May 9, 2010

Website Analysis – Times Online

The content of the World Wide Web is constantly expanding and updating, as a consequence users now have more choice than ever before (Nielson 2000). Therefore, it is vital that professional websites are appropriate for all potential users. In order to do this a website must have effective usability, searchablity, navigation, design, content, video/audio, interactivity and user-generated content. This Website analysis assess Times Online in relation to these factors.

 

Screen shot of the homepage

Navigation

The Times Online logo is consistently placed on each webpage in the same position and hyperlinks to the home page, this is effective as the user is constantly reminded of the name of the site and it provides easy access to the home page. The website has a navigation bar running horizontally across the webpage below the logo, which consists of ten tabs, e.g News, Comment, Business, etc. The user can easily identify which tab they are viewing as the colour of the text appears lime green with a dark grey background when it is being viewed, each tab is also quick to load. The tabs are broken down into categories for example, within “News” there are tabs such as “World news”, “Politics” and “UK news”.

Content

The Times Online uses a vast amount of hypertext, for example the home page is filled with content, with over forty hyperlinks leading to a wide variety of stories. It could be suggested that the home page has too much content and should be more succinct so the user is not overwhelmed. Nielson (2000) also highlights that research shows that reading from computer screens is 25% slower than reading from paper, this emphasises the importance of providing the user with concise text.

Searchablility

The Times Online site proves to have effective searchability, for example it is the first hit when “Times Online” or “Times” is typed into the search engine “Google”. However, it was the seventy fifth entry when “News” was searched in the same search engine. This suggests that the website is only effectively located when the user is specifically looking for the website, whereas if the user was looking for a News website in general it is unlikely that Times Online would be chosen.

Design

The Times Online website has a consistent colour scheme as the colours lime green, blue and grey are used throughout the website. This is a simple way of visually connecting the web pages of the website, without overpowering the user. Kollock (1996) also suggests that online environments should be designed to encourage user co-opertation, maintain a community-based institutional memory and include elements of the physical environment through which users travel. Times Online achieves this effect by using a consistent colour scheme and page layout.

Video

Each story is illustrated by either an image or a video, this creates more depth to the story and gives a visual insight which supports the text. There are also tabs within the navigation titled “videos” and “picture gallery” which enables the user to search and view all the videos/images on the website.

Interactivity/User-generated content

The user has the option to comment on any story, image or video that appears on the Times Online website. Additionally, there is a tab within the navigation bar titled “Comment” which consists of columnists and professionals who express their personal opinions on topical issues, for example John Houghton and Libby Purves. There are also podcasts that are available to download which provides the user with an audio interpretation. It could be argued that the website could have more user-generated content such as personal videos and images in order to create more variety.

May 6, 2010

Get the Pixie Lott look…

Over the last year the talented Pixie Lott has risen to fame, she began writing songs from the age of fourteen and has charmed the nation with her infectious personality and powerful singing voice. Another of her many talents is looking gorgeous. Here are a selection of my favourite Pixie inspired pieces, all available right now at your local highstreet stores…

This Pixie outfit is perfect for the summer, patterned denim shorts are a must have this season and work beautifully with a white cropped top and a grey blazer.

White cropped top £10 Topshop

Polka dot denim shorts £30 Topshop

Grey Blazer £25 New Look

 

Pixie’s white summer dress can be dressed up for the evening with chunky jewellery and a patterned scarf or dressed down during the day worn over a bikini for a chic beach look.

White Dress £30 Dorothy Perkins

Scarf £12 Topshop

 

 This Pixie look is perfect for a meal out or a catch up with friends and can be dressed down with pumps or dressed up with heels and costume jewellery.

Heart white Tshirt £20 Topshop

Black blazer £19.99 H&M

 

Pixie works a cute rara skirt with a hairband and a cartoon top for an alternative evening look.

Cartoon Tshirt £7.99 H&M

May 2, 2010

STAGE FRIGHT…A five-part serial drama

As part of the Professional Writing unit of my course we were required to write the script for a production of our choice…below is the opening scenes of a five-part serial drama Stage Fright…

 

INT.   LONDON PALLADIUM.   THEATRE DRESSING ROOM.   DAY 1.   EVENING

CLOSE ON LEILA ZIMMERMAN applying red lipstick as she gazes at her reflection in the mirror. She is wearing a black sequin dress and suspenders; the room is silent apart from the faint sound of jazz music playing from a speaker. She fixes her hair and sighs. The door opens and OLIVER WHITE struts into the room with a clipboard in hand.

