May 10, 2010

Indesign magazine feature

Posted in General, Portfolio - previous work tagged , , at 12:12 am by Tara Duncan

 This is a magazine spread that I had to design to go along side the Bournemouth eye feature, also featured in this blog. The program used to create it was indesign and adobe photoshop, which although was tricky to use at first I soon became accustomed to it. This is what I finally produced.

Indesign magazine spread


May 8, 2010

Summerball 2010!

Posted in Just for fun! tagged , , , , at 11:46 am by Tara Duncan

With the Bournemouth uni Summer ball upon, the biggest question on everyone’s mind is what to wear!

The Summer ball is a fancy dress event in which thousands of student gather in a field to listen to live music, hang out with friends, and the most original idea of fancy dress! Last year a group of us went as flowers, now the problem is to think of something original to go as this year.  

Here are some of the best costumes from last year, including ours of course!  

The Bournemouth eyes


I thought that these costumes were brilliant. Clearly not entirely practical, however its all part of the summer ball fun!  

A pair of trainers


The craziest ideas come from the summer ball, who would have ever thought of going as a pair of trainers. Its done so well.  

The Simpsons


Something so simple, yet so effective. These people dressed as Simpsons characters look so good. Much more practical than some of the other costumes, but still brilliant.  

Beanz meanz Heinz!


These tins of beans look so good, there were so many of them it looked more effective. Maybe a bit of sneaky advertising going on here too.  



These traffic cones certainly stood out from the crowd with their bright orange costumes, and shiny middles. These cones were one of the most original.  

Flower Power


Last, but not least. This was us last year before the summer ball, with are large pots and big headpieces, these costume were not the most practical. Now, its time to start thinking. What can we go as this year?

May 7, 2010

County Kerry – the place to go?

Posted in General tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:03 pm by Tara Duncan

Torq waterfall


Want a holiday with breathtaking views, an incredible variety of traditional   to provide entertainment for the whole family? Than the county of Kerry in Ireland is the place for you. Kerry is one to keep the whole family amused. Within Kerry there are many historical features including Muckross house and gardens which is situated between two lakes. The house is an amazing mansion designed by a Scottish architect William Burn. Well worth a look around. Staigue Fort, Ross castle and Ardfert Cathedral are also famous within Kerry and well worth a look.  

The towns in the county of Kerry are varied to a huge extent; there are some small traditional towns with little crafts shops and traditional Irish pubs. These towns are very picturesque and cosy. There are also the bigger towns like Killarney and Tralee, which have shopping centres and an enormous variety of amenities. These towns have a much brighter nightlife, and a lot of night-time entertainment. These all provide entertainment for people of different taste and guarantees that everyone has a holiday to remember.  

The landscape in Kerry is some of the most breathtaking in Europe; it is one of the most mountainous regions of Ireland with 2 of the 3 highest mountains in Ireland: Carrauntoohil and Mount Brandon. These mountain ranges and lakes are perfect for sightseeing, and brilliant for photographers to take the most amazing pictures.  

The ring of Kerry


The perfect area for walking and cycling is the Kerry way and the Ring of Kerry; these routes follow ancient pathways and are the most scenic areas of Kerry. There is so much to do for the whole family; there won’t be an un-filled day.  

If you are looking for the culture of Ireland, there is nowhere more perfect. The county is hardly influenced by outside cultures. Visiting Kerry will give you a really taste of the Irish culture from traditional food and music to the Irish language. The pubs often have traditional music playing and also the best Irish food. They are definitely worth a visit.  Sports in Ireland are slightly different to some other cultures. The most popular sports in the area is Gaelic football, for which Kerry has one of the best teams in Ireland, Hurling is also a popular sport.  

One of the main tourist attractions just outside Kerry is the Blarney castle with the Blarney stone. This famous landmark is one of the most famous attractions in Ireland. Thousands of tourists flock there to kiss the Blarney stone, it’s rumoured that if you kiss the stone you will never be lost for words again. The surrounding gardens are beautiful, with amazing scenery and caves that can be explored by all ages. The castle is a perfect day out for anyone.  

The Blarney Castle


Kerry is a diverse place, suitable for relaxing quiet holidays, amazing romantic weekends or energetic sporty holidays. Kerry is the place to visit no matter what the circumstances. Hiking in the Killarney Lake District is a popular activity and has been for many years. While hiking in this area it is not un common to see Irish Red Deer, they are the largest Native Irish mammals. Another place for a brilliant view and a good walk is the mossy woods up to Torc waterfall. The waterfall is over 60ft tall and the view from the top is even more impressive.  

Kerry is the perfect holiday for people of all different ages and for people with a variety of tastes in entertainment. If you are still looking for that holiday that will please the whole family or if you’re just looking to get away for the week and relax than the county of Kerry is the perfect place for you.

