Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Storming, Norming and Forming

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been finding my feet as the project manager for ‘Team HNC’. It’s been a laborious and sometimes downright dull predicament I find myself in. Working through the endless amount of admin, setting up projects with online project management software, making Gantt charts and production schedules is all quite alien to me.

The hardest part I have found about it all though is delegating work. I dreamt of an ideal scenario at the start, in which we all shared tasks, a foolish notion. I now realise to be an efficient well oiled team I need to delegate, something I find hard, given I’m not particularly used to a position of power.

Working as a team can create some pressure within the group and my stance is usually quite diplomatic and democratic. I started to see minor diasagreements at the begining appear with my leadership. This is understandable due to the stress we have been under. Now we are all taking things a little less seriously the pressure is off and the team is running harmoniously.

I must now convey that I make the final decision if we run into any disagreements. This is a hard thing to implement when you are a close knit team; we all get on well and would regard each other as friends. On the all I'm extremely pleased with the team, we are now ready for client scoping and hope to have all team tasks out of the way very soon.

The team aspect puts me and my team in a position of trust. At the start I found it hard sometimes to sit back and let other people do the work, without trying to implement my own stamp of approval on it. I've now learnt to trust my team fully and feel much more relaxed when delegating tasks.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Mash up of a web proffesionals portfolio!

My competitive analysis of a web professional’s online portfolio will be on Digital Mash, the portfolio of Australian based designer Rob Morris.

The site has a clean uncluttered feel, without feeling boring, it still manages to capture some of this designer’s flair. This is evident with the eye catching opening graphic, us of bold contrasting colours, warm and cool, dark and light.

The cool grey works effectively with the striking red/pink, with the use of bold headings and titles.

The site has a no-fuss means of navigation with easy to identify headers. The recent work section simply reveals one long page of artwork with no fancy use of flash animation or technical wizardry.

This simple straight forward approach makes the sites work stand up for it, but may fail to make the site truly rememberable on its own merits.

The site does try and capture the designers own personality with a blog and options to follow him through social networking. There is a client login area and a contact page to drum up new work, this site seems to have all the bases covered.

A great site that manages to showcase and advertise a competent designer well, the only thing it may be lacking is that decisive “wow factor”.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Competitive Analysis: Student Portfolio

www.jsartain.com is the online portfolio of Jeff Sartain, a recently graduated web designer from San Diego Platt College.

The site immediately catches your eye with its outlandish and to be honest quite garish use of colours. Bright orange and green are used to in my opinion display some sort of the wackiness and individuality of the designer. You can see further examples of this over the top approach with the choice of font for headings.

The hyperlinks used on the orange background are nearly unreadable, with little or no contrast on screen. The sight does take on a better appearance once you explore the other sections of the site, which are easily found thanks to the use of a good navigation header.

In the work samples section the orange and green is kept to a minimum, with a much more constrained approach letting his work stand out more. These pages also show good repetition and some good contrast with the white text on the dark grey background.

The font size of body text however is very small and some readers will find it difficult to read. This is in contrast to some of the body text on other pages however where it appears overly big, child like almost. This bad use of repitition and failing to create a constant theme with a clear market audience is perhaps the biggest failing of this site.

Overall the site tries to use repetition to good effect in terms of its colour selection, but it fails with fonts and font sizes. It choice of discordant colours is a poor choice as the site fails to showcase the work properly and all you wish to do get off the site as quickly as possible.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Timely boost

Since my last journal entry, I’ve being getting stuck into A10. A10 is quite a weird assignment with the respect that we are designing ‘blind’. We have no idea what product our surface designs will be used for.

It’s incredibly difficult to be creative with no clear starting points. I usually find creativity quite easy to come by, but this assignment is proving a frustrating one thus far.

As a result of my lack of vision I’m finding it hard to put the hours in at home, and with a deadline approaching for sketchbook work this is quite daunting. I need to make a monumental effort over the week’s self-study. This will give me the best possible chance of creating something suitable for when the product we will be designing for is revealed. Will it be the fabled Coke bottle yet again?

If I’m honest I’d say my enthusiasm over the last few weeks for the course in general as waned I’m feeling a little frustrated and demoralised with how little spare time I actually have. Setting myself such high standards and putting myself under pressure to do the best I can for each assignment as perhaps made me feel a little ‘burnt out’.

But with this hard work and commitment comes the rewards and I was extremely pleased to receive a distinction for my A9 website. This is a timely boost indeed, just what I needed to re-invigorate my enthusiasm and give me the right kind of motivation to not let my standards drop with A10.

With Christmas nearly upon us now might be the a good time to start finally preparing my online portfolio, this will be crucial to getting a job in the industry some time in the new year.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Web Design job, potential interview questions

Following on from my previous blog entry, I've come up with some likely questions you may be asked when attending an interview for a role as a web designer.

1. Can you hand code XHTML and CSS?

This will help determine if the applicant can create websites from start to finish without the use of Dreamweaver. Giving the web designer more freedom and control of the sites they create.

2. Do you work best in a team or as an individual?

This is a very important question, as the applicant could be expected to work in solitary or as part of a team. The ability to work in a team and get on with others could be crucial to your company. It will also establish if they aren’t too reliant on working with others and do have the ability when needed to get on with the job alone. If you prefer working alone is that because the potential employee doesn’t get on with others?

