UNT Undergraduate LTC Ad

The professional and technical communications field is an up and coming area of study that is focused on strong writing skills. In this program, you will learn to write efficiently and creatively, you will learn to edit others work, you will learn how to properly go about researching and beginning major projects, and you will learn how to approach your tasks from several effective angles with large groups.

 

One of our greatest selling points is the lack of conventional assignments. You do not go home every night with new homework due the next day. Almost all of our classes are graded on major projects assigned by the course instructor. Many of these projects will be group work, but several are individual projects or group optional. The work is well paced and easy to balance with other unrelated work. Achieving a bachelors’ degree in professional and technical communication generally takes four to five years.

 

Not only will we help you as an undergraduate, but your skills will likely be immediately marketable once you finish your degree. The number of employed technical communicators is expected to increase by 18% by 2018, surpassing the expected growth in job opportunities for writers and editors (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010-2011 edition).

 

To view the course requirements, follow the link below.

http://catalog.unt.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=3&poid=624&returnto=161

 

Non-UNT Undergraduate LTC Ad

Looking for a new major, possibly even a new university? The University of North Texas is the place for you, and the professional and technical communications field is an up and coming area of study that is focused on strong writing skills. In this program, you will learn to write efficiently and creatively, you will learn to edit others work, you will learn how to properly go about researching and beginning major projects, and you will learn how to approach your tasks from several effective angles with large groups.

One of our greatest selling points is the lack of conventional assignments. You do not go home every night with new homework due the next day. Almost all of our classes are graded on major projects assigned by the course instructor. Many of these projects will be group work, but several are individual projects or group optional. The work is well paced and easy to balance with other unrelated work. Achieving a bachelors’ degree in professional and technical communication generally takes four to five years.

Not only will we help you as an undergraduate, but your skills will likely be immediately marketable once you finish your degree. The number of employed technical communicators is expected to increase by 18% by 2018, surpassing the expected growth in job opportunities for writers and editors (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010-2011 edition).

UNT is also in a fantastic location, having the only professional and technical communication near a major Texas city. Because of this, we are able to work directly with many major companies that operate within the Dallas metroplex. There are also several scholarship opportunities provided by UNT. To view these opportunities, visit http://www.financialaid.unt.edu

To view the course requirements, follow the link below.

http://catalog.unt.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=3&poid=624&returnto=161

ThinkGeek.com Critique

Website: www.thinkgeek.com

 

Think Geek is a website devoted to selling nifty, quirky, gimmicky items from “nerd culture” to the many nerds who enthusiastically jump at the opportunity to own the gadgets and keepsakes from their favorite movies, comics, games, and books. Since Think Geek caters almost exclusively to “nerds,” it would be easy for them to narrow their design and content to fit a very specific demographic. However, this would be a bad assumption. Nerd culture includes many subcultures. For example, some Dr. Who fans may not like Mario (or videogames in general, for that matter). Maybe a lover of Lord of the Rings has a distaste for comic books, or maybe a DC comics fan can’t stand anything written by Marvel. There are a lot of ways someone designing a website tailored to “nerds” can go awry when choosing themes, design layouts, or even which content to advertise alongside other content.

 

The design of Think Geek, given its demographic, is excellent. The website’s theme is not specific to any particular branch of nerd culture, which is good for avoiding any perceived favoritism toward any particular subject. The highlights module in the middle of the home page is especially good at this tactic, as it advertises five very different kinds of items, all of which are changed on a regular basis. Besides this, the menu options on the left and top make quick shopping more effective with the generalized subjects, keeping product categories on the left and Think Geek exclusive content links on the top, along with the major categories or those that are most often searched.

 

In terms of content, Think Geek has outdone itself. Each product has a description that fits the website’s overall feel- fun, quirky, and informative. The content is updated regularly and thumbnail pictures with full paragraph descriptions are available for several headliner products right on the home page. The website is consistent with its word usage and any lapse in such consistency is defendable because of the dynamic content in terms of products that are available and how their descriptions relate to that particular item’s significance. Due to this, writing consistency is barely even something to be concerned with, regarding Think Geek.

