For the Love of Dance

Someone asked why I like to dance so much….had to ponder that one a bit. To me, it’s many things. Dancing is the best compliment you can give a band, it’s a way to turn their music into movement. It’s like telling a story for the music sometimes. Sometimes it’s just simply a thing to do while listening to music. There’s a magic to dancing that occurs when two people simultaneously find something special woven into the beat, rhythm, tune, and lyrics of music. They both feel the music, it moves their souls. It’s when they are in sync completely with one leading, one following. It’s comparative to riding a horse. The magic is being on the same page as the partner. One of the main reasons I like to dance though is because it reminds me of relationships, especially marriage.

One leads, one follows. It takes two, and each one is just as important. For without both, there is no dance, and it sure isn’t pretty! For a man, he is the leader, He uses his hands and certain cues to move and guide the lady through different and sometimes difficult moves just as a husband guides his wife in life. He takes into account her strengths and weaknesses and dances accordingly to this so that he may lead her well. Perhaps he teaches her something new and challenges her to grow. Through this, he may teach her to trust him as well. Confidence and firm arms help her. If he lacks this confidence, direction and know-how, he looks for it. He may find aid in his partner, the one teaching the dance, other dancers, and instructions. This is just how he may find instruction for life in God’s word, his wife, fellowship and men from all walks of life and experiences. He seeks to better himself so that he may lead more effectively.

The lady may help and must help the man. She must be equally as firm with her arms but willing to follow him much like God commands us to do with our husbands in life. She may also build his confidence. If she knows her partner well enough, when he hesitates or stumbles, she can pick up where he is struggling for she knows what he is trying to accomplish. She’s never truly leading the dance but is always alongside as reassurance. She is a well of strength he may draw on, and the lady complements her man. This role is similar in life. She may challenge him with ideas of new moves and ideas. She must seek to better herself as well so she may help the dance. Such is life. If both partners attempt to lead, the dance falls apart. If both try to follow, the dance goes nowhere and is stagnant. However, if both dance how dancing was intended to be, it’s beautiful and flourishes. I feel a marriage is like this, and dancing is my reminder and example.

Both dancing and marriage ultimately are examples for me about our relationship with God, The relationship between God and His church, His body, is like this. He wants to instruct and lead so we may have a life which is beautiful and glorifying in His eyes and ways. He wants that intimacy with us. Replace the man with God and the lady with us, and maybe you will see what I mean and why dancing is my example of something very special.

The Library Sports Grille and Brewery: Moving On

This is it! It’s the finale of Online Journalism class. This will be my final blog post regarding my Online Journalism class through the University of Wyoming. In this assignment, students combined all skills and techniques learned and enhanced in this class for one final project, the Video Project. Students were to choose a story that was newsworthy and interesting and one that could be interesting for video. This could be a news story, feature story or promotional story. Students were then to video the entire story and edit it to create a video story, including at least two interviews and a series of different camera angles. I have to say, this project seemed a little intimidating if you had never worked with video or video-editing software before! My partner, Scottie Melton, and I chose to do a story featuring the Library Sports Grille and Brewery, a popular local establishment. We wanted to focus on why it moved from its old location to its new location in Laramie, Wyo. and how the move has influenced business so far. I had heard several different stories as to why the Library had moved, and I wanted to uncover the true reason for the move and feature how the Library’s business is doing in its new location close to one of Laramie’s main streets.

Overall, I would have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this project and this experience. I was really excited to do this story and felt like it truly was a story worth being told. It was probably one of my best story ideas this semester. Bryan Gay and Nate Jorgenson, the owners of the Library, were very helpful and willing to help with this story, and they had so many interesting facets of their story to tell. I really enjoyed getting to know more about the Library and the business since it is a favorite among college students here at the University of Wyoming. Also, it was fun to play with video since I had never done anything with video prior to this class. I do not have much to say about the negative side of things for this project except I had a hard time at first trying to learn a new video editing software (Adobe Premiere Pro), and I wish that we could have went through this program before attempting to actually edit a video. However, students were using other video editing programs as well, and Dr. Landreville was very helpful and willing to work with each group and show them what she knew in each program.

