Harrisville Fire District

Introduction

Harrisville Fire District is located in the heart of the Town of Burrillville, encompassing the historic villages of Harrisville and Glendale. The website is very informational but the design and layout is a little confusing.

Form and Function

The author has done a good job in explaining what the website is about in the index page. The title “Harrisville Fire District” is almost impossible to miss. However, I have to admit that the animated fire engine (with the sound) across the screen is very irritating. Every time I returned back to the homepage, the animation started all over again . I also realised that the the website does not seem to work on my firefox browser.

The left menu is straight forward and easy to understand but the text links in the footer is too long. The author could have just use “Water Department” instead of “Return to Harrisville Water Department Home Page”. The author might also want to consider adding a section on “user privacy” or “terms of use” to make the website more official.

Alot of images in the website could have been replaced by text links which is good for SEO. For example, the header title and the top navigation menu. It is also a good practice to add alt tags for all the images used in the site.

It seems that the department pages are maintained by different parties. I feel that more coordination is needed as the look and feel of each department pages is so different from the home site (The first image on the right shows the fire department landing page). From the web design point of view, this is not healthy as it is confusing for the user. In fact, I prefer the clean home page design as compared to the department design.

The website contains incredible amount of information for the local community. The fire department especially, is just like a website on its own. It talks about the department’s history, equipment, stations, membership, recruitment …etc. I hope that the water department pages can be as informational.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Harrisvilleri.org is a website with good content. The homepage design is fine to me except for the animated fire engine across the screen. The author might consider having more consistent menu and design across all the pages in the website. Lastly, firefox should be supported as more people are using it as their main browser.

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Educational High School Mathematics Website

Introduction

Math10.com is an online mathematics education portal. The site itself provides many math lessons, formulas, theory and even a forum for people to ask questions. The website focuses on high school mathematics, targeting at internet users ranging from 12 to 20 years old.

Form

The website as a whole looks very technical. I am more of a graphic design person and is very tempted to ask the author to work more on the colors and inject more graphics. However, having said that, I also realised that the website’s focus should be on the content. It is possible to get dedicated visitors if the content is unique and interesting. I feel that the author has done a good job in providing interesting content for high school maths students.

Like I mentioned before, the aesthetics of the website is probably irrelevant here and I do not want to dwell into it.

The menu list is long and could be confusing. This could pose a problem if the author wants to add more topics in the near future. To solve the problem, I would suggest to use javascript or collapsible menus. Other than reading the title header, there is no way I know which topic I am in after clicking on the links in the menu. It might therefore be a good idea to highlight the topic after the user click on it.

The menu and some web pages have links to the forum but clicking on the links will take the users directly to the forum. I strongly feel that the use of pop up windows will justify here because I want the users to visit the forum but I do not want them to leave my main site. I would also prefer the forum to be fully English. There is only one forum and the language should be internationally friendly, ie English.

Function

Web pages that contain mathematical theory probably need no changes over a long period of time. So, the greatest challenge for math10 is probably to sustain its visitors by providing updated maths questions and tutorials. Instead of having the questions together with the theory page, It might be a good idea to have another section to focus on questions for certain topics. For example, under “quadratic equation”, the author might provide a link to more quadratic questions in another section of the website.

After browsing through the web pages, I spotted serious language problems in the whole website. The homepage itself already contains errors. It could be typos and I might be wrong about the author’s language ability. An example is the introduction text:

” In the furture for every theme there will be many interesting tasks with decidions. ”

I would love to see more text, descriptions and examples under each chapters. The introduction of each chapter is too brief for me. The short test is a good way to gauge the student’s understanding of the different topics and I would recommend the author to add more self evaluation tests.

Conclusion

Overall, I would love to see more topics, questions, tests, and a more organised menu. The website does not look appealing, so the author must work very hard on the content. Driving traffic to the website is probably the biggest challenge. The author needs to find ways to get traffic for math10.com by liasing with educational institutes or other educational websites.

