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These are various essays from my Internet Communications Class.

Web Site Evaluation



I decided to write my website evaluation on the Worcester Art Museum. This was an extremely easy decision since I recently went to the Worcester Art Museum (WAM) with my History of Graphic Design Class, to write a response or reaction paper about any piece at the museum I found interesting. As any student would, I took a notebook and pencil and took as many notes on the pieces I enjoyed. Unfortunately, as an artist, and more so as a student I wanted to look over those pieces again without paying the admission fee and going back a second time; as a result I turned to their website, http://www.worcesterart.org/


The Worcester Art Museum’s website never gives a main copyright or posted date. I did however find various dates throughout other pages within the website itself, but for only those specific pages. The site also never really gives a clear presentation of any direct type of identification about who designed it or who is responsible for its contents. The only mention of a possible designer or owner is this email address, webmaster@worcesterart.org. As a viewer, I would have rather seen a name, a copyright or a last time updated date and not an email address for the Webmaster.


On the homepage, The Worcester Art Museum answers some of the basic and direct questions viewers or possible visitors might ask. The basics of the museum name, address, hours and telephone number are all on the bottom of the homepage. The homepage also offers a search option, which is a nice feature if you want to cut to the chase and start looking for something specific. The website contains various information about the Museums exhibitions, (past, present and future), online galleries, recent and past acquisitions, educational programs, events, membership information, volunteer information, directions, floor maps of the museum, art classes and lots more. It seems like upon first glance this website has it all. The Worcester Art Museum has all the potential of a great website and unfortunately they did not meet up to.


As a student of the Applied Arts program I feel that there are many reasons why the Worcester Art Museum didn’t live up to its fullest potential or capabilities. First of all, a website does not need all the flashly graphics, fonts and animations to make it a great site. In the Applied Arts program as well as some other art programs, one of the things we are taught is that less is more. It does however need the basics of easy navigation, a site that is updated often or at least a note to the viewer when the site was last updated (updated information is key to good research, and a lot of people don’t have time to navigate around sites that are out of date). The website also needs a target audience, and lastly the website (in a museum’s case) needs to focus more or at least feature the pieces in the museum itself, the art.


The Worcester Art Museum website was rather boring, not because it didn’t have any flashy animations or wild fonts or graphics. It was boring because the site is so vague; it lacks any kind of bunch for the viewer. It seems as if the Worcester Art Museum reflected the way a lot of people feel about museums, stuffy, boring and no room for the flashy and wild. Regardless, the boredom itself didn’t bother me. It was the lack of accurate information, the lack of a specific target audience and the way they have a viewer navigating in circles trying to access various information and artwork. It is these last things that add to the confusion of visitors to this site.


The Worcester Art Museums homepage starts with some very basic (on the small side) graphics and three columns, Coming soon, In the Galleries and Art Classes. The homepage shows instant confusion about who the target audience is. Is the target on art classes? Is the target on the Galleries inside the museum? Is the target on coming attractions or upcoming events? Or lastly is it none of the above, or all the above? I personally think the museum was trying to cater to everyone and because of that causes a lot of confusion throughout their website.


The site has some good qualities; the navigation is clearly marked on each and every page. The links are all underlined and in blue text, and they have included some useful and external links as well. There is a search option throughout all the websites various pages. The majority of the text is very readable, not flashy or hard to read (There was a few fonts that were in white, which were a little hard to read).  There is more than accurate information about the museum’s location, a note from the director, the museums hours and special events and fees, as well as contact information about the museum.


If I was to re-design this particular web site, the first thing I would do is place information on the homepage about who designed it, and when it was last updated. I would then focus more on the Art that is within the museum. I would if nothing else place a few images on each main page of different pieces of interest from the museum. I think the focus should be on the art, not on confusing who the museums target audience is. If people are interested in the art classes or becoming a volunteer they will follow those links to access that information. Another thing I would do is they used a watermark in the wallpaper of each of their pages, I think this is a great idea. However, they used various shades of brown and tan for the wallpapers, and as a result those colors drowned out the watermark image. On some of the pages you can barely see it, on others you cant see it at all. Next I would show more of the artwork within the gallery sections of the website. After all this is what brought me to this particular website. Instead of seeing maybe 20 percent of the museums pieces, I got sent in circles and left aggravated. I realize in some cases that there are images due to copyright laws that cannot be viewed online. I think as a museum, they should have a disclaimer on each page saying which images can not be viewed because of the copyright laws or other permission issues.

Lastly I think as a museum it is there place to educate people about the art that is inside their museum. It would be nice to visit a museum website and have them not only show the images that can be viewed, but also tell us a little about each piece.


I found that the Worcester Art Museum also tried to focus on the business end of the spectrum too much (again another one of their too many targets). There are many pages filled with acquisitions listings in more of an inventory type listing, rather than listing the items, telling us how they acquired them, showing the piece and lastly telling us about the piece itself. The Worcester Art Museum’s website has so much potential it’s a shame they couldn’t live up to it.



Michael West




Blue Book, Turning

This site is owned, operated and designed by
Michael J. West

Last updated 2/ 19 / 2005

Is this medium blurring the boundaries between home and work?