It was surprising to me with this project just how easy and simple a story really can be if you do your homework, prepare and ask for help. I thought about what I would ask in the interviews, organized the interview questions so that the story would flow based on what the answers were and asked other people for advice, information and assistance. Adobe Premiere Pro is also a much simpler program to use than I first thought. It also helped to have a story angle before going to the interview so appropriate questions could be asked. Additionally, I was surprised at how much fun I really did have with this project once it got going and how much bolder and confident I was conducting the interviews.

Something I wish I would have done a little differently was mostly clips of video. For example, the owners of the Library talked about their old location and their new location. I only had video of the new location. What I should have done to make the story and video better was to add at least one clip featuring their old location so that people can see that, and the video would be more complete in telling the story. I also might have set the owners in front of a better background that is less distracting and more visually pleasing. Other than those little details, I believe the video turned out great.

One reason I am happy we touched on video in this class is that I can use this skill in the future, especially if I pursue being a 4-H Educator. I can see me using video to do promotional videos in support of 4-H, videos of the past year’s highlights, informational videos, and more! The possibilities are truly endless, so I am happy we touched a little on video. All in all, this project was fun and a great way to end the semester.

To view the video story, please click the link below. Enjoy!

Twitter 101

It’s time to add another post to the blog! This time, students learned about social media previous to this assignment and learned how it is currently the trend in today’s news. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. are all considered news outlets where reporters and citizens alike may find facts and information that may not be readily available from other sources. Information is becoming faster and more at hand in today’s times more than ever before. Therefore, students were asked to create a Twitter account and cover a newsworthy event. Students were to live tweet at least 10 times to their Twitter account sharing valuable and interesting information for followers about the event. I chose to cover an event in my hometown of Newcastle, Wyo. The town was having its annual Lighted Christmas Parade, and I thought that was an interesting and unique event to cover. Readers can read by tweets by following me on Twitter @b_hamilt.

I enjoyed learning about how social media is influencing news and how we get news in today’s times with this assignment. Also, I learned more about Twitter and how to set up a YouTube account, which I have never done before. One other thing I learned was how Twitter is a really simple source to find more information about an event or that it is great for finding people as sources. Mostly, I enjoyed the learning experience and how I was able to attend an event at home. Some of the things I did not enjoy about this assignment was the fact that I had to create a Twitter account. I have stayed off Twitter because I already have Facebook, and I really did not want to become involved with Twitter as well. However, I do realize how important it is to be diverse and familiar with different social media sites for future media careers. Therefore, becoming more familiar with Twitter was probably a good thing.

As stated above, I learned much from this assignment, from creating Twitter and YouTube accounts to learning how to tweet. It was really surprising to me sometimes just how short a tweet really is. I found myself running out of space constantly, and it really helped me tone down my writing and make it as precise and to the point as possible, which is a skill needed in journalism. One thing I wish I could have done differently was how I set up my tweets. I wish I would have learned more about proper grammar and editing with Twitter. I am unsure how to use hashtags correctly and what is considered correct when tweeting in terms of grammar. I will need to work on this in the future.

All in all, I see this assignment as useful for the future. I can see me using these skills learned in a future setting if I work for an agriculture publication. I can see these social media sites as great tools for marketing and making news more accessible and interesting to readers. It will be interesting to see just exactly where social media will apply to my future career.

SoundSlides 101-Combining Audio and Photos

In class, students were asked to combine what we learned previously in assignments about photography and audio editing into one project, where we would create a story using the two. The program chosen to magically put these two stimuli together was SoundSlides, a program one can easily use to combine audio and pictures to create a very special project. This assignment utilized our skills in both areas and opened up another new program for future use.

Sami Jo was my partner, and let me just say that she is amazing. I am astounded by her organizational skills, her ambition and her sweet personality, which made working with her a pleasure. She had some great ideas and input and was a natural at interviewing people. We pretty much hit it off right away and took off running to get down to business. We shared similar ideas of what we wanted to cover, and we settled on covering the dancing opportunities the University of Wyoming offers to its students. Since UW offers many opportunities, we highlighted three very different dance experiences that offered different purposes behind their creation (Zumba, Belly Dancing Club and Cowboy Country Swing Club). Sami did most of the interviewing and sound editing, and I took most of the pictures, but we both got to experience each side.