OLIVER WHITE

Ok darling! Amber will be playing “Roxie” tonight as Bella still hasn’t showed. Just remember in the finale dance to stay back a few steps otherwise you are going to dwarf her! Apart from that the show will go on as usual, so just work your magic darling.

MARTINE ZIMMERMAN

Ok – will do.

OLIVER WHITE smiles then rushes out of the room fiddling with his headset. LEILA ZIMMERMAN pauses in deep thought for a moment, her eyes are watery, she reaches for her mobile phone and holds it to her ear.

CUT TO:

 

INT.   PENTHOUSE FLAT.   LONDON.   DAY 1.   EVENING

CLOSE on a mobile phone ringing loudly on a living room floor. Music as before. PAN along floor, muffled moaning can be heard.

CUT TO:

 

 INT.   LONDON PALLADIUM.   THEATRE.   DAY 1.   EVENING

UNKNOWN POV ON OLIVER WHITE walking briskly through the narrow corridors of the theatre. He arrives at the side of the stage and whispers to the cast whilst gesturing.

OLIVER WHITE

Curtain up in two minutes people!

ANGLE ON AMBER JONES standing centre stage with her back to the curtain in a confident pose. She winks at OLIVER WHITE and flicks her platinum hair. LEILA ZIMMERMAN is standing by his side watching. The music is building up.

CUT TO:

 

INT.   PENTHOUSE FLAT.   LONDON.   DAY 1.   EVENING

CLOSE on the living room floor, a black high heeled shoe falls to the ground with a thud. Muffled moaning can still be heard. Music as before.

CUT TO:

 

INT.   LONDON PALLADIUM.   THEATRE  STAGE.  DAY 1.   EVENING

AUDIENCE POV loud applause from the audience as the curtain goes up a fraction, revealing only the silhouette of AMBER JONES’ legs. A VOICEOVER with an American accent is heard.

VOICE OVER

Ladies and Gentlemen…put your hands together for the sensational…Miss Roxie Love!

CLOSE on AMBER JONES’ feet as curtain proceeds to rise. Loud, fast jazz music plays, the audience gets louder.

SMASH CUT TO:

 

INT.   PENTHOUSE FLAT.   LONDON.   DAY 1.   EVENING

Music continues. CLOSE on the black high heeled shoe, as second shoe falls to the ground. PAN upwards revealing the feet of a female, her legs are swaying.

SMASH CUT TO:

 

INT.   LONDON PALLADIUM.   THEATRE STAGE.   DAY 1.   EVENING

CLOSE on AMBER JONES’ feet the curtain rises revealing the silhouette of her entire body, music continues.

SMASH CUT TO:

 

INT.   PENTHOUSE FLAT.   LONDON.   DAY 1.   EVENING

PAN from feet upwards stopping at the neck, revealing rope tightly tied around it, music continues.

SMASH CUT TO:

 

INT.   LONDON PALLADIUM.   THEATRE  STAGE.   DAY 1.   EVENING

ANGLE ON AMBER JONES. Music has nearly reached a climax; the lights come on in sync. She seductively turns to face the audience.

SMASH CUT TO:

 

INT.   LONDON PALLADIUM.   THEATRE  STAGE.   DAY 1.   EVENING

SHOT of BELLA MORGAN hanging from a chandelier, her body is swaying. She is unconscious with blood trickling from her mouth. Music reaches a dramatic climax. Black out.

 

CUT TO TITLES AND CREDITS

 

INT.   VICTORIAN HOUSE.   CENTRAL LONDON.   DAY 2.   MORNING

UNKNOWN POV ON CHRISTINE WATERMAN frantically drinking coffee in her kitchen, she rushes through the hallway, the house is modern and immaculate apart from a bin bag of clothes on the hallway floor. She glances in the mirror by the front door and pauses for a moment , she runs her finger over her eyebrow then exits.

