Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Self Managed Learning Plan

My proposal for the SMLP is PHP. I fell that learning this skill at this stage of my career would benefit me greatly.

My previous qualifications & interests have centered around programming; though this is the first time that is has been focused on the web.

I currently posses a working knowledge & understanding of PHP & its uses on the web; though that knowledge is in its infancy & could be compared to my working knowledge of CSS before the completion of the A9 unit.

Though I have previously written & worked with databases, I am as yet to work with any web based server-side database.

Looking back on one of my previous post ‘Personal Development’, I identified the kind of roll that I would ideally find myself falling into. Additionally noted in the post is the identification of a skills gap; namely PHP.

Because I have a genuine interest in the subject & a programming background, I feel that I would have a high level of motivation & drive to develop my knowledge further.

My second choice for the project would be Flash with action script. Whilst I feel that this skill would be valuable to me & my development, it is not an area that I wish to specialize in so I feel that my knowledge would be likely to fade and / or become rusty after the assignment simply through a lack of call to use it.

In anticipation for this assignment I have already purchased books relating to PHP, though I have had little time to work trough.

I am looking forward to the unit & hope that I am permitted my first choice.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Third quarter and the bases are loaded…

It feels like only weeks ago that I was sat in my office talking with my colleagues about starting a web design & development degree; but in actuality, it was more like a little under two years!

So much has changed since then.


I felt that the CSS unit was fantastic! My only regret was that we had other units running at the same time which detracted from some of the more advanced learning. Though this was a shame, I still really enjoyed the way that the unit turned out.

Once again, this unit has shown me how little I actually knew & know about CSS. When John gave the lecture on the box model, everything fell into place. It reminded me almost of when I was learning clutch control in a car.

I am under no illusion that there is still much more to learn & that experience is perhaps the best way to develop my skills further; much like learning to drive, its not until you pass your test that you fully understand what you are doing.

On the Job

This project has been a real eye opener for me so far. Not so much at working with clients as I have had experience with this before (both web & non-web related) but how difficult it can be working with a team where everyone (myself included) is equally inexperienced.

The projects largest revelation for me is how difficult it can be to start up a new company; though I am sure that if this was a ‘real life’ job (what ever that means) then procedures would be in place with longevity of service in mind. The key I feel would be experience.

I do feel that the other team are at a definite advantage to us because up until the point of winning the pitches for the Games Development & the Photography sites we had done equal amounts of work & now we have to carry on with the work we were doing for the two clients that had been secured since almost the beginning of the project.

Culture Vulture
I have enjoyed this unit also so far. I enjoyed the research into the mini, both new and old, as it is a subject close to my heart.

The creative days that we are having has been a completely new experience for me; it feels almost what I imagine the first week of an ‘upstairs’ kind of class.
I have really enjoyed today’s day of exploring line, texture, colour, etc using photography of my local area.

With the end of the year within sight it is important, now more than ever, to stay focused & not loose direction.

Though I am listening to podcasts (Boagworld, Rissington, .net & TWiT to name a few) there is still a whole world of web out there yet to be explored.

I am looking into events where I can network with people in the industry & hopefully find employment; though further my education is still an option.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Soft Skills

Skill based commonalities occur across the majority of rolls within the world of work and in many aspects, life.

A large proportion of these skills are accumulated and improved during the completion of other tasks. Consequently, many of the skills are obtained and developed with experience.

Planning & Time Management
This is one area that I feel that I stand to gain the most benefit from developing further. Establishing a list of priorities along side working with any time constraints is required of almost any job roll.

Though I have shown significant improvement since starting this course, I do feel that there is still a great opportunity for personal and professional growth there.

Leadership & Management
I consider myself fortunate that I have had experience in this area before and those skills & experience has been transferred and developed within my roll on the course.

Working with a verity of people with different backgrounds & experiences in a successful manor will act as the accelerant for development of this particular skill.

The experiences of the course has proven invaluable this year.

Presentational skills are obtained through practice practice and more practice. The confidence to present comes from ample preparation alongside actually knowing about the subject you are presenting.

I feel that I currently possess adequate presentational skills but this isn’t enough for the industry that I soon will find myself in.

Communication is essential to the success of any roll within any organisation & comes in many forms & more often than is often indented (non verbal communication in particular).

I feel that with the exception of isolated incidents my communication skills have substantiality & consistency.

However, as with all of the aforementioned skills base, there is much room for improvement before it is to a level that I would call acceptable.

Word Count: 300

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Personal Development...

The job I choose was a Junior Developer based in Sheffield.

Why that job?
The reason the above job appealed to me was primarily because of the salary assigned to the entry level position. The benefits of which would mean that I would have the opportunity to further my website development skills in a guided environment whilst earning a comfortable salary.

Looking at the companies portfolio, it would appear that they have produced an array of work from basic sites to custom content managed systems which would provide me with excellent experience and enhance my confidence.

Skills Required
The advert is predictably asking for an assortment of programing skills, including standards compliant XHTML and CSS, ASP, .NET 2.0, XML and JavaScript. The composition of databases, their management and manipulation is an area that appeals to me; it would appear that this job has plenty of opportunities in that area. The working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop quite accurately describes my skill level.

