Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Examples of Websites that Work Well and Dont Work Well

1) A Website that works well:

This is URI's main websites and probably one of my most commonly visited websites. I have always felt that for such a massive, complex site, it is extremely well organized and easy to use. Due to its size, I believe it employs the style of Combined Organizational Structure and it works very well. The site is very easy to naviage and also works well aesthetically.

2) A Website that needs Work:

This is the Website for University of Rhode Island's Student Entertainment Commitee. I think this website could definitely be better, especially because the SEC is such a great committee that brings so much great talent to URI. The website is simple and easy to naviagate, but is very tacky looking and is overall extremely aesthetically unpleasing. I think this site has potential but could use alot of improvement.

Response to Palmquist Ch. 17 Reading

Personally I have little to no experience designing web sites, so this article was very informational for me and I think I will be a helpful resource for me during Project 3. As Palmquist points out at the very beginning of the article, in order to be a successful web designed it is most important that "you must have some familiarity with the range of websites you can create, such as informative websites, articles for web-based journals, magazines, and newspapers, business websites, personal home pages; and blogs, to name only a few of the genres that can now be found on the web." I think this article will absolutley be helpful for me as a begin to familiarize myself with the ins-and-outs of web design.

The first main concept introduced by Palmquest are the 4 primary characteristics of websites: Purpose, Audience, Design, and Style. As he expanded upon these four characteristics, he makes clear why each is critically important in creating a good, well-functioning website. I felt the best point that he made in this section was about Style and Audience, which I actually found to be interconnected ideas. He states that in designing your webpage your style "must reflect standards of the sponsoring organization and the characteristics of the target auidience. Voice and tone range from informal to formal." I felt this a valuable piece of information, as I feel that in designing a web page, the writer must always write in a style that is in complete coordination with their target audience at all times.

Next Palmquist discusses in detail the primary elements of digital design that set digital design documents apart from print documents. These key elements he lists are: -Links - Informational Flags -Pop-Up Windows -Digital Illustrations. I agreed with alot of what Palmquist was saying in his discussion of the function/proper usage of these four elements in web design. One point he made that I agree is a critically important component of any web page are pop-up windows. One of my biggest pet peeves web visiting a particular website is when I click on a link on the main page, and it navigates me away from the original page completly. I agree with Palmquist that Pop-up windows are important. I also agree with him that informational flags are extremely helpful too. I have always really liked websites that offer a preview of any parituclar part of the page by simply scrolling over it with the mouse. I feel this contributes to the overall efficency and ease of use of any website.

Next Palmquist discusses at length the three main organizational structures used in web design: 1)Liner, which is similar to a series of pages in a book 2)Hierarchal, where pages are linked together according to their hierarchy 3)Interlinked structure- Page is linked to most/all pages in the site. Palmquist makes a good point in stating that "each organizational pattern offers advantages for writers, depending on their specific purposes and their readers needs or interests." He also states that there is a fourth structure that is commonly used in web design, which is the Combined Organizational Stucture, which is essentially a combination of the first three structures mentioned. I feel that most major, complex websites employ this style.

What I found to be the best part of Palmquists article was the checklist at the very end. Here he essentially tied together everything he stated in his article and provides the reader with a clear-cut, easy to read checklist that outlines what are the essentials in creating a good,functional web site. I know for a fact that during project three my group and I will be referring to the checklist asd a guide.

