The What Was I Thinking Affect….

As everyone grows up, we tend to look back at times throughout our lives and laugh, think “What was I thinking?”, than move on. It was those silly actions we made to impress someone, those jokes we told nobody laughed at, or those horribly, bad hair days we had. The best example of this person would be Mitch Kramer, from Dazed and Confused, for some reason I do not know why, but that kid always made me cringe throughout the entire movie. However, the best part about these experiences are they are something of the past, that stick mostly only in our own memories. They are things we can think of to make ourselves laugh and shake our heads.

Mitch Kramer

When I was growing up, I never wanted to make any of my geeky moments public to the world. However, nowadays social media has allowed this opportunity and for whatever the reason may be people are taking the bate. We are everybody we “know” into our worlds and keeping nothing for ourselves. Much like the affect Mitch Kramer has on me, so do something I see on social media sties like Facebook and Twitter. People willingly uploading inappropriate pictures and unimportant statues because the world we live in makes us feel like outsiders to the norms.

However, I do understand there is a distinction in taking these ideas as light hearted and poking fun at the idea. On the other hand, there are people who do take the idea of social media to a whole new level where people relay announcements of their day-to-day on Facebook (ex. Posting up in my bed tonight, trying to shake my sickness.). How this is relevant to anything needed out there in the world boggles my mind. Another pet-peeve is when people are updating their Twitter and Facebook accounts while watching different events such as: sports, electoral debates, oscars, etc.

The issue I have is everybody is given the ability to communicate with one another for a specific reason and I believed we have taken that gift, flipped it on its head, and ran in the other direction. Next time you want to tell Kanye West how disappointed you are for interrupting your gurl t-swift during her expectance speech, please refrain and understand either I’m watching also or will read one of the hundreds of articles being typed at the moment from credible sources and people who know how to type articulately.

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Usability Test: HawksEyeViews

Using Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, I will be performing a usability test on my own blog and answering questions about how my blog does on varying topics. Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug

  • Use of Media/Images- My blog lacks good imagery to help supplement my passages. I also do not use other media tools to help my viewers, which is important because the audience does not want to be bored with continuance reading and no breakup for their eyes.
  • Site- When mentioning a site I do provide proper url links to guide readers toward the site spoken about in the post.
  • Video- When mentioning a video I have provided the url link in the past and have not embedded the video right into the post.
  • Links/urls- When mentioning a link I do provide the proper url in order for readers to continue searching for a topic which interest them.
  • Citations- I have not had an instance when I have mentioned another blog or blogger where I would have to provide a trackback into my post.
  • Scan-ability- The text on my blog is scannable because it is broken up by dotted-lines and large headers, allowing readers to understand where the break in the post is and making it easy to skim through quickly looking for a certain entry.
  • Design- The overall design is about average. It works, but at the same time can defiantly use a lot more work to make it cleaner and more accessible. I would like for the background of the page to be a lighter color and not have the black hawk in the background take away from the overall text of the different post. The headers changing color when I scan my mouse over them strikes me first because it immediately tells my mind “okay, this is something I can click on”. The hawk in the background as I mentioned takes away from the blog I think because it is always right there and it can get distracting.
  • Text/fonts- The text font, size, and color are readable. However, there are times when the text font overlaps with the black hawk in the background making it a little bit harder to read, although not terrible. It is something that should defiantly be fixed.
  • Colors- The use of color is complimentary, however there is not enough color making the blog dull looking.
  • Noise- There is not any noise going on at all. The blog is very simple and focuses primarily on the blog post and nothing else. There are no other pop-ups or animations flying around the page which would be distracting to a reader. The site is set up as a way for users to best get their information with no other distractions from the site.
  • Needless Work- There are quite a few lengthy post within the blog, which can be considered needless work and can be shortened. There are some post which contain ramble and filler lines to length each post, but they should be cut down to only the words the reader will need to understand the topic being written on in the post.
  • Navigation- The navigation is obvious because it is only one page, so there is nowhere to navigate too. However, I would like to work on expanding the page to have multiple pages with easy, accessible navigation for users. The site does not rely on conventions to help navigate…yet.
  • Blog title and tagline- The tagline is descriptive and engaging because it makes a play on the title while still delivering the proper information needed for readers to understand what they are going to be viewing on the site.
  • About Section- The about section is clear and descriptive of what the blog is offering to its readers. The main ideas and goals are set out within the about section, while being somewhat fun and enjoyable. However, the about section may contain some filler words/sentences which can be removed to help shorten and make more concise.
  • Structure/Organization- The site is profession and has a professional feel to it. The site gets right to the point with the blog post and does not bring the user around in a circle trying to figure out how to use the site. The site is neat and laid out in order, but does look a bit amateurish because it does look so plain. I would like for the site to be more lively and less dull looking with a boring feel. Nonetheless, the page is clean and neat with plenty of room for improvement.
  • Accessibility- There are no “alt text” added to any images on the site. However, there are no images on the site to add “alt text” too, which is something to be fixed.