Skills Gap
Though I feel confident working with standards compliant XHTML and CSS, I am as yet to touch upon some of the other languages. This could be an area of improvement during the self managed learning project later this year; however, it has been said that PHP would currently be a more valuable language to learn initially.

The extent of my experience with databases reaches as far as coding basic databases in Turbo Pascal and countless builds in Microsoft Access; regrettably, I have not had the opportunity to work using web based / server side databases so far.

I feel that there is still areas of knowledge that I need to improve upon, however, I would feel confident applying for the above job with the skills that I already posses; even though they differ slightly from those requested.

Word Count: 300

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Best Foot Forward ...

Hopes and Aspirations

Following my progression onto the second year of the course, I feel a sense of pride and achievement looking back on how far I have come and hope that his feeling is amplified following the successful completion of the second year.

From reading the assignment list of what is to come, I feel that this is going to be a fantastic year; and certainly a busy one.

I am pleased to see the inclusion of the CMS unit as from reading journals and listening to Podcasts from industry professionals out there, this appears to be the way that clients are leading the market; following on from the XHTML & CSS unit that we are currently studying should put us in great standing for employment.


The second year for me is the last haul before I (re)enter the world of employment. Since starting the course it has always been my intention carry on my eduction beyond the HND into the degree; or maybe even further. To a point, this is still the case but before the (academic) year is out I would like to be working part time in the industry that we are training so hard to get into.

I am under no illusion about how quickly this year will pass by and so I want to hit the ground running with regards employment whilst still furthering my formal education.

I feel that the area that I most need to improve upon has to be my design skills. The best way to achieve this, I feel is read, practice, repeat!


In closing I am sure that this year is going to be fantastic and aside from the late nights the only downside is that the degree won’t be ready for when we complete this year.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

< Year1 / >

It doesn’t seem long ago at all that I was sat in a circle trying desperately to remember everyone’s name in fear that I was the one to drop the ball (so to speak) and now here I am evaluating the past year.

Many of us have been talking about how much we far we have progressed over this last year, but in reality, it has only actually been a little over 8 months; it typically takes longer for a child to be born! I have a real sense of achievement and feel quite humble.

The transition from full time employment in the big bad world to returning to formalities of education has certainly not been a frictionless process; and to be very honest there are still parts of me that find it difficult to adjust at times.

The level of support that I have personally received so far has been outstanding. Ranging from my tutors to class mates to my friends, family and most of all my fiancée Elizabeth, every step of the way for each time I have stumbled, there has always been someone there to get me back on my feet; Thank you to you all.

Throughout the course of the year, we have had a barrage of visitors to the class all from very different backgrounds and with very different futures. The first of which was from the Design Mechanics. The added benefit with this was that fact that two of the designers working for the company originated from this very course. Jemma and Oliver were model example of what can be achieved with a little hard work. Whilst the Design Mechanics generally regarded as being a ‘stepping stone’ for new designers; it can be perceived as a great first step. The visits were fuelled by the return of previous students; I cannot think of a better compliment to the course and its staff than its produce coming back to help those following in their footsteps.

I have already mentioned that the transition back into education wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked but to add insult to injury a little over 4 weeks into the first semester I was faced with a very serious personal problem resulting in me leaving my home and family to seek new accommodation. This had a serious affect on my concentration, motivation and emotions and undoubtedly my performance; this is much easier to see now looking back.

The recovery was not a quick process and to be honest, I see it as one of those life-changing events from which things are never the same; however, submission dates wait for no man so I had to try and get back to a sense of normality as soon as possible.

A2 – That’s the Plan!

The submission of our first formal assignment (A2) quickly came around; I was full of pride based confidence and bursting with enthusiasm that I had completed my first ever web plan. However, the joyous occasion was short lived as the project that I had given life to had not made the pass grade; needless to say I did not take the news well.

Fortunately, the support from the teaching staff, class mates and family was outstanding and quickly I found myself on my feet again. The referral work comprised mainly of many small alterations; finishing off if you like but cumulatively were quite a drain on my already strained timetable. The amount of time estimated to do this work was, in my opinion, seriously underestimated on my part.

As a recommendation from both the tutor and a class mate, I read a book by Steve Krug called “Don’t make me think!” is a fantastic book surrounding web usability that I would recommend to anyone. Accessibility and usability is becoming ever more important as the number of people now being diagnosed with dyslexia and other such learning difficulties is on the increase and as students with professional aspirations, we have to know how to accommodate and work with these conditions.

I think that one of the issues surrounding the adaptation from ‘real life’ to ‘student life’ was building new working relationships and establishing boundaries. During which stage there was a miss wire somewhere between what was being asked of us, as a class, and what we were doing, as a class. It became apparent that we were treated as a collective and that if the majority did not do what was required then the class had to endure the related punishments to which I did not feel was fair. Somewhat intentionally, I invoked a discussion regarding the subject to try to get a resolve; I am pleased to report that we do not appear to have any / many problems like this anymore.

A3 - Back to Basics

This assignment saw a great opportunity to show off what we had learned in A2. I have always been told that ‘the first is the worst’ and that certainly was the case here. The improvements and levels of confidence were certainly noticeable.

