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The Web Portfolio as an Information Product for Communication

The desire to help people succeed with communication was a major influence in my decision to dig into Web portfolios as a research initiative. The Web portfolio is ultimately a platform for communication and the concepts, images and messages within the Web portfolio are centered on persuasion, a major area in communication studies. The Web portfolio takes on the form of an information product for communication.

 

To develop the information product properly, you must first analyze, retrieve, categorize, and manage your professional data so that it is refined into information. The refined information is put into a communication context, the Web portfolio. The communication generated from the Web portfolio is shaped by content, design, visual quality, usability, and overall experience visiting the site. The communication should be persuasive with the goal of getting the visitor to act favorably towards the author, whether consciously or subconsciously.

 

I want this web design tutorial to serve the reader as a tool for helping establish the foundation skills and act as a motiva- tional force. In addition, this web design tutorial intends to give a well-rounded view of the Web portfolio and how it is being used in academic programs and professional scenarios. The skills and experience acquired while creating a Web portfolio must be passed on to others as they begin to explore Web portfolio development.

The Focus and Benefits

In this text, we focus on several areas inside the realm of the Web portfolio:
  • The virtues of the Web portfolio;
  • The professional software tools needed to create a Web portfolio;
  • The important processes that are needed to execute Web portfolio de- velopment and production;
  • Beginner and advanced techniques using multimedia and Web authoring tools; and
  • What electronic/Web portfolios may evolve into as what I call “the postmodern professional appearance” of the information society.

We will examine brainstorming, design, and development. The process out- lined in the text takes you through the creation of a Web portfolio. I use examples from my own Web portfolio and others to illustrate key points about design and development. The tools and techniques used in this web design tutorial can be applied to developing a Web portfolio for a person or an entity in any industry or position.

 

My infinite hope is that this web design tutorial becomes a results-driven re- source for the teaching and learning of Web portfolio development and that the web design tutorial becomes a cookweb design tutorial for getting a Web portfolio created. This will hopefully result in students and instructors creating Web portfolios. Putting together a Web portfolio does require some work, but the work is not without benefits. The learning process that occurs during the Web portfolio design process will give you skills and experiences with technology, self analysis, and Web design. When it comes to making the commitment to creating a Web portfolio, both students and instructors will see tremendous payoffs. For the instructor, the Web portfolio is not a course Web site. It has the same purpose as a student portfolio, to persuade. There are other common benefits shared by students and instructors who create Web portfolios.

 

The Web portfolio gives the author nine worldwide mediums to freely disseminate professional information. A Web portfolio offers the creator a cost effective promotional tool. The Web portfolio also serves as a dynamic hub for communication, between students, faculty, employers, and academia. The power of multime- dia applications on the Web such as Macromedia Flash allows a rich multimedia environment for presentations and collaboration. The Web portfolio gives the author an integral advantage in real-world self-promotion. Creating a Web portfolio shows a tangible technology achievement. The Web portfolio and subsequent redesigns throughout your career will yield lifelong learning in Web technology and self promotion. Specifically for instructors, the Web portfolio can act as a testing ground for experimenting with Web technology for peda- gogy, exhibition, program, promotion, collaboration, online learning, and archiving.

Here is a brief overview of each web design lesson.

  • Lesson I — Introduction to the Web Portfolio
    This web design lesson puts the Web portfolio into perspective and describes sev- eral thoughts supporting the Web portfolio as a communication tool for lifelong learning that presents a professional appearance. The web design lesson explains how the Web portfolio development process is a skill-building experience that has dynamic benefits.

  • Lesson II — Conceptualization
    This web design lesson guides you in developing concepts, images, and messages needed for the Web portfolio. Content collection and evaluation is dis- cussed as the Web portfolio is put into the context of a content manage- ment tool. The web design lesson gives examples on how to develop the scope documents needed to organize the Web portfolio. The concept state- ment, content list, and content outline are explained and exampled. This web design lesson represents the first step in the Web portfolio design and devel- opment process.

