AS until now when I am submitting my final piece.
The main task for this unit was to research plan and design a website for a campaign and I chose to campaign against domestic violence against women.  I found the task quite a challenge as I had to design my site from a blank page in iWeb and it also involved a lot of work involving photography and photoshop.  iWeb is 'what you see is what you get' (wysiwyg) software so I didn't have to learn any html codes, my challenge instead was in the creation of the brand and constructing a functioning website which looked believable.  I have tried to create something which looks original and will appeal to women aged 16 - 35, so it has a younger, more welcoming feel than other similar sites I have looked at.

My Evaluation

1. Before I started designing my website I had to complete a certain amount research in order to make sure I had a full understanding of the typical website conventions in order to attract an audience and keep them engaged.  To understand this fully I looked at a number of websites to recognise the conventions that are used on them.  I annotated 6 websites that involved domestic violence.  I looked at the colour, font, pictures and layout comparing and contrasting all of these things to build a greater understanding of what the public want.  I also used my own opinion on the website to figure out what is appealing to the public.  After this research I realised what conventions are mostly used on websites and decided on the conventions I will be using.  I decided that I am going to have a navigation bar at the top of each page.  Even though my website only consists of four pages I added other pages to the navigation bar to make the website look more busy and so it also looks neater if the bar goes the hole way across the page.  I firstly wanted the colour of my page to be all pink but the website looked to drastic.  I changed it to certain blocks being pink and the rest white including pictures and animations.
 Here is my navigation bar.

Other conventions such as blocks used to link to other pages are used as a large icon. 
2. My website is a domestic violence website specifically aimed at females so you could say that my website represents a particular social group of women who have unfortunately been abused by their partners.  I was going to have the website consisting of domestic violence for both genders but as most domestic violence cases are to do with men over women I decided to make it a website just for women.  The power of women comes across so much more when it is aimed at just females.  I think this makes the aim of the website much stronger.  The website is aimed at all different classes and ethnicities but this probably isn't represented as well as it should be on the site because the images of females are predominantly middle class and white. When I was constructing the site I thought I was aiming it at all women but I can see that it wouldn't appeal to all women because the age range represented is only about 17 - 35. This would exclude women above that age group so if I was to do it again I would try and represent a wider demographic.  The pictures on my website are mostly of happy females because it mostly represents happy females who have been though some difficulty, maybe in a past relationship, and come out on top.  This is a convention of campaign sites - they show people who they helped or images of people who represent people they have helped instead of people who are still struggling. The unhappy girl on my site represents what the consequences are of domestic violence.  This is unusual though because the website is promoting the good work of the campaign so images are typically positive.

3. Websites are distributed via servers and these are usually owned by just a few big companies. Here are the main server owners in the world in 2012:

Smaller webhosting companies rent space on these servers and sell hosting services to companies. The cost of web hosting depends on the size of your site and how much management and updating it needs.
Before you do that though you need to register a domain name for your site. I researched what I could get for my site and this is what i found:
I was interested to know how much would cost but it was already taken but the site suggested and that would cost me $3,288 just to register that name and use it as my website address. So to be distributed my site would need a domain name and then the hosting costs depending on the final content size. As a charity I would probably be able to claim a lot of that money back. 

4 & 5. The audience for my media product is women aged 16 - 35 who have been involved in domestic violence and need help in rebuilding their lives.  The campaign is about seeking advice from women who have been through the issues themselves and know what they're going through.  The whole aim of the website is that women unite to fight against domestic violence.  I wanted the audience to feel as if they were part of a family and feel safe a comfortable to confide in our campaign.  By having pictures of happy females all over the website advertising this is how I addressed the type of audience I wanted to attract. The colours of the website also connotes the idea that it's for women only so women would feel safe enough to pick up the phone and get in touch. The logo I've designed is like a little cartoon too so it would hopefully appeal to younger people - so they wouldn't feel like the campaign would turn them away because they're not older or not married. I hope the photographs I've used also communicate  this idea, that it can happen to anyone. I think I should've been more specific about my target audience when I was making it though and then I could have done more to attract the 16 - 35 age group with the things I could advertise and the photos I would take.

6. This whole process has been a learning process for me because all of the software I have used was new to me when we started.  Using iWeb for the first time was difficult at first because you have to start with a blank page and design something that looks like a real site. Until you really understand what real sites look like and how they're put together you can't really build your own, and this is why our preliminary site is so bad.  Mostly everything has to be photoshopped before it goes onto the website and that was a new program to use as well and I had difficulty with it because I'd never used it before.  I have learnt that during the process of this media product organisation is very important.  Planning, preparation and research are the most important things. Without these, you can't make a good website. 

7. I didn't do media for GCSE so all of the software is new to me and i've had to learn to use Photoshop, iWeb, Final Cut, Blogger and lots of other online things like I was able to use a combination of these to make my website so it was good to learn about them all. iWeb is called wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) software so it's all about the design and not the html code. I think it's complicated enough because the design is the hard part just like designing a poster or a magazine article. You have to learn to use all the tools and make everything do what you want through the inspector tool. You have to learn Photoshop too because there's not enough options for design in iWeb and you can't crop images so I had to make the documents the exact size I needed in Photoshop and then design them in there and insert the finished images into iWeb. I learned how to use the video cameras and the SLR cameras too and how to upload and edit using the software programmes. The blog was a good way of keeping everything organised but it's hard to keep it updated if you don't like to work that way. I just like to get on with things and then upload them when they're finished. This has taught me how to look at my work and analyse it though so I hope that will help me for A2.