Monday, 23 November 2009

On Top and Motivated

It has been quite a busy last two weeks with the start of two new assignments. The first task of which, I really wasn’t looking forward to. The concept of writing an article about a design icon seemed fairly interesting to me.

This was until I discovered my allocated icon to be The Beatles album cover, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band. It didn’t look good as I had never seen this album cover in my life, and have strong opinions on how shocking their music is. I did, however, get a little more into the work, forgetting about my original views. It became an interesting task to review the history of a 'considered' icon and to discover how designs can be iconic.

Also this week we had to produce our full development for the Blacker Hall Farm rebuild. This was very stressful, as I like to spend a lot more time developing my ideas, creating neat and detailed drawings. I realised I would have to speed up in the process and realised that my final product wasn't of a great standard due to this. This has taught me a lesson though, and I need to learn how to develop quicker but with the same final production level.

The next task was to design for a random object. I knew many people would struggle but this has been very enjoyable for me as I thought it would be. I am still doing this now and ideas keep flowing and it has been a really good experience just to spend time being creative. I have learnt a lot about how to get my brain into a design mode, and not to dismiss ideas but draw anything that comes to your head.

Finally I have been learning a Content Management System (CMS) ; Wordpress. This has been a very draining experience to try and get my head around. Missing the tutorial day didn't help but I feel like I have caught up this week and am starting to get my head around the way it works.

Overall, I am happy with how these assignments are going. After an initial rush I feel like I am on top of my work but I know I can't be complacent and I need to well motivated from now on.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

My Interview Question Explained

This weeks blog post is to turn an interview on its head, and have me asking the questions. As the interviewer, I will be listing some of the question I would ask to a potential client in the industry of web design. The aim of this is to be able to put ourselves in the shoes of both the interviewer and the interviewee. This way we can be fully prepared for future interviews. I will also be giving a brief explanation into why I chose these questions in particular.

What drew you to this job in the first place?
This is a fundamental question to establish the intentions of the employee. You will learn a lot about where they want to go within you business, through the answer they give you. They will also give away a few preferences as far as what motivates them in work.

What do you know about our business?
This shows how much the potential employee has research the job and how much they actually want it. Extensive background research will indicate that he/she is very keen on the job and would also suggest they would be more committed to the work they would be given.

What previous experience have you had within the Web Design?
Fairly obvious, this will indicate how experienced they are. From this you can determine how well they will fit into your business. It is crucial to employ someone that is well experienced.

What design software have you been using up to now, and at what level are you with them?
It is crucial for you both to be on the same wavelength and if he/she has no experience in the software used, then this will give you a whole new task to familiarize them to it.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?
This is going to tell you there opinion of their own strengths and weaknesses and is often quite a hard question to answer. It means they will have to self assess themselves and often people find this difficult to do and generally you will get honest answers.

What qualities can you bring to us?
This is a further question to the previous whereby it asks them more specifically to assess themselves. This can definitely give you an idea of their character and how well they would fit in.

Do you prefer working on your own or in a group?
This will give you an indication of their preferred working environment. There answers will either fit into the job role you had in mind or they may be suited differently.

Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
This will give you a small insight into their intentions within your business from the present and the future. It should determine whether they are committed to the web design industry or whether this is just another job to them.

Word Count: 483

Friday, 23 October 2009

A8 - iMe Self Assessment

In this journal post I aim to justify my grade for my recent SMLP (Self Managed Learning Plan) assignment. In this assignment I was challenged to learn a new scripting language and then give evidence of my learning through a suitable project. I chose to learn PHP and MySQL, and evidenced my learning in a final website tutorial.

Firstly in order to gain a pass level. I must have met all the learning outcomes I originally set out to do in my learning plan. Here is a list of the learning objectives, and how I did with each one:

Learning Objective 1 - Research into industrial uses of PHP and MySQL
This learning objective was met in the form of a research page. There is definite evidence that both scripts were clearly understood and put into context of todays industry.

Learning Objective 2 - Develop skills to the point were I could use them in a website
A clear understanding of development occured in this section. The research took a more specific route into the learning the scripts and the evifence came both in the research pages and in the creation of the website.

Learning Objective 3 - Create a fully functioning website
The evidence for this section can be found at, where the scripts have been used to create a tutorial styled website, which guides you through a few of the basic scripts learnt.

Learning Objective 4 - Evaluation of assignment
This learning objective was met in the form of a written evaluation. It was a very open evaluation where the whole assignment was reviewed and strengths and weaknesses were highlighted throughout.

