Print to Web Essay

The print to web assignment was another good exercise to take on — to test my skills at coding and composing text for an online audience. I wasn’t entirely sure how this project would go, or what exactly my final result would be. It was my intention to use the Lynch/Horton text and online textual examples that most resembled the essay of mine that I was using for the assignment to inspire, instruct and guide me in my execution. Wherein I understood the assignment to be an exercise for composing text for online publication, without consideration for print publication, I found it difficult, and unreasonable, to rewrite the document. I felt the essay would be poorer if I disturbed the text by excising words, sentences or ideas. Instead, I chose to explore how the document as is could best be displayed for an online audience.

I had noticed, for example, that common features of web documents were titles, headings, sub-headings, navigation buttons/links and hypertext, among other things. My initial idea was to produce an online document that would feature all of these things, among others — whatever might seem appropriate. Over the course of time spent working on the print to web assignment the document changed as my thinking changed and as my skill at coding became challenged. As was the case with all of the prior assignments, my needs and wants for this project were often subject to my abilities to execute the coding. Consequently, the final version of the print to web assignment reflects a modest example of an online document. At its core it is still reminiscent of the print document that it began as.

Despite my poor coding skills, which caused many disappointments regarding design and usability, I do feel confident that my final product works and is good. Often times we all have to set reasonable expectations, and can become frustrated when our best intentions are compromised. My ideal design was to keep things simple: a spare, elegant design that would not distract from the content of the webpage, or web site, but merely compliment or enhance the text and the ideas found therein. I wanted to have a “fancier” navigation system than what I was able to produce. I wanted it to resemble more like a physical newspaper article where the text continues to a point and one must then ‘jump” to another page to finish the article. In the spirit of this, I decided to retain the “pages” aspect of the physical essay, where the user would be able to click a “Next Page” or “Continue” button and still have the choice of choosing a specific page. Though I was able to produce this idea effectively, it didn’t appeal to me aesthetically. I feel like my navigation links/buttons lack a certain flair or character.

Additionally, I felt including a homepage, much like a physical document’s title page, was needed. This page should contain visual and textual information that would assist the user in acclimating themselves with the ensuing text. I found an image of Virginia Woolf from the Creative Commons website, and debated whether or not to include a caption with her picture. Ultimately, mostly due to frustration over producing a suitable, workable caption, I gave up the notion in favor of not cluttering up the page anymore. People, I assumed, would figure out that the photo was of the author of the book that I was analyzing. You know…people are smart. The title of the essay I felt could have been made into a link that when clicked would load the homepage. I was having difficulty with this though, in part, due to time constraints, and reasoned that since I included the essay title on every web page, and had adequate navigation, it wouldn’t be an issue if I didn’t do it.

I colored the background of the web pages and considered if I should make the text color anything other than black. As well, I had wanted to go through the essay and make certain words and phrases into hypertext. This idea had stayed with me throughout the process and I was saving it for last. I was aware of how common this feature is with online documents. It is something that you might find in online news articles, e-mails, blogs, for example. As I went about designing my plans for the hypertext feature it began to dawn on me that this idea wasn’t going to work, and was unnecessary, anyway. I have seen plenty of online documents, or articles that do not include in text links, or hypertext. The point of this feature would be to provide background information to help the reader grasp context and enhance the reading and learning experience. But my essay wasn’t reliant upon any resource other than the essay I was analyzing. All of my insights, opinions, and conclusions were derived solely from this one source, (see the works cited list). The content that would need to be included in a hypertext already exists in the in-text quotes. There seemed to be no reason to link the document within the document. But also, I couldn’t figure out what any hypertext I might create would link to. I certainly am not going to link to a random website that I don’t want to promote or associate with for any reason for an academic document.

In the end, I tried to make a useable, simple, elegant online environment for my essay. I realize that there might have been opportunities to make the website/web page more interactive for the user or more multimedia, much like things discussed in chapter twelve of the Lynch/Horton book. However, despite the lack of such things as: sidebars of links, copious images, videos, slideshows, animation, etc. I believe that my document was well served in the online environment that I was able to create. I believe that someone reading this essay can do so online easily and comprehend the ideas found in the within; it does communicate well. Thus, I would say it is a success. With more time and experience I am sure improvement can be made, but I think it reflects other online academic documents and Ms. Woolf, I believe, would be proud.

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