R0270384 J Hamill ECA T183

My Report

What is the specified purpose of your site? e.g. what information is your site attempting to communicate?

The specified purpose of my site is to advertise Hotel Maya, Corozal, Belize to the English speaking international public via the Internet, and enable the public who may be relatively unfamiliar with Belize to contact Hotel Maya for bookings and information. The information it is trying to communicate is the quality, quantity, and value for money that the rooms and apartments represent, while letting the user become aware of the services available to the Hotel Maya guests.

How did you decide the structure of your site? How did you organise or ‘chunk’ the information to be put on individual pages?

As we were limited to six html pages for the site and a design limit resolution of 800 x 600, I organized the information into the chunks I decided appropriate and tried to avoid being verbose in the content while still allowing for relevant images to be displayed. The main reason for keeping text to the minimum required and using visual information to get the message across was to try and ensure that the user would not be bored by reading long passages of text. When I’m looking for a hotel, I want to know the price, facilities, proximity of beaches and anything else that will sell that hotel to me. I believe that I have managed to get the required information across within the design bounds.

How did you develop and test your site?

My method of developing the site was to go over the old Hotel Maya site and pick up on the all the design faults I’d made on the original site previously. This can be viewed at http://www.hotelmaya.net currently. On starting the course I applied the lessons to the site and saw immediately the wasted space taken up by the extended right and left logos. I also tested the site in Netscape and Internet Explorer at 800 x 600 resolution and it distorted the text layout dramatically, particularly on the index page. I was aware of this previously and this led me to think of other ways to show the address without impinging on the information space. I then set about designing the page layout in order to use the tips that had been given in Lesson 3 of the course. This involved setting the company and logo top row of the table. On 800 x 600 resolution, to ensure everything is visible, I set my table size to 700 x 360. The height of the table changes with the amount of stuff put in the cells and I always try to keep it at the level without scroll bars.
The use of serif texts would be avoided in the site and to that end I used Arial, Helvetica, Sans Serif fonts. In order to stop the variations of text caused by font availability in other users’ computers, anything other than this was saved as a gif and input as an image. I had several paper designs of pages and found that my final design came closest to the paper layout. I tested each page at different resolutions and decided to add the top and bottom tables at 100% width as this stops the site looking like an island in a sea of whatever background colour has been chosen. I originally wanted to keep more colour as a table background, but found it very unappealing on viewing. I then asked my wife and children to compare the different attempts I’d done to see if they agreed with my feelings on the matter.
On designing a base page, I then put textual links in and built the site accordingly ensuring that the navigation worked with no orphan pages.
The rest was left to filling in and testing the final detail, both to content fit and appeal.

What types of users did you identify for your site?

The users I identified for the site come into four groups.

Adventure tourists, likely to be aged between 25 and 55.
Church groups, coming for missionary work in Belize aged from 18+.
People wanting peace and quiet away from the normal tourist destinations.
Prospective immigrants, generally approaching retirement or retired.

The initial information for all of these groups is on the web site although the returning church groups generally make approaches through local representatives and book for extended periods.
Adventure tourists are generally just booking for a couple of nights at most and are liable to take full advantage of the tours and travel information.
The people who want peace and quiet, invariably return and book for 1 to 2 weeks at a time.
The prospective immigrants book for extended periods and generally seek the apartments for long leases.
Of these groups there is a good possibility that 3 will require some form of accessibility issue either to do with sight or computer literacy.

How did you ensure your site matched user characteristics?

To ensure that I matched with the user characteristics, I made all text free to resize, added appropriately descriptive alternate text tags to all images, made navigation as intuitive and affordable as possible with no possibility of being stuck in an orphan page.

What considerations for navigation and usability did you give in designing your site?

Considerations I gave for the usability and navigation of my site was in keeping the use of colours to a minimum, and allowing text to be resized if required. I kept my table at a fixed width and that should enable users to keep within the boundaries of the table. The links in my navigation bar have an icon which, has a mouse-over and mouse-down function whereby, the user sees which page he is on instantaneously and can navigate by running the mouse over the table. The hit area of the navigation bar is the width of the table with the full size of each cell and contains no overlap, so is intuitively easily to use and hard to miss.

How did you decide the page layout for your site?

I decided the page layout for my site after having read the lessons and realizing that we would be designing for 800 x 600 resolutions. I tried to follow the tips from the lessons and believe that I have achieved my aim of having a well-designed site that fulfils most of the requirements both of Hotel Maya and the user groups previously identified. I intensely dislike pages that require me to read through screeds of text and be on a never-ending scroll bar. I understand there is a necessity for this in some sites, particularly academic or story sites however, it does not make it any easier to bear. That is why I have designed the pages to have relevant information, both textually and visually presented within the page limits of the resolution. I also followed the Sklar method of layout, apart from his numbers 3 and 4 areas, that I consider to be redundant with this site.

Selecting images and colour scheme: What graphic file types (jpeg, gif, etc.) did you use and why? Explain the reasoning behind your choice of colour scheme in the web pages

The images I picked were the only ones currently available to me that I was able to manipulate and size appropriately. The logo was designed by Ken Cattouse, a sign writer in Belize and is the copyright property
of Hotel Maya. The rest of the images were either taken by myself, or a member of my family. All graphics, excluding the external links, were designed by me using a combination of Serif photoplus 9.0 or Macromedia Fireworks MX software packages.
The colour scheme is one preferred by the owner of the hotel, whose favourite colours are brown and yellow. The reason for the inclusion of the yellow tables was to satisfy this requirement as opposed to having the whole page yellow as in the previous site.
I managed to reduce all of the images to very quick loading gifs through the fireworks package or jpegs through serif photoplus 9.0.

What consideration did you give to accessibility in designing your site?

I allowed my text to be free for resizing and supplied descriptive alternate text tags for all images. I also made sure that the navigation areas were large and easy to hit with the mouse, again with appropriate descriptive alternate text tags.

What interactive features could usefully be added to the site?

The interactive features that could usefully be added to the site include a booking page that would contain a calendar for easy insertion of dates and enable access to an online database to confirm reservations. A major requirement for this to work entails the reception staff at the hotel regularly updating the database. This does not happen at present and is not liable to for the foreseeable future. There is currently a booking page on the site and it is quite extensively used with a number of bookings/enquiries being made weekly. It would also be beneficial to have a secure payment method in order that online bookings could be paid for. The database would also be able to contain the names and details of enquirers through simple scripting, enabling the hotel to contact them in the future for customer retention incentives.

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