After assessing the merit criterial I realised a few gaps in my workings. This means that after passing all of the learning objectives, I will reward myself with a Pass.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Web Designer Job

The Job

Web designer with Photoshop, Dreamweaver, HTML, and CSS experience needed for leading marketing agency based near Huntindon This role would suit someone with at least 1 years commercial experience working as a web designer ideally with print experience using Photoshop, Dreamweaver, CSS and HTML. An online portfolio is a must for applications for this role as you will need to be able to prove you have what it takes creating unique and memorable web designs for a plethora of sites.

This exciting web design role will see you working on a variety of projects for different end clients, working closely with the rest of the team using your Photoshop, Dreamweaver, CSS and HTML experience.

In return for your expertise my client are offering a generous salary, contributory pension and bonus scheme, as well as a relaxed working atmosphere and training with some of the best in the business!

My thoughts

After searching through a variety of different jobs with the 'Web Designer' title, this one instantly stood out to me. Discarding the location this sort of job would be an ideal way to get into the industry. They are asking for one year's commercial experience but I do believe that the two years spent on the course would cover this, with such assignments coming up where we will be out working with a client.

Another topic that is mentioned as ideal is print. Through this course I have learnt a lot about print and as this is not essential, this knowledge would stand me in good stead against other applicants. I may lack some of the client interactive skills, however, and this is a weak area for me. To apply for this job I would first need to work on this problem by improving my communication skills.

Knowledge of photoshop being the first thing that is mentioned was also a huge draw for me. I have been using photoshop for many years and have a vast knowledge of its capabilities in industrial design. I believe I could really show off in this area of the application.

As far as HTML goes, I had a fairly basic understanding of XHTML before the course and have already improved upon this greatly. I feel like my XHTML is stronger than my CSS however I don't think I would struggle to adapt to new challenges as I have always been able to find the solutions quickly. By the end of this year I am certain that I will meet these two requirements in the job application.

Due to my knowledge of XHTML and CSS, Dreamweaver came to me very quickly. I believe that the program itself is very simple and it is more about knowing how to apply the code. This is another area that I will be working on even more this year, and by the end of the course I would have no worries in saying I have completely mastered Dreamweaver.

As of yet I do not have an online portfolio, but as with other aspects of the job I will have satisfied this requirement by the end of my college year. This is because we have a large final assignment to create a portfolio of the two years work. My only worry is that the work I have produced so far would not reflect where I actually am as I believe some of my earlier work has let me down in this. There is always potential to display my non college work in an additional portfolio that could be considered before applying for such jobs.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Ok, I'm Back

With the start of the second year, it's time to look back at the past and look forward to the future. I am still very keen to push through my problems in the first year. Referrals were too frequent and I want to cut that down this year. I know I can do this by planning my time better and staying more organized. I also need to plan in time to do my work each week.

After the long break though I have become a little bit rusty, and I think I with just need a few weeks to find my feet again. Despite this I am fairly confident in my approach to this year, and I know I can improve on my results of last year. It would definitely be good to get a few merits and even a distinction.

I am looking forward to the new assignments and cracking on with them. Having already started the self managed learning plan it's something I feel I could do well in. I am looking forward to learning new scripting languages that I will be able to implement into some more complex web pages. In learning these new languages it also widens my knowledge of web design and in the long term makes me more employable.

I feel like this year is time to get my web designers head on and stay more focused on the course. This way I should make myself ready for work in what is a very competitive industry. I need to make steps that with make me stand out from the crowd and show off my full potential.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Self Managed Learning Plan - The Resource List

To conduct the learning of both PHP and MySQL I will be look at two different resource avenues. I first will be looking at some books, and after some routing around I found a selection of books that will supply me with a vast knowledge of these two languages. The other method I will be using for the learning of these languages is online tutorials and the analysis of online information. Here is the resource list for my SMLP.

1. PHP for the Web, Third Edition

This is a very highly rated book due to its simple step-by-step methods of teaching. It takes you through all the basics of the language and also through the more specific implications of it with visual screenshots to help throughout.

2. Sams Teach Yourself PHP in 24 Hours, Third Edition

This book is a quick and easy way to learn how to create interactive websites. It is divided into 24 one-hour lessons over five sections making learning easy and aiding in myself learning. It covers the fundamentals of PHP and how to apply it to create dynamic websites with forms, cookies and authentication functions. You will also find out how to access databases.


