Times Online‘ is a popular news site, providing its users with UK news, world news and business news. A site like this needs to be easily accessible and simple to find your way around. This post will briefly analyse how successful the ‘Times Online’ is…

Searchability

  • ‘Times Online’ is listed high in search engines results therefore it will often be the primary source people use
  • The address of the website is easily remembered

Usability

  • Although the site contains a lot of information, the contents is quick to upload and features such as the headlines are constantly being updated

Navigation

  • A ‘where am I’ tool at the bottom of the page allows the reader to navigate their way around the site, back tracking if they wish and saving them time struggling to find where they had previously visited
  • A tabs bar provided at the top of the homepage navigates you to the section of interest easily 

Design

  • The design of ‘Times Online’ appears simple, different topics and sections are in boxes and the colours are bold but professional
  • The tabs inform the reader of what they can find within the site without having to explore
  • Advertisements aren’t too dominating over the page so that the news is still the most predominant feature of the pages
  • A range of font type and colour differentiates headlines from the main text

Content

  • The collection of content is broad, providing something for everyone, from business to sport, science to travel

Video & Audio

  • The photo gallery and videos add a visual element to the articles posted on ‘Times Online’ , they can be easily found and support the text to give a user more than what they would find in a newspaper
  • ‘Times Online’ currently doesn’t have any audio features which is something that could be considered to be used in the future

Interactivity

  • Users are able to comment on any articles and read previous comments as well

UGC

  • User Generated Content (UGC) creates an interaction, building a ‘site community’. ‘Times Online’ does this through the interaction in commenting, having the ability to contribute and also discuss with others the content

The site makes a users experience as problem free and quick as possible, which is primarily what most readers want.

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To see the face of someone you love. To feel the texture of the scarf your grandma knitted you. To smell the chicken roast dinner that beckons you downstairs on a Sunday afternoon. To hear your favourite song on the radio. To taste the fizz of a refreshing glass of cloudy lemonade that cools you down in the summer. Some would argue their lives wouldn’t be complete without one of the five senses, but I’d beg to differ any day. 

I sit; the slightly unstable wooden stool underneath me creaks every so often. I unlock the fuzzy, warm textured case, picking each cold metal clasp open and lifting the lid to unveil a rainbow of colour. As I move my hand slowly over the case of colours I feel the brushes from the thin to the fat, the smooth to the bristled kind. I move past them as my finger tip follows over the paints to the watercolours, crayons to pencils. I remember the day I bought this red velvet case for my utensils. Everyday I’d walk past ‘Betty’s Arts and Crafts’ shop en route to catch the bus, and everyday I’d wish I owned that beautiful velvet case to put my colours in. I had done long and hard manual work to earn the money to afford it and eventually the case was in sight, but not for too long.  Every time I touch the case I clearly visualise it again in that shop window, I smile, content. 

I take my bare feet off of the steps on the stool and place them on the floor. I scrunch my toes and feel the gritty earth between them. As I move them around I feel my feet soften. The consistency reminds me of the consecutive years my family would visit the seaside. Running towards the sea our feet flicking the sand up in the air tossing and trailing behind. Standing on the wet ground, the white and murky blue bubbly water touches our toes as the ripples crawl up the beach. Chuckles fill the air as we plant our feet in the same position for a while and watch them sink, the dark sand swallowing our toes, feet and then ankles. The clouds pass and a bright light glistens over the water, beautiful.

                “Kids, it’s time to put sun tan lotion on, better safe than sorry! Come back here for a minute please.” My mother’s distinct voice yells down to us.

Every trip we’d attempt to run back from the sea to the families with clean feet, every time it would be unsuccessful. Back by the beach towels I unenthusiastically slap on the thick cream to my arms. In frustration of doing something I didn’t want to I dropped my hands to the ground creating a sandy coating covering them.  This is why I hate putting the lotion on. In an effort to stand up from the sinking ground beneath me I tried to get up without the golden grit coating anything else. Scrambling to my feet, I wasn’t the most limber of children, and sooner than I knew it I had a coarse shell over my whole body. Back to my painting I shudder at the reminiscence of the ‘sand monster’, quickly picking my feet off the floor, brushing them off thoroughly and placing them back on the stool.