I felt much more comfortable with elements such as the competitive analysis and assets list. I could feel things clicking into place… the right place.

This web plan encompassed an element of writing and collation of imagery, which was extra to the requirements of A2 but it also gave it a feeling of reality. A5 – Builder was coming; I could feel it and couldn’t wait.

Having the referral work to do for A2 at the same time as creating the first submission for A3. I do feel however that this gave A3 a bit of a step up with regards its standards.

A4 – Image Rights

This unit was at the time the first practical based assignment of the year and it was a welcomed change from the theoretical based A3 & A4. The image restoration task proved to be the most enjoyable for me. I was able to pull on my previous experiences of image manipulation from my previous job.

The timed tasks, namely the creation of the web banners, gave me a clear insight into the amount of work that can be achieved in a short period of time when specifically encouraged; something that I have tried to replicate during self-study with limited success.

The image compression aspect of the assignment was particularly interesting to me. I previously had and understanding of the existence of the different file types but not about the instances in which they intended to be used; this certainly is one lecture that will always stay in the forefront of my mind.

A5 – Builder

The A5 was the build of the A3 assignment. The largest frustration that I endured during this unit was adhering to the quite basic screen design(s) that I had generated previously. I miss understood the fact that alterations were in fact permitted to the design so long as they were in keeping with the original flavour and development work was shown.

There had always been an air of haze surround web based form for me before doing this unit. Sites that I had created previously would have benefited dramatically from the facilities offered by formail for example.

Having been bitten by the CGI bug (no pun intended) I decided to test out my new found talent by creating and online feedback come usability questionnaire form. I feel that the form was a complete success and gave a very professional feel to the project.

A6 – Revert to Type

This typographic unit opened my eyes to a world which I had always taken for granted before. I had previously never bore any consideration as to where the typefaces originated from nor the complexities involved in their creation.

The famous typographer presentation didn’t go as well as I would have wanted it to. Almost predictably running long on my first presentation by about a minute and a half resulted in having to do the presentation again but this time in front of the whole class.

The resubmission of this presentation coincided with the discovery that I had referred the A5 – Builder unit. The grade (or lack of it) was on the wall, which was fine but there wasn’t an opportunity to ask for any feedback to put my mind at ease before the resubmission of the presentation.

Needless to say the resubmission, in spite of the preparation, went appallingly. I was embarrassed and ashamed at my performance and at the same time angry with myself for referring the A5 unit. It was not a pleasant time for me.

After a bit of a talk with the tutor and a third attempt at the presentation calm was restored to an otherwise uncomfortable period of time.

A7 – Whaling Whales

Finishing this assignment gave me a grate sense of pride. We were able to draw on all of the experiences and education of the college year and produce something that in my opinion looks really professional. The best piece of advice that I received for this project was to print the CD artwork on gloss paper - and what a difference it made!

I still feel as though there is scope for improvements as with any piece of work and given the opportunity again I feel that I would still come up with the same solution. I am over the moon with the result.

I did create a range of solutions almost to the point of completion which were also aesthetically pleasing however, they were unsuitable for the CMYK print process.

The unit has given me the confidence boost that I so desperately needed.

What would I do differently?

  • First on the list has to be to seriously reduce the amount of hours that I worked during the first year. There is no doubt in my mind that it had a drastically negative impact on my performance.

  • Second on the list has to be to seriously reduce the amount of hours that I worked during the first year – it really is that important!

  • Follow up lectures above and beyond; the lectures are only supposed to be an introduction to the subject.

  • Adhere to time planning and production schedule and always complete a week early for checking / improvements.

Thoughts about the next year?

I am really looking forward to next year, having read some of the journal and talking to now second years the units sound fantastic. I am particularly looking forward to the client work.


  • Ensure that time planning is follow regimentally from the outset.

  • Work through tutorials and practice, practice, practice with the software applications until their use become second nature.

  • Improve time planning.

  • Surround myself with inspiration and good design.

Word Count: 1,789


Thanks for reading

Shaun Bellis

Quote of the year Awarded to…

“The way to learn to do things is to do things. The way to learn a trade is to work at it. Success teaches how to succeed. Begin with the determination to succeed, and the work is half done already.” – Source Unknown.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Diggin' that Pack

Hi Everyone,

This is my DigiPak Outter. Feedback would be very much appreciated. Any questions please feel free to ask!

Thank you!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Summary...

The Good...

Looking back on last weeks entry, I am pleased to say that I have completed the alterations to the 'Corporate Identity' work and have made great headway with the CD artwork.

The at times fantastic weather we have experienced this week has provided me with the perfect opportunity to spend many hours practicing the sophisticated skill that is photography. Whilst I have never claimed to be a 'photographer', the results (admittedly in my opinion) were impressive and gave me plenty of manipulation opportunities.

This along with the intensive sketchbook work has put me right back where I needed to be. My motivation and determination is at an all time high and I have never been happier with my position on the course.

The idea's and ideals are bouncing around in the ink well that is my mind. I fell that the only thing holding me back is my ability to convey those feelings and idea's to paper / screen; skills and techniques that will improve vastly with practice.

