Writer, Christian, SEO/Social Media Marketer, Book Reviewer, Deaf and Loud.

Monthly Archives: October 2012

Kimberly-Erskine-Simple-Wireframe

 

 

I apologize ahead of time for the fact that I’m a terrible artist. My main goal in my wireframe is to create a simple website that combines both recent technology (social media) with “old school” technology with a book in the center. I really loved Carin Berger’s website that we looked at in class because it was simple, yet effective and I felt that it had a modern approach to old school technology such as postal services/hand-written letters.

I have been toying around with the idea of having the book as the center point of my website. I thought I could have it somewhat opened and feature links to other parts of my website on the pages. For example, one page could link to my resume, another to my personal statement, and so forth. My name will be posted on the book and hyper-linked to take users directly to my personal statement. My personal statement will then serve as the “first page” of my book, or in this case, website.

I want to try to keep the sides of my website simple so that it doesn’t become too cluttered. I’ll put my self portrait in the top left corner with maybe a short 2-3 sentence biography. I’ll keep the picture to about 200×200 size so that it doesn’t seem too overpowering. Underneath that I plan on creating a box full of my social media sites, with just the buttons for each one.

On the upper right corner I’ll post a small search bar so that users can navigate my website more easily and find something specific if need be. Underneath that I’d like to feature a scroll of my latest WordPress blog postings. I think this could help draw more people to my blog and encourage interactions as well. Underneath that will be a similar box, only featuring my recent tweets to once again encourage users to follow me on Twitter and further engage with my material. My footer will of course include the year and CSS/XHTML validation links.

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Brand Name: Kimberly Erskine

Overview: My personality can be described as hard-working, but at the same time laid back and fun. I want my website to be fun for users but also show that I work hard and know what I’m doing in regards to my chosen fields. I don’t want to come off as being too amateur. I also want my visitors to think of me as being creative and innovative, ready to learn more about the latest forms of technology/social media. I want to show that I am punctual and always on top of things.

Personality image:

Kimberly-Erskine-Self-Portrait

Since I am my own brand, I am also my brand’s personality. It only makes sense for my personality image to be of myself.

 

Brand traits: The traits that I want my website to portray are: 1. Fun 2. Creative 3. Innovative 4. Punctual 5. Laid-back. I want to avoid looking amateur but at the same time I don’t want my website to look or sound too mechanical. I want people to be able to see my content and say “Yes, I relate to this.” I want people to be easily able to connect with my website.

Personality map: I want my website to be extremely friendly so that users will be comfortable with the material presented on it. I don’t want them to feel overwhelmed or scared by the content/topics discussed on the website. I want to build connections and have information that people can relate to. I want to interact with my users and to make them a part of my website.

Voice: I want the overall voice for my website to be casual, yet professional. I want it to reflect the fun atmosphere that I’m striving to create.

Copy Examples: Success Message: “FTW! Your list has completed loading.” Error Message: “Epic Fail! Something went wrong, please try again.” Critical Failure: Oh no! We messed up! Please bear with us as we work on getting back up and running!”

Visual Lexicon: Color: I want my colors to be similar to that of most social networking sites. Nothing too bright or crazy, lots of blue maybe with a bit of red mixed in. Typography: Once again, I want the typographically to reflect that of a social networking site. It sounds as if a majority of them use simple fonts like tahoma, arial, verdana, and luicida grande. I could also look into possibly creating my font if at all possible as a lot of the logos feature custom made fonts. I want to keep it relatively simple, though. General style notes: Simplicity is key. I want it to look very clean, fresh, and organized in addition to looking positive and welcoming.

Engagement Methods: I think the key to my website’s design will be user engagement. I want users to feel like they can interact with me. I will encourage engagement by encouraging users to comment on my blog, maybe have a Q+A page, and showing lots of contact options. I also want to post content that can apply to a wide ranger of users in various settings so that it is highly inclusive.