When we sat down to actually put the project together, I thought SoundSlides was difficult and hard to use. As I played with it more, however, I found the program easy to use. One just has to upload an edited sound file and then load the pictures needed. It was really simple to move the pictures around in organization and fix them to the audio too. This program was much easier to use than Windows Live Movie Maker, which I have worked with before. I also learned that the more organized one is going into the SoundSlides program, the easier it is to create a project.

There were few problems I encountered with this project. I thought it went very well overall. Sami and I were able to meet when needed, and I had great fun going to the different clubs to interview and take pictures as well as meet people. I found the process to upload the project to the dropbox unfriendly to users. I feel like there should have been an easier way to do that, and I wish I could post our project straight to my blog, but I understand why it is the way it is. One other problem I personally had while completing this project was taking good quality photos. Fast-moving dancers were hard to catch in dark settings, even with my Canon. I feel like I honed my camera skills a little more with this project by taking pictures of belly dancing and swing dancing, and I think I had some decent shots.

If I could change anything about this project and the experience with this project, it would be the amount of time we were allotted. It was really easy to fill four minutes, and I think our project could have covered more had the time been longer. However, I understand factors behind the time allotment, such as sitting down and having to grade all of those projects over four minutes. Overall, this project was a great learning experience, and I think I will use this program again in the future.

To view the completed video Sami and I made, please click here: Dancing Around the University of Wyoming.

Audio Editing

Wow! I have to say I had a blast doing this audio editing project. It was so much fun to actually play with the Audacity program and learn the ropes. Overall, I had a very pleasant experience with audio editing. I had a great interview partner, whom I thank so much for being a good sport. Also, I found Audacity and the whole editing process very user-friendly and simple to use. This was somewhat surprising to me because I thought it would be much more complicated. I am sure there are more complicated things one can do with the program that require a bit of know-how, but for what I did, it was simple. It was fun to take a raw interview and cut out all the things not relevant to the interview or little noises or bloopers to make the interview flow smoothly and professionally.

I learned so much from this! I learned a bit about how to run a digital audio recorder and how to download a sound from it onto the computer as well as how to edit it and upload it to the internet to embed it into a blog. Also, I learned how to run Audacity in its simplest form and how to cut out, move, adjust sound, and other effects to a sound file. I look forward to actually learning more about sound editing and playing with it on my own.

I really enjoyed the learning experience of this whole project, from learning about my fellow classmate, to learning how to edit audio and upload it. The amount of knowledge I gained from this experience was tremendous, and I think it will be very beneficial to have that knowledge, as it will make me a more marketable candidate. There was not really anything I did not enjoy about this assignment except having a little bit of a hard time deleting those tiny little sound bites from the interview I did not want there. They seemed too small to highlight and delete. I wish I knew how to get rid of these easier and how to run the Audacity program just a little better, but I suppose that will come with practice. I look forward to making interesting songs and messages with this editing program.

Below is my edited version of the interview. Basically, I cut out all of my voice, edited out words like “um” and long pauses, amplified some quieter parts of the interview and rearranged some basic ideas and themes Keavy was talking about to create what I think is an interesting profile of her love for music.

Exploring Audio

Our next exciting assignment (since we have wrapped up photography) was to explore audio a little bit using a program called Audacity and a site called SoundCloud. This is a completely new area for me, and I was pretty excited to play with audio editing. First, we were required to conduct an interview with a fellow classmate that was in the area of five minutes. We were then to post this raw interview with no editing to our blog. In the next blog, we are to post a shorter, edited version of the file.

My interview partner was Keavy Ferrall, who just happened to like music….a lot! She graciously answered my questions about her hobby of music and was very laid back. We used a digital recorder, went to a quiet room and conducted our interviews. I have to say it was very different to interview someone with a digital recorder. The technology was an added step in the process of interviewing, and it was difficult to “forget” it was there and really relax. It was hard not to fidget or talk more too. It was great in the aspect of catching everything the person said, so nothing was left out. The audio recorder’s presence also made me feel like I needed to annunciate more and speak clearly so my voice could be understood. Overall, I really thought having the recorder there was interesting and helpful in several ways.