The Bad...

The largest area for concern that I have is that my two days of creative freedom is soon to pass and I will have to go back to the drudgery that is retail employment. I feel that my largest hindrance on the course is the time consuming beast that is commonly known as work. In light of this I have put any measures in place to reduce the amount of hours I have to work each week so that I can concentrate my efforts on what matters, this course.

The Summary...

Thanks for reading

Shaun Bellis

Quote of the week

"It's not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference." - Paul Bryant

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Busy Busy Bee...


With a little bit of work, Monday saw the completion of the 'A5 Builder' project. The amendments made were nothing too drastic but has made a world of difference; it just goes to show the value of listening to experienced industry professionals.

As with assignments of past, we have generated a very useful checklist for A7. The checklist comprises of everything from fundamental errors such as checking spellings to hierarchy of submitted CD for print. Checklists like this can prove invaluable during the often busy days before submission.

In addition to the checklist, we revisited our last formal lecture of the first year regarding print and pre-print processes. Reiteration of the lecture in this manor proved to be successful as I personally felt that my understanding of the process was only strengthened.

Monday evening saw many hours of what I can only call fussing over the details; to the point in which my amendments were actually detrimental to my work.


The open discussion about the second year proved to be a great insight into what we can expect (if only a taster). It is quite apparent that the second year is going to be much more intensive than the first; my only apprehensions about the workload is that I will be unable to work the amount of hours that I have been and successfully complete the units.

Following the open group discussion, some of us were invited to a one on one discussion regarding the second year. This was an opportunity to speak openly and honestly about our progression so far and where I feel I want to be; I was pleased with the overall outcome of the talk.

Following a brief fight with the college colour printer and the scurried collation for my 'completed' work so far I was then ready for the seminar class.

Seminar Class

Although not the first time that we had reviewed our work in a critique, on the wall manor I felt a sense of pride of the work that I had done; knowing the work that has gone into it so far to get it to that level. However, and perhaps more importantly, at the same time it gave me a deep insight into how much work I have to catch up on.

From very early on in the class we were told, by several people, not to get too caught up in comparing our work to other peoples in the class. Not as easy as it sounds! Looking around my seminar class in particular there has been some fantastic work produced; Michelle's and Tom's in particular. A Big well done to all of you.


There is still a lot of work to be done; however it is important to realize how far we have all come as it is all too easy to get bogged down with what is still left to do.

Weeks Tasks
  • Finishing touches for CO-ID work following seminar feedback.
  • CD artwork completed.
  • Preflight checklist.
  • Weekly commitments; journal reading / commenting etc.

Thanks for reading

Shaun Bellis

Quote of the week...

Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be” - George Sheehan

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Amended Business Card Designs

First of all, thank you everyone who commented on my previous design; it helped me a lot. If you could please do the same for this one I would be really appreciative.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Emit | Business Card Feedback Please

Hey Everyone,

Its feedback time again please, the letterhead follows a very similar feel as the business card so please think about both when giving your thoughts.

Thank you!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Confusions Galore... or are they?

Monday morning was not off to a good start. Minutes after walking in the door I had found out that I had referred yet another unit; A5. It would appear that I am not very good at taking bad news; something that was apparent after receiving our very first grades way back when. Inevitably, the poor result had a negative baring on my motivation and certainly my concentration from that point in. This combined with the already anxious and frustrated feeling bubbling deep within originating days before did not make the best tasting cocktail.

Needless to say, the presentation was appalling! I forgot the majority of what I wanted to say, my stutter came back in force and the more these problems happened, the worse they got; I was drastically under my time limit and seriously disappointed. I was embarrassed and extremely annoyed at myself; after all, I spend the majority of the week teaching small classes (typically 5 - 8 people) at work - the nerves certainly should not have had the affect that they did.

Fortunately, the 'question and answer' session immediately after the presentation, in my opinion, went well. Getting the majority of the questions right give me the boost of moral that I so desperately needed.

The rest of the day was to be utilized developing the A7 project; however, following the less than fantastic start to the day I do not feel as though I was even nearly as productive as I could / should have been. All that was going through my mind was "What am I doing wrong!".

Tuesday morning arrived and with a good nights sleep(ish) under my belt and I was in a much better mindset and felt ready to tackle the day. Shortly after the morning pleasantries we were called in one by one next door for what turned out to be the re-re-submission of our presentations which, although not fantastic, went much better. The presentation was pretty much on target time wise and a few of the questions later and it was all over and I was once again feeling a little bit more like myself.

With regards the seminar group, I think that because were are all focused with the task in hand (and perhaps a little afraid of opening our own sketchbooks) the seminar class today, although directed at A1, wasn't as strong as previous

Overall, I do not feel that I have had the most productive week and that my performance(s) have given me much opportunity to improve and push myself further. A stronger focus on my time planning this week will bring this opportunity to life.

Thanks for reading.

Quote of the week

"To be able to look back upon ones life in satisfaction, is to live twice” - Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Amended Design

Thank you all for the great creative feedback! I have made the amendments and I think that it looks much better; what do you all think?

Feedback Please!

