Tag Archives: tips

before building a database tips and tricks

On reviewing the subject material for DMT over the past two weeks I have come to think a lot about the practices I do at work when developing databases, requesting quotes for others to create databases and upgrading databases…All fun things to do…but complicated and often you need a working knowledge of the content/data before embarking on such a journey.

I have reviewed my processes and provided a summary list of questions that will better assist me in the workpklace, to assist developers and also to make sure the quote we receive can be better tailored (rather than the quotee having to guess what we may be talking about in a project proposal/plan). Hope they will assist you to.

Databases – Questions to answer and document

1. What are the objectives of the database?

To reduce manual input? To provide an approval process of content? To provide some information about a product/service to the public on a website? To create an authoritative source for staff to access across multiple locations? To store procedures

2. What are the fields/tables of the database?

Data modeling is a great starting point – I found that brainstorming what will be in the tables using a spreadsheet really help when there are multiple people in the process. It provides an opportunity for the developer to think about the type of technology that will best assist and the sheer amount of work required (for example, you may have twenty fields, or two hundred fields – this helps in the quoting process). It will also assist you work out where relationships need to be formed in the table. As time progresses, you may find that the tables / fields evolove. This is a good thing to work out on paper, before you create the database.

My spreadsheet template has the following headings (so you are thinking about the content from the beginning):

  • Field
  • Description
  • Field Content Type (text, memo, numeric, list etc)
  • Options (one, multiple)
  • Content Owner
  • Data Source (if fed from database / source)

3. Where will your data be coming from?

Will you be utilising content from other systems? How will content feed into your database – FTP, CSV upload, manual? What are the fields that will have content fed into them automatically? Note: A flow chart is a great way to open the conversation with a developer.

4. Who will be using your database?

How many administrators will be accessing the database? How many reviewers? What are the admin, reviewers, editors roles? Is a log in required? Is some information for some users, and other information for other users?

5. What reports will you need from the database?

And in what file format? Who will need to access the report

6. Is there any special functionality you require?

Do you want a person to enter a form and then a personalised automatic email / PDF is generated and sent to the person completing the form? Make sure you relate the special functionality back to the objectives.

Bringing it all together!

The final part before sending out to vendors for review and the quoting process is to document Functional Specifications – that will include all of the above, plus wireframes if you have an idea of how you would like the data organised on a page.

Most of all, remember, it is a work in progress and the developer may have some ideas to input in relation to technology platform, table structure, field labels and relationships. Take on the feedback and make a decision based on whether your objectives will still be met if the suggested update is made.

accessibility and usability considerations with CSS

Knowing some examples of how CSS can aid in clickability and readability is highly important as it also takes into consideration accessibility and usability. Hudson et. al. (2005) state that CSS can be used to “…manipulate the presentation of content, without affecting the structure of the content” (p.5).

The article by Hudson et.al (2005) provide the following ideas for clickability and readability with CSS:

  1. Increasing the line height between text can aid in readability
  2. Increasing the margin by “1.5 or 2 full lines of space” will assist readability
  3. Adding hover affects, for example when hovering over a link have the colour change, assist the user to find the links (if it is not already obvious)
  4. Increase the active area on links to increase the target area
  5. Reverse colours, for example “…light coloured text on a dark background”

The above are only couple of examples and they are the ones that I would like to test out on my site for the purpose of usability and readability of the site. For more ideas, examples and the CSS information on how to implement, refer to Hudson et. al. (2005) CSS to aid clickability and readability

Source: Hudson R., Weakley R., and Firminger P. 30 January 2005, ‘Developing sites for users with cognitive disabilities and learning difficulties’ viewed 29 March 2011 at <http://drr.lib.uts.edu.au/link/1604>

apply body id for CSS

The most interesting aspects of this weeks class (for me) were the instructions on how to apply different Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to different pages, how precedence works with CSS and media type CSS files.

My interest is in relation to my workplace where divisions would like identifiers to make their section of the site a little different from others, yet the brand requirement is to have some design elements across all pages. It was great to see in practice how precedence works when you have multiple CSS files for a site with a similar requirement of the organisation (where Faculties would like their own design elements, but there is an over-arching brand requirement).

Below is what I found interesting and the how to…

…apply CSS elements to specific pages:

In Alaistair Weakley’s video tutorial, he explained the way to apply different CSS to different pages, is to apply a body id and then add the creative element details:

Apply Body ID to the page/s:

<body id=”home_page”>

Edit the CSS file:

#home_page h1 {
color:red;
}

This means that all text with a Heading 1 (h1) tag, on pages that have the body id of “home_page” will be red.

…add media type link for CSS files into the HTML

A CSS file may be created for the specific purpose of a particular media type, for example printing. To link the specific media type file into HTML, add the following text (replacing the href= link with your file location):

<link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” media=”print” href=”http://www.locationofcssfile.print.css” />

I am looking forward to applying these ideas to my final project.

presentation notes (from office casual)

A link to Office Casual: Make better PowerPoint presentations was placed up on Digital Graphic and the Still Image announcements this week and the content is relevant for our class as well as we have a presentation for the final project…so here are the tips from the video…

Seth Godin recommends 6 words per slide. To achieve this:

  • Have only one point per slide
  • Use the Notes section for discussion points and questions

Use Guy Kawasaki’s 10 – 20 – 30 rule, that is:

  • No more than 10 slides
  • Speak for no longer than 20 minutes
  • 30 point font size at a minimum

Use the Presenter View in Power Point

  • Go to the Slide Show View and select the presenter view
  • Select which monitor you want the presentation to be on and which monitor you want the presenter view on
  • Remember there are additional tools like the highlighter tool you can use during your presentation

Garr Reynolds recommends using images in presentations:

  • Use images in your presentation – if you have a big bold picture, use it!
  • Photos help tell stories and they help you get rid of words
  • Office.com have a large selection of free images you can use in presentations

If it is a sit down presentation:

  • Sit in front of the large projection screen so you can connect with the audience by facing them
  • Have everything you need on the computer in front of you
  • Leave the lights on so you can connect with the audience

If you are standing up during the presentation:

  • Don’t stand in front of a podium
  • Above all – Practice, practice, practice
  • Root yourself in a location and project your voice and the energy

Do you have presentation pointers???

If you have any additional presentation pointers/tips/video links, please feel free to share them by adding a comment below.