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Designing a software application - Essay Example

Introduction

This project is part of a HND Business and IT course that has been carried out at Wakefield College. The project consists of designing a software application that can be used by customers of a motorcycle company that is based in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

This software can be used by requesting / collecting a CD from the company.

The type of application that has been chosen is a multimedia-orientated design that includes a catalogue of the company’s products and services.

This design follows on from the project from year one in the HND BIT course. This project was a web site that was designed using Microsoft Front Page and was published on the web for the same company.

The multimedia application has been designed using Illuminatus 4.5. This software is on the College computers at Wakefield College.

This software is used for designing and developing multimedia applications, such as web page design and bootable applications.

The designed application contains 20 pages of videos, text, tables, pictures and moving pictures.

The videos were taken from a web site that provides free video clips, where copyright is not an issue.

The pictures that are used in the application are taken from the web site of First Racing. This company supplies Motocross Services LTD with their clothing products for re-sale to the public. An E-mail was sent to this company for approval of use of their material within this application and is in the appendix.

The structure of the application was considered in the design phase of the project. It was decided that the links to each page would be placed at the bottom of the first page and then at the top of each following page flowing down to the left hand side.

The video has been positioned on a separate page. This has been done to avoid any confusion over which page is being selected.

The links from the home page are to each category within the application and home page links are on every main page allowing the user to navigate the application easily.

The page for users to be able to contact the company has the telephone and fax number and also a web site link button that opens Internet explorer and directs straight to the home page of Motocross Services LTD.

The company logo is displayed on the home page. This was supplied and designed by Totty signs and Design in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. This logo now belongs to the company and does not require permission to be used under the copyright rules and regulations.

The designed application is for use by customers of the company, who will be sent upon request, a CD that contains the designed application. The web site of the

Introduction

company will also be redesigned to follow the layout, structure and format of the application, as it has been discussed with the management of the company that this would benefit the professional image of the company by having the same format throughout the company’s documentation and resources.

Company Requirements

The company has set out a list of requirements listed below for the application to include;

1. A brief description of the company’s services.

2. Video clips of motorcycles, for entertainment purposes.

3. A catalogue of the products and services offered by the company.

4. Pictures of the products offered by the company.

5. A good navigation facility for the application that allows the user to skip from page to page.

6. A contact facility that allows the user to contact the company.

7. A web site link that opens the company web site automatically.

8. An easy to read text format for the application.

9. A professional image of the company by having a good design and colour scheme of the application.

.

Action Plan

* Log of events.

* Storyboard.

* Rough drawings and sketches.

* Introduction, written in word.

* Hierarchical structure.

* Internet research.

* Design multimedia application.

* Test the site.

* Review testing.

* Re-design site to include testing recommendations.

Log Of Events

Date/Time

Task

Problems/notes

Solution/ideas

Completed

25/2/03

Research

The research went as well as was expected

N/a

yes

27/2/03

Rough sketches and ideas for site

A few different designs were drawn and one format was chosen

The background colour was changed after testing.

yes

2/3/03

Written introduction

The subject area and why it was chosen

Business application

yes

10/3/03

Hierarchical structure

Drawn in MS Word

N/a

yes

12/3/03

Design the application

Designed using Illuminatus 4.5

yes

18/3/03

Test The application

The application was tested by Four different types of users

yes

25/3/03

Review testing

The recommendations from testing the application are considered and proposals put forward.

yes

29/3/03

Re-design

The application is altered to include the testing proposals and solutions for proposals encountered

Updates and ideas included in final design

yes

7/4/03

Evaluation

The project is evaluated

Recommendations and proposals put forward

yes

Research

The research that has been carried out for this project has been completed over the time scale of the project.

The investigations into the current trends of multimedia and web design and in particular on-line ordering facilities has been thorough, as this project is for a working company that will use the finalised design in their day to day work.

The use of on-line payment facilities has also been investigated in this project and it has been apparent that Banks and other merchant companies do not trust on-line payment methods. These types of facilities are normally carried out using an e-mail attachment that contains the relevant banking information of the purchaser. This has been discussed at length with Natwest Bank who are the banking providers for Motocross Services LTD. They stated that they would not be willing to allow an on-line payment method using their First Line card payment machines, as they felt that this would be an insecure method of payment. They did however state that payment could be made for on-line catalogue products using an e-mail attachment order form that they can provide.