Hi everyone,

I know its a little bit late on in the week but I would still be really greatful if I could get some feedback regarding the development of my logo. Please look at the previous logo to get a feel for where the idea has come from.


Shaun Bellis

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Design Design Desgin !


The early parts of this week has seen many fine alterations to the design of my logo; and its still not quite there. However, I believe that it is very easy to fuss over things too much and perhaps compromise the integrity of the design and undo all the hard work.

Quite uncharacteristically I found myself deflated and with my mind on other things; knowing this to be the case I decided it best that I left the creative and developmental work (knowing that I would only have to do it again anyway). As a result, I concentrated my efforts on creating the page structure of the CO-ID and the basic structure of the CD (front, back, inside, etc) so that my efforts were not wasted.

The ramifications of my overly long presentation for A6 has now become apparent; the presentation has to be redone in front of the whole class. This was a concept that originally I wasn't too phased by but now that we have a date for them, the pre-presentation anxieties are creeping in.


Further development of the Corporate Identity was the focal point of today for me. I was surprised how much of the information in there regarding the logo use was (in my opinion) common sense but yet I just couldn't help taking pleasure in knowing that I had written it! Whilst perhaps not totally independent just yet, the self directed seminar classes (go team Alpha!) are working really well. I do feel as though we are all growing and developing not only as designers but as people as well; the seminar classes only emphasis the fact.

Since the beginning of this semester there has been a significant improvement in time planning and evaluation of performance; still room to improve but that can only be a good thing.


- Finalise final stages of the logo.

- Finalise corporate Identity work.
- Develop ideas for the CD artwork.


Thanks for reading

Shaun Bellis

Quote of the week

Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.” - E. Joseph Cossman

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Tip of the iceburg!

This week has proven to be very productive. Monday saw the introduction to Adobe Freehand and although Adobe have chosen not to support it any further does not diminish its value in the industry as I dare say that many companies are reluctant to come up with the cash to upgrade; this means that it is a real possibility that we may end up using Freehand for some time to come.

I was surprised to see many of the same tools and facilities in Freehand as I was used to seeing in AutoCAD. Frustratingly however, they are not in the same place, nor are they as powerful as the CAD package.

We have been once again fortunate enough to have had a visitor this week. This time the appearance was from Mark Feather, an ex-student from the HND in Web Design at Wakefield College (Steve, is that what you were after? Alpha seminar class will get that one).

The work that
Mark undertakes at Empire Direct is very much different from Jonny's from Technophobia. Marks work concentrated almost entirely upon the company site and one site alone. The print work was very limited if at all and the opportunity to do a diverse range of designs / builds is restricted at best.

I think that of the two visits, I would prefer to take the position of Jonny's; however neither roll is specifically what I am looking for but beggars cannot be choosers particularly in the early stages of the career.

The A7 project is proving to be the most involved and enjoyable yet! Following semi-self directed seminar class today we have found that our logo's still have a long way to go. It is understandable that we are to be making errors / less than perfect designs as this is for a lot of us the first time that we have undertaken work like this. Even though the work that I have done so far is less than fantastic, I feel confident that it will all come together as I learn more of what is expected and to what level each day.

This time around I feel that I am much more organised and prepared. My time planning has shown much signs of improvement and it shows in the work that I have produced so far. This is a skill that certainly is transferable into the 'real world' and will continue to develop.

Useful links

FireBug - This is another great Firefox plugin for developers!
Logo Pond - Great source of inspiration!


Please be as honest as possible; excuse the quality of the image and my less than perfect illustrations.

Thanks for reading / feedback.

Shaun Bellis

Quote of the week

"Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn." - C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Welcome Back!

Good Points

The introduction to this terms assignment I felt went very smoothly. Visit by Jonny Haynes from the Sheffield based company Technophobia was fantastic. Although I enjoyed Jonny's presentation, I feel that being the inquisitive individual that I am (understatement I hear you cry) I personally got more from the seemingly informal question and answer session. It was great to see yet another success story originating from the course.

The new assignments are now well underway and the sketchbook evidence is mounting up nicley. Whilst this period, including over the holidays, has seen a significant improvement in the amount of sketchbook work, I am under no doubt that there will have to be much more to come before A1 will be satisfied; its going to have to be a busy few weeks.

The new seminar groups have been selected in accordance with which assignment we opted for during the holidays. We are as yet to receive our grades for the previous assignment; however I wouldn't necessarily say that this is a bad thing as it has kept moral high and allowing all of us to concentrate on the new assignments.

Things that could have been better.

I can honestly say that I am satisfied with how thing have gone and wouldn't have changed a thing.


  • Carry on the progression of my logo.
  • Hit the time sheets hard.
  • Ensure that the 'big picture' is in the forefront of my mind as well as working on the details.

I have also found some information regarding Royal Mail's envelope branding guidelines which may be of use for this and future assignments.

Thanks for reading.

Shaun Bellis

Quote of the week

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep" - Scott Adams

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Listening Week...

This inaccurately labeled "reading" week has proven to be very different; and I don't just mean from other reading weeks, I mean from anything I have experienced before!

I have always used music to set the tone to suit the circumstance; for example working environment, driving, etc. but never before has it been the focus of my activities.

