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Web Design Assignments & Ideas

As outlined on the Grading & Expectations page,students in Mission 2011 will use four different tools to communicate their ideas: team and class wikis, a class-wide blog, and a final Project Web Site. There are some web and HTML resources listed near the bottom of this page. Our web guru, Dr. Robert Hildebrand, and TA, Mariela Perignon, are available to review work and provide design insight throughout the semester. In addition Phil Long, the Associate Director of the Office of Education Innovation and Technology can answer questions about web communication via wiki's. This is the first year we have employed wikis and we will make sure there is ample instruction.

Team Wikis
The team wikis will serve as a repository for the research and brainstorming that different teams and their individual members are doing. Team members can use their team wikis to share their work with each other, as well as contribute to one other's work. Each student must also maintain a web-based journal as a page in their team wiki. They will use this journal to document their individual progress in the class, as well as share ideas and resources with their team members. We expect each team member to have at least one major contribution to the team wiki and their journal each week during the entire semester.

An important part of research is proper documentation and attribution. When you present a fact, a graphic, or an opinion that is not your own on a web site, in a presentation slide, or in a paper, you MUST reference it properly. Correct referencing is not often part of a high-school curriculum, so you should familiarize yourself with the correct approach, Consult Chapter 10 of the online version of the Mayfield Handbook of Technical and Scientific Writing for a brief treatment of this subject. We will use the American Psychological Association (APA) citation style for this class.

Each team is responsible for proposing one or more components of the final Mission 2011 design. By Friday, October 19th, each team must upload to the class wiki a draft version of their finished research and proposals. This work should be presented in considerable detail, and it will serve as an informational resource when the entire class decides on the final proposed plan for saving the world's fisheries.. These documents should have a solid, professional look and it should be informative to anyone who might read it from outside the Mission 2011 community. Again, information and ideas must be properly cited.

Team 1, Team 2, Team 3, Team 4, Team 5, Team 6, Team 7, Team 89, Team 10

Class Wiki
The class wiki will, at a larger scale, serve the same purpose as the team wikis. As the transition from team-based research to class-based solution occurs, the class wiki will serve as a place for the students to share files, as well as comment and contribute to each other's work. The students will use this space to communally finalize the documents from which the Project Web Site will be created.

Class Blog
The MIT Office of Educational Innovation and Technology has provided Mission 2011, along with the wikis, with a Class Blog. All students and staff can post and comment to this blog under their own name, but the general public cannot access it. This space will serve to share ideas and resources with the class as a whole, as well as to house discussions on topics relevant to the class. This is a great way to communicate between teams. .

Project Web Site
One of the principle assignments for the semester is the development of a coherent, highly informative description of the final Mission 2010 solution in the form of a Project Web Site. While this site might contain links to the Team Web Sites, it should be an introductory page with at least ten links. This will be your opportunity to provide a succinct review of the principle components of your overall solution as well as describe your implementation strategy in detail.

One effective approach to constructing a good Project Web Site is for each team to designate a delegate to a Project Web Site Committee, which will meet regularly throughout November. The Final Project Web Site must be fully operational on November 26th. The Final Project Website will be housed in an athena locker inside the Mission 2011 web space.

General Web Site Design Tips
There are so many really cool things to do on web pages that it is easy to get carried away; but it is important to realize that on a web site purported to provide ionformation, that too many special effects will dilute your message. Remember that the focus of your web sites is content, not flash! Try to create sites that are not cluttered but will let yoiur message come through loud and clear. Just as on your computer screen, the user interface should be easily understandable and intuitive, yet fade into the background so that it doesn't overpower the content. You can learn the principles of user-centered design here.

For the Project Web Site, it is not enough to list what will be done; rather, you must explain how you arrived at your final solutions. In other words, you must justify your decisions with facts and reasoning. In doing this you should clearly illustrate not just your final solutions, but the thought process that you followed. What alternative solutions did you consider and ultimately reject? Why did you reject them? What was the logic behind selecting certain alternatives? Who did you consult, and how did their opinions influence your decisions?

Building Web Pages with Composer is Netscape's tutorial for those unfamiliar with using Composer to construct web sites. Another tutorial for Composer is Web Page Construction Using Netscape's Composer 7.x. Ignore the school specific stuff as these are for Long Beach State students. Yet another Composer specific site is Easy Web Page Design with Netscape Composer.

Although there are a plethora of sites with "How to's" on writing HTML, I like W3 Schools, HTML Primer, and HTML Code Tutorial.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) really simplify web page design and are cached by browsers so they don't cause a huge time penalty. CSS are nothing more than formatting rules. Think font-size, margin-width, fon-color and spacing. They are stored in a seperate file, in your page header, or in-line. Again, there are thousands of sites that deal with CSS, but you might start with Open Sourcery, the W3 Consortium, and CSS Tutorial.

Graphics can be created in any graphics program, but for the web you must optimize them. Most web professionals use Adobe Photoshop® and Adobe ImageReady®. For example, when using a GIF file format (for text), do you really need all 256 colors or will 32 do most of what you want? There's a big difference in file size. Also, be sure to experiment with photos and jpeg (jpg) settings as often a 4 or 5 quality will work just fine and be much smaller. Check out the Web Design Groups' Image Use on the Web and also this tutorial on jpeg.