It has also been found that companies dedicated to handling on-line transactions are willing to process payments, but at considerable cost to the business using this method. This cost is between 3.5% and 5.5% of the transaction payable to the company handling the payments. This cost is far too high and will not be used in the final product.

The on-line catalogue that will be designed is to be operated from a PC that has Internet access.

The payment of products will be made by one of the following;

1. The purchaser e-mailing their bank details (credit/debit card) along with the product request from the catalogue.

2. The purchaser telephoning the company with their product requests and bank payment details (credit/debit card).

3. The purchaser sending a fax to the company with their product requests and bank payment details (credit/debit card).

4. The purchaser telephoning the company with their product requests and bank payment details (credit/debit card).

5. The purchaser telephoning the company to place an order and then sending a personal cheque. This type of payment would have to be cleared before goods are dispatched.

6. The purchaser entering the premises of the company and paying for products in person, cash, cheque or card.

It has been stated in numerous publications that the number of Internet users is rated at 75% of the households in the UK. This is on the increase and will allow the company to build considerable business using this type of sale.

Research

The number of Motorcycle businesses using on-line ordering facilities in the UK is very small. The research carried out has shown that as little as 12 companies in the United Kingdom use on-line ordering in their day-to-day business. This area is the main development area for the company to expand.

The type of users that the application is aimed at are aged between 6 and 55, and it is envisaged that they will be either competitors or enthusiasts of off road motorcycling.

On Line ordering Research

Ordering products over the Internet started for many companies during the early 1990s and as we enter the 21st century it looks likely to take the world by storm.

Being in the building trade myself for ten years we would ring Jewson prior to a job and order the products ready for on-application delivery. If during the project a workman ran out of something he would simply pick up the mobile and make a quick call to get more supplies.

While it is doubtful that this process will disappear, the introduction of the Internet and the services it offers could have a dramatic effect causing many businesses to change the way they work.

In August 1996 Travis Perkins launched its own website complete with its on-line ordering facility named Tradesite. Even though initial response was good there were still very few builders taking the plunge and using the service regularly. Four years on and Travis Perkins reports a staggering 15,000 builders that are registered to use the facility.

John Smith, office systems manager for Travis Perkins, stated:

“Originally there were very few people taking advantage of the facility but as the years have passed more and more builders have decided to try out the process and have been pleased with what they have found.”

23/3/2003, unattributed, www.Masterbuilder.asp.

Anyone who has logged onto www.travisperkins.co.uk will find the company’s full range of 150,000 products available for purchase, and delivery, at a specified time and place. Some of the products carry additional information and health and safety precautions and some also include a colour photograph.

Advantages

Using the Internet has many advantages. It is a facility that never sleeps and can be used 24 hours a day. Many builders take advantage of long summer days to get in extra work during the evening. If a workman runs out of a particular product after 5pm, or at the weekend, they then have to wait until the next working day before they can make the order. The Internet eliminates this and allows ordering to be done there and then.

Technology is progressing at an alarming rate with many mobile phone companies now including internet access on their top-of-the-range products. Jason Peters, FMB On-line project web designer at the FMB, believes the internet is the way forward:

“Ordering products on-line will definitely have a big part to play for the small to medium sized builders the FMB represents. With the availability of lap tops and the new breed of mobile phones within ten years I predict that most on-site product ordering will be done through the internet.”

22/3/2003, unattributed, www.masterbuilder.asp

Most businesses today that have a web site need to think very seriously about having on-line ordering (being able to offer your potential customers the facility to order their products over the Internet) through their web site. It is predicted that within three years, companies that do not have this facility will be very badly affected with regards to achieving their sales targets.

One company named ADROIT UK have put together a very comprehensive e-commerce package that allows companies with a web site to sell their products on-line. It includes secure ordering facilities that gives customers security when entering credit card details over the Internet.

The package offered is one of the easiest to use and maintain on the Internet and does not require great expertise to keep everything up-to date. It has the facility to allow businesses to update their products in house or if required ADROIT UK can carry out this procedure at a cost to the business. Their web site is http://www.security-web.com/aboorder1.html

The Barbour Report 2001

* Advances in communications technology over recent years have brought ever-increasing opportunities to the construction industry, but have also presented greater choice. Manufacturers are having to find more effective ways to allocate marketing resources in order to provide product information in the diverse forms which specifies and others demand.

Following the 1997 Barbour Report’s investigation into the electronic delivery of product information, the 2001 report assesses the extent to which expectations at that time have been realised, and the consequences for manufacturers.

To this end, the report addresses the following key questions:

* How do specifiers use various media when sourcing products?

