Friday, 4 December 2009

Final Evaluation

One of the things I aimed to do when creating my website was to design something that was genuinely conventional and that looked like a website rather than a site that resembled more of an online poster or flyer about a charity. I spent a lot of time looking into other websites to highlight the conventions which make a website, something as simple as a side navigation bar can have a huge impact on the look and feel of a site. I looked in particular at other successful charity websites to see what conventions they used, by getting a feel for existing real media products I could include elements of them in my product. The large top image for example was an idea taken from a shopping website, they had a green long rectangle place at the top of the page and included silhouettes of the products they sold, I expanded on this idea by creating a Christmas landscape in photoshop to give my site that Christmas feel right from the top of the page so the user understands the theme of the site.

I also found through research that a colour scheme in a website has more of an effect in the overall look and perception of a website than first thought. I chose to base my colour scheme around winter and Christmas colours, red, white and green. This helps set the theme throughout the website and promotes a brand identity within my charity. Many sites follow this, Oxfam have a green scheme on their site, water aid choose a blue, water theme, I found the colour schemes very effective when analysing other sites.

One creative decision I made was to widen the overall size of the website, I felt that by changing the width I would add a new level of interest into the website and set it aside from standard sites. It also allowed me to be more creative and include a large logo, a top image stretching across and numerous product displays within the home page.

I felt that my targeted social group did not need to feel patronised by my charities need, they know about global issues and the poverty that occurs within society so felt that pages of text explaining how poverty works and why they should help my charity would be wasted, so I felt a small explanation about what the idea of the charity is would suffice as well as a small explanation. This would make my target social group feel that the charity is appropriate for them.

I ensured that the text was written in an informal mode of address, this is to make the charity seem more down to earth and in touch with it’s target social groups, the products are aimed to be bought by a large selection of numerous segments so the language should not limit my audience to a higher reading ability and economic status.

I felt the target audience understood the problem, and by visiting my site felt they were interested in being part of the solution, my method was simple and effective, they would see straight away a solution, then show how easy the solution was to get to through my site. Many charity sites ask for donations and the donator is unaware as to where their money actually goes, with my site they can pick where they want their money to go, and see an instant positive reaction in response to their purchase. Christmas presents give instant joy, a charity present gives that same instant joy but on a much wider scale.

For a website this is a difficult question to answer, websites are unlike radio and television media and are not distributed, they are hosted and visited.

I looked at how campaigns are distributed and designed, there are two ways to do this, often charities have their own marketing departments and come up with and produce their own content, the other method is for charities to contact marketing and advertising companies and ask them to come up and with and distribute a charity campaign and sometimes the website itself.

I feel that for my website I wouldn’t require the services of an advertising agency unless a campaign to a different medium was introduced, I feel that by designing and contenting the website myself I am able toe exercise full control and ensure the site is everything I want it to be rather than employing an external source. I looked at domain name and web hosting options, I found that hosting my website with an easy to find name would suit my sites brand image, it would be cost effective to host with an external server and would look for a or .com name rather than a third party address such as It’s important to relate distribution to my audience and ensure that I am reaching them with my product in the most effective and efficient way and finding the right communication method of distribution.

My campaign site is heavily influenced by my audience, the design, language and feel of the site is tailored with my market’s views in mind. My target audience is a 26-50 category, this may seem like a vast range but I believe that this age category have disposable income and have experienced many Christmases so a change in gift choice would appeal. In more detail I feel that women would be a secondary audience, from research and experience I feel that women take more of a leading role in Christmas gift purchasing, I have decided to tailor many aspects to suit female visitors, the overall feel of the site for example is soft and the language is more emotive to pull on women’s sympathetic outlook on life. When designing however I did not want to disillusion other markets, the site is approachable to numerous audiences, the informal language makes the charity feel approachable without appearing too casual about the issue.

