Coming into this class, I wasn’t exactly sure what I would get out of it (other than fulfilling a “W” requirement). I chose to enroll in this specific composition course because I thought that learning about digital media would give me an interesting insight into something I interact with daily. I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up not just learning more about concepts related to this ever-changing platform, but also becoming more proficient in a various related tools and applications. Having a level of proficiency in these tools is becoming an essential part in understanding how we represent media, and by practicing with such programs throughout this course, I think I have gained greater insight into digital media and composition.
Entering this class at the beginning of the semester, I’m not sure I knew exactly what to expect. I was confident with my writing skills and ability to compose a creative work, so I wanted to improve my ability to combine my writing with new mediums of design. However, I had no idea the depths in which I would dive into foreign lands such as HTML and CSS.
CDM FALL 2017 reflection- Gabi Keane
My goals at the beginning of this semester for Composing Digital Media were to sharpen my skills in design and layout, as well as HTML and CSS. I also hoped to gain a few more skills in other aspects of digital media to create a well-rounded portfolio to share with future employers.
My Class Experience
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I added this class to my schedule for the fall semester. Entering the room for the first time was a little intimidating due to the amount of seniors and older students in general taking the class also. It was a pleasant surprise seeing the variety of projects that we would become immersed in over the semester. Image editing, audio recording, website creation, and the collaborative unit provided a nice balance that kept the class interesting.
Composing Digital Media was by far the most practical course in the Public and Professional certificate program, in terms of its future job application and uniqueness as compared to other courses. Considering digital media is such a popular and effective means to send a message to your audience, I appreciated being able to take this course and to discover different modes in a structured environment, while also moving at my own pace. Throughout the semester, I could explore various media that I had no or limited prior experience with. The organization of the class, class discussion, peer collaboration, and instructor feedback was extremely beneficial in my learning and growth.
I think that one of the most helpful things for me this semester was simply having a space to learn new or develop existing digital media skills. The structured environment, lessons, and helpful feedback really helped me to be sure that I was focusing my best efforts on learning and improving rather than merely repeating what I may already know. I also found the group critique days particularly helpful to hear feedback from classmates and also to see what others were working on to help me with ideas of what I liked (or didn’t like as much) and how I could incorporate those ideas or elements into my own work. It was a useful exercise to learn how to appropriately adjust text for different mediums and the impact that has on the reader and the creator.
Our Github, including a link to our contract in the ReadMe
As for many of us, this project required an immense amount of groundwork. Few of us had experience with HTML and CSS, and likely lifted inspirations from previously-viewed sites. Given that, I tried to model my site after some modern design features that I’ve seen: moderate color tones, serif header fonts with sans-serif body fonts, center alignment for text, corralling the content into a central downward line as opposed to something that sprawls over the width of the browser window, and using a good deal of class tags for HTML elements. These design elements align with modern design to achieve easily readable websites. Brightly contrasting colors throughout a page create eyestrain and theoretically don’t balance well. Literacy in CSS is chiefly responsible for molding websites which respond to these modern constraints.
I have decided to choose the website Electric Literature, which is basically a blog site that focuses on books. It really emphasizes the name of the blog and its set against a background that is interactive. The background consists of a pond and the water moves and the fog surrounding it does as well. The name is big and appears first, and after it is a navigational bar where people can choose different areas of the blog to visit. Below, there is a list of articles and events about books and authors. Compared to many websites I've visited, this one is really well-organized because as you continue to scroll down you are given more options and information. I think contrast is also used well because most of the links and pictures are really bright and colorful against a white background, forcing people to place their attention on these parts that stand out. The elements are also aligned streaming downward so a person can just keep scrolling until they find something they are interested in. They are also evenly spread out across the page, which is nice because that way my vision wasn't too overwhelmed, but I didn't have to search for what I was looking for for a long time.
I chose Rotten Tomatoes, because reading film reviews is one of my favorite ways to kill time. The site's homepage emphasizes the featured articles, as they implement the biggest photos and therefore draw the most attention. Under these photos is a white headline amongst a black background, clearly standing out. The search bar is also very accessible, lying front and center toward the top of the page. As we scroll down, the website is mostly white with black wording, but it's very easy to navigate, and it doesn't read as bland thanks to the tiny tomato pictures accompanying the film titles. It all feels like my eye is meant to travel from top to bottom, as everything is presented in a list form with long narrow columns. And the bright, neutral colors evoke a calming feeling, which is ideal because scrolling through film reviews should be a leisurely, rather than intense activity. I would assume the designer chose to feature articles at the top of the page to encourage visitors to click around the site more. There are more articles listed at the bottom, but I assume they're less important or not in dire need of clicks, otherwise they would be more prominently displayed. I had never used the developer tool in browser before, so I was surprised to see what a jumbled mess the wesbite looked like behind the scenes. To be honest, I can't work out yet what the different fonts and colors and ordering mean, but I'm curious to find out.
My favorite website is Popjustice.com. It is a website for news, music, and culture all surrounding the UK music scene. I primarily visit this site for new music recommendations and reviews. The layout features a pink header at the top which bears the logo for the site. The main feature of the site is their weekly "New Music Friday" article which is positioned as the largest image and blog post. These "New Music Friday" articles most likely get the most hits because they contain a short review of all of the British pop songs that have come out over the course of that week and gives them a short review. Above the feature article and just below the logo, there is a menu bar that shows all of the different types of articles included on the site, The Briefing, News, Music, Vids, Interviews etc, and Forum. This website serves many purposes besides news, but only really hardcore music fans will want to participate in the forum. The articles begin on the left side of the site with a substantial border and continue toward the middle. There is always a right hand side bar on every page of the website reminding visitors of their list of the best albums of the year and other options like a mailing list. The contrast on this website is primarily achieved by the black text on a white background, but the site also includes elements of pink for further visual interest. Some of the text in the headlines and paragraph headers appears in pink for further emphasis. The site is aligned along the space used for the major article space, with every other link seemingly optional. Popjustice does a good job of grouping the interests of readers together. Similar songs and articles of interest appear along the sidebar to entice readers to visit different pages on the site. The padding and the margin of the site make it more easily readable. Overall, I think this website is well presented in terms of formatting. It presents its information in a concise manner and maintains enough white space so that it is not overwhelming.