From talking to some of the other students I am fortunate in that whilst it is not exactly my taste, the music I had was very similar to the 'Chilled Euphoria' albums that I have have in my collection.

My sketchbook is now filling up nicely boasting around ninety annotated logo's and three mood boards. I think that everyone's reactions were very similar this morning ... "Mood Board?!" but after a quick group discussion and some advice from the ever artistic Gary Benn, we were all on track.

From the work I have undertaken with logo's so far, I have found that as a general rule of thumb, the simple logos are much more affective and often more attractive. Logos like the ones belonging to 'Intel', 'McDonalds', 'Coca-Cola' and 'Volkswagen' to name but at few are almost intently recognisable with just a passing glance.

I am looking forward to the self study task(s) this week if it is in keeping with that we have done then we certainly are onto a winner!

The developmental process we have undertaken here is very different to methods I have adopted in the past. It is very interesting to see how even just mind maps and mood boards allow you to interpret your own understanding of what you do and break it down to its rawest and simplest entity - only then can you begin to move forward.

Thanks for reading.

Quote of the week

"Education: That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding." - Ambrose Bierce

Monday, 10 March 2008

Music that speaks for itself...

The relaxing, soft tones pulsating are almost like a massage for your mind. Drift off into your own little world and explore new levels of creativity and imaginative play.

The warm, welcoming and almost hypnotic instrumentals, combined with an at times tribal feel makes this album a must have for any collection.

This easy listening compilation is perfect for anyone wanting to clear their mind of distractions and allow their concentration to be focused on the task at hand. The album can slip seamlessly into the background of almost any thought-based activity.

Each track blends almost seamlessly into the next allowing your mind to focus on other more pressing issues.

The soothing and tranquil melody takes full advantage of the featured creative use of silence and neutral repetition; this album would be an ideal alternative to the sounds of nature to aid problematic sleep patterns and / or high levels of stress and unease.

The almost tantric sounds emitting from your speakers will take you away from the ‘hustle and bustle of modern day living; making this the first choice for anyone relaxing after a busy day in the office.

If silence is bliss… then this is the new silence!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

A6 - Evaluation

A6 – Evaluation

Good Points

This has been once again, a fantastic unit for me. The levels of creative opportunities and levels of excitement in the class have been unmistakable. Following the quite theoretical based units, A2 & A3, it has been a refreshing change to get much more involved with the mechanics of the design process with A5 & A6.

I am pleased to say that the use of the time planning sheets during the timed tasks has greatly evolved in comparison to previous tasks, and have proven to be a real asset when ensuring that all submissions are met on or even before time.

Whilst I still feel that the majority of the work that I have produced for college is a little on the ‘safe’ side, I am very proud of the work I have done so far; each perhaps for different reasons, but proud nonetheless.

I have intentionally included the timed projects in the ‘Good Points’ section as I feel that they have been the reason that I have enjoyed these units so much.


My initial thoughts when were handed the 'Hokai' brief for this project was that we were restricted in the space we had, the text to be shown and the face that it had to be showed on, so … how many solutions can there be? Many as it turns out. Whilst some of the designs were similar, the majority of the class had taken a much different approach to the same brief.

Jonathan Gee

Following the ‘Hokai’ small label adventure, the much larger (A5) ‘Jonathan Gee’ article added a different flavour to our design pallets; perhaps the variety if tasks that we’ve undertaken during this term has kept things interesting and dynamic.


Regrettably, I absent for this task; however, much of the work I have sampled from other students looked fantastic.


The ‘Grid’ task was the first part of our final timed assessment of this period. The way that the design was split into two sections helped to show us the importance of establishing a solid grid (comprising of columns) before entering the content; but most of all, sticking to it.


The ‘Story’ task was, in my opinion the more technical and enjoyable of the two sections. My initial thought was that the second part of the task was going to be much easier and it was simply a case of positioning some pre-written text; however, by the end of the task, some hour and a half later, I had a great sense of pride from implementing the practices I have been taught to date. By amending the tracking, leading and kerning I was able to ensure that both the top and bottom of each of the three columns was aligned perfectly. To aid in my manipulation of the text I opted to use a pull quote; the practical use of the pull quote also provided the design with a break in the text which, in my opinion may make the piece appear more attractive to read.

Zuzana Licko Presentation

I got a lot of personal satisfaction from the research for the presentation. Until recently, I never realised how much thought and effort goes into the production of a typeface. Inevitably, whilst researching Zuzana, my path crossed with many other famous typographers in brief. It would appear that as with any kind of design, typography, and typographers, are subject to quite harsh criticism and a thick skin is part of the job description.

Areas that could have been better

Whilst the application of time planning has greatly aided my development during the timed tasks, I regret to say that they have been some what neglected this time during both the A5 and the A6 assignments. I believe that in many ways this can be credited to the condition of my health through this unit; however, I do not feel that it is an excuse as if anything, I perhaps should have used to opportunity to make the time planning work harder and suit my circumstances.

I feel that due to my unfortunate illness and subsequent absence, I am at a disadvantage to many of the students. Whilst I have successfully caught up on the lecture notes, there is no substitute for actually being there.