The assignment to create a user persona based on the type of people I hope to attract to my website came rather easy for me. I have been interacting with many different people over Twitter since the summer and studied their habits and have begun to connect and create a little bit of a following that has allowed me to understand what kind of person I’d like to connect with and what these kinds of people have in common. Here is my basic user persona information:

Current job: Most of the people that visit my web site will be social media managers, bloggers, and maybe a handful of creative writers, free lance writers, and journalists, but focused exclusively on social media and blogging. Many of them will still be learning the basics of social media, SEO, and blogging and looking to connect with others to share tips.

Biographical sketch: The average user is a woman between the ages of 25-30 with a degree in marketing, publication relations, business, or communications. A few may have degrees in English or creative writing as well. Most of them have their bachelor’s degrees but a few have master’s and others are completely self-taught. They have worked for advertising and public relations firms in the past and may have done a bit of freelance work for a variety of businesses. Their hobbies and  interests include writing, social media, blogging, research, technology, and reading.

Comfort level with technology: Most of them are at a beginning level and looking for convenience. They want to produce quality content, but they want to do it quickly and efficiently. Most of them are unfamiliar with XHTML, CSS, and coding. Others may use software such as Dreamweaver to help. Almost all of them have their own blog on WordPress or have tried to make a WordPress centered website. They are all also very active on various social media sites, especially Twitter. They are also good with SEO and constantly trying to learn more in order to gain more hits for their websites and blogs. They are also constantly studying latest trends in social media, blogs, and apps. They are interested in Google apps, iPhone/iPad apps, and cloud applications as well.

 

How will they find my site: Most of these users will find my website by interacting with me on Twitter and other social media websites. Some may also find it through my blog. I think a majority of people will access it through links on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Their goal for using your site: Users will primarily use my website to connect with me and share ideas and tips on how to use social media for marketing/business, how to write more effective blogs, and maybe some creative writing advice as well.

 

 

This is my basic outline for who I think my ideal user for my website is. Of course I will be able to get a greater feel and sense of who my audience is once my final website design is complete, but I think this is a good start for now. Social media is beginning to play a very large role in who I am as a writer and I want my website to reflect on that and to attract an audience who is just as passionate about it as I am.

 

social-media-in-user-persona

Image Credits: Digital Inspiration 


amanda-todd-smiles-bw

Image Credits: Hype-Alert Media

Unless you’ve been living your life under a rock for the past two weeks, you’ve probably at least heard the name Amanda Todd mentioned once or twice. Amanda Todd was a teenage girl who after years of being bullied, made the decision to end her life.

Before committing suicide, Amanda Todd made a YouTube video documenting her life as a bullied teenager struggling to cope with depression, anxiety, and drug and alcohol addictions caused by her depression and anxiety. Her video has a dismal mood to it as she chose to shoot it entirely in black and white with a series of messages written on cue cards. These messages explain how she was lured into flashing a man on webcam who praised and complimented her based on her appearance  Much to Amanda’s horror, her topless picture ended up going viral, making her the subject of many jokes and severe bullying. You can view the video below:

Video Credits: ChiaVideos

Sadly, the video ended with images of an individual bleeding after cutting. This could have been a premonition of Amanda’s fate, as she successfully committed suicide a week after releasing the video.

When news of Amanda’s suicide hit the web, many were quick to show their sympathy by tweeting “#RIPAmanda and creating Facebook pages. Others worried that these pages and the strong support shown via social media only glorified suicide. These individuals claimed that people were committing suicide because  they liked the attention shown to these individuals after their death.

From my own personal experience in studying suicide and having a close friend of mine who committed suicide in 2003 before many social media sites were created, I can say that social media might add to the problem of suicide, but it is not the problem itself. Suicide is a major problem facing teens and young adults today. These people have many issues triggering their suicide. Yes, with social media websites bullying becomes much easier — but it still exists outside of social media. Amanda Todd was bullied via social media…she was punched and beaten to the ground on school grounds though. She felt a range of emotions such as depression and anxiety that lead her to problems with drugs, alcohol, and self harm. She turned to social media for support, which she did not get. She was sick and in need of help. Her video was her final call for help, only by that point it was too late.