The Internet has allowed a great opportunity for many people to stay at home, rather than travel to a place of employment. In this hectic, fast paced, demanding, and ever changing world, the Internet has allowed people to make the choice of staying at home or traveling to and from the office. In a lot of cases this has been very successful in not blurring, but adjusting the boundaries between home and work.


The Internet has acted similar to a liaison between a person’s home life and their work life. The Internet has allowed a working mother to stay at home for a few days with her sick child, or an adult child to balance the workload of taking care of an elderly or sick parent and their job. The Internet has allowed a new mother to balance the issues and pressures of getting back to work sooner and taking care of a newborn child, or individual that wants to avoid having to relocate and instead freelance from their own home.


The Internet has also been the reason why families keep in contact with one another. It is of course better, faster and cheaper to keep in contact with loved ones via the Internet. The father that is away on business can Instant Message his children, his wife. The cousin that lives on the other side of the United States can email pictures of their new baby to the entire family in a matter of seconds. The girlfriend that is away can communicate back and forth with her boyfriend, via a video camera, so that not only can they talk back and forth, but they can see one another as well. The Internet has been beneficial to numerous people in countless ways.


The Internet has not been a medium responsible for blurring the boundaries between home and work, however it has been an important instrument in adjusting the boundaries between home and work. The Internet has allowed more people to stay at home to spend more time with their wives, husbands and children. It has allowed people the opportunity to have a more adjustable workday, to be able to attend more family functions. The Internet has, in some cases, allowed more people to become their own bosses, which in return can open even more opportunities. The only blurring is the individuals that misuse the Internet, or become addicted to the amount of time they spend on the computer. 


Are there unintended less-than-positive consequences of the Internet?


There are of course, unintended consequences in anything in life. Like with everything else in life, things are created to benefit, make life easier, or just to make life more entertaining. Those creations also have a negative side. There is a saying, “It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch.” So with the creation of the Internet came those individuals that “spoiled” it or try to. The unintended consequences that surround the Internet are the individuals that misuse or the “spoilers” of the Internet. The misuse comes in many forms; there is online addiction, individuals running up large phone bills, the online sexual predators, online gambling, rabid, out of control pornography and numerous others.


The first is the addiction of spending too much time on the computer. This addiction leads to less quality time with family, friends and co-workers. In return this addiction leads to fewer  socializing situations, and of course ultimately to less human interaction and eventual isolation. Another form of misuse, as well as addiction is when individuals become addicted to online gambling, pornography and online chatrooms. These addictions can leads to problems in existing relationships, large phone bills  and other costly addicting habits. Of course there is the more damaging misuse of when individuals; that are sexual predators, try to bait other people into meeting them with sometimes and unfortunate deadly results.


The average individuals do not fall into the category of the “spoilers” of the Internet. There are individuals out there, that can spend many hours a day on computers and it does not interrupt their daily lives, their social and even personal lives. In fact in most cases the Internet helps a lot of people keep an active social calendar, with a click of a mouse a person can send an Instant message about plans later that evening, or look up directions to a sport event, or restaurant. The Internet can allow people to access information about what movie is playing; where and at what times, it also allows individuals to join dating programs. The Internet as a whole leads average people to be more socialized, more active, more present in their own family’s lives and lastly it allows more chances to meet new people.


Michael West


Blogs are increasingly being used by academics and students.


One of the newest fads appearing and spreading all over the Internet is blogs. “Web Logs or blogs are everywhere with at least an estimated five million on the web and that number is constantly growing.” Says Roberto Belo of BBC News. What is a blog? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary; a blog is a website that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinked. Until recently blogs were used primarly for personal use, political views or on the media business in general.  However, many in academic fields have discovered it to be an alternative souce of news and have incorporated blogs more fully into university life.  Blogs are proving to be informative, educational, allowing more opportunities and making information easily accessable to students.

“The weblog meant a place to store ideas, links and references.” Says Ester Maccallum-Stewart of Sussex University. It would seem blogs and education along with college students and faculty would go perfectly together. So it makes totally sense for college campuses and students to start utilizing blogs to open doors for faster, easier and countless resources at their fingertips. In this latest technology, not only can individuals access information on the Internet; as a result of blogs individuals can also post and store additional information. Blogs are giving various departments, staff, as well as students the freedom to explore academic journals, student newspapers and other resources. John Dale, head of IT services at Warwick University says, “We believe that blogging may open new opportunities for students and staff. It gives students an opportunity to work together on projects.” 

The opportunities that blogging can provide for individuals is endless, and as blogging catches on more, the opportunities available will continue to grow.  A student that is home recovering from an illness or injury can stay in contact with their fellow students and keep abreast of the classrooms activities and assignments. A promising writer can post a thesis or book proposal and watch it turn into a reality of being published. Teachers can use their blogs for posting course materials, resources, assignments, and students can access those materials easier, faster and from any computer or location.

However, as David Supple, a web strategy manager at Birmingham University, points out “This type of technology is very open and easy to instigate and that often means in the rush to use it, the bigger questions on the most effective ways to use technology without creating legal and reputational issues for the institution are forgotten or end up being asked too late.” The abuse factor is and will continue to be nothing new to the Internet. Blogs will become yet another of the victims of unintended consequences from the Internet in general.  


Michael West 2/1/2005


Story Source: BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/education/4194669.stm Published: Jan. 23, 2005