Web Design Brainstorm

Hi everyone!

I’m going to be (hopefully) creating a website for my final project. I’d like to make it, both back- and front-end, myself though if that fails I might be able to settle for a WYSIWYG that has HTML editing available.

If you don’t remember, my project is going to be about wealth inequality, how Americans perceive inequality, and solutions for combatting it. I feel like this lends itself to a web format because I plan to make it so graphic heavy and I would like to allow for as much interactivity as possible.

ANYWAY I’ll soon be considering different design ideas for how to display my project material, so I have one question: what is your favorite website (design) and why? Alternatively or additionally you could tell me about your least favorite!

To start it off, I’ll tell you my favorite website du jour: turbotax.com

For one, someone has really done a great job with turbotax’s image over the past year in general. Their commercials are funny and their design choices are just generally spot on. I like this website because, for one, it makes great use of white space which means there isn’t overcrowding of ideas or options. Additionally, for most options that you do have (outside of the top menu) there is an icon representing the content of the page the button would bring you to. Rollover animations are nice. Embedded video is well-placed. Scrolling animation for comparative features of their products is fun. Generally it is just a very pleasant and straight-forward experience. Your turn!!

Potentially Out of My Depth

Background: I love big data. I could spend my whole day on Google Scholar just looking up studies and creating graphics to include the correlations I’ve found. I also love the process by which institutions affect behavior, and so I would really like to combine these two aspects of my life.

Basis: I found a wonderful interactive graphic that actually changed how I thought about my own work by showing the teaching power of interactivity. Try it out for yourself to understand how even a small amount of racism can lead to extreme segregation. It’s not even the data that I love about this, but the way that it is presented and how it gives the audiences an opportunity to learn interactively.

Issue: Let’s ignore for the moment that my HTML and CSS aren’t quite up to snuff. The real issue I’m having is whether my interests would fit into a model like this one. What I would really love to do is have a slide bar where the user can increase or decrease taxes, and the program would respond by showing how the distribution of wealth would change over the next 10, 20, 50 years. I’ve seen similar models but I think this is relatively unique and it would be a lot of fun for me.

Anyone have any good ways to make this more interesting/complicated/awesome?

Portfolio: I hate to be this person but…

I love my portfolio!!

I went through multiple different stages of drafting and reworking my portfolio, and of course there are things that I am still unsure of and that I will continue to tweak, but considering that it is a work in progress I’m really happy with where it is going.It is the simplistic idea that I started with and I’m really glad I kept it.

That being said, there are things that I have had to compromise in the process. I would have liked not to have a menu bar on most of the pages because it seems cluttered to me, but this was really unavoidable. Besides, it doesn’t look half as bad as I though it would.

One thing I did not have to compromise on was my vision of the website being about framing my writing instead of showcasing me. I REALLY didn’t want there to be a site out there to honor Lisa Miller, as silly as that sounds. I wanted it to be about the pieces of writing that I have created which should be considered completely separate from me as a person.

Here is where the portfolio is at right now:


After I’ve handed this version in tomorrow I absolutely plan to revise revise revise until I get exactly what I want. I’m not exactly sure what that is yet but I know after my semester of revision that after revisiting the portfolio I can hone my ideas into a near-perfect presentation of what my writing is.

You guys have all been great and I hope the rest of your college careers are just as great as this semester was. Good luck!

Who am I as a blogger?

What is my blogging persona?

This question is way too ambiguous to even get into with any real depth but I’m going to try really hard and give that answer that everyone hates: it depends!

In some forums, like this one, I am very self-contemplative. I like to go over the small aspects of my everyday experiences and pick them apart to understand them. I am introspective and take great lengths and energy to understand myself in the context of others. I began the semester thinking that everything that I write about should be important and influential; that I accomplish nothing unless I try to change the world.

