Designed for Mobility

When you create a website in today’s era you have to think about how your website will appear and function through a handheld device whether phone or tablet. I want to discuss three important issues to consider when designing your website: page sizing, navigation without a mouse, and loading media on a slow network. These topics are critical for a successful mobile website, if you don’t care about mobility then do not continue to read, better yet you might reconsider web design as a career.

First is page sizing and your layout. A desktop screen is approximately 1024 X 768 where as the iPhone screen is significantly smaller and can differ whether the user is viewing in portrait or landscape mode. Then you have the hundreds of other mobile screen sizes and tablet screen sizes to think about. In Smashing Magazine’s article: A User-Centered Approach to Web Design for Mobile Devices, they give a helpful 4-step process to mastering this task.

Bryan Rieger addresses the issue of designing for multiple screen sizes with a 4-step process:

  • Define device groups by grouping screens with similar widths together resulting in a manageable number of groups,
  • Create a default reference design that will adapt to smaller and larger screens,
  • Define rules for content and design adaptation for it to display well and
  • Opt for Web standards and a flexible layout.

Second, is the increasing use of touch screens requires simple navigation. Most mobile devices use your finger as direction movement and tiny keypads for word entry, unlike most desktops. Users will navigate your site on a smaller screen without a mouse; how do we make their experience magnificent? When creating the mobile navigation prioritize and simplify. Put the most used and most important (based on user statistics not your opinion) links up front. Make them easy to spot and easy to touch. Also, reduce the number of categories and levels on your navigation; it’s safe to say if the user is navigating on a mobile device they are on the move and need it quick don’t make them dig deep into the site for their answer.

Last issue I want to discuss is, media download. Users pay extra to navigate your website on their phone due to strict data usage policies cell phone companies require, do not waste their time or money. Keep your pages small so they can load quickly. We already reduce image sizes for web use, continue to reduce them for mobile use. Remember, mobile users need information quickly, so balance form and functionality, is it necessary to have all the bells and whistles for the mobile site? If not then eliminate them and leave the most important but do not completely compromise your sites look.

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InWorldz and Beyond…..

Sometimes when reality is a struggle it is nice to have a virtual world to turn to and escape those not so friendly realities like per se the love of your life falling for the completely wrong person (remember this is Simon) or I don’t become undead. I took a trip to InWorldz, where I traveled the world and met new people and gazed into the stars, finding myself with no desire to return except to take Clary on a date to these wonderful places. (Virtually obviously, but wouldn’t it be great to do it in reality as well. I’ll keep dreaming)

First stop was “Tskuki Mura — Edo Period Japan build”. It was WONDERFUL!

Here is me (yes I know….you don’t have to tell me I am girl, its a new world)

Infront of the Japanes TreesThis place was so peaceful and beautiful. I loved the trees the most. There was a “museum” in which I browsed around and contemplated the pieces of art. There wasn’t a soul in this region so it was very serene unlike the Home center where everyone chats away, unless you get far enough away or must everything and I feel that’s like plugging your ears around people in RL.

Here are some snapshots of the artwork.

Here I am having some tea and admiring a painting.

One really neat feature about this region is they give you a notecard at the welcome center that has some common basic Japanese on it and they give you (for Free) time period clothing.

Here I am admiring the lit up trees and warm fire in the courtyard from the balcony. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and will return there again to sit and ponder and enjoy the quiet it brings.

My next stop was Gulliver Travels. This area wasn’t nearly as serene, it contained all sorts of animals, Elephants, Bears, Giraffes, fish, and a few others.It was a little slow so I didn’t stay long, there were ALOT of items that needed to load and I’m afraid my computer was being bogged down so I moved very glitchy.

I tried to sit on a Giraffe but instead it just put my through its stomach, I don’t think it was allowed so I instead stood next to it and took a picture.

If you look into the back ground you can see there is another one, there was a couple of them roaming and grazing. The greenery was splendid to look at those, such beautiful flowers.

Here is another picture, in my opinion it gives a better view of the region. You can see some Elephants in the background of this photo and some of the architecture that inhabited the area. I did come across Gulliver, of course tied to the ground, but I didn’t think to take a picture until now, which would have been very lovely for the blog. Better luck next time.

I then went to the Alizarine Lakes and went through the maze, it took me two tries! The water fountains here are neat and if you get close enough you can hear the sounds of the water hitting the pools.

My final stop was the IDI Island to buy some more clothing, after the traveling I found it over whelming to have so many people talking at once, being very friendly none the less but it was a crowded place. So I took a seat and stared out into the ocean until I was ready to face the crowds and grab some free goodies.

