The Beauty of Wix

The technology I’m learning to work with through building my website is actually different from the prior experience I’ve had with website design in prior communications classes. Rather than fiddling around with code for hours and becoming incredibly frustrated when things don’t work out, I took a suggestion from Blake and started learning to use Wix HTML Editor/website builder.

This has to be one of the coolest websites out there – it’s so varied in the amount of design choices you can make and it is an incredibly helpful tool for those of us, like me, that don’t want to spend their time running through lines of code to find tiny errors. Since my website is going to be mostly based on visuals, it was important to learn how to input images and videos in a way that looks good and works well. I mostly learned how to use Wix as opposed to learning to code a website, but just by fiddling around with all the options Wix provides, I gained some insight into how web design should work and how sites should look as well as what they should provide for those people visiting the site. It’s a really fun editor to use, so if you have any site-building projects I would highly reccommend it!

League of Media

I spend a lot of my free time playing League of Legends (multiplayer online battle arena game) with a group of my friends, so naturally I spend a decent amount of time on the game’s website as well. Their setup is actually incredibly interesting and has changed a lot over the past year or so that I’ve been enjoying the game.

jinx!

In terms of the site’s purpose, it is there to provide players with information about upcoming changes to the game, current events (tournaments, competitions, etc), and to provide a community forum as well for players to participate in with suggestions and requests as well as just general conversation. The recently revamped site actually looks really cool, and you can’t tell from the picture obviously, but the background is actually moving! Jinx looks back and forth across the top of the site and it’s pretty sweet, so is the way that the site portrays their most important stories. Usually sites will have a box that cycles through the top stories, but on the League site it’s the entire background that changes, which I like a lot.

The rest of the site is really just links to other content including videos, articles, and forums – so as far as regular content goes, it’s not that far away from the ordinary. I just think the way the front page uses motion and really makes their top news the center of attention is a pretty solid strategy. Learning how to make a place on a website for top videos/news articles would be a good idea to learn, because I’ve been thinking about making a website for my remediation project and I already have some experience with it from prior Comm classes.

Some additional thoughts on web platforms from UM ISS

I checked in with the media specialists at UM Instructional Support Services with some questions about the web software we tried out last week.  Here are some thoughts from Lauren Atkins that offer some food for thought, esp. about Wix and Circle Pad (though I want to gather some more info about the latter).  FWIW!

Hi Naomi,
These are all good questions.  It’s very important for the students to consider features, flexibility, reliability and security…and longevity, and to consider how creative they can be even within confines.

It’s not necessarily a “pro” version of WordPress that is needed to HTML so much as a feature upgrade that the student would have to pay for (there’s no “license” so to speak for it at all).  This also means that students can’t embed just anything into their posts on WordPress.com as well—they can include videos only from a handful of sites (YouTube, Vimeo) and only slideshows from Slideshare and one other service.  Wordpress does that to protect themselves from infected content from dubious sources.  Weebly does the same.

Wix, I would advise students use with caution.  While it is the “flashiest” (literally) of all the options, it’s also the most nitpicky and unstable.  There is also no way to export out and move or keep the site they create.  A lot of students like it because it’s very customizable and “looks” better but there’s a lot of sacrifice of function that may affect them later on.

Circlepad, I don’t have any experience with, though an initial look at their site didn’t make me excited about it.  If a student is familiar with it and wants to use it and feels it works well for them, I think that’s fine, so long as it satisfies a certain level of reliability and longevity.

As for Dreamweaver, that is arguably the most difficult option of all because the student is responsible for all of the creation of their site, and I generally only suggest it for students who have used it before or who have a solid grasp of basic web programming (even using the visual editor can get frustrating without some basic knowledge).  Support in using it can often be gotten from the Tech Deck in the library.  In most cases, they can easily post sites they create in Dreamweaver in the public folder of their IFS space and run it from there.