Usability Test: Non for Profit Organizations

Non-for-Profit

A usability test is one of the most important aspects for maintaining a successful website. The most difficult task of creating a website, which makes it harder than all other aspects or media, is the ability to have a users eye toward the website. It is easy to understand our own work, because we are the ones who put everything together and had the idea for why it looks the way it does. The real test comes when we see if other people are able to convey the message we intended on sending them. Below are three links and descriptions of non-for-profit organizations within the Philadelphia area which I believe would benefit from a usability test:

Northeast Animal Rescue- http://nar.resucegroups.org/

The reason the NAR website would benefit from a usability test is because it flat out looks outdated. There is no draw-in which excites the user to stay on this page and search around for a few minutes. The website looks as if it was created in the late 1990s. The homepage does not do a good job of conveying at first glance the goals of the organization because all though the title is “Animal Rescue” it seems to focus solely on cats, which is confusing. All aspects, from the color to the font to the setup does not look like a website which was worked on and put together with a plan. Instead, the website looks as if it was rushed and thrown together in order to ‘have’ a website. The organization itself, seems as if it has promise to develop a worth-while website and with a usability test which indicates points to focus on and stay away from, along with the help of a design change, the NRA website can be way more successful.

Center For the Study of Economics- http://urbantoolsconult.org

The reason the Center For the Study of Economics website would benefit from a usability test is because it is too jumbled with wording and not enough photos. Also, the color of the website and setup makes it look outdated and the click-ability is a bit confusing at first since the text is such a light color. At the top of the homepage as well it allows the ability of clicking on various headers, but brings the user back to the same page each time regardless of what is being clicked on. The website also does a poor job of driving across the message of what the organization actually does. I have been on this website for the entirety of time I have been writing this passage and am still quite confused about what this organization does, which is never a good sign.

Moving Creations Inc.- http://movingcreationsinc.org/about.html

The reason Moving Creations Inc. would benefit from a usability test is because the entire website is way too wordy. However, the initial website is difficult to enter at first because it is difficult for the user to see the enter sign which is minimized underneath the moving visual. Once the user enters the site they are shoved words in their face for every tab they click on. The best way for Moving Creations Inc. to benefit from a usability test would be the ability for the organization to cut their wording in half….than cut some more. The website should use other ways of grabbing the users attention or passing along its overall message, other than filling its website with words.

Visual Story Telling: Philadelphia Art Museum

Attached is a link leading to my YouTube video:  

The visual story presented represents a trip to the back of the Philadelphia Art Museum, where three friends take in the sights and tranquility of the moment. The song playing in the background is Alone With You, by Jake Owen, which meshes well with the imagery and theme set before us. The video allows us to see a story developing between three friends, who although find themselves to be like brothers, seek for their own individuality in this outdoor setting. They fear the idea their friendship is based on conformity and not their own individualities, but find themselves struggling to overcome this idea. They  evolve as the story goes on to gather their own insights on the world around them. Alone With You playing in the background exemplifies this idea people need their space from time to time in order to think and collect their own thoughts, without the fear of ‘conformity’ embodying them. The three friends are never seen communicating with each other, just walking along and taking in the atmosphere from their own different perspectives. It allows us to recognize the idea of individuality, because as we see the beautiful scenery developing from the video, we can see them encompassing their own train of thoughts. This idea of not being able to be alone with somebody, and being nervous of falling, constitutes to societies fears of being wrong or cast upon as an outcast. The stories over all message represents the comfortability these three friends have with one another to express their thoughts and feelings without this fear of being different. There is an underlying feeling of vulnerability we are able to see expressed through the compatibility of the imagery meshed with the lyrics and melody of the song. The last image of the three friends we see are all of them looking out into the distance together, where they have ultimately allowed themselves to become vulnerable and are opening themselves up to this fall of having different ideas. At the end of the video we are able to take in the lasting image of the entire complex for which they shared their evolving journey.

The Interplay of sound and image

Salt Institute Logo

Sound and image are two pieces that are made to go together, just like peanut butter and jelly. Sound allows the audience to grasp a sense of what is taking place, the emotions being felt, and the ideas being thought. Where the image, allows us to really get a firsthand experience of the moment. The two have to work together in order to be successful. There cannot be an image of a wooded area supported by the audio of cars honking. That just does not work. In the examples shown for the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, the audience can match the image being displayed with the audio they are listening to for a better understanding of what the image is about. An image allows the audience an open-ended imagination of what is taking place, but the audio narrows the mind to a certain reality of what is actually taking place.

