Experience a pleasant Cruise

Introduction

ITrue Cruise caters to provide information about ship cruise and ship details. The website further provides industry news, advice cruise tips, packing lists and general information about things to keep in mind while preparing for a cruise. Target audience of the site are people browsing to find information on cruise.

Form

My first impression of truecruise.com was pleasant and the website says something about ships and cruise. Home Page looks professional and in terms of design, the site has a pleasant blend of blue.

Layout of the Home Page is rather long and in some cases visitors may get distracted with many advertisements and lose focus as to what the website is about. Usually people say, “you only have few seconds to impress your visitors before they go to other sites”. Keeping the above philosophy in mind, the website will aid its visitors better if advertisements were reduced or placed in certain sections rather then letting it scatter.

Function

The website is balanced in terms of functionalities. Poll result, random cruise tip and click on the picture for answer section makes the website interactive. Search feature on the site is dependent on other website and leads to different website all together.

Navigating the site is fairly straight forward. Links for main content are visible from all pages. Main links for “contact” and “news” could be added.

Conclusion

– shorten the length of Home Page
– currently there are Google Adsense on the left, right and bottom of the page. This would be better at a single location.
– banner advertisements could be reduced.
– contact button can be added as a main link instead of having contact on the about us page.
– information on “about us” page should be expanded.
– featured news on the Home Page can be reduced. Better to keep two of the latest on the Home Page and have additional links as news for all other news.

Overall the website is rich in content and with few changes the website will service its target audience with better a cruise. The philosophy is “keep it simple”.

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Prolify.Com: A Typical but Effective Corporate Website

Introduction

When it comes to corporate websites, for sale many find them dull and boring. But do you know that designing a corporate website is one of the toughest as the layout and contents are the ones that keeps a user continuing to browse the rest of the pages. Prolify does this pretty well with its clean and professional corporate site. Lets see how it works for a user.

Form

Prolify, patient a company that specializes on providing Dynamic Process Management solutions that enables the enterprise to achieve unprecedented levels of control, doctor efficiency and compliance – rapidly and cost effectively.

With their target audiences being other corporate companies and government, their website has to be clear and concise focusing on explaining how their solutions work. This requires careful planning of the navigation, CSS and overall layout.

Upon entering their site URL, Prolify loads up pretty fast due to its good optimization of graphics and clear-cut layout. A quick simple animation in flash introducing the companies features appeared almost immediately. The overall look and feel is very easy on the eyes. Prolify immediately tells the user “Look, I’m serious about this, we’re professional guys” which is a very good match to their company’s image.

The overall layout is simple yet attractive. This is one of those layout that never goes wrong. Logo on the top left, navigation, images, body text, side navigation. Almost everyone Is used to this kind of sites so there is no problem in finding out way in the website.

At different sections, the body is separated into 3 columns. The side navigation that shows other links within the section, the main body text with the bread crump at the top, followed by additional links or downloads that is relevant to the section. The website definite make good use of spaces and yet doesn’t look cluttered. With sufficient white spaces, the website looks clean without being over filled with contents.

Prolify’s website uses minimal graphics and focused a lot on contents. However, at every section, header image summarizes what the company can do in a short tagline with accompanying image. Graphics are done in a simple manner without much fancy stuffs, thus may not leave any deep impression in the users mind.

Function

A good thing about usability here is that there are links for user to print the page or email the page. Icons for downloadable files like PDF are easily recognizable by most people too. Rollover links also have hover CSS applied on it. Headers and contents text are separated very clearly for the user to read. Bread crump links showing which sections the user is in are also a good usability usage.

Conclusion

In overall, Prolify has successfully presented its corporate image to its target audience. With good use of CSS and site layout, users can easily surf Prolify’s website with ultimate ease. Probably only one problem that everyone will have is that the impression doesn’t last as much because it’s a corporate website. If you ask me say 1 day after I surf Prolify’s website, I’ll probably tell you I forgot how it looks except knowing its blue and white.