 

EXT.   BUSY STREET.   CENTRAL LONDON.   DAY 2.   MORNING

She runs in her heels towards the black Mercedes-Benz which is waiting outside her house and gets in.

 

INT.   MERCEDES-BENZ.   CENTRAL LONDON.   DAY 2.   MORNING

CHRISTINE WATERMAN

Argyll Street please.

DRIVER

Of course madam.

She stares out of the window sitting upright. Her mobile phone rings loudly, she pulls it out of her bag and looks at it, then puts it back. It continues to ring. The DRIVER catches her eye in the mirror. She looks down.

 

EXT.   ARGYLL STREET/INT.   BLOCK OF FLATS.   LONDON.   DAY 2.   MORNING

The car stops, CHRISTINE WATERMAN smiles at the DRIVER and exits. The block of flats is surrounded by yellow tape and policeman. Passers-by gather around the scene watching tentatively.  CHRISTINE WATERMAN shows her badge and walks through. UNKNOWN POV follows her into the building and inside the lift, CLOSE on her face, she looks emotionless.  She exits the lift, DC ANDREWS walks towards her, he has dark hair and piercing eyes.

DC ANDREWS

Christine – great to see you.

CHRISTINE WATERMAN forces a smile.

DC ANDREWS

We have a suspected suicide, a young woman in her twenties found hung in her kitchen.

CHRISTINE WATERMAN

Was she found dead on the scene?

DC ANDREWS

Yes, her cleaner found her this morning, it happened last night, still not certain on the time.

CHRISTINE WATERMAN

Has the body been identified?

DC ANDREWS

Yes her name is Bella Morgan. She –

CHRISTINE WATERMAN

–  Bella Morgan? The west-end performer?

DC ANDREWS

Yes that’s right.

CHRISTINE WATERMAN pauses for a moment thoughtfully. They are walking side by side towards the flat door. DC Andrews looks uncomfortable. She gets out a notepad and starts scribbling.

CHRISTINE WATERMAN

Right, we are going to need more security around the building, no doubt the press will hear about this any moment now.

DC ANDREWS

Ok – I’ll take care of that now.

DC ANDREWS walks away.

 

INT.   PENTHOUSE FLAT.   LONDON.   DAY 2.   MORNING

CHIRSTINE WATERMAN enters the penthouse flat, FORENSIC SCIENTISTS are hard at work. The FORENSIC MANAGER walks towards her.

FORENSIC MANAGER

Miss Waterman, good day.

CHRISTINE WATERMAN

How is it going?

FORENSIC MANAGER

The evidence so far suggests that this case is a suicide, however, I have something that just might be of interest to you.

He hands her a cellophane bag inside is a Polaroid photo of BELLA MORGAN on stage performing. CHRISTINE WATERMAN turns the photo over and in red ink is written, “The name on everybody’s lips is gonna be…Roxie.”

FLASHBACK TO:

 

INT.   LONDON PALLADIUM.   THEATRE STAGE. TWO DAYS EARLIER. EVENING

BELLA MORGAN is on stage playing the role of “ROXIE”. Loud, fast jazz music is playing, she turns seductively to face the audience and sings the opening line of the musical.

BELLA MORGAN

The name on everybody’s lips is gonna be…Roxie.

A camera flashes from the audience.

CUT TO PRESENT:

 

INT.   PENTHOUSE FLAT.   LONDON.   DAY 2.   MORNING

CHRISTINE WATERMAN stares at the photo then looks around the flat unconvinced.

CUT TO:

 

INT.   GEORGIAN HOUSE.   LONDON.   DAY 2.   AFTERNOON

CLOSE ON LEILA ZIMMERMAN sitting in her living room watching the television, her phone rings, she gets up and answers it but nobody responds.  She sits down and it happens again. A few seconds later three loud knocks are heard at her front door, she opens the door cautiously, but nobody is there.

April 29, 2010

Hooray for Hefner!

I was horrified when I read in the news recently that the iconic Hollywood sign was very nearly abolished. Having always wanted to visit the star-studded neighbourhood  I cannot invision the experience without getting a snapshot of the famous sign. Luckily for me, the sign was saved by Hugh Hefner. The king of Playboy made a donation to save the sign from property developers…he described the landmark as “Hollywood’s Eifel Tower”. Read the full news story here.