As far as being the one interviewed, I really did not mind. I really had to remind myself to speak clearly and concisely to make the recording good quality, but it did not make me uncomfortable. I only hoped my partner was relaxed and that the recorder did not make her nervous, which it did not seem to.

From this experience, I have learned that audio recording an interview is not always easy. One really must find a quiet place with little ambient noise  and really make the interviewee feel comfortable around the device. These two tasks are not always easy, as I found out. I really enjoyed playing with the device, challenging myself with audio and learning about audio in general. It’s not something I have been exposed to much, so that was really neat. My least enjoyable part of this experience was having to hear my own voice on the recorder and knowing it will be posted for all to listen to. I don’t particularly like my voice on recording (who really does?), but I think it will be interesting to see what Keavy does with the interview.

One thing I wish I would have done differently in my interview with Keavy was that I wish I would have asked better questions. Although I prepared with at least five different questions, I still feel like my questions did not really help move her story along. I am happy to  have this experience and look forward to working on that in the future. Now, let’s get down to editing! Look for the edited interview/profile story in my next blog. Below is my raw file.



News Captured in Photos

In class, we were instructed to take our photography skills to the next level and attempt photojournalism basics. Again, we posted our 5 best photos. Mine are listed below. Please click on the picture to enlarge.

“Tree Trimmer”

An employee of Tiger Tree trims a tree overlooking a house in Laramie, Wyo.

An employee of Tiger Tree trims a tree overlooking a house in Laramie, Wyo.

I live near Custer Street and 15th Street in Laramie. For two days, when I walked to school, I noticed employees of Tiger Tree trimming trees around a white house. I stopped both times to take photos of this event and got some very strange looks, but they did not seem to mind me. This was a fairly difficult shot to get the focus just right, and I felt like a creeper just standing there taking pictures. I am standing on the ground looking up at the man running the saw, who is at the top of the tree in a lift. This photo uses rule of thirds and cropping to make it interesting. Viewpoint is another creative device used. I am afraid I did not get this man’s name as he was rather busy, I was on my way to class and it was a safety hazard to cross the cones they set out around the trimming area. Nonetheless, this was a fun photo to experience.

“On the March”

Members of the University of Wyoming Western Thunder Marching Band practice on a fall day the week of homecoming

Members of the University of Wyoming Western Thunder Marching Band practice for the weekend game of homecoming in War Memorial Stadium

This photo, another non-sports feature, utilizes the use of leading lines and uniformity. The way the band members are lined up, the lines on the field and the diagonal line leading into the photo show this. For this photo, I was simply walking after class and heard the music coming from War Memorial Stadium. Aha!! I thought I could capture some interesting and fun photos, which as one can see, I did. This was a easy photo to shoot, and I felt pretty lucky to catch it just at an interesting moment. The emotions of the marchers show intensity, concentration and perhaps even a little lack of enthusiasm. It was kind of fun just being the weird girl over there taking pictures.

“Hurry, Hurry”

Tim Poppert, a first-year member of the Western Thunder Marching Band , hurries to gather his music and join his fellow members in rank

Tim Poppert, a first-year member of the Western Thunder Marching Band , hurries to gather his music and join his fellow members in rank at practice

Luck was definitely with me with this shot. Again, I was photographing the Western Thunder Marching Band, and this young man just happened to kneel right in front of me. This made the shot easy. He was trying to organize his music and call sheet and get back in rank to practice a drill. Even though he was in a hurry, he was still calm. The focus and lighting is interesting in this photo as well as the legs in the background; I feel they add interest and explain what he is doing a little better. I felt again like I was being creepy, but he really did not seem to mind, even when I asked him for his name.


Dawn Moon, captain of the University of Wyoming's Women's Hockey Team Club, anxiously waits for the puck

Dawn Moon, captain of the University of Wyoming’s Women’s Hockey Club, anxiously waits for the puck during practice

This photo acts as a sports-action photo. Since I enjoy skating, I am constantly looking at the ice rink schedule for Laramie Ice, which just so happens to have the hockey schedules too. I simply noticed that the University of Wyoming Women’s Hockey Club was meeting for practice, so I thought I would drop in and take some pictures. They were all wondering what I was doing there and if I worked for a newspaper, and they were very willing to let me take a few shots, for which, I am very thankful. This scene is balanced between the goal and Dawn and uses rule of thirds. The way Dawn is positioned shows she is moving and ready for the next move. Her intensity is also shown in her stance and her facial expression. This was a difficult shot to take trying to avoid distractions, focus and make the picture interesting. Lighting was also tricky.