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More work is needed to live Gorgeously

Introduction

Creating a website for new amateurs is getting easier. With tools from www.doyourownsite.co.uk, one can easily create an account and start designing their website immediately and view immediately just like editting a word document. You do not need to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to get the job done and thats the attractive part of such websites. Gorgeous Living is just one of those site and we will analyse how well does it fair with such tools.

Form

I typed in the link and I loaded the website. Gorgeous living screams at you in handwritten font type to show personality against a maroon background. However, after my precious first 10 seconds was up, I still could not define what this site was so gorgeous about. It captions “come in and browse around our online department store…” and I saw pictures of people with links like “Gorgeous Guys” and “Gorgeous Kids”. Surely, they aren’t selling escort and adoption services are they? Only after a few minutes did I managed to find out their objectives and services. Other than the ‘boxy’ overall design, there was not much to look at in the first page.

To have everything women of a certain age could possibly want all in one place to shop from online without the sore feet from shopping.

The flower background was a nice touch to the site layout, but basically it added some form of flavor to the whole concept of the site because without it there was not much personality maybe a bit less feminine.

Now let us talk about personality and eye candy to the targeted audience. I admire the efforts of these women to open up such a site all by themselves but there isn’t much credibility if one uses a template helper or a step by step site creator such as www.doyourownsite.co.uk. By having said that, personal style is minimal and creativity is restricted. Nevertheless, admirable.

Too much headroom was allotted to the personal message and top header. By reducing the extra space, it allows the user to click on all 12 links available at first sight without scrolling to see the other half of the second set of 6 links below. There is not an initial visual contact point of interest when the user looks at the page. It is good though that they didn’t use “mystery meat”(you needed to rollover the interesting boxy pictures to see what they are) because they would have reduced the whole rating of the site further.

‘Gorgeous Living’ and its fonts seem to look like the whole logo and style of the site. It should not be used as a “sign-off” after the personal message given by Kathryn and Laura. It dulls the specialty of the font.

Function

One thing good about using tools from doyourownsite.co.uk is that they get to input good functionality features like contact form and tell a friend forms. As well as having a search function on the site. They do not need to know much about the codes portion and is able to present common features like this to users. This is a plus point to compliment on.

Conclusion

Overall needs much improvement if the intention is to draw women of that age group to continue browsing the site. They cannot know what to look for by just looking at links like “Just Gorgeous” and “Still Gorgeous”. The rest are self-explanatory.

More colors can be used to “add life” to the site, because now it looks pretty much faded and unappetizing to the eye. A search engine for recommended brands and services, it basically does the job but more can be done, time to make it look as “Gorgeous” as it should.

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Oso Health Care Website Review

Introduction

osohomecare.com is the website of Oso, and a company that provides high quality health care services. The mission statement stands out clearly in the home page. Together with an image of the front view of the building, find the home page is effective in telling the reader what the website is about.

Form

Osohomecare.com uses frames and tables. Web design has evolved alot over the years and I would categorized this site under the first generation. In fact, using frames is strongly discouraged in web design. Most professional websites adopt a frameless clean design with CSS layout.

I could not justify the use of flash in the menu. Firstly, it is bad for Search Engine Optimization. Secondly, it does not fit into the look and feel of the website. Flash can be evil when used inappropriately. The one level navigation system is effective though but the design and mouse over effect can definitely be improved. The repeated background pattern does not look cool. I would advise the author to take it out. Making a website clean will enable its content to stand out.

Also, an important area that the author might consider re-doing immediately is the quality of the logo. The logo of a company is too important to ignore.

Function

Though the design of the website is simple, I would expect to have more information about their services, ie more content. Under nursing for example, it would be great if the author could break down the service into several paragraphs with more pictures. The images could be optimized better. Removing the edges of the image always make the image look more professional.

There is no footer in the entire website. It is good to put quick links in the footer to several important pages of the website.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the home page content is effective but the overall content and design of Osohomecare.com can be improved. The author might consider redesigning the entire website without frames and flash. Webaward.org has a good list of health care websites and is worth looking for ideas.

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Tips And Tricks For Your First Fashion Photo Shoot

Although fashion shoots look complicated when the photos are finally finished. The actual shoot may be very simple. Sometimes usuing one light and one model can have amazing outcomes. Little usually goes a long way when shooting fashion.