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Acrylic Painting – Planet

Acrylic paint is a great medium because it is easy to mix, sovaldi sale quick drying and washes off! I started painting with acrylics a few years ago and sold some paintings in cafes. My preferred technique is to use fine brushes and toothpicks for tiny detail.

Getting started

I bought a canvas (available from art stores), acrylic paints in blue, magenta, red, white, yellow and black, a packet of fine brushes, kebab sticks and some toothpicks. During all my paintings I have used a plastic palette with concave areas, a water mug and newspaper for underneath the painting area.

I painted the canvas with white acrylic paint (including the sides) and let it dry. I repeated this twice. Painting the background with white means the colours are more vibrant and also provides a better texture than the original canvas grain.

Then I drew on with a pencil a rough design of what I wanted to paint (in this case, the circle for the planet, the continents and the checkerboard area). I find this helps to keep shapes in position and proportion while painting.

Painting

Using a large brush, I started by painting the large areas of colour (like oceans, black background, grey/white of moon and green land patches). I also painted the sides of the canvas in black. While the colour was still drying, I added some dabs of yellow and white for the oceans and land with a medium size brush.

After the first layer had dried, I repainted the black background and canvas sides and also the oceans, land etc. I also re-dabbed with the yellow and white (this allowed me to work out what looked best and rectify it on the second layer). I also painted the checkerboard pattern, making sure to paint another coat of white over the background canvas (to keep the layers even). Although acrylic paint doesn’t build up much thickness, I still find that a few levels above the background canvas can meet unevenly with it.

After the second layer dried, I did a third layer where I went over all areas completed so far with a light coating of the same colour. While this layer was still wet, I used a fine brush to detail the yellow beach areas, blue rivers, red teardrop with eye and whirligig thing. Some of the elements of this painting were influenced by my favourite two artists, Wassily Kandinsky and Miro.

When the third layer had dried, I repainted over the yellow beaches etc from the second layer to bring out the vibrant colour.

Fine Detail

For the fourth layer, I used toothpicks to dab paint on small objects, such as the yachts, hearts, trees, flowers, birds, mushrooms and sheep. I was after an effect of busyness that would make people want to look closely at the painting.

The fifth layer consisted of touching up the white yacht sails etc, but I also used the end of a kebab stick to paint the moon craters. I dipped the kebab stick in black paint, blotted it a few times on newspaper until it showed a crescent shape, then applied it to the moon.

Finishing

To finish, I let the painting dry and applied a clear gloss varnish of two coats (drying 24 hours in between each). I usually find either nail varnish or spray varnish is quite effective.

I found a very cheap picture framer and got a wooden knot frame put on the canvas. There was no need for glass, due to the gloss varnish and I am pleased to say, that after many years of being exposed to cigarette smoke in crowded rooms, the colours in my paintings still look good!

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Aircraft For Sale

Introduction

AFORS, viagra The Aircraft For Sale website provides aviation enthusiasts classified advertising on the internet. Though the service that the author provide is interesting and unique, store the website itself needs a big re-structuring.

Form and Function

The author has done a good job in describing what the website is about in the index page. The website looked normal to me at first but there were serious problems when I started clicking on the links.

The menu items on the left need to stand out more. The mouse-over effects could have been better. I would suggest a stronger mouse-over contrast with reversal of white and blue colors. Some menu items are too long. For example “Create and Maintain Ads(log on)”. The few links further down the menu actually point to other websites and I would suggest the author to group it under “other links”. In addition to the four drop down boxes for searching aircrafts, the author might also want to create special categories based on the searches. For example, “Featured Aircrafts” and so on. The menu is important because it tells the user the amount of information the website provides. Too few menu items might make the site looks boring but too many menu items might confuse the user.

Afors.com is designed using frames with many links actually pointing to cfors.co.uk (probably another site of the author). The outgoing urls are very long and not search engine friendly. An example of the url is:

cfors.co.uk/afors/index.php?page=view&adid=3170& si=43f9bfe931d75& PHPSESSID=fb155b8434d005239ca3279aaeb8b470& PHPSESSID=fb155..