“The Whistle”

Daniel Dale, coach of the University of Wyoming's Women's Hockey Team Club, readies for a practice play

Daniel Dale, coach of the University of Wyoming’s Women’s Hockey Club, readies for a practice play

Cropping plays a huge role in this photo as well as balance between the coach and player. I also find it interesting how the whistle the coach uses is in focus in the light, adding to the interesting aspects of this photo. I had a lot of fun photographing the women’s hockey team, and the players were all very nice. This photo was difficult to catch because the players were moving around all the time. This is a more laid back scene from the practice session I attended as shown by the easy stance of the player in the background.   Overall, this continuation of photography was very interesting. I found it difficult to take pictures of complete strangers and had to think of ways to take pictures without being too pushy or annoying. This was challenging, but I am glad I was able to push myself to better my photography. I was surprised how having a camera in my hand makes people notice me and wonder what I am up to. This assignment was also a great way to meet new people and spread the word about my blog to potential viewers. Another great photography assignment!

Photography 101

We have entered into one of my favorite units in this class, photography! I love to take pictures and to capture different pieces and emotions in life with my camera. This doesn’t make me a master photographer by any means, but only that I truly enjoy it. Therefore, I have posted five pieces I have taken in this past semester in various places that exhibit some of my skill. Each contains a certain photography creative device discussed in class. These devices help make our photography more interesting and could include cropping, using the rule of thirds, using different viewpoints, etc. Enjoy!

“Thorny Obstacles”

Monte, Francie and Tucker Hamilton pick wild buffalo berries to make jelly on a fall day. Thorns make this task a little more challenging.

Monte, Francie and Tucker Hamilton pick wild buffalo berries to make jelly on a fall day. Thorns make this task a little more challenging.

This photo truly utilizes the point of view creative device. Note that the focus is not on the people in the picture picking the berries, but it is rather on the berries themselves. This takes a little different viewpoint than one normally would on this scene. If the berries were not in the picture, the view point would not be as strong. Another device this picture uses could also include creation of depth. This photo has depth due to the berries in the foreground, the pickup bed in the middle ground and the people in the background. The fact that this photo is vertical instead of horizontal also adds a different viewpoint and makes the photo more interesting.

“Color Me an A”

Heather Stockwell, a student studying psychology at the University of Wyoming, spends quality time in the library preparing for class and exams

Heather Stockwell, a student studying psychology at the University of Wyoming, spends quality time in the library preparing for class and exams

The strong creative device in this photograph is cropping. Rather than capturing Heather’s whole body, the entire book or the entire table, I chose to capture just bits and pieces of these in effort to make the photo more interesting. The main focus is close to Heather’s eye, which brings the attention to what she is looking at and what she is doing. With the cropping, one is not drawn somewhere else, and the story is still told without distractions. I stood on a chair to also capture a slightly different point of view, which adds to the onlooker’s eye being drawn down to the book.

“Sunshine and Pines”

Pine trees along the Red Grade Road outside of Sheridan, Wyo. shine brilliantly in the fall sunshine

Pine trees along the Red Grade Road outside of Sheridan, Wyo. shine brilliantly in the fall sunshine

Focus is the creative device most prominent in this photo. The pine tree branch on the lower right is directly in focus while the background fades and blurs out. This brings the onlooker’s eye straight to the main focus of the picture, and the background cannot distract. This is also a great example of using the rule of thirds since the main focus is offset to the right a little and not located directly in the center of the photo. This picture, at least to me, is soft and creates cool colors that seem relaxing.

“Hooked on Wood”

An weathered old barn door with a nail latch stands firm after 50 plus years

An weathered old barn door with a nail latch stands firm after 50 plus years. The barn was built by my grandfather, Lyle Hamilton.

