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Timesonline – A website anaylsis

The 400 word, edited, version of an the ‘timesonline website anaysis

Searchability:

Easy to locate. A quick Google search for ‘times online’ or even just ‘times’ results in the website as the top find. Within the site itself there is an integrated search tool allowing the user to search for specific articles or topics.  There is also an option to redefine your search by date or topic.

Usability:

The site is quick to load and appears technically stable; there is no random redirection to a page the user didn’t intend to click on or ‘page not found’ popping up.

Navigation:

The ‘timesonline’ site has plenty of clearly signposted links that allow the user to smoothly navigate the web page. There are two distinct navigation bars at the top of the page that offer the user first a list of broad topics and then subsidiary options within each area. This allows users to find information specific to their reading wishes.

There is a ‘where am I’ header that runs beneath the top two navigation bars which always lets you know exactly what area you are in and how to back out to a broader topic.

A box sits top left of the page displaying the most read and most commented stories of the day. This allows the user to jump to articles that are being talked about, that are recent and popular.

Design:

The ‘timesonlie’ takes a clean and professional aesthetic approach. The colour scheme is mostly greyscale, incorporating black, white and various grey tones. However this is occasionally infused with bright green or blue, which keeps the page contemporary and also breaks up large sections of text, which could blur into one another quite easily.

Content:

Videos are available,
but more could be incorporated

There are a broad spectrum of topics covered on ‘timesonline’ from breaking news and stories of the day to opinion pieces and blogs. The written quality is to a high standard also. All pieces are archived and available to search for on the site.

Multi-media:

The site does incorporate multimedia in certain places but there is definitely room to improve in this area. Although videos accompany some of the articles there are not many to be found. One benefit of getting news online is the extra dimension that video and audio bring and this needs to be utilised more by ‘timesonline.’

Interactivity:

The ‘timesonline’ enables users to create a profile and post comments on articles but there are no discussion boards or forums.

UGC:

There is little user-generated content other than the comments available to see and having more scope for this would encourage participation in the site and urge more people to get their news there.

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Vintage photography

“Digital photography never looked so analog” that’s what’s said about the Hipstamatic app for the iphone on the app’s website. The app turns your phone’s camera into a replica of the old skool plastic cameras from the past, claiming to capture the look, feel and unpredicted beauty of them. After seeing some friends posting their hipstamatic prints on facebook I was pretty impressed and wanted to try out this app for myself. It was £1.19 (the first app I’ve ever paid for I must add) and after purchasing I got snaping straight away. With a flick of a finger you can change the lens, flash and film used each one creating a slightly different effect. The attention to detail is great, check out the screen shots from my phone (left) I’ll let you decide for yourselves in a minute what you think of the photos this app produces but I’m very impressed.

You get the textures and colours a vintage camera would produce and are left with some wonderful shots. Take a look at my test shots taken with the hipstamatic app. As you can probably tell I favoured the ‘John S’ lens which keeps the colour of the shot but has a grainy texture. I also liked the ‘Kaimal mark 2’ lens which gives that washed out red effect. Enjoy.

Hope you liked my images 🙂 Most of these were taken at my house, my boyfriends, out in Winton or at Uni. More coming soon!

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A night out in Plymouth

Recently a few of my friends and I headed down to Plymouth to escape the stress of University and visit a friend who lives there. We hit the town and then sunbathed on Plymouth Hoe the next day. Here’s a few snapshots of my fun filled weekend…

Cocktails mark the start of the night out

In Mouse trap - a cute cocktail bar right in the centre of Plymouth

me and my girls

Rachel and Lucy @ Firefly

We then moved on to Cuba a small but lively club

In Cuba

The morning after

Plymouth's beautiful sea view, gorgeous day too

Me and Daisy

A little souvenir of our visit (Lucy, Me, Daisy)

Overall I had a brilliant night out in Plymouth. We visited some cute little clubs and bars all of which had an abundance of cheap drink offers but more importantly I got to take a well earned break and spend time with my closest friends.

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Q&A time with Norwegian student Stian Christensen

I had a quick ‘twitter’ style cyber chat with Norwegian student Stian about his life in Norway and time in the army. Stian, 21, is currently studying for a degree in Archaeology at the University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway.

Q. What attracted you to the course you’re studying?

Stian currently studies in Norway

A. I always liked it, I was going to try some engineer course, because I got math and physics in college, but when I was in the army I just came across archaeology in the catalogue. Then I was like oh yeah… and picked it.

Q. What are your plans for when you finish the degree?

A. I don’t know really, haven’t gotten that far in my plans. I guess I’m going to get a job in some sort of excavation (or at least try!)

Q. Your English is very fluent, was learning another language important to you?

A. Well, we don’t have any dubbing or voiceover on TV/movies so as the majority of the entertainment on the TV is in English with Norwegian subtitles knowing the language helps a lot. We also started early with English in school, 4th grade I think, so it just happened. It’s not really important to me, but it sure is useful.

Q. It’s a requirement for men to join the army in Norway when they are 18, what was that like?

A. I didn’t want to go at first but it was only for a year, it turned out to be one of the best ones in my life. It was real fun, meeting new people and making friends while playing war in the forest.