* Why do specifiers prefer certain media over others?

* How do user requirements vary across different professions and organisation types?

* What are the trends for the future?

* What action must manufacturers take to meet the specifier’s information needs more precisely?

The research demonstrates that specifiers and other product decision-makers require the differing functionality provided by various media. However, they are also looking for a more cohesive and useful presentation of information. The 2001 Barbour Report highlights some of the key communication issues relevant to manufacturers today, and offers practical guidance to how these areas can be tackled for the future.

Key findings of the report, based on 350 in-depth telephone interviews and more than 5,400 self-fill questionnaires, include:

86% of specifiers now use electronic sources of product information, with use of the Internet growing from 6% of specifiers in 1997 to 72% now, matching the use of CD-ROM.

The Barbour Report 2001

In spite of this growth, hard copy has not been replaced. Electronic sources are mainly used as complementary but secondary information tools to literature, directories and magazines.

Hard copy is seen as easier to access and is rated better for finding information and comparing products, while electronic sources are perceived as more up-to-date and better for incorporating information into other formats. 66% of those interviewed prefer hard copy formats for information direct from manufacturers, with 15% preferring web sites and 15% CD-ROMs.

Specifiers want websites and CD-ROMs to provide product searches and downloadable diagrams, detailing and specification clauses. But online ordering is not rated highly, even by contractors and buyers.

The features manufacturers offer on their websites do not always match these requirements. Many manufacturers plan to or already offer online ordering and information on where to purchase, while downloadable diagrams, detailing and specifications are not universally provided

22/3/2003, 08:30, unattributed, www.barbour-index.co.uk

Research

The screen shot shown below shows the home page of a company (1st MX) that sells motorcycle products on-line.

The white box labelled product name is used to define the product required. This is typed into the box provided. The catalogue is then searched for comparable products and displays the relevant pages to the user.

Research

The screen shot shown below is taken from the company MX1 web site. This site also has a dialogue box that is filled in by the user to select the desired products. This site has pictures showing the products on offer and takes considerable time to up-load.

Research

The screen shot shown below is taken from the company MX1 web site. The product shown is a knee brace. A detailed description of the product is listed along side the picture for the users to read. This is helpful when selecting appropriate items to purchase, as each users needs are different.

Research

The screen shot shown below is taken from Race Specs’s web site and shows the home page of the companies site.

Research

The screen shot below shows the layout of race spec’s web site with their on-line order facilities.

This page details the ignitions that are available and the prices.

Research

The screen shot shown below details the type of exhaust pipes available and the prices of these products.

The make and model of the preferred exhaust pipe is entered into the box titled “make & model”. This then directs the user to the correct exhaust pipe.

Research

The screen shot shown below details tyre changing products available from race spec.

User Guide and screen shots of Application

The buttons shown on the page above link into the corresponding pages. These are selected by right clicking with the mouse over the relevant button.

The picture of the motorcycle shown on the above screen shot appears on the page by moving on to the screen from the bottom right of the page.

A theme is played when the motorcycle picture is right clicked on using the mouse. This theme is a wav file. This theme was copied from a web site that supplies free tunes and themes.

User guide

The above screen shot is one of the video pages. The replay button is used by left clicking with the mouse. The video is an mpeg file that was downloaded from a web site that supplies free video clips.

User guide

The screen shot shown above is of the catalogue page.

The buttons on the left hand side of the page are selected by left clicking using the mouse.

Each button corresponds with the relevant page on the site.

User guide

The screen shot shown above is of the Oil page. The links at the top of the page are selected by left clicking using the mouse.

The catalogue button returns the user to the main catalogue page.

User guide

The above screen shot is taken from the tyres page. The prices of each tyre available are shown in the table.

The home page link is selected by left clicking using the mouse. This will take the user back to the home page of the site.

User guide

User guide

User guide

User guide

User guide

User guide

The above screen shot is taken from the clothing page.

The pictures shown are jpeg files that were copied from the First Racing web site. Permission to use these pictures was granted by sending an E-mail to the company.

User guide

The screen shot shown above is taken from the Gloves page.

The pictures shown are jpeg files.

To select the gloves page left click on the gloves link on the clothing page, which is shown on the previous page.

User guide

The above screen shot is taken from the boots page.

The pictures shown are jpeg files.

This page is selected from the clothing page by left clicking using the mouse on the Boots link button.

User guide

The above screen shot is taken from the services page.

The links shown at the top of the page are selected by left clicking on the button using the mouse.

