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Week 7: Usability Tests (and English 313 Tests)

As I’ve watched you create and debug (and sometimes scrap and re-create) your CSS Zen Garden designs, I’ve been impressed with the variety of visual styles you’re using. Just think–five weeks ago, most of you had never used cascading style sheets, and now you’ve created entirely original designs using only CSS and images. I can’t wait to see your final designs!

As you put the finishing touches on your designs, remember what we talked about in class on Thursday: typography. When you’re done positioning the elements on your page, make sure you spend some time styling the text so it matches the colors and images you’ve chosen.

Before you come to class on Tuesday, you should upload your finished CSS Zen Garden Redesign project. Here’s a quick list of what should be included:

  • Your project should be in a folder called “zengarden,” located in your “homepage” directory. (For example, mine would be here: warnick.public.iastate.edu/zengarden/ ). Your finished design should load automatically, which means that it needs to be named “index.html.”
  • In that same directory, there should be a file called “report.html,” which contains your 400-500 word design report. To the extent that it’s possible, you should style your report.html file using the same CSS you created for your Zen Garden design.
  • Also in that directory, there should be a file called “allfiles.zip,” which contains (you guessed it) ALL of the files you’ve used for this project, including original Photoshop files, downloaded images, etc…

Please review the assignment sheet before you submit your project to make sure you’ve followed the specific instructions for creating your design, uploading your files, and writing your report. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Once we have put the Zen Garden project behind us, we will move on to our next unit, which is focused on usability and user-centered design. Before you come to class on Tuesday, please read the pages in Krug, as well as the three short pieces linked on the calendar under Week 7.

On Thursday, we will have the first of two exams. The exam will take the entire period and will have three sections: 1) multiple choice, 2) definitions and short answer, and 3) a coding exercise. The first two sections of the exam will be on paper; the final section will be done in Text Wrangler. For the final section, you will create an HTML file with an internal style sheet. Last night, I emailed everyone a list of topics that may appear on the exam. (If you didn’t receive this list, check your iastate.edu email address.) I encourage you to form study groups before the exam to review the topics on this list. If you’ve been keeping up with the reading assignments and paying attention in class, you’ll do well on the exam. That said, it never hurts to study for a test.

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