Texture plays a big role in this photograph. The main focus is not on the nail latch but on the wood directly to the left of it. This photo really makes one want to reach out and touch the wood of the barn door and feel its worn face weathered gray with time. Another great device used in this photo is the rule of thirds again. The latch is not centered, thus creating a more interesting picture. Cropping could also play a role in making this photo more interesting.

“Candy Kisses”

A combination of bright daisies and chocolate kisses brighten up one young lady's day

A combination of bright daisies and chocolate kisses found on her doorstep brightens up one young lady’s day

This photograph exemplifies the balancing elements device. Notice the daisies are the main focal point of the picture. Now, notice how the chocolate kisses in the background add a special touch to the photo that would be missing if they were removed. They help fill what would be an empty space. This photograph is balanced between the daisies and the kisses. Neither takes away from the other, and both help to make the photo more complete. Another device used in this picture is cropping. No other elements in the photo distract from the main focal point, and the crop shows enough to be interesting.

There they are! These would be the five best photographs I took within this semester of college. This assignment was surprisingly challenging as we had a limited time slot to take pictures, and it was a little challenging to use the different elements discussed in class that help make photos better. One thing I wish I would have done differently when taking these photos was to expand my interests and to explore more with photography. The possibilities in this field are limitless, and I feel like I did not use my full potential with these photographs. Maybe next time, I will explore more with doing more shots of people instead of focusing on small details of inanimate objects. I also need to use more of the creative devices discussed in class to challenge myself. Overall, I had a fun time with this assignment and look forward to exploring photography more in my fifth blog post coming soon!

Hometown Value: Mimi’s Consignments

Margaret Mary "Mimi" Foster, owner of Mimi's Consignments

Margaret Mary “Mimi” Foster, owner of Mimi’s Consignments

Tuesday through Saturday, it is the same story but with a new plot and different twists. Get up at 7:00 a.m., do a little housework, clean up and head downtown. At 11:00, flip the sign and welcome the day. At 6:00 p.m., flip the sign and head home. It’s the same kind of routine, but what happens between opening and closing is nothing short of an adventure. It’s just an average day for Mary Margaret Foster, the owner of Mimi’s Consignments.

Getting started

She will tell you she never expected to end up where she is with a twinkle in her eye. Owning her own consignment/retail shop in Laramie, Wyo. was not something Foster really focused on when she graduated from Licensed Practical Nursing School in 1976. In fact, she went on to open a home childcare facility in 1978 (in Laramie), which she ran for 30 years. It wasn’t until later in those 30 years that the five-year plan for her shop came to be.

“My children were grown, and I had done childcare for most of my life. It was time to do something else,” she says with a smile. After a couple years of careful planning, Foster found a way to combine home décor, books, furniture, handbags, clothes—all of the things she loved—into a business. Mimi’s opened its doors in June of 2008 and Foster has enjoyed it ever since.

A Unique Shopping Experience

Although she originally planned to open a women’s retail store, Foster’s shop carries all manners of items ranging from vintage clothing and furniture to tasteful home décor and dishes. There truly is something for everyone.

“I want people to have a unique and fun shopping experience when they come in here. It’s a great feeling when someone comes in not expecting you to have something, and you have it,” Foster explains.

One of the most unique aspects to Mimi’s includes its supply of vintage clothing ranging from all different eras, including a genuine Gunne Sax dress from 1970 and at one time, an original zoot suit. There are items in the store that people could have a hard time finding anywhere else, especially in Laramie. Mimi’s, unlike many stores, is customer-friendly in the way people can wonder around the store without feeling watched or being pressed into buying something.

“I will never not let people play dress up in here,” Foster says. To her, it is part of the fun for this job and provides excitement.

Upscale Items and Hometown Values

Foster considers Mimi’s to be higher-end but not too upscale of a consignment/retail store with reasonable prices. She only accepts quality items in good condition and only so much at a time. If an item does not sell after so many days, the price decreases, and the item is eventually donated or sent back to the consigner.

“I like how Mimi’s is more than a thrift shop; what she has in her store is higher-end. It’s one of the first places I go to if I am planning a themed event or dance,” says Virginia Summers, a sophomore studying business at the University of Wyoming.