User guide

The above screen shot shows the contact page. This has the telephone numbers and fax number of the company.

The links at the top of the page are for the home page and web site link.

By selecting the web site button using the mouse the user can go direct to the web site of Motocross Services LTD.

The page that is then displayed is shown on the following page.

User guide

The screen shot shown above is taken from the screen shown when the web link button is selected. The Internet Explorer page is shown and the connection page of the users relevant Internet provider is shown.

The connect button is then selected and the companies web page is displayed.

User guide

The above screen shot shows the web site of Motocross Services LTD. This site is then ready for viewing by the user by following the on-screen instructions displayed on the site.

This can be exited by clicking on the close button marked X at the top right hand side of the web page. The user is then directed back to the publication.

Evaluation

The finished publication is a professional effective media for displaying the company’s services and products on offer.

The layout of the application and colour scheme is clear and easy on the users eye, creating an attractive backdrop, whilst not distracting the users main focus from the information displayed.

The use of the pictures show the exact product on offer, which allows the user to select the correct product that they require. The pictures used in the application are clear and effective.

The videos in the application are used to their best effect by having the minimum of playtime, and displays the relevant series of events.

This part of the application has exceeded the expectations of the design brief by having quality clips that are entertaining and amusing. These are of no benefit to the company, as they are intended to be humorous. This part of the project was time consuming, as the videos would not copy correctly on to the CD for publishing. Many different solutions to alleviate this were tried. Such as saving the video clips to different files within the C drive on the computer and using a media player that contained the video clip

The navigation of the application is easy to use and has been tested thoroughly to prove this. The design of this part of the application was on of the hardest, as the sequence needed to assign the link buttons was monotonous. This however did not affect the outcome.

The number of pictures used could have been more. This can be increased in the future when more time is available.

Future developments of the application will include the following;

* A technical guide to motorcycle maintenance

* A contact number (premium rate) for advice on problems / maintenance.

* A page containing pictures of sponsored riders.

* A page containing results at events.

References

http://www.fmb.org.uk/publications/masterbuilder/april00/30.asp

http://www.barbour-index.co.uk/content/research/brep2001.asp

Bibliography

http://www.manhattan-institute.org/hazlett/rahazl010225.htm

http://www.communicationsbill.gov.uk/legislation/Telecommunications_Act_1984.doc

http://www.fiu.edu/orgs/irm/dot/standards.htm

Hellingworth B., Higher national Computing, Addison Wedley, (2001)

(www1.bcs.org.uk/DocsRepository/00900/973/dp1.htm)

http://www.hmso.gov.uk/si/si1992/Uksi_19922792_en_1.htm

www.aieh.org.au/cpd.html,

http://dcit.clemson.edu/dcit/policies/emisuse.html

http://www.commweb.com/article/COM20010808S0001

(http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/ripa/ripact.htm).

http://webopedia.internet.com/quick_ref/OSI_Layers.asp

http://Williamstallings.com/Extras/OSI.html

http://searchnetworking.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid7_gci212769,00.html

http://personal.cityu.edu.hk/~dcykcho/dco20203/program5.doc

Clarke,R. (2002), HND Syllabus, Wakefield College

Freed L. (1993), How Networks Work, Ziff Davis

Halsall F. (1992), Data Communications, Computer Networks and Open Systems, Addison-Wesley Publishers.

Appendix

E-mails sent to companies

E mail received from companies

Site plan

Marketing plan for the company

Technical Guide

Technical Guide

The publication was created using Illuminatus 4.5, which is on the college computers.

This type of software is easy to use and has many functions that allow the user to produce professional publications.

The sketches that were produced in the design phase of the project were used to set out the layout and format of the design using this software. They were not the same as the finalised design, but were quite close.

The transferring of the publication onto Cd was carried out using Nero software that copied the files from the PC hard disk onto the CD. This was quite easy to do.

This software was supplied with my home PC and has all the relevant licences for its use.

The CD’s used are recordable only, which means that they can only be recorded on once and cannot be re-recorded like Re-write disks. This type of CD was chosen to prevent the user from erasing the information and replacing with other files.

The repairs to the publication can be carried out using Illuminatus 4.5 by accessing the C drive on the computer and altering the relevant areas. This can then be re-published and copied to CD again for re-distribution.

The future of the publication is to have a system in place that will issue copies of the catalogue to the companies customers for home use on their PC’s. This means that a large number of copies are needed of the CD. This is to be carried out in the near future.