I’ve had students complain about some of the constraints of Google Sites before.  Those who have some skill at HTML can actually edit their Google Site’s code and gain more flexibility that way.  Another tactic is to sort of play around with the page structure, columns, etc, in Google to reproduce what you’re looking for.  I do suggest encouraging it for several practical reasons: 1) the upcoming switch to Google Apps for Education might make it more secure and attractive, 2) It is one of the best services for not only keeping track of site changes (thanks to the revision history) but it’s also possible to export the content out in a fairly easy manner using another of Google’s tools, 3) there is ample technical support for it on campus because of its wide use and 4)it easily integrates with all of Google’s other tools, for students who want to incorporate documents, presentations, slideshows, images, videos, maps, etc.

In fact, as far as general features + reliability and longevity, we do really recommend WordPress and Sites and working with students to find ways to enable the type of functionality they’re looking for as best as possible.

Robert has put together a brief overview of a few of these tools on our wiki <https://g333.pbworks.com/w/page/34076819/Free%20Services%20for%20Creating%20a%20Website%2C%20Blog%2C%20or%20ePortfolio> , including storage limitations and an “ease of use” rating.

I hope that helps.  If students have very specific questions on any of the platforms, just let me know.  If you’d like us to stop by for a brief in-class Q&A or workshop while they’re getting set up, we can do that as well.


Lauren Atkins
Instructional Technology Consultant
LSA Instructional Support Services
G333 Mason Hall
734-274-7348
latkins@umich.edu
Instruction Group: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/iss/consulting

It’s All About the Design

While browsing the web to find 5 of my favorite websites, I noticed a theme among the ones I chose. They are all very pleasing to the eye (and all about fashion, confidence, dating, and/or magazines). What can I say? I am drawn to these topics. One website I especially like is i am that girl. I chose it because of its fun, informal appeal, interactivity and use of photos. Each time you scroll over a new section, either a word or a picture, something happens. The words flash, the pictures light up, and there is a clicking sound in the background. There is also a cool transition each time you click on a new tab. I think all of these functions add to the appeal of the website by allowing the audience to interact with the website. This website emphasizes its visual focus by including a cute logo and effectively grouping together photos in a collage format.  I like how i am that girl is set up like a bulletin board. It’s a cute layout and design choice that draws in the reader and matches nicely with the site’s positive message.

Source: http://profile.ak.fbcdn.net/hprofile-ak-ash2/50556_25938310970_8138_n.jpg

Here are the 4 other sites I chose along with why I chose them:

Her Campus: Frequently changes, consistency in color, easy to navigate, tabs neatly organize topics into different sections

Shop Bop: simple, clean lines

Cosmo: good use of white space, consistency in all caps, big heading

Ed2010: easy to navigate, presents the material in a neat way by clearly labeling different sections, the use of blue and orange text against the simple white background is pleasing to the eye

My Websites

Two of the five websites that I would like to emulate in some way, or use as a template for my archive include:

Cracked.com: This website is my #1 procrastination destination. If I really don’t want to get anything done for an entire afternoon, this is where I will go first. It is mostly written articles, so I think it counts as a writing related website. The ingenious part of Cracked is the way it links everything to everything else. At the end of every article is a “If you liked this, you will like…. Link! This is why I spend so much time on here. Because each article leads into the next in a never ending journey of Star Wars jokes and fun, slightly useless facts. Having a similar function, or equally user friendly tactics would be beneficial to my portfolio site for easy access and to add interest. I also like their “flashback” column where they give links to articles written a year or two ago today. I think this is a brilliant way to keep traffic on their site, and give attention to older articles as well as newer ones.

nytimes.com: I like the New York Times website because though it is incredibly simple, it is effective. It almost looks like a newspaper, only with links instead of “See Page A2.” It doesn’t have all the cheesy functions some other news sites have, like MSN with all of its articles about the best vacation spots in the US, not to mention the horoscope page. It uses pictures, but not too many. The focus is clearly on the news stories, which I think is useful for a website. Knowing your purpose and not feeling like you have to dress it up or add dumb things to keep reader interest is important. I like that you can view today’s newspaper as well, and the adds are kept to a minimum.