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Website Critical Analysis December 16, 2009

Posted by Ben Smith in Uncategorized.
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When I chose the design for my website, I took into account the fact that my material would be based on sports-related news. I looked at the websites for BBC Sport and Sky Sports in particular to look at the way they presented their material.

After looking at several ‘Magazine Themes’ I settled on News Magazine Theme 640. I chose this because I thought its layout suited a sports news themed site and that it looked professional. It was also similar to the layout of the Sky Sports site which was one I regularly use and rate the website’s navigation and usability highly.  One feature of the layout I liked was to have the navigation at the top of the page. The reason I was in favour of this was because I was aware that doing this would mean that the navigation was visible whatever screen width was used. Whereas with the navigation down the side of the page, some of the categories can be lost in smaller screen widths.

One problem I had to solve early on in the development of my site was with the featured categories. I had created three categories for my posts, football, cricket and rugby. However in the theme there was a set space for a fourth featured category. I needed something for this space so I decided to use it as a ‘Humour’ section. I would find funny videos and articles to post in that category and I would link to their original source. Another problem I had with the categories was that I had to manually link to each post in a selected category. I thought that the remedy to this would be to paste HREF html code into the category title box along with the URL of the posts in that category. I thought that this would allow me to link to the posts in the selected category, which meant that the links would be updated automatically when I made a new post. That worked, however, it also changed my site design as the football category moved down the page and wasn’t in line with the other categories. Unfortunately this meant I had to change the design back to the way it had been before.

I also found that I had advert space within the site design. This created a problem for me as I was unsure about how best to use this space. I decided to remove these spaces as I thought they were unnecessary being that my site was not a commercial one. For this reason I removed the code related to this spaces so that they did not appear on my site.

One advantage of the WordPress platform is the greater number of widgets available compared to Blogger, a platform which I used in the first year of the course. One particular widget I made use of on my site was the text widget. I chose it because I could then paste embed codes into it of videos I wanted to use for my daily video section with videos of match action from football, cricket and rugby. I decided to have this section because I thought it would make my site more interesting and make the site more interactive for the user.

Interactivity is one of the crucial differences between the print and online formats. In print the text is static and the only other way to take the reader’s interest is with the images that are used. However, with the online format there is a much greater variety of tools to engage the reader. As well as images, there is the possibility of video and audio. The most crucial difference is links. Links allow users to click through to other material related to the subject they are reading about.

While these aspects of the online format are an advantage, they also present a challenge to me. This is because when I am producing material for my site I am constantly thinking about how I can use these tools to make the end product more attractive to the reader. In particular where I can use links, and what material would be useful to link to. Another challenge that was presented to me was using HTML code. I was not well versed in this having rarely used it before except for embedding video. However, working on my site has demonstrated to me how useful it is to be capable of working with code. Without being able to use the code, changes to the design of my site and fixing problems I had with that would have been impossible.

This assessment has also demonstrated to me some important aspects to remember when writing a feature. One aspect is the preparation for the feature. I have learnt that when I have an idea for a feature, it is important to do the research in good time. This is because it would allow me to work out if I have enough facts to make the feature stand up. If I then found out that I didn’t have the facts I would still have plenty of time to move on to another idea and do it well.

I took quite a lot of time to decide what I was going to do my feature on. About a month before the deadline I decided to do my feature on injuries in rugby. I realised after extensive searching that statistics to back up any points I wanted to make. Also, from previous experience of writing a rugby feature, I know it would be extremely difficult to get quotes from people within the professional game.

As an alternative I decided to my feature about Farnham Rugby Club and their ambitions for the future. I decided on this because I knew that my Print lecturer Steve Usher could give me a number to contact Farnham captain Karl Brown. This taught me a valuable lesson especially in my position as a student journalist. That lesson is that it is better to work out what contacts I have and then come up with a feature idea, rather than having an idea and not knowing whether I can get the information to write the piece.

Overall I was pleased with feature as I thought it addressed the key points well. However if I was to do things differently I would have liked to have been able to put the information about the controversy of Farnham Rugby Club’s relocation in a sidebar to break up the piece more. Unfortunately the WordPress platform did not allow me to do this. I would also have liked to have a video of an interview with a Farnham player about their teammates at the bottom of the feature. I thought that although not directly linked to the subject it would be a good addition as a humorous piece. Unfortunately my contact did not reply to me when I enquired about this and I had not left enough time to find another contact. In future I will take care to do forward planning and ensure I have time available To complete what I want to do.

Despite some problems with the site design, I am satisfied that the changes I made had the desired effect and that my site is suited to its audience. I feel that the site is easy to use and as a result I do not regret using either the WordPress format or my chosen theme and would be happy to use them again in the future.

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