Tuesday, 10 May 2011


Website Evaluation

For my media project, I have created a website for a child abuse charity; whilst making my website, I have developed and challenged forms and conventions of real websites to make mine as close to a real website as possible.

Before I started to create my website, I researched others to see the conventions they used throughout their websites so that I could later develop this onto my own website. In each website I looked at, I found many similarities; each website consistently had their logo shown on every page and they each had a navigation bar and links around the pages. They also had at least one image on every page to create visual aid for the audience. Although each website had slightly different layouts, they were all similar in the sense that they each had the logo at the top of the page, a navigation bar and links and text in columns underneath the navigation bar. From this research I started to create my own website. To start, I created a logo for the site, I followed the idea that each site I looked at had a logo that represented the charity in some way, therefore the logo I created is a smiley face as the charity I focused on was child abuse, and I felt that this would be a child friendly logo and in comparison to some other sites we looked at, I found that this logo would be more memorable. I then started to create the basic layout; a navigation bar underneath what would be imagery, text box’s in columns under the navigation bar, with a link box on the left hand side. I decided to create the link box, as I felt I challenged some of the conventions of other sites, because not every site had a link box to make it easier for the audience to navigate their way around. Throughout my website, I have used the colours that are in my logo to enhance the audience’s attention, there are three main colours; red, blue and yellow. Each of the colours are primary colours so that they contrast but not too much. It also makes the writing easier to see and the overall appearance of each page a lot more aesthetically pleasing for the audience. The images on each of the pages of my website do not follow the colour scheme of my website, however the contrasting colours makes the images seem more important, therefore they automatically catch the viewers attention to make them understand the importance of the charity even more so.

To challenge other websites I decided to add a slideshow and video to my website; the slideshow is repeated three times at the top of the website with each slide being shown at different times; I found that this was the most effective overall look as it portrays the emotions in each picture more forcefully. It not only gives off a strong message to any audience, it also creates more visual aid to the audience and draws them in because they may want to know what happened to the children, and therefore want to donate. The video gives the audience an understanding of fundraisers that can help the charity as well as make people want to donate; the video offers an easy understanding for a younger and perhaps older audience and makes any reading easier as well as the video has talking in it. Within the text I tried to make the information detailed and interesting to capture the audience throughout each page, particularly the ‘share your experience’ page as it shows strong emotion and therefore would entice the audience to want to donate. The fonts used for the text is a simple font for any age audience to read, Eurostile is very clear in any size, therefore this is why I chose it. Around the text box’s I added shadowing to create depth to that page to make the information box’s stand out so that the audience could clearly see the important parts on the pages; I also created the page to a typical size of a website that being 900x600 pixels so that the audience did not have to move their screen around constantly making it easier to access things. These things collectively show development and challenging of real websites.

Throughout my research of websites, I not only looked at challenging and developing a website, I also looked into how they represent particular social groups. In our research of websites we found that a few child abuse charity websites are aimed mainly at adults from 18 upwards as the language used is quite sophisticated and some of the parts of the websites are quite complex; they also all included donate pages, making them relate more to the older audience as a younger audience would not be able to use a bank card in order to donate. However, in the research I done first hand with surveys, I found that many age groups still felt strongly about the campaign and would donate or visit the site to see how they could help with. This made creating the website based around an age group slightly easier. I felt that it would be best to make any age group feel included in the website/charity; therefore I used simple language throughout and made links clear for anyone to use. I also gave as much detail as possible throughout every page and included a contact page for the audience to get in touch with the charity via different ways. I also made the ‘share you experience page’ so that any child could see that the charity is useful and does help, this also showing the older audience that the charity is worth donating to. I found that there was no need to make my website based more on one gender as both genders are included within the problem that the charity is there for. For my pictures I felt it necessary to show both different genders and also race as any child can be abused, I have also included images with different age ranges, so that the audience can see that the money they donate goes to all different children. The slideshow shows a group of teenagers collectively in a dance show, I chose to film this because I felt that it suggests that any age/gender/ethnicity can do something to help the charity and therefore make the charity more known. I specifically decided to create the ‘get involved’ page so that any age group, particularly the younger age groups could see how they could help raise money for the charity, as they cannot use the donate page unless they are over 18, so I wanted to create a balance throughout the website. I also really wanted to portray the problem at hand that our charity is campaigning for, so I created our ‘share your experience’ page, to really enhance the problem through the reality of real life stories, making the audience feel they have to solve the problem by donating to the website. By including each of these things I feel I have represented all age groups well and effectively so that the charity becomes more popular within different social groups as well.

Throughout my research I have also learnt that the person that makes a website is the publisher, nothing is done without the consent of the publisher of the website, therefore making me the publisher of my site; however as a publisher you must buy a domain and also make sure that Google can find your website so that your website can become well known and well used. You then have it distributed by the ISP (internet service provider) this is the process that I had to go through whilst creating my site. Before publishing my site I had to preview my site to make sure everything worked well and nothing was out of place, and all spelling was correct. This is one of the benefits of being a self publisher of a website; that being that it is easy to edit even once it has been distributed, and although you have to buy all products and programs, it would work out cheaper than a newspaper company for instance. They have many people for different sections which then get put together and distributed, this costs a lot of money, and nothing can be edited once the newspaper is out, whereas a website can. However, newspapers have an upper hand in the sense that once produced they are in shops in front of people to buy making their company well known, but, websites once linked to Google have to wait to be found, which could become a problem for a company and particularly a charity. Although websites have to wait, they can be advertised to make the site more popular, therefore making a distributed website a better option of media product for a charity. This making it better for the charity I have created, as if it was a real charity, it would be better produced as a website, as more people can view it and edits can be made whenever.

