Final post(for class at least)

Coming into this semester I was pretty confident in my abilities to write, at least, my ability to write papers for class. When blogging fist came to my attention back in middle school I thought, “hey why not?” So I created a blog for myself using livejournal.com and got to writing. Now keep in mind that I was in middle school and then while your keeping that in mind think about what a middle schoolers life consists of. School… maybe some sports… a couple girl interests… but aside from that there isn’t a whole lot of deep thinking or crazy new ideas being generated. So after about two days of thinking that this was cool, I knew that blogging wasn’t an interest of mine. I won’t say I actually knew but I must have, subconsciously, because I stopped going to the site and completely forgot about it.

Hopefully I dont forget about this blog but I know I won’t forget about some of the things I’ve learned this semester. First and foremost that I have an IMDB page which I went in and updated obviously. The next few come directly from class. First is to keep is short and sweet… although I’ve felt like all the posts I’ve had to do for class have been excruciatingly long as far as the blog world goes. The second is to really know your audience, who am I trying to talk to? This I felt like I needed help with and I exemplified this approach in my website because I picked my audience (snowboarders) and spoke (wrote) directly too them.

My own writing definitely improved but I’m not even close to being able to put into practice the tools popular bloggers use to get viewership. I do not follow anyone aside from my FB friends on the internet. But I do have a couple favorite authors who I reread every year. J.K. Rowling is one of my absolute favorites, I grew up alongside those kids at Hogwarts from afar at my stupid muggle school where they made me do math! Another one of my favorites growing up was My other two favorite authors are Orson Scott Card and Christopher Paolini.

These authors are great at what they do and they do inspire me through their words but what really inspired me this semester was the website assignment. I found that not only do I have an eye for design but I that writing reviews was something that I enjoyed. I’d like to keep it up, the MNBP, because as I go more and more places the more material I’ll have to add. Now my only real problems as a writer come from my inability to use commas correctly and that I’m not sold that there really is a difference between to and too. I’ll try my best to figure that stuff out as I keep writing.

As the internet evolves I’d like to be right along with it but as of now I think most of the innovation will come not in how the internet itself acts but in how we access it. The tablet will evolve to the point where it might be more like a thick sheet of paper that we can fold and put in our pocket. As far as how I’ll be involved… you could say that I’ll be spend a lot of money  and a lot of time learning and playing on the internet. Well as Timon and Pumbaa say “Hakuna Matata!” because as far as the internet goes I’m feelin a worry free philosophy. 

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Is it Usable?

It is a crucial aspect of web design, one that could be the downfall of your site and that is usability testing. Without doing these tests your site can crumble swiftly because the people looking at it will get frustrated and not come back. This is a part that must be done and will really help the creators get a better feel for what their users are looking for and how they will be navigating your page.

I tested about 10 different people in person as well as over the phone. It was unfortunate that I had to do testing over the phone but there were people not in the area that I felt would give really solid opinions on what I was reviewing. I normally tested in my room inviting people to come over and then when they got here I would pounce on them and ask them to check out my site.

I tested the home page and how they would navigate from there. It was a real big help for me to see how people navigated around the home page. More often than not they would click on one of the links that I have located in my slide show on the homepage. They all kept trying to click on buttons and ended up in places that I didn’t want that link to go. They only got confused about that aspect because the rest of the ste was “really easy to use” They generally liked the reviews and said that my voice and style were perfect for the topic. They also thought it was cool that I tried to add in my own pictures now and again.

I redirected the links to ensure that there wasn’t a single dead link on the page. I also went back and added a ranking system on a suggestion from a good friend. He said, “You say a lot of good stuff in your reviews but it would be nice to have a system for a person to quickly take a look and get an idea for how you review is going to go.”

In the future I will probably do a wider testing and ask people who are not my friends and family. The testing didn’t change a ton but it did point out a few flaws as well as some new and usable ideas.

Here is a link to the website let me know if I missed anything through a comment here or by using the contact form on the page.

http://www.wix.com/minnesotaboarding/thebp

My Attempt at Being Analytical

Lets see how it goes… ya know…  me analyzing a couple of websites similar to my own. Lets see what it good and bad and what is going to be easy for me to replicate in my own site. What is it that works so well for these websites. I’m going to be telling you the few people who actually read my blog what makes Loaded Longboards, Freebord, and Dogfunk so successful.

To start out were looking at www.Loadedlongboards.com which is graphically a beautiful site. They use a ton of white space along with a huge slideshow of awesome pictures. The purpose of the site is to get people information about the loaded boards which they do very successfully. As far as the audience goes they definitely are going for people who know a little bit about longboarding; but I remember when I bought my board and I didn’t really know much about it the loaded site made it really easy for me to find good information. The visuals really help sell the product and adds strength to what they say about the boards. They get the top boarders in the world to use loaded products, go to a beautiful destination, and then shoot a gorgeous video. The purpose is the sell their boards and the visuals really make you want to be able to do the things they’re able to do. The site is really easy to navigate with a well done navigation bar. One of the main things that Loaded has done really well is to market their boards as the best in the industry with all of the visual effects.

Another great site is http://www.dogfunk.com and they sell a top of merch. for snowboarders including boards, clothing, and accessories. They are marketing to the type of people who will want to own snowboard gear. The design of the site allows the user to easily navigate between the different brands in order to find what they are looking for. This site has way more information than loaded so the fact that they made it easy to navigate is really impressive. They have a few visuals to show off the clothes but aside from those pictures the only other visual aids come from the logos of the brands they sell. The design is a solid one that as far as I can tell would be really easy for all users to find things they might be interested in. I really enjoy the color scheme so I might try to adapt something similar to my own site.

http://www.silverfishlongboarding.com/ is a great resource for longboarders with thousands of reviews on different products that people can read and comment on. This is for anyone who is at all interested in the sport of longboarding because it is mostly good quality user reviews. The visual aspect of the site isn’t the best because most of the visuals come with adds and man are their a lot. This is one of those things that silverfish might want to change because it makes it seam like they are just interested in making money and not always presenting the best information. Almost as if they are promoting specific companies for profit rather than getting the best name out there. They have a pretty slick search feature that is real easy to use thankfully because they have a gigondus amount of information.

I think from this exercise I will try out the color scheme and maybe attempt to link to really beautiful videos to help my case in my reviews. I will avoid cluttering my site with advertisements in order to appear that I am unbiased and if I do end up adding ads I will explain to my users why its there. The first two definitely are attractive and usable  while loaded is probably the most attractive. Silverfish is sort of like a resource book in the library it’s not pretty but it gets the job done.

That wraps that up I’ll be doing another post soon about my usability testing with my site.