Mimi’s Consignments

Mimi’s hometown values are not only reflected in its prices but also in its hometown involvement. Providing prom dresses for the high school, costumes for community plays, or hats for a local Kentucky Derby party are just services it provides. Mimi’s tries to cater to special events and themes happening in the area. As a member of the Downtown Laramie Business Association, Mimi’s also participates in seasonal events in Laramie, such as the Mistletoe Mosey on its main street.

Loving What You Do

Looking back, Foster has experienced many things over the past five years Mimi’s has been open. One particular experience was having the British group Mumford and Sons, who just happened to be in Laramie, come into her store.

“They were in the back trying on cowboy hats and boots, and I didn’t even realize who they were until later,” laughs Foster.

Part of what makes this job enjoyable for Foster is the variety of items that come through her door. Just in one day, she saw everything from a formal gown to an antique gate latch come in. Seeing people truly enjoy themselves in the store brings great joy to Foster and being able to tell them a little history about her items adds a familiar touch.

“It’s the small, goofy things in here that make it fun,” says Amy VanCleave, an employee of Mimi’s. Although the business is a lot of work, Foster is never bored. It is her philosophy that one needs to love what he/she does.

“It’s an experience every day in here, but it’s all about loving what you do,” she says smiling. “I don’t think I will ever retire.”

Usability Tests

In today’s world, it is not uncommon to find many stories and sources online. This does not mean that all of these sources are user-friendly though. In class, students were asked to conduct a usability test on stories located online. The one investigated for this blog was “100 Gallons”.

When I first opened the webpage for “100 Gallons”, my first impression was that it was clean, simple and intriguing. I started off right away with the main video, which was the main focus of the page. Once I watched the video, I found it did not provide any information and was simply a video of different clips. Since I was confused and figured I did something wrong, I decided to click the How to View link below the video. I was curious as to why the page included such a button. It explained how to access the stories that made up the clips of the video.

From there, I explored the stories that made up the video, selecting the ones I found most interesting. I lingered on some of the more interactive and graphic stories because they interested me. Some of the last items I explored on the page were the Why 100 Gallons link and the About link. These provided more information about this project and how to contact the authors. To me, this was not the focus of the story, but it was something I wanted to know.

As I navigated through this story, I found the process smooth and simple. The page seemed to follow the navigation tips listed on the class blog fairly well. There was not much selection to overwhelm, it was clean, it did not have dropdown bars and links did not change. However, the buttons to access the stories were very small, making it difficult to view them on a smaller multimedia device. Also, I feel the How to View link should be placed at the top left of the video instead of beneath; people can then see and use this tool first. That is one thing I would change about the site as it would have helped my navigation.

One of the simplest items to find on this website for me was the contact information for the authors of the page/project. It took me literally a few seconds to find it, which is very useful and user-friendly to those that visit the site.

When I asked a friend who is not taking this class to conduct the same usability test, it was interesting to see how he navigated the site and to see what his opinions were. For example, his first initial impression was to ask where all the buttons were on the site.

Like me, his first move was to watch the main video that was the focus of the site. Once the video was through, he explored the Why 100 Gallons link. Coming back to the video, he used the video graphics to navigate to the different stories featured in the video instead of the buttons. Through this process, he noted that the site was interesting and visually stimulating, much like a game. A potential problem he suggested was that there is no clear direction after watching the video as to where to go next.

As he navigated through the site, he stated that the navigation was time-consuming instead of smooth because a person cannot simply go straight for what he/she is interested in. This was a totally different viewpoint from mine, and it makes me wonder if the creators of the site did that on purpose to gain the interest of the audience and make the audience dive deeper. Very clever!

One thing my volunteer did not access on the site that I did was the contact information for the authors. When asked why he did not access this information, he stated that it simply was not something he was interested in right away. When asked to find this information, it also only took him a few seconds.

Overall, this website was very interesting and well done in my opinion. The way it was interactive, simple, clean and navigation-friendlyfootprint[1] allows me to state this. I would not change the navigation scheme, the access to the creator information or the graphics involved. They all add to the site. Some things that should change include making the site user-friendly for smaller multimedia devices, moving the How to View link to a better location and making the site user-friendly across different browsers. For example, when I tried the “Eating Water” interactive graphic in one browser, it did not work, but when it was tried with another browser, it worked. It was a fun site all in all though.