See Spot Run

In the documentary See Set Run. by Laurie J. Mills, the audience is shown a glimpse of the life and start of one parkour/free-running team. The title is a creative play on the main character’s, Michael Kanakan, nickname. The documentary shows images of Michael and his teammate, ‘Jet’, speaking about and attempting parkour. Michael describes parkour as the ability to move from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible, whether that entails going over or under an object in one’s own path. The best shot of the documentary, is a series of photos taken as ‘Jet’ attempts a move up the side of a wall while Michael is watching him with much anticipation. While the images are being shown, we hear Michael speaking in the background of the motivation he gets from watching ‘Jet’ perform difficult tricks, which enables him to push himself to reach an equal level. The documentary does a fantastic job throughout of using sound with appropriate imagery in order for the audience to understand what is taking place. A simple but effective audio used multiple times was the sound of feet on concrete while someone is in the act of parkour. Mills does a great job of capturing the essence of an activity which is popular, without being understood.

Trash

In the documentary Trash, by Jennifer Formuziewich and Cait Wilson, the audience is brought into the daily lives of a sanitation worker in Portland, Oregon. This documentary was put together really well, and used so many great aspects to keep the audience engaged and interested throughout the whole story. The way the story opened and closed with moving images of the garbage truck driving up in front of trash and being thrown in the back of the truck, to the end when it was being driven away down the street was a fantastic way to open and close in a unique way. The most interesting aspect of this documentary was it kept the attention of the audience throughout, even though it was not an interesting topic. The beginning was a great way to show the different characters (employees) who work for the team, while listening to them introduce themselves and listen to a short background on their lives. Another aspect of the documentary that was able to drive the video, was the idea a garbage man just picks up trash and moves on. However, we are able to learn there is so much more to their job. Garbage men know individuals based on the trash they throw away, and we can see them posing for pictures with items bringing humor and light to their jobs.

 

The Craft of Storytelling

Salt Institute Logo

Below is a link which leads to a website filled with audio stories.

Salt Institute

The two stories I listened to were “Powered by Laughter” by Avery Moore and “Hide and Seek: An Adventure Maine Geocaching” by Amanda Thieroff. Both stories were able to provide audio which brought the audience into the scene which was taking place. We are able to place ourselves inside of their stories through their audio, which further allowed us to imagine the surroundings and actions taking place within the story.

In “Powered by Laughter”, Avery Moore followed Katie West through her day of being a life coach and business women who believes laughter is not only a way of life, but a tool for survival. A key scene is when we hear a mob of people inside Grand Central all laughing together at once. We are able to put ourselves inside of Grand Central and visualize a mob of people all around the center clock laughing simutaneously and if you can’t do this…..you probably have never been to New York City and that’s on you. However, just as any great story, we were given a twist by West. Although she harps on the importance on laughter and joy, she expresses how she had to work to find this equilibrium. She did not have a childhood full of laughter as we find out, being her mother was severely depressed for her entire childhoof and parents were divorce. Instead of living with a gloomy and dark outlook on life, West talks about how she used her past expereinces to find the light and joy which comes out of all life. We are able to capture her sense of emotion through her storytelling, which captivates us as an audience and allows us to feel her roller coaster ride of a life go up and down to her final destination.

In “Hide and Seek: An Adventure maine Geocaching”, Amanda Thieroff brings a new ‘sport’ to her audience through descriptive narrative and shadowing of veteran Mike Moreno. First off, when I say ‘sport’ I am severly stretching the definition to allow geocaching in this category. Geocaching is essentially a high-tech treasure hunt game, played across the world with the use of GPS devices. The idea of the game is to go online and find coordinates to a treasure hidden somewhere throughout the country. The treasure is hidden withing a film canaster and ranges from any type of possesion imaginable. We as an audience are taking along on this adventure to find the sought after treasure, with Mike and his companions. Thieroff flips her story back and forth between interview and real-life hunting, which helps the audience to place themselves in the surrounding and gage a sense of what is expected from this ‘sport’ such as: slang, nicknames, and the golden rule (you take something out, you put something back in). Mike describes himself as a pirate on the hunt for some buried treasure. Part of the thrill and excitement in the game is knowing thousands of people are posisbly walking by the treasure every single day without the faintest clue. Growing up almost every child plays pirates and listening to this audio allows me to feel this dream become a reality. While listeting I can feel my heart pouding as Mike reaches inside of the branches and bricks in hope of finding the treasure that was planted there by somebody before him. The audio allows us to feel these emotions of hope and puts us on the edge of our seat waiting to hear what he found.

The key to storytelling is finding your hook, the thing which grabs your audience’s attention and leaves them yearning for more.