The iconic Hollywood sign

 As I recently travelled back home from University I couldn’t help but smile when I drove passed Basildon’s answer to the famous sign alongside the A127…priceless.

Whatever next...Bas Vagas?

March 10, 2010

The night I went to the Monster Ball…

Beautifully bizarre, outrageously camp and undoubtedly unforgettable…this does not even begin to describe my experience at Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball.

 

 

Due to the huge popularity of the tour Lady Gaga added more dates in the UK

 

When it was announced that the ‘Monster Ball’ was coming to the O2 Arena in London, tickets sold out instantly. Everybody is talking about Lady Gaga, due to her ridiculously outrageous outfits, her catchy number one singles or her weird appearances on Jonathan Ross. It is fair to say that she has fascinated the nation, and for me, she did not disappoint on tour.

It would be inaccurate to describe the ‘Monster Ball’ as merely a  “concert”, as Lady Gaga (real name, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) really pulled out all the stops. She  merged electro-pop with musical theatre, creating a truly  unforgettable show like nothing I have ever seen before. The staging was comparable with a Broadway show, combined with the  story line which ran throughout, as Lady Gaga and her team of eccentric dancers try to find their way to the “Monster Ball”. My most memorable moment had to be at the end of the show, when a worryingly realistic “monster” emerged on stage as Lady Gaga performed ‘Paparazzi’. Her quote of the night had to be “Everybody take pictures…and it will die”.

In true Gaga style she did not fail to disappoint with her bizarre outfits. Her hair was a Seseme Street bright yellow and she performed a record breaking number of costume changes. Her outrageous wardrobe included a sequin ensemble which shot sparks from her boobs, a white feathered dress with moving silver wings (as pictured) and a green sequin Tinker Bell style outfit (also pictured).

Lady Gaga in her spectacular feather dress with moving wings

However, stripped bare from all the glitz and glamour it is undeniable that Gaga is truly talented. When she sang “Speechless” (even though the piano was on fire and she had one leg in the air) it really hit home just how talented she really is. She introduced the song as a tribute to her father, and she stopped singing half way through as she held back tears.

Lady Gaga in her tiny green sequin contume

She constantly referred to her fans as “her little monsters” and along with her powerful singing voice she proved she could dance even whilst wearing six inch heels. The choreography was suggestive, fast and wonderfully weird. After attending the ‘Monster Ball’ it is clear that Lady Gaga has a huge amount of talent and originality, she put on a show that was one of a kind, and I have to admit that I am officially a “little monster”.

February 18, 2010

Q&A: A snapshot of Joanne Clark’s life

As Joanne Clark (the sweet innocent little girl pictured right) turns 20 this weekend, I interview her twitter style, getting an insight into her life in short snapshots. Born in Ascot and raised in Bracknell Joanne is the first from her family to go into higher education and is now enjoying life at Bournemouth University but is it all what she expected?

Q: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grow up?

A: I used to want to be a vet, because I love animals and used to watch RSPCA and want to be like them! But then I realised I hated blood so it didn’t happen.

Q: So you’re now a Bournemouth University student studying BA (Hons) Communication & Media, what made you chose the University and the course?

A: I chose Bournemouth because I knew it had good nightlife and a good campus, I realised at sixth form that I wanted to work in the media and do a course that was media orientated. So this course suited me as I didn’t know exactly what part of the media I wanted to be involved in.

Q: Did the University and the course live up to your expectations?

A: Yes, the first year was a bit all over the place but the second year is much more what I expected although it is a bit more stressful! Although I do wish I lived in halls instead of a house in my first year as I would have had the opportunity to meet more people.

Q: What would you say is your most memorable moment so far at University?

A: There are many things I could say but not sure if I want them to be on the internet! Most of them are probably when I’m out and about usually in Lava Ignite.

Q: Have you thought about what you want to do when you graduate?

A: Hopefully something in PR or advertising, I would love to work in fashion PR for a brand like Arcadia. I want to secure a good job and be successful so I can buy nice things.

Q: So as your approaching 20 is your life the way you expected it to be?

A: Yes, I always wanted to go to University, and I’m the first out of my family to go.