Monday, October 12, 2009

3 Potential Wikitravel Entries

Focus Location: Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts

1) The Public Garden: The Boston Public Garden is a large park located in the heart of Boston, in the Back Bay region of the city. It is the largest and oldest botanical garden in the United States. Established in 1837 by Horace Gray, the 24-acre garden was formerly an enormous salt marsh, and was designed by George F. Meacham. The Public Garden is a great starting point for any tourist or person who finds themselves in Back Bay. The Garden features a plethora of diverse plant life, including a wide variety of native and foreign trees, and a rotating arrangment of flowers that changes with the seasons. The Garden also features numerous statues and fountains. In the center of the rectangular-shaped garden is a 4 acre pond, which in the spring and summer seasons is home to 1-2 swans, along with multiple other bird species such as ducks, comorants, and herons. Multiple turtles also live in the pond. From April-September, this large pond is also the home site of the Swan Boats, a famous Boston Tourist destination (See "Do" section for further detail on the Swan Boats). In the center of this pond stands the world's smallest suspension bridge, built over 100 years ago. In the corner of the park closest to Charles Street, tourists can view the famous duckling statues, based on Robert McCloskey's famous children's book, "Make Way For Ducklings." In 1987, the Boston Public Garden was declared a national historical landmark.

2) The Swan Boats: Located in the 4-acre pond sitting in the center of the Boston Public Garden, the Boston Swan Boats are one of the most famous and traditional icons of the city of Boston. Founded in 1877 by British immigrant and engineer Robert Paget, the Swan Boats have been preserved for over 130 years by the Paget family for tourist pleasure and enjoyment. There are six swan boats in total, which can carry the weight of 15-20 adults each. Each boat is pedaled by a Swan Boat worker (usually a high school-college aged student) who sits behind a large, white swan made of fiberglass located in the rear of the boat. For a small fee ($1.50 for children, $2.75 for adults, $1.70 for seniors), anyone can enjoy a relaxing 15 minute trip around the pond and take in a beautiful tour of the Boston Public Garden.

3) Newbury Street: One of the most famous, reputable, and popular shopping destinations in the United States. There is truly something for everyone on Newbury Street, which is located directly adjacent to the Public Garden.

3 Important Tips From the WikiTravel Manual Of Style

As we begin our second class project of creating our own "WikiTravel" page, I believe that the WikiTravel Manual of Style is a critical, useful, and highly necessary resource that I know I will use as a guide for creating a properly formatted article that works in accordance with the overall governing principles of WikiTravel as a whole. While I found the Manual of Style to be incredibly useful in all of its facets, I picked three tips for the Manual that I find is particularly important for Wikitravel writers.

1) Structural Style: In this section of the manual, aspiring Wikitravel writers can learn the rules and guidelines that are in place for the overall structure of Wikitravel as a site and travel resource. While I found all the tips in this section to be useful and important, one section that I think is crucial for all writers looking to create a Wikitravel page to view before starting their project is the section of this part of the manual titled: "What is an article?" This section guides writers on how and when to start new articles, and what constitutes material/information/locations that should and should not have their own articles. This part of the manual begins by laying out the 2 "competing principles" that dictate when a subject deserves its own article:

1) Articles should be relatively self-sufficient so that travelers can print them out, put them in their back pocket, and use for traveling around.

2) At the same time, articles should not be so long that they're impossible to read, print, and use.

While these principles alone are too vague to educate an aspiring Wikitravel writer on what exactly deserves its own article, this section of the Manual continues to expand in further detail upon this matter, explaining clearly what does/should get its own article (Geographical units on the geographical hierarchy, ex: continents, cities, districts, etc.) and what does not/should not get its own article (Individual attractions).

I find that this section of the Manual is particularly important for Wikitravel writers to carefully read as it provides very important tips and guidelines for writers in the earliest stage of development of a Wikitravel page. In order to get started on the right foot in creating a page that works smoothly as part of Wikitravel as a whole, the tips provided in this section are very important.

2) Formatting Style>Use of External Links: The "Formatting Style" is the next major section of the Wikitravel Manual of Style. This section provides a multitude of important tips concerning rules/guidelines in place for laying our and creating individual articles. This section provides the process through which Wikitravel works to take information and put it in a format that is readable and easy to use. One tip of this section that I found to be important for Wikitravel writers is the section that works to inform writers on appropriate and sensible usage of external links, and how/when they should be used. This part of the manual states, "In general the Wikitravel policy is that external links should be kept to a bare minimum, and only links to primary sources should be used." I think this is an important tip because Wikitravel writers who were not familiar with the Wikitravel policy towards external links may be inclined to use lots of external links, which they may think will bolster the quality of their page as a travel guide. In fact, this is far from the truth, and it is important for Wikitravel writers to know that anything more than minimal usage of external links (to primary sources strictly) is discouraged within the realm of Wikitravel as a whole.