3. What do you do in your spare time?

This question is linked with the previous one as it is accessing the potential employee as a person and how well they would fit into the team dynamic. Similar interests could help integrate the individual more quickly. All these points could help you decide whether or not this is a person you and your staff would like to work with.

4. What are your Strengths and weaknesses?

This question will help access how honest the applicant is whilst also accessing the potential flaws in their skills. You may have a very specific role in mind for the applicant. Such as one particular language you wish for them to specialise in. This could help establish if they would be suitable for the role you have in mind.

5. Do you work well under pressure?

In all aspects of design you can be expected to work to tight deadlines. This question will help gage how the potential employee works under pressure and what experiences they have had of working under pressure in the past. Those experiences may be helpful in deciding if their previous experience of pressure is comparable to amount you will be putting them under. It is also a useful question to find out how well they might cope.

6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

A common interview questions but perhaps one of the most important. This question can help establish if the applicant see’s his or her long term future at your company. This could be important to establish if you are investing in their training and are trying to make your business expand and grow.

7. What web design magazines and blogs do you regularly read?

This will help establish how up to date with current design trends, techniques and languages they are. A hunger to never stop learning and keep on top of an ever changing industry could be an important attribute for an employee.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Assessing my suitability for employment in Web Design

With the first assignment of the second year coming to an end, now is a good time assess my suitability for employment in the industry.

The job ad I will be using for the basis of my assessment:

Junior / Middleweight web designer - Hull
Category: Digital Duration: Permanent
Location: Hull
Salary: Negotiable

My client is a leading design and marketing agency, with a reputation for delivering advanced web design and development solutions to companies of all sizes. Highly customer focused, their client’s needs are the heart of their business which means they produce results that always exceed client expectations. They have an opportunity for a junior to middleweight web designer to join their team ASAP. You will be a Web Designer with good XHTML and CSS skills creating websites from start to finish.

You will be joining a well established, technical and growing team that is amongst the best in the business. Whilst you will learn a lot and be developed throughout your career, they need someone who can hit the ground running and be able to work autonomously.

You will be working on a varied range of exciting projects, from e-commerce through to e-marketing and creativity will be important. Experience with creative packages such as photoshop / illustrator / Indesign etc. are required.

All applications must include a list of your URLs that you have designed / worked on so that we can pass them onto the client.

Apply now for an outstanding career opportunity with one of the best in the North.

The advert I have chosen is for a junior to middleweight web designer. I feel this would be an ideal starting point for me to get involved in web design professionally. I am still very much learning as a web designer so as things stand could not claim to be anything more than a junior.

The varied client base the company has, would satisfy my need to diversify my portfolio, giving me experience to work in lots of different sectors. This will hopefully improve my design skills and demonstrate my versatility.

The job requiures the applicant will need to have good XHTML and CSS skills, creating websites from start to finish. I confidently feel I can now do this, although I still find the end result taking too much time.

The ad states successful applicant will learn and be developed throughout their career; this is very appealing as I am by no means the finished article. It is very important for me to work for a company who is willing to help develop my skills.

But the respective company also want someone who can hit the ground running. I feel with the skills I’ve learnt already in XHTML and CSS that I could do this. I always find myself achieving better results when I’m “thrown in the deep end”.

Technically as things stand I would be pushing my current skills to the limit. But with regards to meeting the creatively the role requires I feel I am more than capable. Thanks to my current background knowledge of graphic design applications and experience.

Over the final months of college I must strive to become much quicker and have a much more natural approach to coding my XHTML and CSS whilst trying to incorporate other languages, such as PHP and JavaScript.

It will be important for me to use the time to add to my web portfolio. I definitely don’t have enough URLs to demonstrate my skills as a web designer as things stand. The HNC team projects will be vital to improve this.

If I applied for the job tomorrow I feel I would come up short to standards required to even get an interview. This would mainly be due to the lack of published websites I have completed.

I think it is a very realistic aim that by the end of the course I could aim for such a position with confidence if I concentrate on my weaknesses by building more websites much more quickly.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Taking the hard way out!

So here I am, back for the second year of my HNC in Interactive Media. It’s only been two weeks but I’m already halfway through the first assignment. The pace is certainly picking up.

I’ve found the last couple of weeks enjoyable, whilst been quite thought monopolising. I’m becoming a little anxious as I prepare for the build. This is perhaps down to my inability and total lack of motivation throughout the summer to try and keep on top of my XHTML and CSS.

Without making it sound like I’m making excuses I found the 3 months off from college a very stressful and difficult time. With a new mortgage in April I found my self in a position where I was unpaid from April to the end of September. Thankfully there now seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel, as things at work seem to be picking up.

This has sealed just how important it is for me to do well on this course and gain decent employment by the end.
Back to the latest assignment A9; the hand in for my screen designs is tomorrow and I’ve set myself some tricky coding challenges (for me anyway), even implementing some basic PHP. My philosophy for doing this; pushing myself to the limit is the only way I will learn and become a better web developer.

Feel free to leave comments on my home page design. The brief is to design a web site based on a object no more than 100 metres from your house. I chose my sweet pepper plant.