Scenes - History - Analysis - Reference - Report

Group Analysis

    Our group, the hiphop group, only ran into minor problems while making our site. We were all focused on the same main idea, so narrowing our focus down to underground hiphop around the world happened pretty quickly. Coming up with a name and our original site design (using subway maps as a navigation system, and breaking down the site into four areas: history, scenes, reference, and analysis) took only one week of group meetings, and once we had decided on this main outline, we could break down necessary tasks to their basic components easily, and assign completion timeframes to each section’s parts. We were all involved in deciding how the site would look, and we came to an agreement quite quickly, using both our knowledge of other websites and the information in the book we’d all read for class (the Steve Krug book, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability).
    We all focused on one main task: James on graphics, Andre and Eric on coding, Dan on navigation, and Mark and Amy on content. This allowed us to easily divide tasks, and also to serve as each other’s usability testers and editors. For example, we all decided what we wanted the original navigation system to look like. Once Dan had made it, we all could look at it, and offer suggestions or comments to improve it. While we all would come up with a desired end product, the process of getting to that end product was left to each area’s manager. We all wanted to have an artist directory of underground hiphop, so Eric wrote a simple database that allowed us to alphabetize artists and keep biographies and discographies. Once he had finished the main coding, he turned it over to Mark and Amy, who were in charge of editing the information that that page contained, and in filling out the majority of the content on it, although everyone did contribute to the artists directory. Also, everyone helped in finding resources, both online and offline, and would share links and books they discovered that would be helpful for others in the group. When Dan found a web page about African hiphop, he told Amy, who used it as a resource when writing the African hiphop scene essay. While these general areas of specialization allowed us to ensure that each part of the project would be completed, they did not mean that everyone was limited to only working in one section of the project, and everyone did at least a small amount of work on every section (graphics, coding, navigation, and content).
    Everyone was very flexible at all times this semester, which made scheduling out-of-class meetings and work times simple. Everyone was also very diligent in getting their work done at the necessary time, which made tasks that relied on other tasks’ completion easy to schedule. We were all aware of what everyone was working on at all times, and knew what our weak areas were, so that doing usability tests with the class as a whole were really just confirmations of what we saw as our weak points and problems.
    One of the minor problems that we ran into happened after our first usability test. Our navigation system, based on a subway map, was confusing to people outside of our group. We also decided that it would be hard for us to add enough “stops” on each line to represent the content that we planned to add (each stop was a link to a scene, an analytical piece, or a year in history), so we scrapped that idea and made a new navigation system. The new system is cleaner-looking than the old system, and we modeled it on other sites’ navigation systems. While this redesign did set us back, because we had to redo the navigation and create it, instead of using that time to work on content, in the end it made out navigation system easier to use, which makes our site much more valuable as a resource. As far as learning about presentation and design, we all had pretty strong opinions about what looks good on a website and what does not. Luckily, all of our opinions were similar, so designing our site was a quick process. We knew we wanted it to look clean and uncluttered. We also wanted it to be easy to navigate, but with an impressive navigation system. Our compromise between these desires resulted in the navigation system we have. 
    The medium of the internet definitely worked well for our project. There are few other mediums that allow writing, photos, moving images, and music to be side-by-side. The only problem that may happen is when casual visitors view our site. Since the site is rather content-heavy, and people tend to skim text on the internet, it may mean that much of our content will not be read. However, our site is meant to be a resource for people who are already interested in hiphop, and who will be actively searching for a site like ours, that supplies a historical context as well as contemporary analyses and short synopses of hiphop scenes around the world. We took advantage of the multimedia environment by adding sound and many photos, as well as representative graphics for each different section of our site. By using a consistent graphical layout that we decided upon near the beginning of the project, we were able to concentrate on finding interesting graphics to add to our site.
    Overall, our group ran incredibly smoothly. Everyone put in the same amount of effort, and there was never a time when one group member felt they were doing more than another. We were lucky because we all had a similar vision of what the site would be even before we started working together. While this is not an experience that many groups have, we were exceptionally lucky, and also made very definite plans of what we wanted. That made it easier because we always had documentation (in the form of outlines, site maps, and to-do lists) to look at and decide what was most important to do and when we needed it done.
    The Underground Group Members: Mark Calaguas, Amy Chatfield, Eric Fileti, Andre Grewe, Daniel Norton, & James Robinson.
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