Don’t get me wrong…it’s nice to see communities of people stepping up and showing support for Amanda Todd now. She should have pages honoring her life, but let’s not lose focus. When it comes down to it, Amanda Todd is dead and she shouldn’t be. No one is supposed to end their life. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work. Instead of focusing on creating pages honoring individuals who have committed suicide, let’s really challenge the power of social media and use it for a greater good. We should invest our time and effort into showing support for suicide prevention groups like To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), Love is Louder, or The Yellow Ribbon Organization. Instead of getting people to “like” fan pages, lets get people to donate to charities to find a cure for depression, anxiety, self-harm and other things that may lead to suicide. Instead of glorifying suicide and praising, let’s end it. End suicide, not lives.

Amanda-Todd-Cries-For-Help

Image Credits: The Huffington Post Canada 

Shatter-Suicide-Silence-Save-Lives

 

Image Credits: Jaime Loeza


learning-to-validate-html-and-css

Image Credits: Stephanie Taylor

I definitely learned a lot from the responsive resume/personal statement website project. Going into this project I had very limited knowledge of the workings of html and css. CSS scared me. I knew a little bit of what html was, but never really knew anything about css or how they were connected. Html seemed easier for me to understand. I think it’s still that way to me, but CSS doesn’t scare me half as bad anymore.

I changed the colors of my website half a dozen times during this project. I was trying to use the psychology of colors. My first choice was a bright shade of purple because purple is often thought of as being a color that represents success and being that this is a portfolio website/resume assignment, I wanted to give people the impression that I was successful. However, my original shade was blindingly bright and very difficult to read. I continued to study up on color psychology as well as observe other successful websites as well as my classmates and realized that blue would be the better option. Blue represents calm, peacefulness. It is also easy to build upon — many shades of blue are easy to read.

 

Earlier on in this project I think I focused way too much on the colors/design and not enough on the code itself. I did this because colors offered a sense of comfort to me — they seemed easy to pick out and play around with. Coding was challenging and made me nervous. I didn’t want to break anything and I didn’t understand how many parts of coding worked.

 

The more I coded the easier it became. When I read about coding in the textbooks it confused me. The textbooks were simple and easy to read, but coding just didn’t click with me until I did it for myself. I think coding is one of those things in life that I have to use my own trial-and-error experience to learn. I also learned a lot by taking apart my classmate’s websites. I constantly checked their pages to see how they were approaching the assignment. When I saw something that I liked I would view their html/css codes and try to apply it to my own website. When I did this I often found that their visions didn’t match what I wanted to do with my website, or that, while it looked good on their sites it didn’t cross over too well to mine. However, even when the codes didn’t look so great on my website, playing around with them definitely helped me learn how to code and what codes created what functions.

I feel much more confident about coding now than I did before. I am quite pleased with how my website looks at this given moment. However, there are definitely some things that I would still change if I had more time. For one, I don’t have my writing samples listed at the moment. This is a requirement for the second project, but still many people included it this time around. I saw some classmates add it directly to their resumes which I found interesting. I kind of envision having a whole separate html file/page just for them. I have a lot of writing samples and if I give them their own page I think it will help to keep it neater.

If I had more time I might also have made my personal statement it’s own page instead of just placing it on the home page. I’m not sure about that though. I do kind of like it on the front page as I feel it helps to set the tone of the website as a whole. This is a decision I’ve been pretty torn over. I think I should look at some more examples to figure out where to go with that. If I had more time I think I would have also done a bit more with margins/padding/borders or perhaps division boxes to make my page stand out a bit more. Padding and margins originally scared me and gave me much anxiety, but once I began learning where/how they are used on a page I started to understand them more and my anxiety went down. I struggled a little with the boxes and figuring out how to use them in a way that made elements pop out without the website feeling too crowded. I still feel like there are more creative ways to use the division boxes that I just didn’t have the time to discover yet, though.