This website is one of my favourite resources for learning languages. I find it very easy to use and its tutorials take you step-by-step in all aspects of both PHP and MySQL. It provides you with sufficient examples to progress in your learning as you go through and is a great basis for the learning of these languages.


This is the definitive source for the latest PHP developments. This will be used to obtain my guidelines in the language, so that I can continue to produce valid PHP coding throughout my learning.


Similar to the previous website this will act as my guideline to the use of MySQL throughout my learning. As the definitive source for the language I will be able to check my learning against the information provided on here to verify its content.


This website is of a similar layout the w3schools which makes navigation easy. It has tutorials covering both languages in great detail. Here there is a specific tutorial on PHP / MySQL which is just what I need to discover how the two languages work alongside each other.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Discovering PHP and MySQL

The task is to come up with our very own Self Managed Learning Plan (SMLP) into a scripting language of our choice. After doing some research into different languages I have settle on PHP and some aspects of MySQL. I will initially study through all the basics of PHP and try to gain a good understanding of the entire language.

PHP is a multi-purpose scripting language for web development. A couple of practical reasons for PHP are that it extends your design possibilities, allowing you to create more dynamic web pages. It is also very compatible as it works across all operating systems and is free of charge.

I will then be learning the MySQL, which stands for 'My Structured Query Language' and is a relational database management system. I will be learning MySQL specifically in relation to PHP with such functions allowing me to access MySQL database servers. This means I can create my very own databases online.

I have already discovered many online learning facilities and tutorials in which I can base all my research. My method of learning will be to compile notes and back up those notes with practical implications fot the two languages. By learning the two languages in conjunction with one another I will be able to create dynamic database driver web sites. The knowledge of these two languages is said to be very sought after in industry.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

First Year Reflection

When looking back to the begging of the course I can instantly see a huge change. I feel a lot more at home in every aspect of the course, due to many different reasons. I’ve made some good friends for a start which instantly made me feel more at home. Being able to learn through them has been a great help and has taught me that it is always worth asking questions and asking for help. Reflecting back, I realised this was an issue I was pretty poor on so it has been a good achievement for me over the year.

My confidence has been knocked in different directions all year but there have been some huge positive steps that I can take a lot from. Being able to do things I’ve never done before and having the confidence to make mistakes have made this year well worth while. Knowing that without these mistakes I would never have learnt how to overcome them.

I figured fairly early on that this was the right course for me and in no way have my feelings changed towards it, if anything it has been more solidified. The new skills I’ve learnt have even got me using them in my free time because I enjoy it so much. There is always a worry that things may become a bit repetitive, however, with web design you can always branch out and find new exciting designs to keep you eager.

Another major reason why I have stayed so keen is due to the wide range of skills being taught. I was originally under the impression that the course was purely a web design based course, and at first I was even more intimidated when I found out it wasn’t. Now things are completely different because I have learnt so many new skills I didn’t expect to be learning and this wider range of design skills can only be a good thing.

A good example of the wide variety of skills needed for web design can be found in typography. Before starting the course I would have thought it had absolutely no relevance to designing the website, but it has become one of the most crucial aspects of each build. It is these tiny details that we have learnt that make web design to interesting.

Initially I was finding myself a long way behind with the ‘lingo’ around web design. Everyone seemed to be so much further ahead of me from the start, and I had no hope of catching up. Now, however, it feels like I’ve caught up with people and actually have a better knowledge in some area’s which is great for my confidence. It would definitely be something to bear in mind if I or anyone else happened to be in a similar situation again.

My knowledge of coding has been my biggest improvement over this first year. After the simple HTML codes I originally knew, I have now learnt XHTML and CSS to a high stand at which I can produce fully functioning, and professional websites. It is the side of web design where I feel I get most from, and it produces the best final product. I have now taken it on in my spare time and my knowledge of it is constantly growing. This is another positive that solidifies my ever growing interest in the web design industry.

Looking towards the future, there are issues that I need to attend to for next year. In my own opinion the work I am producing is of a good quality but, as I have always been told, there just isn’t enough of it. I’ve found myself still doing things last minute and it has really caught me out. Blends of personal issues and plain laziness have caused a number of referrals, and a referral in the final project. I find it frustrating because I know what I can achieve, and with a well structured plan of action in each assignment there should be no referrals.

I believe for the second year that certain challenges and tasks must be overcome to say it is a fully successful year. After major issues with confidence this is an aspect of the college life that I would like to rid myself of, so I can stay fully focused on the work itself. This is because I sometimes find myself avoiding things that would be very useful in my learning.