 

When searching for an item with the website’s search engine, Think Geek does occasionally bring up items that have nothing to do with your search. I’m not just talking about topical differences, but if you type a keyword and bring up search results you can sometimes get pages that don’t even have that keyword in the content or aren’t even relevant to your search. Other than this, there aren’t any design flaws or content slips that I can find anywhere in the website.

GoodGoth.com Critique

Website: www.goodgoth.com

 

Good Goth is a website meant to sell gothic clothing items and accessories to women. Most of what they sell is corsets and makeup, along with a few accessories. It’s just about evenly balanced with good and bad features, but is relatively well set up.

 

In terms of design, the website has some pretty creative features. First of all, the color scheme is varying shades of black. Since everything is grayscale, any color added to the site stands out and doesn’t clash. It prevents the page from being overly distracting and makes it easy to call attention to items of interest by putting color on them.

 

The home page is very efficient; it has thumbnails that lead to every page in the site and even has an “on sale” tab that will take you to any items that are being discounted. You can even leave generalized comments on the home page, as well as comment on every other page included in the website. Besides these things, you can even change the order in which products appear on a page when looking at individual products. Product pages also have a “compare” function that should allow you to compare two or possibly more items side by side. However, when I was exploring the site, I was unable to figure out how exactly that worked. All I had was a check box under each product.

 

The design does have its flaws. For one thing, the sidebar with category tabs is redundant when you’re on the home page, as it has a link to everything that’s also displayed on the main body of the home page and nothing more. Also, only four of the side tabs expand to show you subsections of the page to which it is linked. One or two of the pages also have no graphics of any kind, hitting the reader with the well known “wall of text” that can bore a reader just as well as it informs them.

 

Good Goth’s content is well rounded. The images, products, and descriptions all fit the dark gothic theme of the website. The images do an especially good job at this because they are almost entirely grayscale, again adding color to anything the designers deemed appropriate to stand out. One thing that I thought was a very good choice by the company was to add a plus sizes section to their website. I’m sure there’s a good portion of their online demographic that is larger than most. This is a good measure taken to accommodate that portion of their demographic without being offensive.

 

The only issue I had with the content was the “mystery bag”. This item is not explained in the slightest until you actually go all the way to the product. I understand that it can be used as a technique to get the website’s users to go to that product, but there’s nothing flashy about the product or the specific product page that would help to sell it. In the end, it’s just a bag with a random bundle of the site’s products.

Mefferts.com Critique

Website: www.mefferts.com

 

Mefferts, like Cube4You, is a website devoted to selling puzzles to those who want new and interesting challenges. Unlike Cube4You, it is riddled with nothing but bad design and poor content.

 

First, let’s address Mefferts’ design. The website is not enabled to be viewed on a mobile device. This wouldn’t be a huge problem, except Mefferts uses animations that slow loading on mobile devices or won’t allow it at all. The website’s homepage is very busy and distracting, making it difficult to immediately determine where you need to go do buy puzzles or learn about them. From within the homepage, you can visit three other pages: the shop page, the gallery page, and the puzzle video page.

 

The shop page does not have tabs like every other website in this day and age. Instead, it is a 3×89 list of products ranging from small puzzles, to large puzzles, to puzzle parts and puzzle accessories. The shop page is not even organized into sections. Every product that the site has to offer is on the same page and they’re all jumbled around. Good luck to those searching for something specific, I hope you know how to use ctrl+F.

 

The shop page also has a twin, referred to as the “Puzzle Information” page. Don’t let the name fool you, though, it is not a different page. The puzzle information page is a carbon copy of the puzzle shop page.

