This is a reflective report on the pre production, production and post production activities of the website development group project “Brass Loft”. A rigorous analysis of the development process from start to end is conducted to determine the achievement of set goals within the specified timeline. This analysis is achieved through a comparison of the development process with the original aims stated in the group’s initial plan. The strengths of the project, as well as its weaknesses are also explored with recommendations for possible areas of improvement. Further, the report then assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the group as a whole including areas of improvement. Lastly, the report analyzes the individual contribution of Fan Xuchen, the lead designer in the entire project.
The group’s aim was to develop an informational website for the brass band community. The website would contain such features as news, interviews, reviews, events and contests related to the brass band community. The website design is developed using Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 before its exportation to a web format through the Extract plugin in the text editor Brackets. Due to the magnitude and complexity of the project, the members of the group were assigned unique roles with each of the members leading in the delivery of certain tasks. Liam Spedding was the overall project manager and doubled up as the lead developer. Ideally, his work entails both front end and back end tasks to ensure that all programs are on track. The group assigned Martin Young to be the content editor with the role of sourcing for the website’s content. Moreover, he was in charge of the Search Engine Optimization and edited all the content before submitting it.
The media manager was assigned to be Katie Beadle who spearheaded the market research as well as creating and managing social media pages. Omar Yousaf contributed to the website content by making sure that all content is put in the right sections. In addition, he was to find relevant images for the website while ensuring compliance of the website with copyright laws. The creation and management of databases as well as overall backend operations were conducted by Dimos Kallias. He was also in charge of examining and implementing the usability of the website by creating user testing experiences. Lastly, I, Fan Xuchen was the lead designer and created appropriate graphics in the website. Moreover, I managed the adjustment of the color schemes and storyboarding of interviews. During the interviews, Fan was also responsible for directing and editing the videos. This report particularly assesses the contribution of the lead designer in the group project.
Ultimately, the developed website is purposed to provide current updates across the brass band community. The project is necessitated by market research findings suggesting the scarcity of websites within the identified niche. In particular, there was only one widely used website, 4barsrest.co.ke, serving the large market of brass band fans. Even when it served the fans, feedback from the users pointed to the website as looking messy and not being updated on a regular basis. Moreover, the website for not mobile responsive thereby locking out a large number of mobile users. These revelations pointed to the existence of an opportunity for the development of a well designed website to cater for the needs of the brass band community. The ultimate goal is that the website topples 4barsrest.co.uk from the leading position in terms of brass band news and activities.
Pre production processes
Before the development process commenced, the group was involved in pre production processes mainly related to planning. This is a necessity as it provides the roadmap for the entire production process based on the findings and the specific requirements Niederst, 2007). Members of the group were all involved in at least one of the pre production processes either as a group or individually. In the first instance, members were involved in market research to identify the particular gaps in the brass band community. For instance, on Thursday, 11th February, every member of the group took questionnaires that were structured to gather as much information as possible from the brass band community. In this process, I was actively involved in the dissemination of questionnaires and the collection of feedback from participants. Ideally, market research was the main pre production process as it provided, all information required for the production process.
In the market research, the group members made contact with the brass band community to identify their website needs. The market research was not however limited to the questionnaires but was an active process done over a long time. For instance, the members researched ion the available websites and identified the flaws and gaps in the existing websites. Moreover, it is through the market research that the group members identified that the leading brass band website was not mobile responsive. It should be remembered that the group members further grilled the users of the leading website for feedback on their experience with the website. It is through such interactions that the group was able to find out that most users were not satisfied with the service offered in the website.
The pre production phase further involved the suggestion and brainstorming of ideas to be implemented in the main project. For instance, the name of the website was a collective effort that resulted from suggestions from every member of the group. I remember we all came in with our suggestions and had to convince the other members on the suitability of the suggestions. However, after rigorous brainstorming, the group coined the names Brass Loft from among the suggestions floated by members. In addition to the project name, the group further deliberated on the tasks and roles ahead and each of us volunteered to spearhead a specific role based on our competencies and interests. After everyone had assigned themselves roles, the remaining roles were then subdivided amongst the group members equitably therefore making the group work more effective.
