Monday, 16 March 2009

Initial Portfolio Designs

I have finally shortlisted my ideas down to the two I think are most suitable. I will be posting these on the forum as well, any feedback would be appreciated.

Design Idea 1

Design Idea 2

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Delivery Requirements

1. CMS (Content Management System)
A Content Management System will be paramount to ensure that my portfolio can be easily updated and maintained. It will provide an easy way for me to customise my porfolio for my needs and therefore purposely style it for each job situation that may arise.

At the moment I am undecided which CMS I will specifically use, but the two I have shortlisted are Wordpress and TextPattern (as I have experience with both). With whichever CMS I use, I will need PHP and MySQL available on my hosting.

2. CSS 2.1
Cascading Style Sheets are used to present the content of my portfolio. Using semantic markup, I will ensure that my CSS code is maintainable for future updates and also show my abilities to potential employers.

3. XHTML 1.0 Strict
As CSS deals with the presentation of the content, XHTML structures it. Using XHTML 1.0 Strict will ensure that my portfolio can be read across a variety of browsers - even text only browsers such as Lynx.

4. POP3
POP3 will be used in conjunction with SMTP for emailing. POP3 will receive emails that I can receive through the contact form that will be included on my website. My email address will also be included on job websites such as and Graduates Yorkshire and therefore I may receive emails from potential employers via these too.

As stated SMTP will work along side POP3 - where POP3 receives the emails, SMTP sends them. SMTP will allow me to send digital CVs to agencies/employers who request me to do so and therefore aid me in the process of finding a job in the design industry.

Target Audience Profiles

1. Industry Professionals/Potential Employers
Jim is the managing director of a small web development company based in Leeds. His current leading web designer is leaving to start a new job, so Jim is recruiting for a replacement. His current designer built websites using tables and cells with little knowledge of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), Jim has decided to take the step forward by recruiting a designer with knowledge and experience of CSS and XHTML (eXtensible Hyper Text Markup Language) with W3C standards compliance.

In both his working and home environments, Jim has access to high speed Internet connections. When at work, he uses a PC with Windows XP and browses the Internet using Internet Explorer 7. At work he uses a Macbook with OSX 10.5 and the most up-to-date version of Mozilla Firefox.

2. Clients
Ibtsam, a 23 year old businessman is looking for a web/graphic designer to produce various pieces of corporate livery for his new business venture. Due to the current economic climate, Ibtsam requires a designer who will not charge over the top for the work he requires.

To help him find a designer, Ibtsam uses (an online yellow pages) and Google. Using his Windows Vista laptop, he spends around 2-3 hours every evening browsing the internet. He has a 2Mb connection and browses using Internet Explorer 7.

3. Students
Sarah is a 18 year old IT student who is researching courses to progress onto once she has completed her A-Levels. After seeing a flyer advertising the FdA Web Design course, she decides to browse the student portfolios to see the different types of work she could be doing while on the course and the quality of the work produced.

Sarah has a high speed Internet Connection and spends quite alot of time on the Internet (around 7-8 hours a day) browsing social networking websites and chatting to her friends via Instant Messengers. She has an Apple iMac Computer and uses Safari 3.0 when browsing.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Portfolio Goals

1. My portfolio must validate to XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS 2.1
This goal is almost a given when writing any web plan, it will make my website accessible, easy to maintain and ensure that it is display accurately across a range of browsers. It will also show any potential employer viewing my website that I have a knowledge of validation.

2. My website should conform to accessibility guidelines 1.0 Level A.
Conforming to accessibility guidelines will ensure that a wider range of users will be able to view my portfolio with ease. Again, this will show any potential employer that I have knowledge of accessibility.

3. To create a portfolio that has a working print stylesheet.
As my portfolio will be updated with new work each time I complete a new piece, keeping an up-to-date print version would be a lot of extra work. By ensuring that my online portfolio has a working print stylesheet, I can print a copy of my portfolio off each time I need a paper version.

4. To display my skills by using a variety of technologies.
Over the two years of the course, I have learnt many new skills; XHTML, CSS and PHP. I would like to be able to showcase my skills by using each of them on my portfolio – again, another way of showing potential employers what I am capable of.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Reality Bites

The reality that we’re entering our final semester has finally hit home, there is only a few months left on the course, but they’re an important few months. I’m really looking forward to finishing the course now and being able to put everything that I have learnt into practise in the outside world.