When planning a fashion shoot there are a few elements that can help you get great shots instead of good ones.

I always suggest setting up a studio atmosphere. If you can work in a studio it’s always best but if not then a front room or dining area cleared out will do just fine. Using things such as bed sheets or fabric for back drops is great for a first time shoot.

Having a friend or relative pose for you is great for setting up, pharm but it’s easier for you to learn as a photographer if you are working with a model who knows how to move without to much direction from you.

If you do not have any connections for makeup or hair, ampoule you can always inquire to local beauty schools. Many students are willing to work for free to gain experience and make connections within the industry. I usually make my connections over the web. I like to use www.onemodelplace.com. Here you can view models past photos as well as get a feel for their experience and personality. I exchange websites and let them call me if they are interested in working with me.

When starting out I recommend that you offer a TFP situation. TFP means time for prints. Some models and artists work TFCD which means time for photos on a cd so they can print them out themselves. While it is cheaper to offer the photos on a cd rather than you printing them, viagra once you release the photos to them on CD you are giving permission for your images to be reproduced at the models or artists discression.

I usually only do time for prints ( 3 prints per model). This keeps my costs down and still allows me to work with high caliber models.

Another thing to keep in mind that many models are under age and I always insist that EVERY model under 19 bring an adult and every model over 19 brings a friend or relative. This keeps the model and you safe, as well as offers a feeling of safety and security when a model has yet to meet up with you. I try to arrange meetings prior to the shoot but this is not always possible.

You can use many sources of light including lamps, or studio lighting, even natural light. Use different types of light and do not be afraid to experiment with different things. Get to know your camera and your light before the shoot. I try to set everything up a few days before and have those friend or family come over to make sure your ready to go when the time for the shoot comes. Nothing is worse than everyone being ready to go and they are waiting for you to figure out why the camera is shooting all black or your flash is firing at the wrong time.

Let your model know that you are new and that you would appreciate any tips or ideas they can offer. Models that have been around for a while have working with photographers and can usually offer great ideas for the shoot and even help solve technical issues should they arrive.

Once the shoot is finished make sure to have everyone’s contact information. I usually tell the team members I will have the photos available for them within one week. I try to get them done within about 3 – 5 days but given peoples schedules this is not possible. It is important to make sure that you complete the photos and do get the models their prints as soon as you can. Nothing is worse than getting a bad reputation for not giving back photos or taking months to get back to the members of your team.

Another important thing is to make sure you ask the makeup if touch ups are allowed. Many artists need the photos in a raw form with no air brushing or Photoshop done. You may need to make separate prints for each of the team members.

A shoot such as this will usually costs around $30.00. This is for 2 models, makeup and hair. I like to work with the makeup artist and model and do our own styling. I started my collection of props, wardrobe, and accessories by searching the local thrift store and outlet stores. Many times you can get vintage designer clothes for only a few dollars. These can be used over and over by adding different accessories or backdrops and of course different models. Having a huge supply of safety pins and all purpose clips is the best way to get all the clothes to fit every model.

Many times models will pose with eh back of a dress open or even with it almost folded in half and clipped and pinned at the back to make the fit look perfect.

Building a book of contacts is the most important thing to do. Make sure to be happy, positive and easy to get along with. Then getting your name and your work out into the local industry will be a piece of cake.

About The Author

Trish Connolly has been taking photos for over ten years. Working mostly with nature and freelance work, she moved over into portraits and children. With a special gift and the never ending help and support of her father Bob, Trish now has two photo studios operating and is now working in the fashion industry as well as teaching local modeling courses. She has also trained for the past two years at Focal Point Photography, in Vancouver Canada. Visit her website at KatwalkPhotography.com

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A Joomla Experience with Jenerate Limited

Introduction

The web design scene has changed a lot during the recent years. Nowadays, sovaldi even a normal person without a web design background can create a website easily. Just a few clicks and typing, a full fledge website is up and running on the internet. All this is possible with a Content Management System, or in short, CMS.