There are obvious problems with the php coding and the author might want to fix that asap. Instead of designing the website using frames and grabbing data from cfors.co.uk, I would suggest the author to just focus on one site and redirect traffic from the other site to the main site.

The author might also want to look into the layout of ads in his website. The banners have to be consistent and I would suggest the border of the banners to be 0. The adsense actually blocks some of the text in some pages (See the right illustration). Placing ads in the wrong positions or having ads that obstruct the content can kill a site easily.

Conclusion

I have to say that afors.com needs a big revamp and would suggest the author to get rid of using frames in his website. To make the website more user-friendly, the author needs to work alot harder in the menu design and ads placement. The author is obviously a programmer. He might want to work with a designer to spice up the colors and design of the website.

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Shooting Light at Night

Daytime is not the only time to use your camera. The next time you are feeling bored on a Satureday night, pick up the camera and hit the streets for a light show. Slow down the shutter speed for cool effects. Be it city streets, a commercial building or the setting sun at the beach, images near dusk or into the night make striking images on film. The deep blue azure of dusk always seems to bring out the strongest saturated colors on print film.

At night a host of different exposures can give a myriad of different and impressive results. Anything can happen, and that’s the beauty and excitement of shooting at night. Each shot is unique. The hour after sunset is usually the best time to shoot. City lights start to dot the landscape, yet enough light from the setting sun remains, enough to soften harsh contrast on subject matter. I use high speed film when I shoot at night, Fuji 400 to 800 ASA or Kodak 400 to 800 ASA. High-speed daylight color film intensifys warm city lights and deepens the deepest blues of the twilight sky.

When I shoot in low light, I travel light. I get by with a tri-pod, my wide angle lens, and cable release. Shooting at night is a whole new way to paint with light on film. I find my subject and open up the aperature and slow down the shutter speed. I usually shoot at 1/60 sec. or slower with aperature set to the largest f/stop allowed. Colors remain rich and adding a flash to the mix can bring out some unique results.

If you’re looking for exact or correct exposure of your subject, move in close enough to meter the lighted area of the subject. Avoid any stray light that may directly enter your lens. Stray light will throw off your reading. Often shooting at twi-light or into the night is educated guess work. I like to bracket my exposures. I leave the f/stop fixed and alter my shutter speed one stop on either side of the metered exposure. If I want to increase the effect I’ll extend the exposure by two shutter speed stops. If your shooting with slower film or have set your ASA/ISO reading to 200 to 125 on your digital, doubling your exposure time is suggested.

The photo of this office building was shot at 1/30 sec. at f2 using Kodak 400 ASA film. This shot was taken within 30 minutes of sunset.

About The Author

Bill Bales has been in and around photography for over 20 years. He attended Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois, where he received his bachelor of arts, and invaluable experience from working professionals in photography, film and television broadcasting. It was there that he honed his documentary/photojournalistic approach towards picture taking. Currently, he resides in Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL where he finds himself photographing events such as weddings, doing portraiture, as well as freelancing for various print publications. You can visit his web site and see his work at www.balesphotography.com or e-mail him at info@balesphotography.com

Maria Sharapova Website Review

Introduction

Mariaworld.net is a website dedicated to Maria Sharapova, a famous female tennis player from Russia. The website is probably created by one of her fans. The author stated clearly that the site is not related to Maria or her agents.

Form and Function

The website is very interesting and contains everything you want to know about Maria Sharapova. By browsing through the content, I felt that the author has done a great deal of research on the tennis superstar. The greatest challenge of a fan website site is to be updated regularly and mariaworld.net has certainly done a good job in keeping the readers informed about the latest happenings of Maria Sharapova. In the index page, there are images and latest updates of maria and I was expecting a link to the article page or “read more” link in each of the updates but could not find any. The author is probably updating the site manually and it could be tedious in time to come.

From my experience, a fan or idol website is not hard to design. The tip is to work hard on the visuals. A picture tells a thousand words and many people are more interested to look at pictures of their heros or idols. Webpages that contain long text descriptions are best accompanied by pictures as well. The website has alot of images of the tennis player in different competitions but the articles of Maria Sharapova contain purely text (image 1). The author might want to add some pictures to the articles as well.

