Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Palmquist Talkin Websites, Woo!

This article was a very structured and very detailed overview of all that a website actually constitutes. I don't think they missed a beat here. The article was very well organized and easy to view -- which I liked, because in this case, they practiced what they preached. The author had said to do the same thing with your website.

I thought the section about navigation tools was particularly interesting and applicable. This is something that I as a website viewer don't often consciously notice, but when it's brought up, I realize that some of my favorite websites really suck at that. I'm all about side menus and quick links, and this article stresses the importance of those, which I like. Out of the organizations they talked about, I'm more a fan of the interlinked organization than the hierarchical organization, because I'd prefer one click and I'm there, rather than having to get into the right category to find the page I want.

I also love the design checklist at the end. I think it covers all the necessary bases for how a website should look, and I definitely plan on consulting that a number of times in this upcoming project.

I couldn't write an entire analysis without complaining though, so here's my only beef... I don't know when this article was written, and although it doesn't show too many signs of age, some of this information might be a little outdated in this current web landscape. Basically, with the emergence of blogs, social networks, streaming digital media, and all of the other crazy shit that's booming online these days, it's hard to apply each and every one of these guidelines today. I mean, who cites their sources nowadays? Is it really necessary to have contact information? Those are the negatives that stood out to me.

Moving on, I went through my bookmarks and found a couple of sites that are relevant to this discussion. A site that I think does an awesome job of navigation, design, organization, etc. is the almighty There's a detailed, interactive menu on each page. There are links everywhere that point you to relevant information. Graphics, fonts, titles, subheadings -- all of that stuff stands out and is aesthetically pleasing. I know they are a mega website and a mega company with tons of employees maintaining that thing around the clock, but they do a damn good job.

A site that needs work is a smaller one that I frequent. It's a website about hip-hop that has sponsored links and a pretty large following. I wouldn't say it's a blog, though some people would. It's actually just a list full of links for users to illegally download songs. has a no nonsense title -- you know exactly what you're getting. But there is no menu, there are randomly placed graphics everywhere, the fonts are bland and small, and with so much content on one page, it's really difficult for certain things to stand out. This dipshit puts "HOTTTT" next to like 5 of the songs he posted every day, and most of them are far from "HOTTTT" -- in fact, they blow. I mean, the least he could do would be to archive his posts somehow. Maybe categorize the songs a little. Make the titles stand out. I don't know, something! With a domain name like that and ready access to free songs, his site definitely has a lot of potential, but that completely inadequate design just holds the whole thing back.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Final Thoughts

I am just completely up in the air about the project I just submitted. I have no idea if I did the right thing. I'm not even sure as to what the fine details of the actual project were. All I know is that I used plenty of resources, tried to figure out the right directions, and put my best effort forward to describe my hometown to this site. I think it's a really good description, but the question lingers... is it what I was supposed to do?

A couple of things bother me about my article. First off, I wanted to add some pictures, because any article (about a small town especially) is really bland without those. Let's face it. Problem is, I could not FOR THE LIFE OF ME figure out how to successfully embed an image into the text. They even had a button at the top of the text box called 'embed image' and I still couldn't get it to work. I'm definitely pissed about that. It takes away from my article tremendously.

I got one peer review, and it was just a snotty, bitchy take on my article that was 10% done at the time. So that was of no help. I just felt rushed by this whole project in general. I'm not trying to complain, because everybody is in the same boat here, but I just felt like the directions were a bit unclear, and I really had no opportunity to seek help once I got to working. Should I have started editing and identified my problems earlier? Most definitely. But that's not how I do things. It's not what works for me. I didn't have the chance to put my full focus into this project until just this weekend due to other academic conflicts that had more pressing deadlines.

So with all of those whiny excuses out of the way, my final take on this project was that it was a shot in the dark. I did put a good amount of effort into it, but I felt like I was doing it blindly. And that could come back to cost me in the end, but hopefully not too harshly.