Next year there has to be huge improvements in all organisational aspects of projects, especially with a group project coming up, where I need to perform for the rest of the members in my group. The work load is going to be much greater than this year also, so to keep on top of my work there has to be strict time keeping on my part.

I first set out with the goal of mastering every aspect of web design, so one day I could start up my own business. This has become more of a reality now that I have the tools to progress in this industry. I have been using my new found skills outside of college to produce websites, and things already seem to be going well for me. So this is a goal I can really aim for in the future.

I aim to produce my work strictly on time, with weekly time management to ensure this.

I aim to receive no referrals in the second year.

I aim to get at least two merits.

I aim to improve my ever growing knowledge of design.

Word Count: 938

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Not Long to Logo

The A7 assignment, along with the first year, is quickly drawing to an end. There is a definite sense of finishing on a high as it had been the best assignment so far. This is because I have found it both challenging and enjoyable; stretching my new found abilities to the max. I have learnt a lot through the assignment and it has solidified my previous learning through many practical exercises.

Initial I found the logo design frustrating as it was the first time with a client you have to get used to them saying no to your ideas. As I went on I became less attached with the ideas and design purely with the client in mind. Here is the postcard I have produced using the variation of my logo design:

The CD artwork allowed me to be a little more artistic in this project which I enjoyed. I organised and arranging interesting scenes using pebbles, and with a good quality camera was able to achieve some effective design pieces. I found working with your own images much easier and much more effective than taking from stock, and you can get your own precise desired effect easily.

I have been practising at making websites for a couple of weeks now and am looking forward to the web build as it’s a good opportunity to test my skills. It will also give me a good sense of achievement to be able to display my hard work in this assignment through an individual and devoted website.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

One To Go

Finding out I had two passes in the last assignments was a huge relief. It always feels good to get something under your belt and will take the pressure off out next assignment as I can stay more focused. Again I have learnt a lot from the feedback and now want to push towards improving my grade to a merit.

Huge issues still surround my time management and recoding of work on the time sheets. If I put in the hours and record it accurately I know I can improve my grades. I believe the work I do is of a high standard but at times there just isn’t enough of it, this is something I’ve always been told throughout my education.

At the end of the last two assignments it really feels like the years coming to an end. The introduction of the last assignment requires me to apply all the knowledge I have learnt over the year, and is a good way to round everything up. It gives me a clear indication of how far I have come this year.

At first I was a little surprised with the assignment as we are on a web design course and it is a collaboration of music based graphic design pieces. However, I could see its relevance in teaching us about all different types of design. I have been encouraged by the research I’ve done and already have a broader knowledge of all design aspects.

I have spent the last few weeks doing a lot of research into website builds. As already opportunities have arose as I’ve been asked to make two websites. I’ve really enjoyed learning new skills and putting them to practise, it has clearly solidified my thoughts about my career as this is something I would love to carry on.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Insen by Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto

Carsten Nicolai and Ryuichi Sakamoto have managed to produce a purely gripping sound with there collaboration to produce the album, Insen. The album has a strong chilled out vibe to it with the use of ambient beats and subtle piano play. It is an album not to be missed by all, ticking all the right boxes in such a vast experiment genre.

It’s one of the most laid back approaches to music you will hear. Without vocals the instruments have been combined smoothly to give you a simple yet effective sound that will have you hooked from start to finish. It is a clever use of rather infectious simplicity.

Insen is suitable for almost any occasion. It takes you away to your own special place, when all you need is to just relax. It is also perfect for reflection, as it clears your mind with its subtle soothing tones and captures your imagination. It is a slice of musical genius, and exceeds every purpose it originally set out to.

It makes ideal background music for any formal occasions and will reflect its calming nature through to any listener, making those special occasions go that bit smoother.

I would strongly recommend this album to anyone, but I believe it would be ideal for anyone suffering from a sleeping disorder. In my own experience it works so well at clearing your thoughts and allowing you time to relax. It reduces stress levels considerably and calms every part of your body.

Classing this under the label ’experimental’ will often put listeners off from the very start. With an open mind you can clearly see how this album breaks the mould in terms of its classification. It is so unique in its style and the easy listening approach will reach out to a large audience of all different ages.

The album combines old and new, with the clever use of piano and electronics. There are no overpowering sounds throughout and it makes for such a fluent listen. In combining the two the intention is to reach out to a large age range of listeners and I believe it does this perfectly.

