As the Design for Digital Media Environments unit is coming to an end, I feel that my team and I have appropriately and successfully met the unit-brief requirements set for our project. These were to create a Web-browser based application that satisfied the specific needs of our target audience, and to use database scripting language to link our application to an online database that would be affected by user input.
With these requirements in mind, my team and I designed and coded a website called Student Offers for Bournemouth University (SOBU), using a variety of PHP and CSS code. The website we created allows the user to see available offers and deals on a live feed. It also allows the user to sign in and post offers and discounts located in Bournemouth. I think our final website has a very clear target audience, with obvious needs that our website properly addresses.
The members of my team were myself, Adam and Hallam. I think we worked very well as a team since we all took an active part in creating the website and our attendance was great: none of us missed any of the important group meetings. We also went about working on the elements of our website in what I believe was the right way, as none of us spent too much time on just one task. This allowed us to focus on making sure that important aspects, such as functionality, were properly organised before we worked on the visual elements, like the appearance and design of the website.
The images below show our final version of the updated website for SOBU.
Our team combined our strengths in coding and design to create a website linked to a database. This allowed us to keep track of all of the users’ posts online. I find this one of the most effective and interesting aspects of our website, as it shows instant results that we can monitor.
When I started working on this project, I found coding in PHP somewhat challenging. However, in the course of the unit I developed a better understanding on how it works, as well as other websites and coding languages we used. These included phpMyAdmin, GitHub and Bootstrap.
If I had chosen to do things differently, I might have added some more visual elements on the sides or at the top of the page (e.g. more stylised logo or banner), as in the other student deals websites explored in my website research. However, this would have overcomplicated the overall website design. We decided that streamlined simplicity makes the presentation more user-friendly, clearer and aesthetically pleasing.
Overall, I am satisfied that our website has properly met all the requirements in the brief and pleased with how the final result turned out, in terms of its responsiveness, content and design.
One of the latest features that my team has made sure to focus and improve on most is the offer posting system. The purpose of this system is to freely allow logged-in users to post student offers and deals to the live feed on our homepage. The details of the users’ posts (business, category, location and description of the offer) are then immediately recorded and stored on the database we set up using phpMyAdmin.
With an account I created using our “Register” page, I posted a made up offer to the live feed featured on the homepage, to test the system’s functionality. As shown below, when users post offers to our website, they can choose which business the deal comes from, as well as the location, category, rating and description of the offer. The posts can then be sorted into the various existing categories that we have on the right-hand sidebar. As seen in the second screenshot below, we also have a “Delete Post” button, in case the user wants to get rid of the post they’ve made. This is particularly useful if the user has made a mistake or the offer isn’t available anymore.
Everything works properly and we have nearly finished the project.
As our unit is coming to an end, we have uploaded our final designs and code for our group website to the dakar server. Since the last Website Development post, the general design and house style of our website have been modified. The images below show our final updated designs for our “Home” and “Register” page. Our “About” page generally has the same appearance as before with very few changes.
A different background colour for our live feed posts has been chosen to make the various offers stand out more. A drop shadow has also been added to the text boxes to give more depth to the design of the page, as well as make it look more professional and visually appealing. Features such as the navigation bar and drop down menus have also been improved. These elements are more responsive and they make website navigation easier and more user-friendly.
In the end, we decided not to use a to use a fancy, detailed logo on our website, as the most important objective of the unit is to maximise functionality and responsiveness. Each team member’s copy of the website and the source code required to make it has been uploaded and is almost ready to be marked.
One of the latest improvements that Hallam has contributed to our updated project is a fully responsive and functional navigation bar that allows users to go to the various pages and sections of our website.
We also have logos hyperlinked to the following social networking websites: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Instagram. My team and I agree that the navigation bar is appropriate and fit for the purpose of easy and quick website navigation.
Our final code for the group project has now been uploaded to GitHub by Adam, and we will soon be ready to hand in all of our finished source code on the 20th of April. As shown below, both our “public” and “includes” folders have been uploaded to our group repository on GitHub.
Each of us will now need to upload our code onto the dakar server, so that our copies of the group website can be accessed by our lecturers and markers.