Still, the pre production stage saw the determination of a budget with each of the group members contributing towards the formulation of the budget. In fact, the costs of labor were suggested by the members based on their knowledge and expertise. However, the same was confirmed from websites that tracked the market prices for different labor options. I, for instance, suggested the current labor price for video editors and followed that up with a variety of websites that tracked the current wages for the same. Other members also suggested labor prices in their respective roles in the project with others suggesting for multiple jobs. The result was a budget that reflected the prevailing market wages for the different personnel that were required for the project. In addition to the budget, the team further set a timeline with specific actions to be done within anticipated time. To help in the timely implementation of the project, each member was given timelines within which they were to complete their roles.
After the planning phase and the approval of the budget, the team embarked on their different roles working hand in hand to achieve the set goals within their specified timelines. Still, the group members had to agree on a number of things including the general framework of the website. Initially, the group was faced with the choice of either using either HTML or WordPress as the content management system. After discussions, the team agreed on using WordPress owing to its popularity in the industry. In addition, the content management system was easier to maintain through spreading of the workload among members of the group. Although WordPress provided a vast array of pre-built themes (Plumley, 2011), the group decided on creating a new theme from scratch in a bid to make the site more unique. The task of building the theme was bestowed on Fan Xuchen as the lead designer. I was mandated to use Bootstrap which is a very popular front-end and responsive framework.
The group employed specialization of labor to be most effective in delivery of the set goals and objectives. Each member was assigned roles that they were most comfortable doing depending on their different capabilities and expertise. Despite having different roles, it was important to function as a team and work hand in hand to ensure conformity and standardization of the processes. As thus, review meetings were scheduled regularly to assess the individual and group performances of all the members. The group assigned Martin Young to be the content editor with the role of sourcing for the website’s content. Moreover, he was in charge of the Search Engine Optimization and edited all the content before submitting it. Omar Yousaf contributed to the website content by making sure that all content is put in the right sections. In addition, he was to find relevant images for the website while ensuring compliance of the website with copyright laws.
The group’s overall project manager who doubled up as the lead developer was the project founder, Liam Spedding. Ideally, his work entails both front end and back end tasks to ensure that all programs are on track. Katie Beadle was assigned the media management role and spearheaded the market research as well as creating and managing social media pages. The creation and management of databases as well as overall backend operations were conducted by Dimos Kallias. He was also in charge of examining and implementing the usability of the website by creating user testing experiences. Lastly, Fan Xuchen was the lead designer and created appropriate graphics in the website. Moreover, I managed the adjustment of the color schemes and storyboarding of interviews.
Post production processes
The production and development stage does not herald an end to the group’s project but is only a stage in the continuous development of the project. After this stage, the group embarked on the post production process mainly to do with monitoring and evaluation of the success of the project. Ideally, every member was involved in the post production processes either directly or indirectly. However, this stage is not as rigorous as the production stage because most of the tasks have already been accomplished. In fact, the post production stage offers a chance to review and make changes to the project depending on the feedback from the reviews. I, as the lead designer, was actively involved in the post production processes both as an individual or in a team.
Although user testing was a role assigned to Dimos Kallias, other group members were involved in the process because one person cannot effectively accomplish the task. The testing was done from the week of March 21st with the participants being sourced from the group’s target audience. Ideally, the process involved the highlighting of areas causing users trouble in the website and effectively correcting the same. The participants were given sets of instructions including taking a particular music type to the last stage of purchase. The trouble areas identified by the participants were then highlighted for review and correction. In so doing, the group was able to fine-tune the website and make it more appealing to the users. Most of the recommendations from participants involved a combined effort from all the group members because all the tasks are interrelated.
Another key post production process is the advertisement and marketing of the website to attract as many users as possible. This process also involved the contribution of all the members of the group and was therefore not a reserve of any member in particular. One of the main tools in our marketing was Facebook where our page was used to update fans and followers of the website content through links. Every member of the group, including I, was tasked with popularizing the page by sharing it amongst their friends. Essentially, the goal was to reach a wider audience thereby attracting more audience to the website. In addition, any member of the group could respond to queries from followers regarding the bass brand community thereby enhancing the efficiency of the website in replying to queries from users. In addition to the Facebook platform, Twitter and Google+ were also used in reaching users and followers of brass band. Ideally, all the members were supposed to share the tweets from the twitter handle of the website thereby reaching a much more audience. The same group members were supposed to share the links from the website on their Google+ profiles further expanding the audience reach. Ultimately, the marketing task was collaboratively executed through the help of all the group members.