Blogging in this class, in a very informal setting has made me much more comfortable with breaking out of my self-important haze. It has made me understand that I don’t have to me the most interesting person with the most interesting ideas talking to the world at this moment. I just have to be true to myself and what I want out of my writing. If I want to write about the world, but blogging shows me that I don’t have to confine myself to any one area.

This means that as a blogger, I’m free from the confines of serious writing. I still love to talk about social justice, and I would argue that the blog is totally an appropriate place for that, but it is so much more versatile than other forms of writing.

The Perks of Revising

To be completely honest, most of the time revision for college students feels like busy and unnecessary work. From our perspective, we already wrote the dang paper and we were happy enough to hand it in the first time so why the heck do we need to spend more work on it? Just because this is how we feel, though, does not mean that it is the truth.

Revising is annoying and it is more work than any of us really want to do, but it is also completely necessary. Every time you take a step back from your work and come back to it you understand completely new things. For me after I write a paper, for example, it just looks likes a monotonous pile of words that have lost all meaning. But if I am to come back to the paper with fresh eyes I can see the peaks and valleys and understand where my argument falls short. And honestly, it’s a really good sensation to know that you’re not getting judged on that pile of crap you turned in the first time you took a go at it.

Revision sucks, definitely. It takes time and it’s a pain. But if any of us care about the quality of our work (and I’m assuming all of us do) it’s sort of cool. Maybe.

#techchallenge 2: How the heck…?

I barely know how to format a paper when I hand it in as a class assignment, let alone formatting it for web reading. In addition, I’ve barely read any papers that aren’t downloadable scholarly papers on the web so I have no idea how professionals even do this. I keep searching around on the web for clues from other authors and basically what I’ve found is that it is just individualized so I guess I’m on my own here.

I started by thinking about how I would want to read a paper if I were my own future employer (my intended audience) and I like the idea of pdfs. I know this sounds boring but I really think I know how to make this work and to make it enjoyable for my reader. The idea is that I will post a short blurb about the piece along with a link to a pdf of the paper.

This is an example of my idea where I have a short blurb describing the purpose of the piece and then a link to the pdf below:


What’s My Portfolio All About

So, as some of you may know I’ve had a long journey with this portfolio. I’ve switched back and forth on platforms, learned how to write in html/css and then decided that I wouldn’t use that knowledge. Let’s just say it’s been a long ride on the crazy train.

As for what it will “privilege” that has stayed the same through the whole process. It is not going to be a portfolio about me per se, but about my writing. That may sound confusing, but really all I’m trying to say here is that I want you to think about what the writing means and how it affects you before you try to psychoanalyze me. Though I am interesting (of course) this is not the place where I want you to discover that.

Now, I am very excited about the design of the site. I am going for very simplistic right now and I think it is going really well. I have a homepage with only a few links but despite the sparse nature I also feel like it is easy enough to navigate and very appealing. I’m loving this.

What I’m not loving is uploading all of my artifacts and figuring out where they should go and how I should organize them. I usually end up staring at the screen and begging it to just arrange itself in an organized manner. I think this step is just going to have to take more thought about how I want the reader to see my writing and then group it accordingly. For now, it’s just a jumbled mess.

So I will give you the link, but keep in mind this is a very rough cut.


Prayers for Bobby


Though I’m not in the RC (Residential College) I weekly attend one of their many forums because I really love the informal atmosphere of students running a pseudo-classroom. I’m also very interested in LGBTQA (etc) issues and get to engage in focused and more serious conversations at forum.

Well this past week we watched a made-for-TV movie called Prayers for Bobby starring Sigourney Weaver and others. If any of you have watched this then you will know how deeply emotional it is, but the main plot is centered in the life of a teenage boy named Bobby. He is gay and wants to be a writer but his parents, especially his mother, are religious and will not accept his “chosen” identity. They force him to go to therapy and engage more heavily with the church until they make him feel that they no longer love him for who he truly is. He commits suicide and this acts as a catalyst for the family and especially Bobby’s mom. She goes on to become a gay rights advocate in a time where being gay was highly stigmatized and associated with HIV/AIDS. She becomes the advocate that Bobby never had during his life and changes her attitude to affect the lives of other gay teens in a positive way that she never could for Bobby.