Form

Setting up a website is never the same again with tools like Joomla, a popular open source Content Management System (CMS) previously known as Mambo. A website foundation is up in few minutes and all the user need is to write their site’s contents, create images etc. Joomla’s powerful feature lies with the ability to allow users to maintain their website content easily and more efficiently without having to bother too much on the design and scripting part of a website.

Jenerate Limited is an internet solutions company providing services like domain and web hosting, web design, graphic design, internet marketing and content management systems. Like many other companies on the internet, Jenerate has adopted Joomla to create their website and maintain their contents with the CMS.

Immediately when I reached their site, the first impression was “Oh, another CMS site”. Very standard, like you can probably see 100 other similar designs out there. Professional, clean, straightforward are the words I can relate to Jenerate’s website. First impression does not last because it does not have any key highlight that catches my attention. As we humans always say this person has a common face, this website has a common design.

Joomla uses a template to define how the whole website looks. Therefore, a good Joomla website starts with a good design template that defines everything from the font, navigation bar, images and CSS styles. By using a template, the whole website appears more consistent.

As we can see, all the elements like information, main navigation, side navigation and banners are arranged in a clear and presentable manner. This prevents the user’s mouse from losing its way in the browser. Content font size is also at a readable size. Headers and contents also separated neatly by color and size.

Layout of contents lacks a few prominent dividers to separate recurrent contents especially under the Portfolio and Solutions sections. An added line or header with color should do the trick. Color usage is pretty generic with red as prominent headers, black for contents and white as base. These colors work well for any professional websites like Jenerate Limited.

The whole website has more text contents than graphic elements. This is probably due to the usage of Joomla. But I still want to highlight 2 of the interesting ones:

The site keeps itself lively by creating subtle movement using a banner that fades in and out of different images with taglines. This is useful for CMS sites, as many tend to feel that CMS sites are boring and stagnant.

Under their portfolio section, they included small thumbnails of their works bounded in a photo frame-alike border. This is a good effort in beautifying the site design as they visually enhance the portfolio thumbnails on a white background. However a point to note, even though there are text links to the portfolio works, they should add the links on the thumbnail images as well. Most users tend to click on images than text links.

Function

The problem with usability is that not everyone notices it until they truly test their website. For Jenerate, there are many sections where necessary links should be underlined or changed into the standard blue color underline link.

A website usability analysis shows that most internet users immediately recognize an underline blue color text is a link, as compared to links with different text formatting. For example, one of the links actually situated within the paragraphs, which I do not even know unless I rolled over them. User will miss out such information unless they thoroughly read the paragraphs of text. (We all know that users only skim through contents most of the time on a website) Even if the links are not important, it should still follow the standard rules of usability.

Other than this, all pages have a form on the side bar, for users to sign up to Jenerate’s mailing list if they are interested. Under the contact section, they have also included a form for users to key in their message. Forms are common features in Joomla CMS, which are widely used to improve the user experience.

Conclusion

Jenerate Limited has made good use of a Content Management System like Joomla to organize their information and present it in a clear and professional manner to the users who are viewing their website. By fixing the minor glitches as stated in this review, it will benefit the users who are considering their internet solutions.

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Introduction To Fashion Photography

This photo turned out to be my first cover. The shoot was actually very simply set and easy to do.

This was my first lone fashion shoot. I had taken fashion workshops and classes where an instructor and other students were there to assure my ideas and thoughts as well as lend a hand to make sure everything attempted was successful. In this instance I was working with an agency for the first time and I had only met my model, buy cialis makeup artist and hair stylist that morning when I came in.

Having been blessed with a model that is open to being creative and feels comfortable with you and the rest of the team is the only was to getting great shots.

Models who are timid or unfamiliar with you or your work will be less willing to try different ideas and the way they are feeling comes through in the photos loud and clear.

When doing a shoot I always start with a self check. Am I ready? Do I know what I want to achieve? Is my equipment ready? Do I know where I want the shoot to go? If you are unsure of what you want, remedy or are doing, then the rest of the team who look to you for direction will also be very unsure of what they are doing. This leads to confusion and a loss of time and money, not to mention bad work.