3) Writing Style> "Don’t Tout": The third major section of the Wikitravel Manual of Style is comprised of a plethora of information/guidelines concerning the intended Writing style that Wikitravel writers should aim to practice. One tip from this section that I found to be important is the idea that Wikitravel writers should avoid "touting" their location they are writing about in describing/discussing it. By this Wikitravel means that in writing about a given place, writers should avoid being an "advertising brochure." The tone of the writing should reflect this. More specifically, this section states that writers should 'Try to avoid language that urges or pushes the traveler to do this or that. Instead, give the traveler the information they need to decide on their own."

I found this to be a particularly important tip because I know without reading this, I would have definitely written about my place (Back Bay Boston) in a tone that indicates how much I like this place, and even if I did not intend on it, I would have "touted" Back Bay in my writing to some degree. This policy of strictly informative writing is in accordance with the policy of writing for Wikipedia, which aims for complete neutrality and a continuous striving for an unbiased tone throughout the website.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Potential Ideas For Wikitravel

Having explored Wikitravel and how it works, I have arrived at my top 3 choices for the focus area of my personal Wikitravel project:

1) Back Bay, Boston (Boston is a huge city, so I will be focusing explicitly on the district within the city known as Back Bay)

This is my first choice for several reasons. Firstly, after examining the page that already exists, I noticed that there are several things about the page that could be improved with my personal knowledge and experience in this area. As an informational and helpful travel guide, I feel that the page that exists now is lacking in many areas. This part of Boston is a mere ten minutes from my home that I grew up in and I have lots of experience in this area. Since sophmore year of high school, I have spent almost my entire summer working at a business called the Swan Boats which is located in Back Bay. I have a broad range of information and advice I could see myself contributing to the already existent article: from places to see, things to do, places to eat, drink, along with the best means of transportation in the area. Back Bay is an awesome part of Boston and I think I could definitley improve upon the article that is up, moreso than my other two potential focus reasons. I am not yet sure if I would work on improving this article or creating an itinerary for spending a day here.

2) Needham, Massachusetts (My hometown)

Needham is a suburban, residential town just outside Boston where I have lived my whole life. It is my second choice because it is the place in the world that I know best and am most familiar with. There is little information on the existent page so I feel I could definitely expand upon it. However, the reason I don't think I will be doing my Wikitravel project on Needham, is because as a tourist destination, it is a very lame place. There are many good things about Needham. There is little to no crime, it has a tremendous school system that is improving still, as well as equally tremendous athletic and recreational programs for all ages. It is a great down to raise kids in, and I loved growing up there. But as a tourist destination, Needham is definitely not a hot spot. It is the type of town where on Saturday night at 9 pm, you won't find a single soul in the town center, which is a part of town riddled with an unnecessary amount of banks and lame shops. While I do think I could add to what exists on Needham's Wikitravel pages, I would be hesitant to do so because I would never really recommend Needham as a tourist destination for anyone.

3) Wellfleet, Massachusetts- Wellfleet is located near the Southern tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It is an amazing town and an extremely popular tourist destination in the summer. I have vacationed there every year for 1-2 weeks since I was a kid. I put it on my list of top three choices because I have so much personal experience here. Wellfleet is rich with beautiful beaches, amazing resteraunts, and elegant art galleries. There is something for everyone and Wellfleet, and I love it there. However, the Wikitravel page that is already in place for Wellfleet is highly informative and extremely in-depth and overall well-done. Looking at it, I am not sure if I could add any truly substantial, useful information. If I do decide for some reason to do Wellfleet as the focus of my project, I could perhaps create a day-trip itinerary.