A picture of Ted Leath Ted Leath 
Room MG126 
Faculty of Informatics
University of Ulster, Magee College
Northland Road, Londonderry, Co. Londonderry 
BT48 7JL, Northern Ireland 
Email: ta.leath@ulst.ac.uk
Web Site Mission Statement

In preparing for this periodic examination of this web site and its compliance with the original mission statement, I revisited both this web site, and the web sites of a few of my classmates. I was initially struck by the amount of work apparent in the sites of the full-time students. The web sites of part-time students (like myself) will not be as fully developed until next academic year. Nevertheless, the following is an evaluation of the web site to date in the light of the original mission statement.
Web Site Description

This web site will provide information using the following 3 categories;

The web site does currently have this categorisation of "Family", "Work" and "Music" in a simple pictorial image map on the initial HTML page.
The “Work” category will have the following sub categories;
Labs and Networking Papers, Notes and Research Projects
Websites MSc Computing and Design

When the "Work" category image is chosen from the initial HTML page, the sub categories listed above are then listed in a simple list with links to the appropriate pages.
The “MSc Computing and Design” sub category will be further categorised under the headings of course modules and projects.

I think this is where the layout of the site is particularly clear. Rather than traversing through layers of semesters and modules before seeing project material, all project material is linked from a single HTML page. This page uses indentation and bullets to differentiate modules and projects. Most project material is only 3 "clicks" away from the initial web site HTML page, and only 1 "click" from the "MSc Computing and Design" page.
Those expected to use the web site include;
  • People seeking personal information  – interests, past work, work experience, competencies, etc.
  • People seeking contact information
  • Web “surfers” who have come across the web site while casually browsing the Internet
  • Evaluators for the PgDip/MSc Computing and Design course
The web site will allow hitherto disparate information to be accessed in an integrated way, and provide organisational benefits.

At the moment, the site would be viewed primarily by staff and students associated with the PgDip/MSc Computing and Design course. The web site will eventually allow me to bring together information about my work, music and family interests in an integrated way. I have a lot of work to do in transferring information which is in other places to the site.
Design Objectives

Some of the particular design objectives to be pursued include;

  • Neat, tidy and easy to read – a prime objective for almost any web site should be that the pages are organised and easy to comprehend.
  • Consistent – pages should be stylistically consistent where possible.
  • Correct punctuation and spelling – information should be correct, as should the punctuation and spelling.

The pages of the web site are generally tidy and easy to read. Much use is made of plain legible HTML. The pages are relatively consistent stylistically, although there is not as rigid an enforcement of " house style" as I would like. In the future I hope to use cascading style sheets or the CSS-like function within NetObjects Fusion to ensure stylistic consistency while maintaining flexibility.

Care has been taken with spelling and punctuation. The spelling and grammar checking functions in Word, and the spelling checking function in Netscape Composer have been used on most documents.
  • Logical in structure – the placement of pages in relation to each other should be as intuitive to the user as is possible.
  • Printable – as far as is appropriate, pages should be printable, able to stand alone without links.
  • Hypertextual – pages should appropriate “depth” via hypertext links.

There are not really enough pages at this point to sufficiently critique the relational placement of page, but to date, placement is relatively logical and intuitive. The predominant use of HTML ensures that most pages are printable. Most pages have been constructed with the possibility of printing in mind.

There is currently not much in the way of external links and hypertextual depth. It is hoped that this will be further developed next academic year.
  • Page currency and contact information – as appropriate, the majority of pages should contain author e-mail contact information and the date of last revision.
  • Relative rather than absolute addressing – in as far as is possible, pages should contain relative rather than absolute element addressing to allow portability.
  • Standard – pages should display on the widest possible range of platforms and screen resolutions.

Most pages contain information regarding the author and the date of last revision. Many pages also contain more detailed contact information ( e-mail "mailto:", postal address and photograph with hypertextual links).

A lot of effort has been made to try to keep the addressing throughout the web site relative where possible. This is crucial in maintaining the portability of the site. One difficulty in the regard is the feature in Netscape Composer which substitutes absolute addresses for relative addresses upon saving pages. When using Netscape Composer it has been necessary to re-edit pages using a simple text editor.

The issue of inter operability proved to be a difficult one. Prototyping reasonably advanced multimedia applications in a short space of time meant a dependency on technologies like Flash, Javascript and Real Networks streaming audio and video. These technologies required browser plug-ins. The difference between the Javascript implementations for Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Explorer proved to be problematic, and while able to be resolved, the pressure of time meant that some project materials would only work on a given browser platform. Where this is the case, it is clearly indicated.

In conclusion, the initial mission statement for the web site was fairly tightly specified, and is being met in most respects - the most notable exception being that of inter operability.

Ted Leath - last modified May 18th, 1999