  • Lesson III — Information Design
    This web design lesson shows you the process of information design for Web port- folios. You get a chance to display navigation and usability in a functional flowchart that is based on the concept and content scope documents that you worked on in Lesson II. The web design lesson concludes with creation of a flowchart. This web design lesson represents the second step in the Web portfolio design process.

  • Lesson IV — Visual Design
    This web design lesson explores the visual aspects of creating attractive well-de- signed Web pages. Focus is on basic design principles and establishing ideas on how you want the Web portfolio pages to look. Color, compo- sition, and typography are explained so that novice designers can be guided on how to create strong pages. The web design lesson concludes with in- struction and development of story boards that represent rough site de- signs. This web design lesson represents the third step in the Web portfolio design process.

  • Lesson V — Content, Collection, Development and Management
    This web design lesson provides techniques and strategies for collecting and creat- ing content from existing assets and project files. The web design lesson gives ad- vice on scanning and photography as well as how to use the resume in the Web portfolio and how to describe projects you present in the Web portfolio. This web design lesson represents the fourth step in the Web portfolio design process.

  • Lesson VI — Web Page Design
    This web design lesson introduces digital tools in the design of Web page screens and graphics. Discussion includes design of buttons, navigation, and pop- up windows. Coverage includes slicing, optimizing, and exporting Web pages. An easy to use workflow is presented that allows rapid develop- ment of Web pages using visual tools instead of handwritten code. This web design lesson represents the fifth step in the Web portfolio design process.

  • Lesson VII — Web Authoring
    This web design lesson introduces Web page authoring tools and provides tutorials and workflows for using Macromedia Dreamweaver. Major Web func- tionality issues are covered and appropriate techniques are explained. The web design lesson goal is to get the Web portfolio to a stage of functionality. This web design lesson moves you toward a working Web portfolio.

  • Lesson VIII — Motion, Graphics and Multimedia Production
    This web design lesson provides discussion and instruction on using Macromedia Flash for multimedia production and Adobe Audition for audio editing. The tutorials shown guide you in developing essential multimedia com- ponents that can be integrated into the Web portfolio seamlessly. Cover- age includes creating text animation and using audio tracks in Web pages with Macromedia Flash.

  • Lesson IX — Uploading and Testing Your Web Portfolio Site
    This web design lesson provides the last technical step to getting the Web portfolio up on the Internet. Coverage spans the Internet and FTP and discusses how to use Macromedia Dreamweaver for uploading, downloading, and managing site files. The theories of Molich and Nielsen are presented in the context of Web portfolio usability. The web design lesson ends with discussion on redesign and the commitment to continual improvement and content flow in the Web portfolio.

  • Lesson X — Launch and Promotion
    Getting the Web portfolio launched and marketed is the topic of this web design lesson. The Web portfolio marketing process involves traditional and electronic media to be effective. The web design lesson provides some marketing ideas that can be used in a comprehensive launch plan or individually for small scale promotions.

  • Lesson XI — Server-Side Technologies
    This web design lesson provides the last technical data on server-side technologies and discusses dynamic integration into the Web portfolio. Coverage in- cludes ASP, ASP.net, Coldfusion, PHP, and CGI/Perl. The web design lesson is intended to give an overview of the technologies and some technical in- formation on versions and updates. I try to provide the latest data, but data is obsolete quickly after deployment when it comes to application technology.

  • Lesson XII — Web Portfolios in the Information Society and Future
    This web design lesson focuses on theoretical examination of the Web portfolio in the knowledge worker age and the information society. Theorists’ views are synthesized into my theory on the future of the Web portfolio. As technology flattens the world and masses of people continue to get digi- tal for multitude of reasons, the Web portfolio will become a vehicle for responsive communication and connection to the world of work for hire. This web design lesson concludes the web design tutorial and I hope it provides food for thought as you continue your expedition toward making Web portfolios a staple part of your public existence. As well, I hope to encourage further re- search on Web portfolios from scholars across disciplines.
 

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