Pictured below are the PHP and CSS codes that were required to make most of our main pages on the website. As stated before, Bootstrap was also frequently used to help with the coding and designing of the project. Our current code contains a combination of PHP, CSS and bootstrap. The connect.php file isn’t included in the following screenshots since it contains login details that directly access the database in which we store our source codes and user posts.
Our master version of the code and elements of our website has been uploaded to the dakar server, so that we will all be able to access it online. There have also been numerous different changes made to the code and design of the site since the previous Website Development post.
Text is now displayed in the different boxes containing student deals and offers. We also have two new categories to display student offers with: “All” and “Other”. This will make categorising the student deals easier when there’s an offer that’s difficult to classify. All the student deals and offers posted will now be stored in an online database that Hallam has set up for the website.
Much like the previous version of our website, we’re keeping a curved design with rounded corners for the text boxes and buttons. We’re also keeping with the same colour scheme of white, pink and blue for all the pages.
Displayed below are our current webpage designs as well as some of the source code that the “Welcome to SOBU” page is made up of.
Throughout the lectures in this unit, we have learned how common and important Net Neutrality is not only to us and our course, but also to the digital media environment we live in. Net Neutrality is a system which is used in network design by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). This system was set up with the aim of giving equal priority to all forms of data accessed by web browser users. The original term of Net Neutrality (also known as “Network Neutrality”) was created in 2003 by Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia University.
Net Neutrality ensures that all online applications, websites and services that users visit take an equal amount of time to access and load. This is how this system prioritises information on the internet so that the public can experience browsing it in a consistent and fast way, without any lagging, freezing or irregular browsing speed. Net Neutrality affects not only all forms of online content but also the ISPs that provide the services for net users.
Because of Net Neutrality, ISPs (e.g. BT and Virgin Media) currently have no right to forbid users from accessing any particular online content. While ISPs can monitor what users access, they cannot limit or restrict this access to online content without facing legal issues. If Net Neutrality wasn’t established, ISPs would have full control of what users can see and access on the internet; they would also have the ability to block any websites of their choice. Buffering and loading speeds on websites from competing ISPs could also be slowed down on purpose so that users are forced to go onto websites from other service providers.
Net Neutrality also legally states that all ISPs should spend an equal amount of money to manage and provide internet services for their users. However, a recent scandal in the media occurred when Comcast (the world’s largest mass-media, broadcasting and cable company) carried out a paid deal with Netflix, in order to give Comcast users quicker and better access to Netflix’s services.
Netflix reached a deal with Comcast to pay a fee which would allow its Comcast’s customers quicker and more efficient access to Netflix. This gave Comcast users faster network and downloading speeds for the streaming media that Netflix offered. The reaction to this unfair prioritising of Comcast users (compared to everyone else), was of public outrage. This breach of Net Neutrality caused protestors and companies (e.g. Google) to take action and campaign for free, open internet services for all of its users.
Since then, Net Neutrality has been a major point of discussion from organisations such as the US Telecommunications Industry Association and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In February 2015, a list of new rules has been established, affecting Broadband providers and ISPs.
Ever since our work on the “About“/”Meet the Team” page, my team and I have been working together in coding and designing the other main pages for our website. The other important pages that we’ve been working on include the following: the “Welcome“, “Home” and “Register” pages.
Our website now has a page that welcomes users to SOBU. The main purpose of this page is to quickly introduce the users to our website and what it does. Our users can then navigate to the main homepage with the button labelled “Enter SOBU”.
On our homepage, we have basic fields with blue headers to display available student deals and discounts. As we carry on with the project, the fields will be modified so that students can log in, create and post offers of their own. This section of our homepage will act as a live feed which will be populated with student offers and deals for the following categories:
- Night Clubs
Our project also currently has a registration page in which users can create accounts and log into our website. We’re also thinking of having a login page that will have a similar appearance to the register page. We’re currently unsure of our design for the register page and so we’ll all be providing ideas and code to make the design less blocky and more visually appealing for our users.
From here on, we’re going to upload all our source code to the dakar server so that we’ll be able to access our webpages online. We will also be working on key elements such as the responsiveness, functionality and presentation of our group project.