To really sell the charity I made the Christmas theme stand out, everything from the colour scheme, logo and images had a Christmas feel, I felt that to appeal to my audience I would have to work around Christmas as this is the one thing which really brings people together, by making my campaign about Christmas the charity sells itself in two ways, it shows itself as a solution to global issues and as a way to bring people together, this helps appeal to my audience on both a personal and global level.

One of the important things to consider when targeting a wide audience is their attention span, I wanted them to be drawn in from the offset and gain an instant feel for my charity, so many sites loose their audience with too much text, I opened my site with a flash animation with the logo and snow effect to instantly tell the audience what the theme is and who we are, this is a result of my market research and found that many visitors to charity sites are put off but too much text.

I feel that to attract my audience I need to make the user experience as meaningful and entertaining as possible, the design and quirky look of the site helps to achieve this and the high number of images, boxes and colour outweighs the amount of text to make the site eye catching and appealing. On every page there is a large amount of interesting and entertaining graphics or features which aim to enhance the overall enjoyment of my audiences experience.

I designed my site with navigation in mind, I didn’t want my site to look overwhelming so ensured that every page was accessible, I had two navigation bars as well as hyperlinks throughout the site, I wanted the user to easily navigate around the site to ensure there viewing time on my website is increased by browsing around all areas, the products are given their own page and a large link to each product to make sure they are easily viewed.

I wanted to include a video that was in touch with my audience, I felt that the sites view of the problem was positive and focused more on the solution than the problem, I made a comic video which the audience could relate to do to their past experiences with presents. I feel that a light-hearted video which also gets the point across would suit my website and appeal to my target market.

I wanted to include sound in my website but didn’t want to sound to be tacky as this would put off my target market and make them wary of purchasing from my site, I looked across the internet for a Christmas song that was copyright free, I choose a jingle bells song which was played in a slow rhythm, this is a well known song but having it slowed down gives the opening page more depth and adds to the entertainment factor that is often lacking in charity websites.

One of the things I have learnt in terms of technologies from the creative process is the use of iweb, before this project I had no experience of macs or the iweb software but have developed my skills over the year. I have also learnt that although iweb is a powerful tool it is a combination of iweb, photoshop and movie making packages which make a successful website. I also found that using iweb’s default settings can make a website look cheap an unprofessional so it is important for me to put my own stamp on an iweb website.

I also had to learn the basics of adobe flash, i found this program particularly difficult and had to study numerous guides and books to create my opening page, I wanted to create something unique and give my website the wow factor and to do that I felt the use of adobe flash was vital. I found my knowledge of flash quite limiting to begin with but after experimenting I eventually created something quite neat using the program.

Adobe Photoshop was a program I had used before but only in its basic form, I learnt new techniques from my teacher and made most of the features of my website in Photoshop, it would have been easier to make boxes and navigation bars in iWeb but felt that to give the site a more professional look, Photoshop was the answer. Even small details such as gradients in the side bars, outer glows in the snowflakes and trees and the logos were made in photoshop and my skills have grown as a result of that.

I also saw the importance of combining technology with hand craft to create something unique, The welcome page features a ripped red package, this was made by ripping a white piece of A4 paper, scanning it into a photoshop document and filling in the white space with a red colour. This is an example of hand made features being used alongside technology and I learnt how effective manual methods can be.

During the preliminary task I learnt the basics of numerous programs which I would use much more for the full product. When creating the preliminary my thought process was to make a traditional website with the correct conventions and looks rather than go for something a little different and interesting, over the course of the last year or so I have looked in much more detail at creating something more unique rather than following suit of a typical charity website.

In my first school website design i included a slideshow at the top, this was my first experience with the video capabilities of iweb, the sideshow did not work so I had to include a picture instead, this creative decision was hindered by iWeb and throughout the course of the production work I have had similar difficulties, what i have learnt however is how technological issues can be overcome or new solutions can be found, this acceptance of faults has grown through experience of using the software.

One thing I have learnt is the importance of knowing my audience, with the preliminary task I didn’t take my audience into consideration and the final site has no real target to influence it, my new site has had the audience in mind while it is being designed and many of the images and text style represents an audience more.

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