As I reach up to stretch, the whiff of vinegar and salt fills my nostrils. I exhale. The smell makes me hungry; I wet my lips at the thought of thickly cut chips swimming in vinegar overflowing the white cone that holds them. Thick curry sauce poured all over them, the smell tastes amazing. The meal is complete accompanied by a portion of fish, a tub of creamy tartar sauce and a small wooden fork.

                “Dad please can we go back to the car, I’m freezing! There’s no way we’re paddling in the sea today, and there’s no one even on the beach…that’s got to mean home time?”

I hear a young boy wine to his father stood next to me.

                “Okay son, we will be heading home soon! It’s just nice to see the blue sea for a day, don’t you think? We’ll just have a quick walk up and down the pier…”

The pier seemed like the longest thing in the world when I was little. My parents would grab each hand and drag me to the end. As I dug my heels into the floor my shoes scuffed on every other wooden plank. I remember making the biggest fuss because my legs were tired; thinking about it now I would question if I even really knew what tired was then! Although I was carried there unwillingly I always appreciated the view at the bottom; looking out to an endless swimming pool of sea water and blue skies. I feel that’s what I enjoyed most about it, the fact that it seemed to be to infinity, the end wasn’t in sight. I would gaze between the white metal bars in the barrier, my head small enough to look right through and down into the sea. The depth of the waters also immeasurable, the bottom unknown gave me a mixture of feelings, the warmth of the endless sea and sky but the fear of the mysterious distance downwards.

I listen to the crash of the waves as I paint the blue sea, angry as it meets with the rocks and glides up the sand. I’d heard earlier two males excited to have a climb on them. I picture the sky a blue, grey colour, no rain but plenty of wind. As I felt my thin hair sweep back behind my ears I paintpeople fighting the gusts that blew against them. Their upper bodies hunched over driving them forward and their clothes clung to them as if they were soaked through. My paper wrestles with the easel, flapping in the blustery wind. I try to control it, my cold weathered hands pin it down at all corners and sides. Whipping past swiftly the bitterness makes my arm hair stand up, I unroll my denim coloured linen shirt to cover my forearms and do up the top button to try stop it getting down my vest. The weather wasn’t how I used to remember it, no sun peaking through the clouds that moved quickly in the sky, no moments of complete calm and warmth. In the air are two seagulls, twisting and turning with each other, ducking towards the ground and soaring to the clouds. Their squawking fills the air, causing a noisy scene when heading too close to passer by’s heads.

One wet drop I felt hit my hand, and another, and another.

                “Dad it’s definitely time to go home now, the sky is like nearly black!” the boy forced past me in the direction of the car I assume.

Quickly the rain got heavier, the drops bigger and multiplying. My clothes began to hug to my body like how my mother would squeeze me before school.  I carry on painting, making the sky darker and angrier like the waves were. The rocks glistening from the patent look they now have and the sound of doors slamming as the fish and chip shop closes for the day. This painting was to be lost.

I have always believed that if people walked around with their eyes closed they would still be able to paint a picture of what is around them. Another painting destroyed, but the image I saw will always be kept with me. I may be blind but I can still see.

Hope you enjoy it, let me know what you think!

So for the past months all I seem to be thinking about is how I cannot wait for summer to come back around again! Whenever there’s a peak of sun, out come the flip-flops and sunglasses. Thinking about holidays and travelling I decided to have a bit of a reminisce…  

Beautiful Bournemouth.

Starting with a place I am proud to call my second home… Bournemouth. The clouds pass and everyone finds an excuse to hit the beach. In the summer Bournemouth honestly makes you feel like your anywhere but England, sun, sea, sand…you even get a few gutsy people swimming in the sea!  

Ibiza.

 Ibiza. One of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen in my life was the one I sat and watched with hundreds of other holiday-ers on the beach of San Antonio, Ibiza.  

Dublin.

My friends and I have all got a bit of a soft spot for the Irish accent; with cheap flights and the accent galore it would have been rude of us to say no to a weekend away in Dublin! From the Guinness Factory to the shopping, the endless traditional Irish pubs to historical monuments, Dublin is definitely one to visit! 