One of the most important parts of the next few months is the SMLP (Self Managed Learning Plan), where I chose a skill and manage my learning throughout the assignment. I’m quite nervous about this, I’ve never self-taught myself anything in the past but hopefully the resources that I’ve identified will aid me in the learning process.

The skill that I have chosen to learn is PHP. PHP is a skill mentioned more and more on job specifications as a required element of an applicant, so knowing this skill will increase my chances of employment after the course.

The creation of my portfolio is another very important stage of the next few months. My portfolio is the key tool to gaining employment and will be a showcase of my skills to show employers. Because of this, my portfolio needs to be adaptable. I’m nervous about doing this, as designing something for myself is my weakness, I’m never happy with anything I design for myself – or I get bored with the design very quickly – which is something I need to snap out of.

My biggest fear over the next few months is the final presentation. I’ve never really enjoyed presentations and the final one is a major jump from the 10 minutes that we’ve been presenting so far. It’s going to take a lot of work; practise and courage to present first time without letting nerves take over. I think that due to the fact the presentation is about my college work and my thoughts and feelings during the 2 years on the course, it will be easier to talk about than a random subject.

It is quite nerve racking thinking about the amount of work that needs doing over the next few months, I’ve certainly got to put everything that I’ve learnt into practise – especially the time planning aspect. Juggling motherhood, pregnancy, college work and every day life is certainly no easy challenge, but its one I’m willing to tackle.

When the course has finished, I feel that my level of employability will be at a stage where I can be comfortable applying for positions in the industry. During the course, I have been doing some small web jobs as a freelance and would like to continue this, but I feel that even though I have had some experience with clients, I would be better going into an agency or in-house job to improve my skills further.

In summary, I need to get my teeth stuck into the final few months and not fall at the final hurdle. I need to bring together a portfolio, learn PHP and tackle my final presentation in order to do so – although this is nerve racking, I’m looking forward to it!

[Word Count: 508]

Thursday, 15 January 2009

PHP Resources for SMLP

1. The PHP Anthology - Shafik, Turmelle et al.
A Sitepoint book which contains a collection of PHP solutions and will be a helpful resource during the early stages of my learning.

2. Build your own database driven website using PHP and MySQL - Kevin Yank
Another Sitepoint book which expands on the information in the Anthology. Combining PHP with MySQL to create dynamic websites.

3. W3C PHP Tutorial
A tutorial website run as part of W3C schools, contains complete references of functions to learn and practise.

4. PHP5 in easy steps - Mike McGrath
A step by step PHP 5 book, almost a "PHP for dummies" type of book.

Another online tutorial resource.

6. Tutorialized
Another online PHP tutorial resource.

7. Sitepoint PHP & MySQL Tutorial
Alongside the books, Sitepoint allow you to further your skills with online tutorials.

8. Killerphp
Another online tutorial website, this one includes video tutorials.

9. PHP Cookbook - OReilly
A book with quick PHP solutions.

10. Tizag
A beginners PHP learning resource.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

SMLP Skill Learning

In the current Interactive Media industry there are a number of skills required to land yourself a job. Amongst the usual skills of XHTML (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Stylesheets), is the developing language PHP.

“According to Odesk, demand for PHP programmers is nearly double that for the next most popular skillset. Indeed, PHP accounts for nearly 20 per cent of all IT jobs posted by businesses.“ - source: IT Examiner

PHP is being requested more and more in jobs roles and is therefore becoming almost a required skill (usually being teamed up with SQL). Due to the increase in job advertisements stating PHP as a required skill, this is the area in which I would like to expand my knowledge most. Learning this skill will enable me a better chance of getting myself a job once I finish the course.

Due to the high demand for PHP, a person who is trained with this programming skill is more likely to get a job faster than a developer/programmer who doesn’t. Therefore, this is a skill I would like to be able to include on my CV as a skill that I have and know.

My previous knowledge of PHP is almost none. In the past I have copied and pasted open source PHP code into my work, adjusting it to suit my needs, but have never written any from scratch. During the course so far, I have discovered a like for coding over designing and learning PHP would aid me to delve more into the coding side of building websites.

Due to the many advantages of learning PHP, I have decided that this is the skill that I would like to learn about in my SMLP (Self Managed Learning Plan).

[Word Count: 290]