The development of the website continued smoothly owing to the contribution of each of the group members. I played a pivotal role in the overall design of the website through my input in the creation of logos, flyers and images among others. My continued role was based on the huge importance that design plays in the website users. The combination of colors can be the difference between users clicking open or ignoring the website altogether and I was very aware of this. A good design is able to attract more users to the website while improving the overall user experience. Studies have shown that satisfied users are highly likely to share website links with their friends online than unsatisfied ones (Bailey, 2011). My selection as the lead designer was most appropriate because of my Art design background experience. As thus, I was able to finish all my weekly tasks in god time therefore contributing to the smooth progress of the development process.
In the course of the designing work, I ensured that I had a variety of options that I presented to the group before deciding on the most suitable of the options. This strategy was particularly useful as it ensured that the group adopted the best and most suitable option in the development of the project. However, I also had weaknesses mainly revolving around my poor communication skills. In most instances, the only communication I had with the other group members was limited by his background as well as poor English mastery. In addition, the lead designer was faced with a number of personal issues that required my physical attention from time to time. As thus, I was not able to attend three tutorials. However, the group ensured that I was not involved in content management thereby exploiting my strengths in art and design. Even though I missed three tutorials, I made an attempt to seek information from the other group members thereby ensuring that I was up to date. In addition, all my tasks were completed on time even when I missed some of the tutorials.
As the lead designer, I was involved in the design of the website logo, a task that I started from scratch. In fact, the logo was completed before the scheduled time of 9th February partly due to my competencies and hard work. Moreover, despite content management not being part of my tasks, I was actively involved in the brainstorming of content. Moreover, I was able, as were all others, to add content to contest pages by the 14th of March. On the same day, all the group members individually created contest pages with my focus being on results. In this case, I was not only an individual player but an effective team player who demonstrates the requisite skills in achieving the group’s objectives.
Additionally, I was actively involved in the designing of the color schemes and the background colors. Essentially, the choice of colors was based on the nature of the website and its outline. Particularly, the choice of yellow and orange as the main colors of the project came about from the fact that they are the colors of brass. The designing of the website was not just about the colors of the brass community though. I had to combine different colors to come up with something reflective of the community while still maintaining its appeal to the users. To achieve this, I deployed the grey color to reduce the promiscuity of the white backgrounds of the body elements. This was particularly effective where texts were included thereby showing the different divides between the elements.
The designing of the website involved a combination of skill and expertise as I managed to achieve an appealing design for the website. Indeed my direct contribution may not be immediately visible but will ultimately be seen when users give their feedback on the experience. The combination of white backgrounds with black texts is strikingly noticeable as it provides an easily readable combination. The choice of these colors was not a straightforward decision but rather a very rigorous analytical process. In coming up with the final color combinations, I explored a variety of options and presented to the group with my own recommendations. Often times, the group backed my recommendations and the review meetings were only used to approve the decisions of the particular members. To finalize the color scheme, I selected a dark grey color to provide the contrast required to offset the bright background colors. It is not just the design that required my active involvement though. I was also actively involved in the production of interviews through directing and editing the videos that were to be uploaded on the website. This development made me a part of the team that was involved in content sourcing and management, albeit indirectly.
The choice of the fonts was also a task that I undertook perfectly well using the recommendations of the group. Finally, I settled on a contemporary modern look in selecting the ‘Source Sans Pro’ font for all the texts in the website (Lynch & Horton, 1999). In fact, the same font was also used on the logo design to bring uniformity and consistency across the different elements in the website. In all the aforementioned assignments, I remained critically committed towards excellence and this was instantly demonstrated in the quality of my output. This conclusion is based on the fact that my tasks were always completed in time giving the other group members enough time to review the work and embark on their own assignments. Eventually, the group functioned as a team where one member’s output was a useful input in another member’s tasks. This knowledge ensured that every member contributed his skills in ensuring the timely delivery of their different tasks.