This movie affected me as one would expect: lots and lots of tears. But it also, strangely enough, made me think about my writing. I work very hard to have most of my writing have a very clear beneficial purpose that brings to mind controversial but important ideas. And a lot of the time I get some pretty harsh backlash. Not because it is offensive, but most people don’t understand why I would want to be so serious when all I’m doing is writing and no one’s going to read it anyway. And this really gets me down.

It’s when I see movies like this that I remember why I’m always so intent on being serious in my writing. I’m not one of the people to go around and remind people about the beautiful things in life; there are people who enjoy this and are very talented at it. I’m one of the ones that makes sure that those at the top with money and privilege don’t forget about everyone else. It may be a downer, but at least you have theopportunity to just have it ruin your moment, and not your entire life.

Programmering a #techchallenge

So I started my E-portfolio journey with a very specific idea in mind. Because of this deep conviction in a simple idea, I was totally convinced that I had to program a website myself, because this was the only way to accomplish what I wanted.

This was my basic idea:



I wanted to have five or six circles in a circle that included images of food, appetizers, salad, dessert etc. I then wanted the mouseovers to say the word of what the image is depicting. This really simplistic idea, for some reason, I believed was unachievable so I endeavored on this long and arduous tech challenge of programming.

Now, I often use the term programmering to communicate how little I understand the act of interacting with a computer. I just wanted to clear that up in case there was any misunderstanding…

Anyway, I started this tech challenge just casually browsing the web and learning about the differences between html, html5, and css. Then I looked into what programs are the easiest to use to help you work toward this programmering goal. Many sites said that Adobe Dreamweaver is a good choice, and then there is also the free Google Web Designer. In case any of you are looking into doing this too, I definitely recommend Dreamweaver. Though it isn’t free, we have access to it through the U and the ease of use through previewing while you create your formatting is extremely useful.

I then started watching web tutorials on very easy formatting goals like including images and how to even create mouseovers. This is all very simple and, as I’ve learned, writing in html/css/whatever isn’t actually writing in a programmering language but using programming to format your website. It may look like a different language to a lot of people but it really isn’t; you’re just telling the application how and where to place your items. Real programmering looks like jibber jabber, and I’ll leave that to the professionals.

So after searching long and hard, and practicing with the help of a friend, I created this:

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So, I think we can all agree that it’s cute, but considering the hard work that I put into this, I was really upset with the end result. It was going to take a lot more time and energy than I can commit to it, and I’m honestly just really happy with the fact that I now know how to do this whole programmering thing. This is why I’ve decided that I’ll probably end up using a program like wix/weebly/etc to just add the pretty and professional things that I want to come through while I am communicating my writing.

So, not a complete waste, but a little sad none the less.

Macbeth at the Michigan Theater

This weekend I went to see macbeth live for the first time and this performance with Kenneth Branagh was entirely unique to the many productions of Shakespeare I’ve seen in the past. It was set in the appropriate time period, but what was different about this piece was the fact that it was set “within the walls of an intimate deconsecrated Manchester church.” The audience is seated in the pews on either side of the stage where the players stand on a bed of mud. This gritty, organic feeling does not add, but rather fits perfectly into the natural sense of the text.

It was such an enriching experience to be able to go to an event like this, that are happening all over campus each day. Not to be preachy, but I really hope that more people will attend events like these, especially students. I feel like most of us as students get so wrapped up in our schoolwork and the stress of making it through the days, that there are better ways to blow off steam than getting completely wasted on the weekend. Many people on challenge campuses suffer from alcoholism, but not too many students are addicted to art. Maybe we should choose the healthier alternative; just a thought = )