Q. Did you encounter any dangerous situations?

A. No. We were only running around training, training in case someone attacked us, any international operations you have to volunteer for, and 1 year is not enough time to put us in any live situation.

Q. Despite enjoying your time in the Army, what is your opinion on it being essential, do you think it would be fairer to be optional to teens?

In Norway a year in the army is a requirement

A. I think it’s fair enough. You can always do some social service work for a year as an option, if you say you’re a pacifist for example. So you can, if you just want it enough, get dismissed.

Q. What do you enjoy most about living in Norway?

A. I don’t really know, haven’t thought of that. Always lived here, so I can’t really compare it to somewhere else. I just like it.

Q. Do you hold any stereotypes of us English?

A. I really like English humour, so whenever I think about English people or hear, I think of some of the characters that John Cleese plays in different sketches, like witty, arrogant and a very serious face. But in general I don’t really hold to stereotypes.

Q. And finally what are your hobbies and interests?

A. I really like to create stuff so I make some jewellery (I have a small dream about becoming a goldsmith), doing some origami, also taking photos, helping my dad with restoring old cars. And in addition I play tennis and some computer games.

Thanks for your time Stian 🙂

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Does the Now magazine website hit the spot?

Now magazine – A look at the magazine’s website

Searchability – Appeared as the top hit on Google after searching for ‘now’ and ‘now magazine.’ – The site is definitely easy to locate on the web.

Usability – Technically stable – navigation tabs all link correspondingly and quickly

Navigation – Clear navigation tabs are situated under the website header plus links appear spread over the homepage to other sections and some stories. However ‘Top stories’ section is at bottom of page and is not immediately clear to see. If it were located more centrally on the home page it would allow for easier navigation to the top stories and key articles. The home page would also benefit from larger navigation and a snippit view of the ‘blog’ section which is buried to the far right of the navigation bar.

Design – The colour scheme is simple consisting of a mixture of white, pink and blue. The theme sticks in the users mind, is aesthetically pleasing and does not overload the page however it is very bright which although allows the magazine to be easily identified can come across as tacky. Pictures accompany all text grabbing the users attention and allowing them to quickly identify celebrities they want to read about. The layout of articles is less pleasing. After being directed to ‘top stories’ there is no apparent structure to the articles which appear one after another vertically.

Content – A vast amount of celebrity gossip features, presented in short articles and located under news however these are not well signposted. There is only around ten articles per page with no way to browse through months or weeks to look back at stories.

Video and audio – is used, but more is needed! we want to read, hear and see our celebrities in action!

Interactivity – limited, polls appear but are buried beneath a tonne of links! The general public love to voice whatever they want so Now magazine needs to provide a better platform for this to take place. Celebrities cause controversy, everyone loves a scandal but even more everyone loves talking about a scandal. Having more comment boxes and forums easily accessible would benefit the magazine greatly.

UGC – Could barely find any? Come on Now. Aside from a few polls and the odd comment at the end of a news story readers don’t have many options to contribute, ouch.

Overall? – It does the job but I’d rather buy the magazine, improvements needed!

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Timeline: History of the social networking site

They dominate our lives but how and when did they begin? A brief look at the history of the social networking site.

1985: The Well was one of the earliest established social networking site, which provided an online community for users to connect with one another.

1994: Live Journal began, an online blogging and sharing site for users to interact.

Friendster was a major hit attracting 3 million users in the first few months

2002: Friendster appeared and was one of the first really successful networking sites, attracting 3 million users in the first few months.

2003: MySpace was established and grew quickly in popularity and users. It allowed users to list their top friends and upload songs. Hi-5 and  Xanga were also launched.

2004: Facebook (originally ‘The Facebook’) was created by American student Mark Zuckerberg, Flickr – a photography orientated social site is also launched.

2005: Bebo was founded as a blogging/networking site intended to rival MySpace.

2006: Facebook became available to all and was an instant success now hosting over more than 400 million active users and around 5 billion pieces of content shared each week. In the same year Twitter hit the social networking scene bringing something new to the table with that of its ‘micro-blogging’ approach. Now extremely popular with celebrities and socialites worldwide.

2010: Google Buzz is launched and is set to rival Facebook… watch this space 🙂

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My websites of choice

My top five websites are:

1. facebook.com – In my opinion the best of the social networking sites, everyone has one and they are a breeze to manage and use. Importantly a great distraction from work or university 😉

2. stumbleupon.com -A perfect boredom cure, when you ‘stumble’ you come across interesting and unusual websites tailored to your interests that keep you entertained for hours.

cute cute cute

3. artbox.co.uk – what do you get if you add cute + cute (plus some more cute) ? ARTBOX. A quirky site that sells a range of sweet products from toys and stickers to home-ware and bags. Check out the pandas 😉

4. youtube.com -Video entertainment for everyone, now with Chanel four on demand. Enough said?

5. Twitter.com -For those who want to broadcast their lives or indulge in the lives of others. Now with many high-profile celebrity users ‘tweeting’ their day to day activities who can deny they don’t like hearing gossip straight from the horses’ mouth?