Though the site is very informational, I thought that the information could have been better organised. For example in the photo gallery, the long list of competitions could have been broken down into smaller sections with thumbnails (image 2). Navigating each gallery with the right menu can be confusing as well (image 3). It might be a better idea to provide a navigation path near the header or footer. I also realised that every thumbnail in the galleries appeared to be squashed.

I would like to propose a change in the ordering of the top menu. To me, updates are important and should be placed with higher importance. The author might also consider implementing a sub-menu system. For example, if there are submenus for “results”, the users can choose between “singles”, “doubles”, or “exhibition” straight away.

The layout of the pages should be consistent. I discovered that some pages have adwords on the header while some don’t. Some pages have centralised content while some are left aligned (image 4). These problems could be solved easily by implementing a templating system.

Conclusion

In conclusion, mariaworld.net is a one-stop website that contains all the information you want to know about Maria Sharapova. The website contains a huge library of images and statistics of all the matches that Maria played over the years. I hope that the site could be much more organized and probably database driven(to save the author’s maintenance time) in time to come. As a tennis addict myself, I would like to give credit to the author of the website for being so dedicated and consistent in updating the site.

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Marvellous Menu Bars

Adding customised design to web menu bars can really improve the appearance of your website and the clients love it. Even a simple line drawing in a pastel coloured menu can add effectiveness and individuality to the viewers first impression of your website.

The menu I am about to show you was created in 2005 for The Knitters Choice website and the website itself is still a work in progress, for sale though the client absolutely adored the menu bar.

I needed to design a menu that was simple, unique to the business, fast loading and colourful. I began by creating a 170 pixel wide basic table in Adobe GoLive CS, with the individual links in coloured cells. I then used the GoLive CSS Editor to make the settings for the rollovers:

a: link (shows the style you want to display for the link)
a: visited (shows what happens when the link has been viewed)
a: active (shows what happens just after the mouse has clicked on the link)
a: hover (this is the rollover state, and the one I changed the most)

I used the same properties for each one and then modified the hover function to turn yellow and display the text in capitals. This meant that when a visitor put the mouse over the link it turned yellow and in caps. I would recommend making the menu bar using CSS to keep loading times faster (much faster than using rollover images) and also because one adjustment to the CSS editor means you can change everything on the page.

The highest computer resolution I try to fit in with when designing for the web 1024 x 768 pixels, so this meant the menu was at least 768 pixels high (including the logo up the top) but the part of the menu most commonly viewed would be at the lowest screen resolution (600 pixels). For the excess part which wouldn’t be seen at 800 x 600 resolution, I just had a colour or simple graphic that was not important and didn’t matter if it was chopped off at the bottom.

Since the viewer landed on the “Home” page when they first entered the site, I felt that I would separate the “Home” link so that the viewer could immediately go somewhere else if they desired. I moved the “Home” link to the top of the menu as it is a universal link that the viewer would want in an easy-to-find position.

Next, I looked through the multitude of photos included with the original material and decided to include a photo of the client’s child (the couple often remarked how sweet their little girl looked in the knitted jumper they made). I decided to make this into a mini-ad, since there was no catchline, tagline or subheading with the logo, so I added the words “be inspired” on it and placed a brief caption with the type of wool used (available from The Knitters Choice store) underneath.

One of the photos had a great picture of shelves of coloured wool, which didn’t seem to fit well anywhere in the rest of the website, so I cropped it and placed it under the menu to add more colour to the whole thing. Then, to fill in the last bit of space, I created another mini-ad with a bit of a joke “Come in and have a good yarn”!

All images were saved as medium resolution jpgs, using the “Save for web” function in Photoshop (this makes the file size smaller and therefore faster loading).

The sky is certainly the limit when it comes to designing interesting menus. Your websites will appear much more customised and personalised, as well as being a step above the common menu content that is freely available for beginners on the internet.

PS – Don’t forget to upload your CSS style sheet to the cgi-bin or Generated Items folder of your website for it to work!