The Markup

So what's the deal with the Wiki Markup? Is it all it's cracked up to be? I don't know, we made a really big deal about it in class, so when I dove into this project, I felt like it would be something I'd have to study and edit and get used to. But I really haven't, and that kind of worries me. From what I understand so far, it's just a couple of codes here and there. I really don't find it to be that complicated, but based on the time we spent covering it during class time, I feel like I should definitely be doing more with it.

What I've mainly used to guide my entries are the template they gave for "Small cities." That is a very clear, easy to decipher example of what they're looking for -- and I guess what my teacher is looking for. Hopefully if my entry matches that of the example, then I'll be good. But I still have a ringing suspicion that I've totally overlooked something here. All I can do is double check the assignment and my work, and hope for the best once I submit it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Manual of Style

After going through the WikiTravel Manual of Style, I learned a lot about how the site is built and what goes into each entry. A few things stood out to me that I thought would be important to other readers...

-- There are very specific ways in which they want you to write and format the article. For example, I was surprised at how specific they got when it came to bold/italics and how they should be used. I kind of viewed those as being sort of interchangeable, but apparently, you use bold for titles and theme words, and italics to emphasize points.

-- Second-person pronouns (you, friends, etc.) are OK, first-person pronouns (I, we, etc.) are not.

-- If you're going to write anything about gay/lesbian people, BE CAREFUL. They dedicated a whole section to explaining how information for homosexuals should be presented. Necessary? Well, I read the whole page, and I sure as hell didn't think so. But apparently, anything homo-related is under strict scrutiny over at WikiTravel.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wikitravel Destinations

I have no particular preference as to what kind of entry I'd like to contribute to. There aren't really too many destinations that I have supreme knowledge on, though there are a few that I could write about for a bit. I could go on and on about several places -- some of which I've visited multiple times, and a few that I've had just one memorable experience with. These are some possible areas of focus, randomly ordered:

-- Outer Banks, NC
-- Seaside Heights, NJ
-- Acapulco, MX
-- Narragansett, RI
-- Long Beach Island, NJ
-- Queechy Lake, NY
-- Newport, RI

I feel like I could easily gather tons of useful information on any one of those places. Some interest me more than others, and obviously some entries will be more developed than others, so that's something I'm gonna have to take into consideration when I ultimately choose. I think once I understand what's required of each entry, then I'll have a better idea of which one I'd want to choose.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


This has got some serious potential. I've never seen a travel site like this one before. I'm not exactly a frequent user of destination reviews, but in my experience surfing the web, I've always gotten lost on sites like Travelocity and Orbitz -- it always seems like they're trying to sell you something. Those may not be exactly the same type of site that reviews things like Wikitravel, but those are really the only big names I'm familiar with.

This allows people to write reviews on ANY destination with the same familiar and awesome interface that Wikipedia has. The searching and the organization of the site are top notch. But unlike with their encyclopedia, I do see a problem with letting the public edit the entries -- you don't really get the full picture.

I checked out 3 destinations that I'd been to in the past year -- Acapulco, Mexico; Seaside Heights, New Jersey; and of course Narragansett, RI.

A common theme that I found was the lack of negatives in each of the descriptions. Everything was informative, but had a positive tone. They didn't talk about the deficencies that any of them had -- the things that really bothered me about each place. Acapulco was an awesome place, but sketchy as hell for tourists. Seaside Heights is littered with crime, mischief and completely family-unfriendly behavior around every corner -- yet none of that was mentioned. Hell, even Narragansett can be as boring and gay a town as you'll find in New England, but since it was written by a lifelong resident, everything was just glowing in its profile. Well I know a lot of people who fucking hate Narragansett AND Seaside Heights AND Acapulco, yet none of their opinions are reflected in each of these reviews. That makes the site sugar-coated and phony, and thus, shitty at this point.

So to recap -- Love the concept, but it needs some serious work. When it's repaired, I could definitely see this site taking off exactly as Wikipedia has.