I try and get the team together before the shoot or at least in one place at the start of the shooting day. The best time is while the model is in the chair getting ready for hair and makeup. I like to discuss the shoot and know my team’s ideas and input as well as what they want to achieve with the shoot.

In the case of this photo – the model was trying to get some creative shots for her portfolio and the makeup artist was trying to expand the types of looks she had already in her book. The model was very outgoing and open to trying different locations, poses and even was happy to play with creative wardrobe, since there was no stylist on board that day.

I usually also like to carry different props and accessories with me on all my shoots. Lots of shots can go from ordinary to amazing with the help of a fan, a hat or other items. I also bring things such as plastic fruit, ribbons, hair bows, clips pins, rub on tattoos, anything to make a shot extraordinary. Always try to push the envelope a bit. You always want your work to stand out from the crowd, not blend right in. I like to check and see what other photographers are doing; I then go as far away from it as I can.

This shot was taken in a small meeting room that had a tan painted wall. I turn out all the lights and used one medium soft box with a modeling light. I turn on my fan and just let the model do the movements she felt comfortable with.

The makeup we chose was very fresh and dewy using soft tones with lots of shimmer on her arms and body. Her hair was left long and loose to work with fan.

The model was not afraid to move and tried different things like jumping, hopping laughing, using her arms and legs, bending over and using her head and neck to make different angles for the camera.

Sometime models tend to get caught up in only use their eyes with the camera. They try to hard to connect with the photographer and the shots become boring. A models film should have a huge variety of movement and angels and a yes there will be some really bad shots hopefully mixed in with some really good ones.

This shoot was one of my most successful yet as another shot taken an hour after this one also landed me my second cover with another one of the shots used on a full page inside the magazine.

Teamwork, feeling confident and being creative are the most important keys to getting a good shot.

About The Author

Trish Connolly has been taking photos for over ten years. Working mostly with nature and freelance work, she moved over into portraits and children. With a special gift and the never ending help and support of her father Bob, Trish now has two photo studios operating and is now working in the fashion industry as well as teaching local modeling courses. She has also trained for the past two years at Focal Point Photography, in Vancouver Canada. Visit her website at KatwalkPhotography.com

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Usability Matters: online shopping sites

Introduction

Butterfly & Nature Gift store is an online store where you can purchase custom made framed butterfly displays and other nature related products such as shirts, cheap insect crafts and games, decease and sea monkeys.

Form and Function

My rating for this one is a 3.5. I like the products she sells here, sick which does keep me on the site, however, This site needs some color, and rethinking of its structure.

Online stores, from an information architecture standpoint, are very complex, and require a great deal of planning. When making an online purchase, it is important that the site I am buying from appear professional and trustworthy, and unfortunately this site misses that mark for me.

The layout of the front page is not too bad for me – it gets right to the point, and you know that this is an online store selling butterfly “something” immediately. I would like to see the text to introduce the site moved above the product area, giving an introduction to what can be found here, with links to internal pages. This would do well for SEO as well.

The product boxes on the front are a bit too tight and give it a cluttered feel. They also lack style. The inner product photos however are great. A perfect size, and excellent quality. The product boxes loose this layout completely when going to the internal pages, which I think is a bad idea.

The footer throughout the site remains centered and fixed, which does coincide with the content area of the inner pages, but does match the front page. I feel this area needs some definition, either a separator bar, or a block of color, so as to “enclose” the focal area above it.

There are also a few different font families in use on different pages of the site.

Conclusion

There are a great deal of pages here, and while the links are all available on the inside pages, there are entirely too many of them, making navigation an overwhelming experience.

The main level navigation links introduced on the front page are on the left sidebar, but then change horizontal navigation bar just under the header area. From a user standpoint, this is confusing.

When you use the links within the product box area those lead you into a fluid width design, and all navigation is lost, forcing me to use the back button to navigate anywhere else. Very unusable.

I find the inner pages hard to read, and the content area needs definition. This site would be more usable if they maintained the front page layout through the site, keeping all the links pertinent to the page.