Although, as I mentioned before I am very proud of the work that I have produced (each for various reasons), I do feel that the designs could have been more adventurous. An increase in the amount of inspirational work in my sketchbook may give me give me an confidence boost to stretch myself just that little bit further.


Although my attendance and health has not been quite what I would have liked it to be, I have really enjoyed this set of units. I feel that my skill development and technical knowledge has increased fourfold since the beginning of the course. My only regret is that my opportunities to follow up lectures notes to obtain a greater understanding are currently quite sparse; however, this issue certainly is one that I have already put measure in place to address.

Based upon the rate of my development so far, I cannot wait to see what the next term brings!


- Improve time planning.
- Increase amount of self-directed learning.
- Increase the sketchbook work.
- Be more adventurous when designing.
- Get some rest during this half term.

Word Count: 906

Thank you for reading.


Quote of the week

“Don't mind criticism. If it is untrue, disregard it; if unfair, keep from irritation; if it is ignorant, smile; if it is justified it is not criticism, learn from it.” - Unknown Source.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

CGI Heaven

10:48am on Monday the 25th of February 2008

After many stressful hours, buckets of blood, sweat and tears and enough elbow grease to fuel the proverb itself for years to come, my feedback form works!

After travelling down just about every avenue in a desperate hope to rectify the problem, with the very much appreciated help of Sue and Greg, we deduced that the issue was simply (tuft) the location of the send mail program.

The time spent trying to resolve this issue has not been a complete waste as I now feel as though I have a much greater understanding of the process than what I perhaps would have had if it had worked first time.

The only problem now is that I have gone form mad! After I realised that the same engine (script) can be used with many different forms, I set about creating my usability testing form ONLINE!

This might be described as some as a novelty; however, I believe that many people are lazy and unenthusiastic about filling in questionnaires in general so anything that makes the questionnaire easier to fill in can only make it more inviting and more likely to get filled in.

Today’s timed task highlighted to me the importance of each lecture. Whilst I have read and understood the notes from last week, it is no substitute for actually being there for the class.

Whist I liked how the final piece turned out, I do feel that it would have benefited greatly from my presence in the lecture; I cannot help but think that I 'played it safe' in fear of making an obvious fundamental errors.

I still have a lot of work to do over this week in order to successfully meet the submission dates; undoubtedly my illnesses has had a baring on my workload and performance; however I will simply have to preserver.

Quote of the week

"It MUST be the hosting ... its configured correctly I am sure of it!" - Shaun Bellis (famous last words)

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Nothing to see here

As the title suggests there is nothing much to report on this week. Illness (Sinusitis I am told) has one again left me incapacitated.

I have never been poorly as much before in my entire life! Deciding that I'd had enough yesterday I visited the doctors whom prescribed me with 6 tablets to take a day (including the antibiotics) and a nasal spray; and for which I was charged £20 for the privilege!

No doubt during this week I will be once again harassing people to find out what I have missed.

As is my nature I have been trying to get done what I can whilst at home. The one thing worse than having to pay for my own tuition fees, is having to pay for my own tuition fees and not getting the benefit because of SINUSITIS!

Quote of the week
"Not a happy bunny!" - Shaun Bellis

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Half Term

Half term so far has meant to me two days working at home! The relaxed atmosphere has given me chance to work out some of the more 'niggly' issues with the current projects.

I think I have been quite fortunate compared to some of my classmates as other than a CGI related issue (which I am blaming on how I have set my hosting up) the build has been quite smooth sailing for me.

Given more time, I would like to change the design of the A5 build, however, whilst the aesthetics is less than perfect (understatement) the functionality and practicality of the site works well and it would be a shame to jeopardise that for the sake of vanity.

I am keen to get on with the usability testing of the site so any help anyone can give would be greatly appreciated.

See the site here.

Quote of the week

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.”
- Chinese Proverb.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Playing Catch Up...

Catch Up...

Another great productive week!

My first priority at the start of the week was to catch up on the notes I missed last from the previous week.

I had planned for about 20 minutes worth of copying / catching up time; however, come first break I was still at it (in the cafeteria might I add).

I think that this really set the tone for the week as many of the tasks I have undertaken so far have taken much longer than originally anticipated.

Usability & Accessibility...

This is becoming an area of increased interest to me. The more I learn, the more I find there is to learn! The prospect of making a living from consultancy later in life is something certainly worth considering.

I can feel a
DasForum post on the way.

Timed Task...

Of the two timed tasks we have had so far, I would have to say that this one has been the most enjoyable and rewarding for me personally. The atmosphere was much more productive which lead to a much better design; and in my opinion,
the printed version worked well.

Everyone had a much clearer idea of what had to be done and the seriousness in which the time scales were to be taken.

Feedback Groups...

The new seminar groups are working very well for me at the moment; the level of productive discussion, whilst remaining light hearted in places, is high.

I feel as though after each seminar session that I am much more comfortable with what is expected for each stage of the assignment.


Overall this has been a very productive week. There has been a good balance between work and play making the level of output and quality high.

There is still much more to be done this week during self study so please keep an eye out on both here and on
the forum for work to comment upon.


Shaun Bellis

Quote of the week

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” - Proverb

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Usability Questionnaire

With our usability testing in mind, I have found a really good example of a usability questionnaire.