 

The puzzle gallery is one page that I actually did like regarding this website. This page is intended to show you close-ups from multiple angles of every puzzle Mefferts offers. This is very helpful to people who want to see visual details of their puzzle, like myself. The page features multiple pictures of each puzzle, along with a dropdown list containing every puzzle offered by the site. These pages, however, lack a certain degree of consistency in that the number of pictures available is not always the same and every now and then you can see one picture of a puzzle that is scrambled.

 

The puzzle video page is supposedly a page where you can select your desired puzzle and see a video of it being scrambled and solved. This is an excellent feature to have on a puzzle site. Many “puzzlers” want to see a product in action before they invest. Why, then, do I say “supposedly”? My skepticism comes from the fact that the videos won’t load in chrome, explorer, firefox, or opera. It was a good idea, though, just not properly executed. I can also assume from the short list of video links on that page that videos are not available for every type of puzzle.

 

The homepage of the website also contains one more link of consequence, among one or two that are irrelevant to this post. The link in question reroutes you to the Mefferts flash website. This website looks nicer, has tabs to separate content, and even has contact functions, but it entirely unloadable on a mobile device. That wouldn’t be a huge problem either, except for the fact that it takes a long time to load on a computer as well. The design of the site is better, at least on the home page. However, once you start to visit the various tabs you can see that the flash site is no better designed than the previous one.

Cube4You.com Critique

Website: www.cube4you.com

 

Cube4You is a company whose website is devoted to selling all kinds of brain bending puzzles to consumers all over the world. The URL listed is a link to their English site, but the company is based in China, this is important regarding content so keep it in mind. The kinds of puzzles they sell are not so much jigsaw, but more of the Rubik’s variety. This means that they sell logic based puzzles that more often than not have to move around a core, a rail, or some other medium to be solved.

 

At first, the design of the website seems very streamlined. Everything looks to be in its proper place and it has tabs and moving parts on the homepage that seem to function well. Really, the only design features that do justice to the content are a module on the home page that cycles through all of the new, featured, or on sale items, and the separation of the various fields in which you can shop (cast puzzles, premade puzzles, puzzle parts, and a few things that are a bit off topic that I’ll cover later). These are the websites only good design features that stand out to me.

 

On the other hand, Cube4You is riddled with design flaws or things that truly just don’t belong. For one thing, there are many more categories of puzzles than are presented by the tabs. To anyone who is not familiar with the website already, this presents a challenge in finding the puzzle they may be looking for. A similar challenge is being able to tell advertisements, from on-display products, from products in another category on an individual page. The website’s color scheme is great, but every module looks exactly the same and sometimes there isn’t enough definition between different sections of the page to be able to tell what is what. The last design flaw that I’ll mention is that the website throws many different categories of puzzles together on individual pages that are supposed to be about only one puzzle. For example, there’s a page that’s listed as DIY (do it yourself) 3x3x3 puzzles but also lists a component of a puzzle that is entirely different and has nothing to do with the product in mention.

 

Content is also not a strong point for Cube4You. For one thing, many of the products it sells are in no way relevant to puzzles. The entire site is about puzzles, yet there is a home life page that sells baby products. I really don’t even know what to say about that, except that it’s totally irrelevant and probably comes from some data analyst that came to a very strange conclusion. Along with irrelevant products being thrown in with the main product of the website, there are some pages that are listed in the overhead tabs that don’t have products at all. It’s not that the products are out of stock or that the products are coming soon, there are just several pages that simply have the words “there are no products listed in this category.” If that’s the case, would it not be better to exclude the category all together? However, the biggest problem with Cube4You’s written content is its translation. As you may recall, the company is Chinese. This means that for their English site, the company has to hire a translator to write all of the written content in English. This has bad results. One case is particularly irritating: there’s a puzzle ring for sale and Cube4You doesn’t want people to wear it. Instead of saying “don’t wear this ring” or “Not for wearing,” the warning says “(NOT FOR PUT INTO THE FINGER).” The capitalization alone could serve a better purpose as italics or bold, but the grammar would suggest that one might actually insert the ring into their finger as opposed to putting the ring around, over, or on your finger.