Thanks for embracing my travel into InWorldz, stop by sometime and say Hello!

-Simon

The use of digital storytelling to teach

People perceive, hear and see the world in different ways.
Digital Storytelling: is the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories.

Leslie Rue defined digital storytelling almost perfectly, “Digital stories derive their power by weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving another dimension and vivid color to characters, situations, experiences, and insights.”

These stories can range from historical events to personal stories and it is because of this great range that storytelling can be used as an effective method of teaching.

Producing a digital story involves the collection of videos, audio tracks, images, or text that is found and put together by the creator to tell a story. It is much more interactive than searching a book and writing a sentence. The great amount of interaction makes the story personal not only for the creator but the viewers. For example the following video I drafted brings the personality of my dogs to the viewer.

Bernard R. Robin of the University of Houston provided 7 elements for Digital Story telling in his article The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling

1. Point of View – what is the perspective of the author?
2. A Dramatic Question – a question that will be answered by the end of the story.
3. Emotional Content – serious issues that speak to us in a personal and powerful way.
4. The Gift of your Voice – a way to personalize the story to help the audience
understand the context.
5. The Power of the Soundtrack – music or other sounds that support the storyline.
6. Economy – simply put, using just enough content to tell the story without overloading
the viewer with too much information.
7. Pacing – related to Economy, but specifically deals with how slowly or quickly the
story progresses.

I feel that my video embraced elements 4 and 5. The use of the song (element #5) “You’ve got a friend in me” by Randy Newman, supports the loyalty dogs have to their owners and that they truly are a man’s best friend.  Personal photos and use of captions help personalize the video (element #4) to give you a hint of personality into not only the animals story but the owners as well.

Of course the video was created strictly for entertainment purposes but like every story anyone can learn from it in some way.

Using YouTube

For our multimedia project I chose to use the video hosting service YouTube. I chose YouTube for a couple of reasons; more can be read in The Pros and Cons of YouTube Video for Your Website by Grant Crowell.

  1. Free hosting – sometimes free is always better but in this case, for small videos professional and leisure, free is better.
  2. Ease of Use – uploading videos to YouTube is very simple, the difficult part is creating your video. After going through the work to create the video it can be frustrating when you want to share it on the largest video viewing site and you have another 30-45 minutes of figuring out how to upload your creation.
  3. Embedding feature – as Crowell states, “YouTube comes with multiple embedding options (including iFrame); you can customize the player dimensions for your Website, and specify whether the embedded video is SD or HD resolution. You can also embed YouTube playlists or entire channels.”

If you are using YouTube for  small business advertisement or school media or personal use it is definitely of great use however where there an up there is a down.  YouTube has a large amount of advertisement, most often unwanted. For other cons please read Grant Crowell’s article.

When you upload through YouTube make sure you know whether you want your video public or private; it is very easy to change later however once you upload it as public millions of viewers have access to it until you change it. YouTube allows you to log in with your Google account so you do not have to create yet another account on the World Wide Web with yet another log in and password you need to remember.

Wikis

Wiki-wiki what?

A Wiki is a really great learning tool as well as a form of a collaborative tool. As states on Wikipedia about Wikis – A wiki enables communities to write documents collaboratively, using a simple markup language and a web browser. (See full article here)

The ideal example of current working wiki is Wikipedia. An encyclopedia with quick facts (using the word loosely) on a plethora of topics. The reason I use the term facts in a loose manner is that because Wikipedia is a wiki the documents can be edited collaboratively; in layman terms ANYONE can edit ANYTHING they please. This can be a very incredible and beneficial feature if you trust those editing the documents. As with anything on the internet, there is always a brain to the text, unfortunately the brain may only be 8 years old. Don’t get me wrong they could be kid-genius but it is highly unlikely.

Now that I have laid a very HUGE con out there about Wikis….why would a Library be interested in using one? Because a Wiki doesn’t have to be public. A librarian is an information professional; their job is to provide information to users in the most convenient and updated form. A wiki will allow the entire library team to keep information accurate while spreading the load responsibility across many. Not only that but we don’t know everything, no matter how much we wish we did. Having a wiki allows faculty and other experts to post information on a topic that we don’t know that much about. That sounds very appetizing right? Of course.

So you might ask, why don’t they just have a library blog? You can view this detailed comparison table about Wikis vs Blogs if you want, otherwise please suffice with my one voice, one opinion, limited knowledge here on my blog. Wikis provide a wide range of access, which means multiple editors, multiple brains full of info and multiple eyes to catch mistakes. Blogs are more personal.