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Art Like Nature, Lives On

Introduction

This is the website of Cannie Foss, troche a talented sculptor living in Arizona. She works in bronze, diagnosis wood, clay, and welded steel and her models include everything from horses, giraffes, lions and bulls to dogs and cats. Though her talent can be seen everywhere in the website, the aesthetics of the website can definitely be improved.

Form

My eyes was drawn to the four images of the animals when I first entered the index page. The images and text in the index page are effective in telling the visitors what the whole site is about. On further examining, I realised the author needed to change a few things to make the index page more aesthetically presentable. Firstly, the feather effect on the images could have been done better. There is an obvious black line at the edge of the dog. Secondly, the body alignment could be more centered. The page looks funny on my 1024 x 768. Lastly, I feel that the header, especially the logo, takes up too much space. I think the website should be designed to give as much space as possible to the content because the content is the selling point of the whole website.

The navigation is extremely simple. The left menu needs no explaination but I am not sure about the fading effect when clicking on the links in the menu. The effect delays the surfing speed and I cannot see how it fits into the theme of the website(just me). The images used in the site can definitely be enhanced. I also think that the image size should be consistent. For example, if the author decides to use 200 x 150 pix, then all the images in the site should be based on that template. One thing that is worth mentioning is that the author takes time to make every page abit more unique by changing the header graphics. The graphics are not heavy and they make the surfing experience more memorable.

Function

I reckon that alot of work could be done on the way the contents are being displayed. The tables should have a fix width for the text and the images. Things appear to fly all over the place if the layout is not consistent. I also think that more information on the sculptures could be helpful. For example, if I am browsing the “homefront” category, I will see the sculpture of a dog named “Cordelia” and the description of it is just “Lost Wax Bronze 14.5 x 12 x 16 H”. The author might consider having a thumbnail page which leads to the description page where more information could be given when any of the sculpture is clicked. Most of the texts are center-aligned. I guess they would look better if left-aligned.

Conclusion

Foss has amazing art sculptures to showcase in her website. Unfortunately, the elegance of her artwork is not fully revealed because of the website design. Alot of work could be done on the consistency of the layout, text alignment, image size and effects.

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Mountaineering Website Review

Introduction

mountain-guide-adventure.com is a website created by Sebastien Laurent to share with others, healing his passion for the mountains and all things vertical. My first impression of the home page was OK but the use of French and English on the same pages can be confusing especially for people like me, who do not know french.

Form

Sebastien tried to create an interesting site packed with information about mountain climbing and I think he has done a good job. The problem for me is that combining French and English together in the same page is always confusing. It might be better if he could provide an option for the user to browser the site either in English or French in the index page without showing too much information. The colors blend in well but I am not too sure about the layout.The logo on the top left hand corner looks blurry to me. The rest of the graphics look OK but I thought they could be brighter so that they stand out more. Overall, I would say that it is hard to find my way around the website though its visual appeal is alright.

The website starts with a standard header but does not end with a standard footer. I realised that different pages end differently. Most of the time, it ends with links similiar to those in the sub-menu. I also think the author needs to talk more about himself, his passion, inspiration and so on… Passion can be contagious. If someone is really passionate about something, people will know it and can be influenced by it easily.

The right column is pretty static and I am not sure if it is worthwhile having an extra column that does not really serve any special purpose as most the links in that column could have been incorporated in the left hand menu/sub-menu.

Function

The navigation was confusing and I could never tell when I was in the site. The top navigation path is non-clickable and does not tell the user where they are. Perhaps a sitemap really helps in this situation. Again, I could not find any indication of the existence of a sitemap. The sub-menu consists of French as well. Unless the site is only for French audiences, no one will know what “Aiguilles Rouges de Chamonix” is.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the author had put in alot of effort in creating the site. The site could have been more user friendly if the navigation and English/French problem as stated earlier are resolved. A good way to test the usability of the site is to ask people who are never involved in mountain climbing to surf the site. The website can be considered well-designed if these people have no problem while navigating the site.

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