Web Basics: Design, Development and Management (TT280)
Two set books provided by the OU, Designing Websites by Joel Sklar and HTML Second Edition by Reding/Vodnik. Both books are very visually with lots of pictures to guide you through the practical element of the course. The rest of the course material, course guide, study guides, CMAs, ECA and tutorial support is all provided online.
To do this course you don't even have to know any HTML, although it would probably help because it moves at a very fast pace. It soon whizzes you through creating a first HTML page to formatting text, inserting graphics, using forms and tables and generally controlling the layout. As well as looking at the practical side of actually creating web pages you are also introduced to validation, accessibility, usability and cross-platform issues in relation to web designing. After all what's the point of designing a website which only works the way you want it to for some people. Admittedly the majority of surfers are Internet Explorer users but there is still a sizeable audience for other browsers such as Mozilla, Opera and Netscape as well as older version of Internet Explorer and Netscape. Validation and Accessibility are not that hard to comply with and Accessibility is important, again why exclude visitors to your site because you can't be bothered with a few 'alt' tags (not quite as simple as that but not that difficult either).
Designing websites that are easily maintained has got to a good thing, Cascade Style sheets are great, they make life so much easier. You can change your mind about a colour, font, style and just change it once, and as if by magic it changes in all those other pages that uses the same style sheet. If you use a HTML editor that also has the facility to create a template which will update all pages based on your template - then learn how to use it - boy does that make life more fun when you change your mind about a graphic, placement etc again you change it one place and hey presto all those other pages change as well.
Although the course seems to move at a fairly brisk pace I really enjoyed it, I learnt loads of new stuff about web designing and making life easier for yourself! I felt the report was a lot of work for 10 points but hey ho any report is a lot of work for me because I'm not that into long written pieces, give me the more practical stuff any day.
No TMAs for this course, just 3 CMAs followed by an ECA. The ECA consisted of designing four template web pages and a 2,500 word report about the various issues that affect web design advising the fictitous company of how best to deal with these issues. The four template pages were a Home page, a Product Page, a History page and a User's Survey page.
Some advice if you do this course (and probably any of the other short TT courses, don't spend too long creating your template web pages, spending hours tweaking the design won't gain many marks, the majority of the marks will be for the report. Start doing your report as early as possible so by the end of the course material you have a draft report which you can then spend time perfecting!! I of course did not have the advantage of these wonderful words of wisdom before I did the course or rather if I did I ignored them ;o))
Contents from my submitted report.
Designing to the lowest common denominator
Internet connection speeds
Navigation, Usability and Accessibility
Site structure and Mission Statement
Publishing, search engines and Maintenance
Conclusion and recommendations
Appendix A - Site diagram
Introduction from my submitted report.
When designing and implementing a commercial website there are many factors to be taken into consideration. It is not always advisable to use the most up to date ideas and software as this can limit your audience. Accessibility for the widest possible audience including, the visually impaired, should be one of the design aim. As should producing an interesting and attractive website using a structure that enables visitors to find the information they require as quickly and simply as possible. A site also needs to be hosted, marketed and kept up to date. This report looks at these issues and some recommendations on the best way to deal with them.
Sklar Joel, ‘Designing Web Sites, Thomson Learning, 2001
Sarah Fullard - Tutor.
Brynmor Harries- Student.
Hilma Miles - Student.
John McGuinn - Student.
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