Reflections on my work and life experience.

Website Design - IST 110

This website is itself the product of a class assignment to create a website with a blog and portfolio. Since I had already designed a number of websites over the years, and I had an active blog on blogger.com, the project was a cakewalk for me. Instead of coasting, though, I wanted to challenge myself and learn something new. Therefore, I spent most of the week learning the ins and outs of Movable Type, the blogging platform and content management system that Penn State uses, to redesign the templates and recreate my blog and website as a more up-to-date, standards-compliant site with dynamic elements.

In the process of researching and designing this site according to the instructor's guidelines, I discovered how much I hadn't known about web authoring best practices. I suspect now that my old layouts would have caused problems for screen readers. I learned a lot more about cascading style sheets. My previous efforts with them were hackneyed and inefficient, and I had never used them to the extent I have with this layout. They made the application of consistent design a breeze and were fun to work with. The design of the menus is entirely CSS-based. I even began to learn and apply a bit of PHP in designing the thumbnail image galleries in my art section.

From previous experience, I knew that graphic design and artistic skill are not necessarily synonymous. Though I possess a fair amount artistic skill, I'd never done very well at graphic design before, with the graphic elements of my sites looking somewhat random and definitely not unified or thematic. This time, the examples and policies I found led me to a better effort, resulting in the sole graphic element of my site at the upper left. I incorporated a piece of my own art both as a material example of my work and as a unique personal signature .

Her instruction on e-portfolios broke the most new ground for me. While I know I possess useful skills, it's sometimes a struggle for me to figure out how to frame and present them for others. The reading and writing she assigned us on e-portfolios opened up whole new vistas for me in compiling a body of work and presenting myself on a professional level. It wasn't just a matter of selling myself. I came to a better understanding of what employers are looking for--a new perspective that will help me be a better employee as well as a better prospect.

In all, the guidance our instructor gave us for the class assignment was an education in both web design and professional development. She helped me refine skills I already possessed, and inspired me to learn new ones. But don't take my word for it. Look over my site and judge for yourself!