Obviously we are not allowed to directly copy the sites content, but its a good starting point.

If anyone has any others then please do share. Likewise for good accessibility statements to reference (see DasForum post).


Shaun Bellis

Quote of the week...end
"Usability is like oxygen - you never notice it until its missing" - Unknown Source

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Poorly Again... or is it still?

Once again, I find myself victim to the very much-overstated illness that is Man Flu!

My attempts to hide my illness and come into college were quickly foiled by Steve. After a quick feedback session, it was decided that it was best if I went home and rested; perhaps this is the reason I find myself once again poorly.

However, this time the illness has cost me more than just a few days off college. Much to my regret I have been unable to attend the visit to the Design Mechanics.

I am sure that I will be able to read about the experience on the other peoples journals; perhaps there will be a small talk on Monday regarding the days events as there was when the Design Mechanics came to visit us.

Fortunately, whilst I am not yet 100% better, I am well on the way back to good health.

This week will have to see an increase in self-study hours to accommodate for the poor start.


Quote of the week

“People who cannot find time for recreation are obliged sooner or later to find time for illness.” - John Wanamaker

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

No rest for the wicked!

[Before I get into this post, I have been playing and have come across a very useful bit of HTML. Where the font is Dark Purple if you hover your mouse over it and see what happens - Let me know what you think].

Good points


This week saw our formal introduction to CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Even though I have what I would now call basic knowledge and understanding of CSS, I found myself to be very impressed with its capabilities; almost immediately the proverbial cogs of my mind were turning with ideas for future projects.
Along with the introduction to CSS, we also had a lecture regarding Adobe Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver is an application that I consider myself to be reasonably competent with; however the lecture and ‘creative play’ benefited me greatly and will have a baring on how I do things in the future.

Feedback forms have always been somewhat of a mystery to me. I have heard a lot about them but I have never actually used one nor seen the results returned from one. Following the lectures we’ve had and from talking to other people I feel that my curiosity has now gotten the best of me and during this weeks self study I aim to create and successfully implement a working (test) feedback form.

Big thanks to Torro who instigated the creation of a pre-submission checklist. This is a fantastic idea which will hopefully avoid any still omissions for the A5 – Builder project.


I loved the timed design task! The more we do tasks like this, the more comfortable I am with them (kind of practice makes perfect). My design work still leaves much to be desired and is possibly the area in which I stand to make the biggest improvements.

I am really enjoying the A6 - Revert to Type. Once again it is showing me just how little I knew about design and the principles behind it before I started this course.

The seminar groups this time have been decided by putting people with similar grades together. Today’s seminar session, I feel worked very well. Everyone in the group contributed well. Lets keep it up; great work.

Bits that could have been better.

It was a real shame to have missed out on the submission of our first timed task by merely seconds. I suppose that the strictness of the submission time was to give us an indication of how serious we have to take these things.

Based upon the seminar groups today, I realise that there is still much work to do bring the A1 project up to scratch.


In closing, I would once again thank Steve for organising the visit next week to the Design Mechanics. Whilst I am a little bit apprehensive to show the work I have done so far, I am really looking forward to the opportunity to visit a working design studio (however small it may be).

Quote of the week
“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand”. – Chinese Proverb

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Check Point One

After much apprehension over the festive period, I am very please [and proud] to say that I have made it into the second semester.

Whilst not an overly promising start, due to illness; I am sure that this semester will prove to be even better than the previous.

Monday's lesson saw the classes introduction to Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver was one area that I was under the impression I was very knowledgeable about; however, our creative playtime and the lecture once again proved that there is still much to learn.

I am pleased to announce that I have passed the A3 assignment that I was worrying so much about; and with some alterations, A4 can be turned around also.

I do feel that the presenting of the grades worked much better this time around. The nervous tension was still there but there was also an air of excitement. I would be happy for the grades to be presented in this manor in the future.

In all honesty, I was expecting a much lighter morning for our first day back [perhaps a team building exercise / ice breaker as on our first day]; however, upon reflection, there were things that had to be done and the schedule is so tight that this simply couldn't have been the case.

From looking at the up coming assignment sheets, I am really looking forward to getting my head down and making as much progress as possible early on. The production schedule MUST be abided by as closely as possible to ensure that I have a CLEAR week at the end of the assignment to iron out problems that have recently been brought to my attention.

Regrettably, I missed the class today [Tuesday 15th] due to illness. However, I will ensure that all notes are caught up on and any gaps are filled in.

The atmosphere in the class on Monday was fantastic; which was surprising considering it was results day. Whilst everyone seamed relaxed and positive, we all now have a much clearer understanding of what has to be done in order to succeed on the course.

The class were asked a rhetorical question during our Monday morning talk [and paraphrase a little] "Is this what you want... are you willing to do what it takes?" the answer without a shadow of doubt is YES! This is what I want to do, I am willing to do what it takes.

Quote of the week

Plan backwards as well as forward. Set objectives and trace back to see how to achieve them. You may find that no path can get you there. Plan forward to see where your steps will take you, which may not be clear or intuitive.” - Donald Rumsfeld