Often with experimental chill out albums, each track will sound too similar and listening to each one become too repetitive. With the Insen album, each track manages to keep its personal identity. It keeps the listener enthralled for the full duration and manages to connect them to each track.

In summary, it is the best easy listening album I have listened to. It’s the kind of music you can listen to any time of the day and it is suitable for every occasion. I would recommend it to everyone as a must listen, due to its unique and mesmerizing sound.

Word Count: 467

Monday, 2 February 2009

The Perfect Attitude

My previous post had a huge emphasis on change. I had lots of things I needed to do to become a better web designer and a better student at that stage. Two weeks later and I'm well into the new assignments with a much better attitude to work. I've been regularly checking on the forum for helpful information which has meant I fully understand the current assignments.

The biggest change for me has been with time management. A huge aspect of learning the outline of each assignment has been in the production schedules. When I was making them it allowed me to look into each section in the assignments and study it fully to understand the time in which it will take. The regulation of my time has meant that I have kept focused and on top of the work, and feel positive about both assignments.

I am looking forward to the creating aspects of each assignment most. This is because I love running through the developing stage of a design and coming out with a final product you are pleased with. This is the part I get most out of.

I have found the group work for the A6 assignment very enjoyable. Interacting with others and discussing different people’s opinions has really helped me to learn different methods of approaching assignments. I am lucky in that our group gets on well and everyone is willing to pull their weight. I am looking forward to developing our ideas to the final stage of presentation.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Time For Change

For me the first semester has been a huge change to education. The whole concept of having assignments briefs that alter as your going is very difficult, and I have struggled with the lack of structure. I'm used to having a list of things to do, that don't change and doing them in the week. Also finding threads on the forum is a weak point of mine, and I know Iv'e missed deadlines because of this. I really need to pick up on the forum activity because I'm still unsure of where to find things, and this is vital for the course.

I think this first semester has gone smoothly in other respects however. The group has gelled well, and most people seem possitive about the way the course is going. I have found that people are most than willing to help out and explain things, which has been really helpful in throughout the assignments.

The assignment that we have done so far have been very different to what I had expected. I thought we would be jumping straight in at the deep end and getting down to designing. It has only been in the last half that any design work has really taken place. At times I have thought we were going the long way round learning aspects of design, but for the most part I have found this helpful to study all the fundamentals first. It's been more a case of learning to get things right first time, rather than learning practically from your mistakes.

Sketchbook work has been one of my favourite aspects of the course so far. I find the inspiration gathering and annotating one of the most enjoyable pieces to look back on. As I scan through it's a clear indication of how far I have come from the begining to now. I am starting to naturally use words that I hadn't heard of before this course, and in some cases I am running out of space to describe images because all the different aspects I now notice.

I have struggled in the sketchbook because the sketches are supposed to be quick and in draft form. I have always drawn things very precisily and that is the way I design best. This has meant that I am not able to get as many sketches done in the allocated times, which needs to be worked on in later assignments.

For the second semester I know there has to be a lot of personal change. I've been struggling to keep on top of the work, so I must find out exactly what needs to be done and get it done in advance. This is the best way to cut out the last minute stress that occurs around submission dates. I know I need to ask more question because even at the minute I am unsure of what we are doing this next semester, and it just causes more undue stress.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

The Return

Coming back after Christmas, it was obvious that my knowledge was a bit rusty. The A3 assignment had been put to one side over Christmas and I found it fairly difficult to get back into the swing of things on the first day. This gave me a certain level of anxiety.

However, the group still had a good atmosphere and I could tell that my head was fresh to start learning again. If I was to change my approach to the holidays, it would be to keep all the work fresh in my head by looking over notes and catching up on more work.

Both of our current assignments have to be completed by next week. With the A4 I feel fairly relaxed as most of the work has been done during our college time. This assignment was the most enjoyable so far and in a design aspect I learnt the most. There is a test next week which we are currently revising for, and with this I also feel comfortable. All my marks on the practice test lately have been well above the 50% marker and in all honesty my revision has been minimal. So with plenty of revision this week I hope to get a good result in the test.

The A3 is the more demanding of the two assignments. Despite being behind with just a week to go I don’t feel stressed in any way. I think this is because I have a firm understanding of the tasks that need to be done, due to listening and note taking. If I was to do this again I would have still preferred to stay on top of the schedule to allow the last week to be simple tinkering.