New York.

New York was one of the most amazing places I’ve been lucky enough to visit. A ridiculous amount of amazing shopping, (superstore, ‘Macys’) the busy streets and tall sky scraper builders over towering you, New York is one of a kind. 

Los Angeles.

Los Angeles, Hollywood. Beautiful people, beautiful houses and beautiful cars. Although I was expecting Hollywood to be as glamorous as I always imagined, I was surprised to find downtown  LA, where the Graumans Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood walk of fame is, didn’t quite live up to expectations. Obviously it was as mesmerising as I hoped but the whole atmosphere has become commercial and dare I say ‘tacky’. However, driving into Beverley Hills, surrounded by multi-million houses and perfectly symmetrical roads it was nothing but perfection. 

San Fransisco.

Bearing the often bad weather and cold winds, San Fransisco’s characteristic steep hills and tourist spots such as pier 39, the sea-lion area, and Lombard street, a unique zigzag road lined with beautiful gardens shouldn’t be missed out if travelling Americas west coast. 

Grand Canyon.

I’m personally not one for heights, just the thought of looking over the edge of the Grand Canyon turned my stomach but this amazing opportunity to see the view myself was something I couldn’t give up over a fear. 

Berlin.

I’ve visited Berlin a few times with a history group, sight seeing Germany’s historical monuments as well as experiencing the German way of life, the food and drink.

 

 

Looking through holiday snaps for this post has just made me want to leave England even more! I will always have these memories, I just can’t wait to make more. Let me know of any unforgettable travels you’ve had please, I’d love to hear about them…

 

Boom of the Blackberry

February 19, 2010

Before they were only known for business use and a gadget that no one necessarily needed in their life, but over the past year I have found the Blackberry has become one of the most desired and ‘required’ (to a large extent) communication possessions. From the Curve to the Bold, Pearl to the Storm, Blackberry appears to be taking over this generations phones.

Yes I speak as a hypocrite  as I do have one myself, but it interests me how fascinated I became in having one, as did the rest of the world! Years ago phones were getting smaller and smaller to appeal to the generation who wanted something they could fit into the smallest of pockets but still provide anything you could need, from calling to texting, taking photos to holding 1000’s of songs. I was always a bit of  gadget fanatic myself, wanting the newest phones with the newest applications, but as I’ve grown up I’ve found those things don’t matter so much to me…a phone is a phone! Until the Blackberry…

“It’s like a mini laptop you can take around everywhere with you” my friend said in a conversation we had over lunch. It is so true though. A larger exterior but it supplies you with just about everything you could want from a phone. The introduction of BBM allows people who own Blackberrys to communicate almost instantly and with the increasing population who are joining the Blackberry world you can talk to endless friends. Not to mention the common person who has a Facebook profile will check what’s going on online daily, with a Blackberry you have the ability to check it whenever you want with unlimited internet access and reception pretty much everywhere.

The Blackberry is in high competition with the iPhone at the moment but to be honest in my eyes there isn’t much competition. Me with a large touch screen gadget just would not end well (clumsy). To be fair Apples iPhone is useful for its endless applications from games to orange wednesday cinema listings, but compared to the Blackberry for some reason it just doesn’t quite cut the mustard.

Jess Gatford is a 19-year-old quirky Bournemouth University student studying Communication and Media with me. This afternoon I got a chance to ask her a few questions in the style of a twitter interview about the ins and outs of the Gatford life…

Jess showing off a 'gardenly wonderland'

Q. Jess your currently wearing a hat, are you an accessory person?

I guess so! I like to make an effort especially on a night out. I won’t lie…at the moment my hair’s just a mess!

Q. What do you want to achieve in your life before you turn 40?

I want to be married and have children, successful and happy. I would like to be living somewhere quiet, I’d probably move back to Devon to settle down. Hopefully have a lot of money and just be happy really.

Q. Following your plans to move back to Devon, you’ve only got happy memories of the picturesque county?

No not quite, I think it’s a place that is to be appreciated by an older generation and I think by moving back there I may be able to fully appreciate my hometown.