Newegg.com Critique

Website: www.newegg.com

 

Newegg is a website devoted to selling a wide range of items. In a way, it is one of the many “Wal-marts of the web”. Most commonly used for purchasing computers, Newegg also sells televisions, monitors, and a laundry list of peripherals like headphones, keyboards, mice, and USB devices. That’s just the technology market. You can also buy baby goods, automotive parts and tools, jewelry, and the list goes on. In my opinion, the primary focus of such a website should be functionality. Though people want to know about the products they’re buying, no one wants to read an entire book on the subject of just one item. That said, the sellers also want to make sure that they aren’t excluding important details for the sake of a shorter page. The user interface of the website should also be easily usable with little left up to user experience. It’s impossible to predict at launch exactly who will be visiting or using this kind of website, so there’s a very strong chance that someone without excessive sense of usability will stumble upon the website.

 

In terms of design, Newegg is exceptional. The color scheme is a blue and orange complementary scheme without being bright and distracting. I would say this is good because it makes sure the user can focus on the task at hand without making the website ugly or in any way unappealing to the eye. The layout of the home page is well thought out as well. There’s an easy two-box search engine at the top that lets you to choose in which field you would like to shop and allows you to do so by keyword, item number, or model number for any product. The shop tabs are all listed to the left and moving your cursor over each group will reveal a complete list of subgroups within that market. This is especially helpful to those who don’t have a strong internet connection because they can quickly skim through the subgroups without having to load a new page.

 

As far as content goes, Newegg is only just a little behind the excellence of its design. All of the information that is presented to the user is laid out in a spacious, understandable manner. None of the information is cluttered or even close together, with the exception of a few lists that are divided by bullets. Each product comes with multiple pictures of the item and information about that items specifics. For example, if you are looking at a computer that is available for purchase, you are given three or four pictures of the item, information about the memory, information about the processor, information about the video card, and information about any other features that may need to be pointed out. There’s nothing about this website’s content that is excessive or unnecessary.

 

Newegg falls short in only two areas that I can think of. The first, and personal pet peeve of mine, is the five star (or egg, as the case may be) rating system. We all know it and I’m not sure many of us really think about how effective it is, but it’s not by any means a reliable system for determining how good a product is. Consider the following scenario: A television is bought from Newegg by four separate people. They write the following reviews:

  • Five stars: It was really easy to move into the house and goes really well in the living room. The kids love it!
  • Five stars: I don’t know much about T.V.s but this one looks great, I really like all the different options you get in the settings menu!
  • Five stars: It’s a really big T.V. and all of my buddies love to come over and watch the game on it because it’s not some tiny little screen. It’s so thin, too! I love it!
  • One star: The digital setup process requires a lot of personal information, the picture quality is terrible, the thing turns on and off randomly, and it’s just awful. It’s a modern TV and it doesn’t even have an HDMI port, but it also doesn’t support normal AV cables.

 

The problem here was that the device got three fantastic reviews and one bad review, the bad one being the only one that addressed how the device functioned as a device. The others made comments about how it went well with the room or how it was easy to set up, but only the one star review really addressed how it functioned as itself, which was poor. Even though it may be a one star product, it will get a four star rating because of the averaging done by the five star system. Such a system is reliant upon the user knowing what they’re talking about and staying focused on how the product performed its intended purpose. This problem is seen a lot from the other direction as well, usually as a result of a customer being unhappy with the quality of service provided rather than the item itself, which may be just fine.

 

The only other problem is that on many of the items, you cannot see the price of the item until after you have already entered credit card information. This restricts quick browsing for users trying to find deals, but more importantly makes the user feel like the site cannot be trusted, as if they were trying to hide something from all but those who were definitely going to buy the product.