Interviews are some of the processes that I was involved in during the post production stage through filming and editing. The interviews mainly involved conductors and band members and their views about the brass band community in general. In all these, I was actively involved in the generation of this content before it was uploaded on the website. The filming of the interviews was done on a need to need basis and depending on the availability of the band members. This process is a dynamic process that is continuously done with time and not just during the project.
However, it was hard to come across members of bands that were willing to conduct live interviews for the website crew. In the wake of these unfolding, I, together with other members devised creative ways of filling this gap. Eventually, a solution of uploading audio recordings of interviews with the band members was found where the band members would be interviewed without having to physically appear on the videos. Although the audio recordings are not as effective as video interviews (Khosrow-Pour, 2001), they still filled the gap and contributed to the availability of content for use in the website. In addition to audio recordings, the group also used written interviews to share the input of bands members for view by the users. Again, the written interviews were not as effective due to their vulnerability to information distortion and editing. Nevertheless, the group had to hang on to the written interviews to keep up to date with current news on the bass brand community.
Perhaps the greatest strength in the project was the members of the group and their efficiency in delivery of assigned tasks. Each member contributed actively to the success of the project through individual and group efforts. The sourcing of the group members was reflective of the different skills and expertise required for a project of such magnitude. In particular each member had competencies in a certain field thereby ensuring a holistic approach to the website development problem. I was pivotal in the designing of the website and the general look of the website interface, a role that I have comfortably done before. The other group members were also effective in their different roles thereby resulting in a smooth flow of tasks.
The coordination of the group was designed in such a way that it brought about strengths rather than weaknesses in the group. Not even the group leader was superior to the other members thereby ensuring that everyone was comfortable in the conduct of their tasks. Every member was supposed to complete their tasks before meeting reviews were done to discuss the performance of each members. The existence of an overall project manager was however effective in ensuring a clear chain of command and that gave the group the much needed sense of direction. The interconnectedness of the project was also a pivotal strength because the output from one task was used as an input ion another task. Every member therefore ensured timely delivery of their task to avoid delaying the next planned tasks.
The choice of website was also a source of strength owing to its purpose and functionality. The fact that the band field had only one major competitor offered our website a better reception among the brass band community. The functionality of the website ensures that it does what it is required making it ideal for easy navigation among the users (Johnson, 2008). The responsiveness of the website was another strength making it unique and better than existing websites. For instance, the website is mobile responsive unlike the competitor website therefore ensuring access to more users. This fact, coupled with the appealing design of the website guarantees an exciting user experience to the users of the website. In particular, the members of bands are assured of a wider audience while the fans are assured of current news and events.
It would be illogical to assume that the group had no weaknesses in the course of developing this project. One of the main weaknesses was the unavailability of finances to fund the project operations thereby limiting the features of the website. For instance, some roles were assigned to the members to reduce the cost of sourcing for external players. One such role is video directing end editing where I was tasked with managing the interviews due to limited funds. Further, the inability of the group to get band members to conduct interviews is in itself a weakness. Although the occurrence could be seen as an externality, the group should have prepared in advance and procured at least a few members for the interviews.
Another area that could have been improved is the marketing of the website to reach an even larger market. Although measures were put in place to ensure that the website was visible, they were not enough to attain the goal of surpassing the current websites. The group should employ more measures to ensure that the website reaches an even larger audience. This step can be achieved through the advertisement of Facebook posts to reflect a sponsored status. The decision can help in gaining more views from users who would in turn visit the website through the provided links. In addition, the design of the website was also a source of weakness regarding the choice of colors for the website. While yellow and orange are colors of the brass band, they are too bold therefore blocking other colors. The promiscuity of the colors gives the website a dull look. However, this weakness has been partly overcome through the integration of darker colors to offset the boldness of the others.
Niederst, R. J. (2007). Learning Web design. Sebastopol, Calif: O’Reilly Media.
Plumley, G. (2011). Website design and development: 100 questions to ask before building a website. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley.
Bailey, M. (2011). Internet marketing: An hour a day. Indianapolis, Ind: Wiley Pub.
Johnson, J. (2008). GUI bloopers 2.0: Common user interface design don’t and dos. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.
Lynch, P. J., & Horton, S. (1999). Web style guide: Basic design principles for creating web sites. Hyderabad, India: University Press (India) Ltd.
Khosrow-Pour, M. (2001). Managing information technology in a global environment. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishing.
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