Q. Why did you choose to go into Media and where do you want to go with it?

Media I found to  be the most interesting subject at A level, and luckily it was one of the subjects I was better at! In the future I see myself high up in a PR company hopefully, bossing other people around and getting people to make me cups of tea. Hopefully I’ll be making a lot of money whilst doing so!

Q. What is the most exciting thing that you have ever done?

This is going to sound pretty poor…is the time that I went to Alton Towers. I don’t like hieghts and I don’t like rollercoasters and my friends managed to persuade me to go on the Oblivian…I thought I was going to die.

Q. If you could only take three possesions with you onto a desert island what would they be?

My teddy, I don’t go anywhere without my teddy…well obviously I go places! My mobile so that I can text, and a fishing rod so I don’t die! I can call for help and fish.

Q. In your chosen image your showing off a ‘gardenly wonderland’, are you a bit of a gardener yourself?

No, but I did clean the garden furniture (with bleach) in an attempt to sit in the garden but unfortunately I took the varnish off and now no one can sit in it!

Q. As your not much of a gardener, what do you like to do with your time and where do you like to go?

I like to socialise, go out and see people but it depends what kind of mood I’m in. Sometimes I like to have a night in in PJs and films. I like going to Lava on a wednesday or monday and going to The Firestation for Lollipop, when I’m not chilling out infront of the box.

The internet as the new media has taken over our process of socialising. Social networking sites are an easy, and to some extent lazy, way of maintaining and making new relationships. Either way, everyone is crazy for it! Starting in 1995 the competition to create the most popular site has been high…

1995 Classmates was created to help people stay in contact with those they have met throughout their life. Being a basic member of this site meant that your actions were limited, but it gave an option of upgrading to a gold membership in exchange for payment.

1997 The ‘Human Web’, ‘Six degrees of seperation’ a site that created a ‘connection’ between every person in the world.

2002 Friendster, used to create and maintain relationships, share photos, videos and events. It was also the introduction of Friendster for the mobile, allowing updates through text alerts and the ability to keep up-to-date with those around you on the go.

2003 Myspace allowed people to create personal profiles, add videos/ music and write blogs to share with the world of Myspace. Over the years Myspace has become increasingly used for hopeful music artists, as the likes of Lily Allen became famous through posting her music on this site.

2004 The site in January 2009 that was named ‘the most used social networking site’ by ‘compete‘ is Facebook. Facebook built upon all previous social networking sites, creating features that made everything that bit easier to use and quicker too, appealing to the fast paced modern lives most people live nowadays.

2005 Youtube, a video sharing website that allows for people to upload, comment on and popularise videos from all over the world.

2006 Twitter, a site to create a connection between people and also celebrities. The use of status updates and ‘following’ people allows you to keep up-to-date with what people are doing and where people are. This is so appealing to society today because of the fascination the majority have with celebrities lives. In a sense, Twitter takes away the barrier between ‘ordinary’ people and celebrities.

2010 After many attempts, Google have now brought out another competitor in the world of Social Networking Sites; Google Buzz. Built into Gmail accounts this new Social Networking Site has been argued to be easily accessed not to mention its hight tech mobile features such as posts by voice.

Storey sites

January 29, 2010

I use the internet daily but can’t help but find I use the same sights day in day out…
  • Facebook– I rely on facebook to communicate with friends and keep updated with their lives when we’re not easily in touch. It’s an easy way to stay in contact especially as everyone I know has it.
  • ASOS– Internet shopping is something I am definitely guilty of, ASOS provides a range of clothes for a fair price and paying for clothes through the net somehow makes it seem like your not actually spending money!
  • BBC– This website is useful for just about everything, from keeping up to date with the news to checking the weather forecast, I use it daily.
  • Google– Google will always be the search engine I choose when searching for anything, I think it is one of the most useful sites as it guides you to what you are looking for through key words.
  • Hotmail– An easy way to access my emails, I use hotmail to communicate with family and get notifications about various aspects of my life from university life to updates from websites.
  • Lloyds TSB– Internet banking, great for quick and easy money transfers and checking your balance without having to go to a cashpoint.
  • Video2MP3– If I hear a great song that I want on my itunes I will often find the video on youtube and use this site to change it into MP3 format, really handy to get hold of songs that aren’t mainstream.