aled's cyfle

Friday, 29 September 2006

Health and Safety

Posted at 1:06 pm. 0 comments

Today we had a brief course on matters of Health and Safety in the workplace. I found it to be handy and interesting overall, albeit slightly boring (yet important) in parts (the legal bits). The course covered all the basics, from employer responsibilities to our (employee) responsibilities, and I reckon it was well-presented by David.

Having coming from a degree in Film and Television studies, I was very interested in the health and safety aspects of the production side of the BBC (from which we participated somewhat in their employee training CD). I never really studied the health and safety aspects while doing my degree, and I realised that I wasn't really safe doing some of the filming I did on the course! I'm sure to keep note of those things from now on when we get the chance to do something similar.

Thursday, 28 September 2006

Product Evaluation

Posted at 2:26 pm. 0 comments

Yesterday and today were were given 5 different products in order to evaluate Jakob Nielsen's Heuristics principles. Here's a paragraph on each and my personal score out of 10 on its usability:
  1. Go for Gold with KIT
    "A visually stunning program to introduce children to the Commonwealth Games." (from R-E-M).

    Go for Gold with KitBuilt by B-Dag/Productive Play for the Manchester Games in 2002, this is a piece of absolute rubbish in my opinion - and that's without really looking at the technical aspects (that is, heuristics). It looks like it was done in a rush (and it probably was, though they still had a quite extensive team, from 2 companies, to build it). Maybe they hadn't tested it on their target audience (children aged 6 - 11). They'd have gotten bored with it fast (I did). When I played with it, I couldn't find the menu buttons (and they showed no signs of being menu buttons. There was help at hand... with the help of the Games' mascot, in a corner - I found it after I got bored, and I was more bored after hearing it. It wasn't in an obvious place, and it annoyed me - can you imagine what children would make of it? The clincher here was that the educational games weren't educational at all... they wouldn't reveal the correct answer after any amounts of attempts, and the questions (specifically the geography ones) were actually quite difficult, even for me (and I did it in GCSE's!!!). There's a longer and more detailed review here by Althea Samuels at TEEM, though I'd say she's evaluating a revised version of the program. 1/10.

  2. EuroTalk "learn Italian" (circa 1996/1997)
    A problem for us at the very beginning is that we couldn't get it to work - possibly because it couldn't match the minimum requirements (highly unlikely), possibly because we didn't have the correct permissions on the computer (very likely). We kept on getting an error when it tried to save information (after every task we completed). The design was confusing at first, but we got to grips once we messed around a little. There was a lack of consistency with the navigation, which made the task of learning Italian a lot harder. 5½/10.

  3. EyeToy for the Playstation 2
    A product with the standard that now expected from console games. Although there was not a lot of text explaining the way to navigate, it was intuitive, easy and fun to navigate. Help and documentation was at hand for anyone who got into problems, which appeared in entertaining animations and films. Feedback on the menu items were a little confusing at first, but you can realise almost instantly that you simply have to continue to tickle the button so that the graphic will turn full circle. The only downside was that there was no way to return to the main menu once you got nested deeply in other options, but I suspect this was intentional to keep its simplicity. 8½/10.

  4. Being John Malkovich DVD menus
    The nature of DVD means that if the DVD is being spun in the drive, there shouldn't be any waiting around. Once you got to the menu (which had to be done manually as it went straight to the beginning of the film), you see an appropriate menu with ugly, out of character buttons to navigate to extra features, language selection and to play the film. The most confusing of many elements of the experience was the little "i" button at the bottom of every screen, which led to the help menu (unfortunately, it was the only button that had no text label - the one button you'd want to see if you were in trouble). This "i" button led to a language selection screen, which you had to choose in order to continue... to a simple and pointless legend. There were also many inconsistencies all over the menu - it seems it may have been a job of multiple designers, perhaps given constraints by its studio in order to maintain its branding. 5/10.

  5. SPECIAL 10 Issue 8 DVD menus
    This DVD was the best of all the products we evaluated. Special Ten is a music, film and entertainment magazine thats published on DVD. The 8th issue DVD was an outstanding piece of design in my opinion - simple, intuitive, easy to use and addictive. Though there were animation in between menus, they were so stunning that I found myself clicking different menu items just to see the animation - rather that reading, viewing and listening to the content. The only thing that could be said against it is that the text wouldn't be readable by all. 9/10.

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Websites Evaluation and Presentation

Posted at 1:57 pm. 0 comments

Websites Evaluation
This afternoon we were given the task of evaluating certain aspects of 4 websites. The criteria we used was:
  1. How easy is it to use?
  2. What audience is it made for?
  3. Is it a commercial/educational/entertainment product?
  4. Is it obvious how to use it, even before you click?
  5. Can you tell how it was made?
  6. What clues are there?
  7. Does it contain mostly image/text/sound?
  8. Are you satisfied with the way it works?
Without going into detail, here's my opinions on the websites:
  1. Own Your own C
    An appealing website at first, but soon gets annoying. First off, there's not much content, and it doesn't explain what the point of the website is - eventually, we found out that it was for an anti-tobacco campaign in California... Teenagers (the target audience) would get bored fast - I did. It was also a little slow to load, making it harder to maintain attention. 4/10.
  2. Billy Harvey
    Billy HarveyA nice-looking website at first, built in flash. I thought the navigation was superb, and the speed of delivery was remarkable considering the huge amount of music and images that had to be downloaded. Getting Billy himself to speak and his character to lip-synch the songs was amazing - a beautiful touch. I thought it catered to the target audience (his fans and intrigued music fans) brilliantly. The only bad things I could say about it is that the navigation could be slightly confusing at first, but once you click about a bit, you get used to it. Also there was no alternative content for viewers without the Flash plugin. 7/10.
  3. Fly me to the moon
    Once I heard the name of the website, I expected to be wowed, and I was. At first. The very nature of the navigation disappoints rather than make it fun, and while the animation is impressive at first, it gets boring soon. The flight to the moon is a good concept, but the inability to return to certain "docking stations" for information is annoying. Its not a website for most people as it's obiously aimed at the advertising industry. 5/10.
  4. The Bad Luck-o-meter
    The page itself is basic and appears to have been made in a rush, so it wasn't a surprise that we were meant to be evaluating the flash experience that it linked to. The Bad Luck-o-meter is a simple quiz about safety and insurance-based things. Concentrating on your home, its a brilliant bit of viral-flash magic. Being able to hear the questions made it easy on the eyes and allowed us to enjoy the amazing graphics. Easy to use and enticing, making you want to continue. While obviously commercial, its also obvious that it wasn't the final version - you couldn't finish the quiz! I can't wait for it. 8/10.

We've also been asked to present a powerpoint presentation on one of the pioneers of multimedia design. The name I drew out of the hat was Donald Norman, co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group (with web guru, Jakob Nielsen). I'll be posting about Donald soon.

Monday, 25 September 2006


Posted at 6:42 pm. 0 comments

Today was the first day of dimension 10 - 10 of us on an intensive interactive media course lasting 6 months. We were getting to know each other and hearing what kind of briefs we would be given (by industry) and what technologies we were going to learn. Exciting stuff!