Overall this has been quite the learning experience and an incredible intro into the world of web design. I can’t wait to learn more and see how my website evolves as the semester goes on.


Final-Index-Html-Screenshot

Screenshot of final index html codes

 

Screenshot-For-Final-Resume-Html

Final screenshot of resume html codes

 

Screenshot-For-Final-Resume-Html

 

Final css stylesheet screen shot

 

 

As a senior Writing Arts major at Rowan University, I have grown used to having my ideas of what constitutes or defines writing challenged. By this point, I can certainly say that writing is a lot more than just words on paper. However, I still never really thought about writing in the form of codes until the responsive resume/personal statement in XHTML and CSS. I’ve always been interested in coding/html and thought of it as a fun hobby, but to me web design was for well, web designers, not writers. 

However, to be a writer you have to do more than just write these days. This is a point I made in my personal statement and strive to live by. If you want to be a successful writer, you need to learn how to do it all. Companies would rather hire a writer that can code then have to hire a writer and a web designer. By learning to code your own website in addition to writing your own web content, you will be able to stand out from other applications. 

Writing for the web and writing in code is a lot of fun, but certainly challenging. In other forms of writing such as creative writing, you have to pay close attention to details. Details tell the reader everything about characters, what they should think, feel, and how they should react to the written text. This is no different in the world of coding. While it is advisable to stay simple especially on a beginning level, details are still everything. They can make the difference between having a website that is in compliance with XHTML/CSS guidelines and one that is not. They can also tell the user what to think, feel, and how to react. For a portfolio website like the one I have just created, you want to make sure your details tell potential employers that you are experienced, professional, successful, and responsible. In order to do this having a page that looks clean, is easy to read, and has neutral, positive colors (blue is an example of this as it often envokes feelings of calamity and peacefulness). Websites that look sloppy and have dark, dismal colors (or ones that are too bright) may give off the wrong impression that a potential employee is clumsy, careless, or too negative. 

I’ve always considered myself to be a writer of many genres and I am excited about adding web design coding to the long list of genres that I can specialize in. I believe I have made good progress with expanding my knowledge of XHTML and CSS through this project and I look forward to advancing my skills throughout the rest of the semester. 

Front-Page-Of-Final-Website

Final version of website’s main page

 

Final-Resume-Page-Of-Website

Final version of website’s resume page

 


css-margin-border-padding-box

Image Credits: TemplateMonster.com

When it comes to web design/coding there is one thing I constantly find myself dreading, procrastinating against, and otherwise fearing: setting my margins/padding.

Setting margins and padding in web design feels like algebra for me…a foreign concept that I have difficulty grasping. The more I try to understand, read my books, and learn about it, the more confused I become.

I have always been terrible at math and have never been able to understand measurements. I just can’t seem to visualize what 24px looks like around a box on a web page or what a 10px margin looks like.

My textbooks, Karl Stolley’s How to Design and Write Web Pages Today and Ethan Marcotte’s Responsive Web Design explain the concept of padding and margins pretty thoroughly and their light-hearted tone makes reading the text easy, but I still can’t grasp the concepts when I read about them in print. Padding and margins are elements of web design that I need to learn by hands-on trial-and-error experience. In order to understand what 10px or 24px looks like I need to see it in action.

With the padding Tryit Editor on W3Schools I can do just that. I just put in some numbers for the px and it will show me what it looks like as opposed to other settings or no settings at all. I can see this tool as being very helpful to me as I design my website. I think that padding and margins is something I will always struggle with due to math being such a weakness for me, but I think the more I work with web design/coding the better I will be.

Screen shot of the tryit editor for padding offered by w3schools



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