When looking at other child abuse websites, I found that most of them were aimed at adults, to attempt to get donations as adults would have more of an understanding of the problem at hand and therefore sympathize with the campaign as there is a very strong emotional message being sent out, making an adult audience feel things that young children wouldn’t understand. They do this via imagery, videos and text. Sometimes the colouring they use within the website creates perhaps a more saddened effect. However, there were a couple of websites that I looked at that were suitable for younger children and teenagers to find interesting, so I focused on the points that would really draw in their attention. I found that the bright colours and the use of a logo that is quite childish automatically makes the site more visually appealing for a younger audience and also makes it clear to them that the website has things for them as well. The pages that would appeal mostly to the younger audience would have things such as games, but the games would involve something to do with children in need to really try and get the message across to all age groups. This is what I mainly focused on when creating my site with audience in mind. I felt that it would be best to include all age groups audiences, as my site is about children and therefore the effects on parents or adults. Throughout the website that I created you can see the logo which is very child friendly and is something that children any age know and recognize, and understand that it means happiness or a similar emotion, therefore they would automatically remember and warm to the site, I then made sure I consistently used the colours that were in the logo around the site, to keep a reminder that the site is a friendly site for a young audience. I then added in a lot of visual aid to help the young audience perhaps understand what the site is about more if for instance the struggle to read or understand any of the language used. I added in a video to make them feel more involved and again to make it easier for them to understand the site. The most important thing however, is the confidentiality promise on the ‘helpline’ page. Making it clear to any child that is being abused that the things that they tell us would be in complete confidence. I have written this promise in a way that hopefully most children would understand, so that they feel they could reach out to us if needed. Not only do a lot of these conventions help invite a younger audience to the site, they also invite adults. For instance the imagery sends off a big impact to an adult, making them really want to reach out and help; the text and language is simple enough but effective enough to make an adult sympathize for the children even more so, and the video really shows them that the people truly do get involved and want to help out with our campaign. Therefore making my target audience everyone; no age limit or gender makes a difference to the website, it is created for any audience to make the charity have more of an effect on people.

During the course of creating my website, I learnt to use new software and hardware, and develop my skills on software I have used before. To create my website I used two pieces of hardware, those being the iMac as it has all of the software, and a video camera to upload onto software so that the video could be put onto the website. I found the iMacs to be a very good piece of hardware as they were easy to use to create my website; however they held me back in producing my website because you cannot access some of the same things that an iMac can on a normal pc computer, making it harder to progress quickly. The video camera on the other hand, I found useful as it was simple to use and upload onto the iMac. Mostly, I learnt more about how to use the software on the iMacs than anything else, I was introduced to completely new programs, but after learning to use all of them for my preliminary site, I found it much easier to do everything for my main website. I found iWeb very easy to use and it really helped in the sense that it was easy to get everything into place and aligned because of the graphical lines that marked everything. It had a wide range of fonts to chose from giving us a variety to chose from, and the colour palate was vast making it easier for me to create a colour scheme. Like iWeb, Photoshop was another program that I found very easy to use in creating my logo and also editing some of my images to make them more aesthetically pleasing; because I had used Photoshop before I felt confident in using it and just developed on skills that I already knew. On the other hand, garage band, a program I used to create music for our video I had some trouble with, as there were so many options of what music you wanted it took quite some time to eventually make the choice that I wanted. Similarly to this, I found that I struggled to use final cut express to create my video. Some of it was easy, for example, cutting the video to how long/short I wanted certain parts, but adding in the music on top and trying to get it to all fit together, took some time as it can become quite complex the more you add onto the program. Finally I used iPhoto to create the slideshow on the website; I found that it was a very quick and simple way of creating a slide show and the end result looked professional and effective. I would say that most of the hardware and software were pretty simple to use but made things look professional and effective, however there were certain programs that I struggled with at first, but soon got to grips with over the course.

Throughout the course of making both my preliminary and main website, I feel I have learnt a huge amount about creating a website that an audience would view and find interesting. When I first started on my preliminary website I wasn’t confident in using iWeb, iPhoto and final cut express. I now feel a lot surer about what I’m doing and what looks best. In my preliminary website I felt I found a few parts to it which I think would look much better if they were just edited slightly, for instance the rollovers once they have been visited stay the same colour as the rollover colour, I learnt from this and therefore did not do the same thing within my main website. I personally feel that colour choice has a great effect on keeping an audience interacted with a website and from my point of view, I fell that the main website looks much more interesting because the colours used are more vibrant and interesting and I felt that this would make the overall website look better. Although I thinks certain parts of my preliminary website could be improves, I also feel that it looks very professional overall and would look good as a school website. However, I also find that some improvements could be made to my main website to make it look more like a real website, for instance, adding in advertisements and perhaps filling some more of the space within some of the pages so they looked a bit less bare; but I think that the overall look of my main website is professional, tasteful and quite realistic. I am pleased with the outcome of both my websites, particularly my main website, as I feel I have put in as much effort as I could and found that the outcome reflects this, and the website looks better than I originally thought it would, because, at first the designs didn’t look too great but once the website was finished, I felt proud of what I had achieved.