Q: What would you say is one of your best moments of the last 20 years?

A: Probably my 18th birthday when I was spoilt rotten! Or holidays, there are so many memories I can’t pick one!

Q: So what’s the future like for Joanne Clark?

A: When I graduate I want to go travelling, I really want to go to New York and maybe live there for a year or so, and I want to live and work in London.

 

February 18, 2010

Timeline: History of social networking sites

In the last decade the evolution of social networking sites has been remarkable. Google is now jumping on the bandwagon and taking on competitors such as Facebook and Twitter with the launch of Googlebuzz. But how did social networking all begin? Let’s take a look at a few of the social networking sites of the past decade which have been dominating the web.

1995

Classmates.com was launched by Randy Conrad in the United states. The website was created to allow people to keep in touch with their friends and acquaintances.

1999

Friends Reunited was conceived by Steve and Julie Pankhurst from Hertfordshire, their curiosity about what their old school friends were doing and the US website Classmates.com inspired them to fill the gap in the UK market.

2001

Habbo (previously known as Habbo Hotel) was launched in 2001 in the UK. It is aimed at teenagers and is owned by Sulake Corporation.

2002

Friendster was launched by Jonathan Abrams and Chris Emmanuel in California.

2003

Myspace was launched in 2003 and is owned by News Corporation. In 2006 it was the most popular social networking site in the US, however it was overtaken by Facebook in 2008.

2004

Facebook was launched in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg who founded the website with his fellow college students whilst studying at Harvard University. In 2009 complete.com ranked Facebook as the words most well used social networking site.

2005

Bebo was founded in January 2005 by Michael and Xochi Birch and was relaunched in July of that year. The title is an acronym for “Blog early, blog often” and is currently owned by AOL.

2006

Twitter was founded by Jack Dorsey in California, and allows its users to send and receive messages of up to 140 characters known as “tweets”.

2010

Google launches Google buzz which is integrated into G mail, it will be the second attempt to compete in the social networking world. Google buzz claims to allow users to share photos, videos, updates and more.

February 11, 2010

Sky news…the first for breaking news?

Sky news online claims to be “the first for breaking news” but to what extent is this actually true? This brief website analysis will assess the website in relation to its searchability, usability, navigation, design, content, video, audio, interactivity and user-generated content.

Searchability

The website is easy to find as it is the top website when googled.

Usability

The news stories are easily accessible, and videos are effectively used to support the news stories and are quick to load. Despite the home page being filled with content, it does not overwhelm the reader.

Navigation

The navigation tabs are placed at the top left of the web page, in a clear font listing the genres of news such as “Politics” and “Showbiz News”. Each tab has lists the top stories of the genre, highlighting stories as “breaking news” which adds an element of exclusivity.

Design

The design is simple yet effective, using the brand’s three colours red, black and white, which adds continuity throughout the website. The font is clear and easy to read and all text is either black on white or white on black, making it clear and prominent.

Content

The content is varied, offering national news as well as international news with various stories which are catagorised in the navigation.

Video

Video footage is used effectively, the tops stories use video footage which loads instantly and supports the content of the story. In the navigation there is a tab named “video” which takes you to the latest Sky News video three minute bulletin. It also lists tabs such as “most watched” and “UK news” allowing the reader to instantly find what they are looking for.

Audio

Each video is accompanied by audio of a high quality.

Interactivity

The website consists of several blogs on different topic, such as family affairs and crime. Each blog is updated regularly and each one has comments suggesting they are effective in triggering responses.

User-generated content

Within the navaigation bar there are two tabs named “your videos” and “your photos”, where the users can upload personal videos and photos. The videos are also catagorised in to tabs such as “most watched” and “weather” allowing easy access to the material.

January 28, 2010

My top five favourite websites

My top five websites are:

1. Facebook

The best way to keep in touch with your friends, check out photos or just have a nose!

2. ASOS

With a massive range of designer and highstreet fashion brands ASOS gives you the ultimate shopping experience.

3. Youtube

The best way to catch up with the latest TV or music, or have a giggle at people’s home videos.

4. Benefit

Selling quality make up, with a unique sophisticated style.

5. Topshop

The leading highstreet fashion brand online, keeping you up to date with the latest trends.