May 4, 2010

Unexpected move

Posted in Portfolio - previous work tagged , at 4:46 pm by Tara Duncan

As a part of our professional writing unit, we have to write a short story… Here’s my attempt!

There I sat. Day in. Day out. I did for almost 20 years, without fail, always in the same place at the top of those stairs. I loved looking down on everything and everyone. I didn’t miss a thing from that spot, people were always around doing one thing or another.  I liked it, I became very used to my surroundings and the people around me, who I had grown quite fond of. I liked listening to the all the people going by but I swear sometimes they didn’t even know I was there. The general day-to-day chit chat, the arguments, the children running around playing. I loved to watch it all.
I often got confused looks when people stared. It’s like they didn’t understand. I mean I’m not that complicated. I was stared at quite frequently, I became used to it and in all honesty I quite liked the attention, it made me feel wanted, attractive almost. The confused and disapproving looks I got could be offending, but I guess everyone thinks differently so I just ignored them. What I wouldn’t do to be back there now.
After a while of being there people got used to me, I started to get ignored and it was like I didn’t even exist anymore. They walked by none the wiser that I was sitting there, so used to my familiarity that they just expected me to be there. However, once every so often there was a new face, they would stare for a while, sometimes just a quick glance. If they were intrigued I may have got a bit more attention. Sometimes they would ask other people around what they thought of me. I quite often heard the word lonely come up, but I was far from lonely, people were always around and I liked being there very much.
Sometimes I just sat wondering what the point in me was. I was generally ignored. All I did was sit there, in the same clothes, the same place, doing the same thing everyday, but I wouldn’t have change it for the world. I just wish I could go back. I have no family to rely on. That was my life and I loved it.
One morning I overheard a man talking, he was there quite often and he smiled at me every time, he made me feel special, not like some of the other people around here. He was quite an old man; everyone had respect for him around there. Nobody ignored him like they ignored me.  Listening to his conversation as I usually did, I heard him saying “its time she moved on, she just doesn’t fit in anymore”. Not fit in? I was there for twenty years, how did I not fit in? This shocked me, he always smiled at me. How could he want to move me on? How could he do this to me?
The next thing I knew I was being picked up and hauled away by two complete strangers. I had not seen them around before; who did they think they were? In their ridiculous looking outfits. However, I couldn’t protest, I was powerless against them; I was just carried away without the power to do anything. They treated me like rubbish, something just to be gotten rid of at any opportunity. They walked with me for a bit, not gently either, banging off walls, they almost dropped me twice! You’d think they would have a little more respect than that. They finally got to their destination and just dropped me on the floor, do they not know that I am more fragile than I look. I looked around, I couldn’t see anything, and it was pitch black almost like a cell but there was no light, no window, I couldn’t deal with it. I had never been in this much darkness; I had never been alone until now. How could they treat me like this? I am human too.
I have been here for a while now. I miss the voices, the bustle of everyday life. The children running around, all I hear now is the faint laugh of them playing in the distance. Every so often someone will come in, I pray for those days that I see light, I try to call out to them, but I can’t I just sit here covered in dust unable to shout, unable to escape. Sometimes I hear them talking, only every so often. I feel a million miles away from them now. The other day I heard someone talking about the stairs, and how someone has replaced me! How can someone else be in my spot? My spot! I hear it’s a man, quite rugged looking but handsome. Little does he know he will soon be moved along and left to collect dust like the rest of us.
I was in that same spot for 20 years. Do they think that I was painted for no reason? What if my creator knew where I was now, he would be disgusted, all that effort and time he put into me, and where am I now, in a dusty, light less loft, left hidden away from the world. What a waste.

The Times online – website analysis

Posted in Web analysis' tagged , at 3:03 pm by Tara Duncan

The Times online homepage

Analysing The Times Online and looking at features such as search-ability, usability, design, content, interactivity and navigation. It’s clear to see that generally the site is very usable and functions well.

The first factor discussed is search ability. By typing ‘The Times’ into Google the first link is to the Times Online homepage. However, when typing ‘News’ or ‘Top News’ into Google the Times Online does not appear within the top links, whereas other big newspapers do.

The primary criterion for usability is that the site performs the functions the user needs. The main function of the Times Online is to give the users the news quickly and effectively. The site is quick to load and easy to navigate.  The Times Online has easy usability due to its consistency and efficient design.

The navbar on the Times Online divides the news so users can navigate to the news they wish to read about. After clicking on the relevant tab the Times Online also has a subnav helping the users narrow down their search.

A disadvantage of the website would be the advertisements, many are animated which can be distracting to the users. Another design feature of the Times Online that could be criticised is the homepage, which is quite lengthy and some of the headings don’t stand out.

The Times Online has varied content with a range of stories. These are well signposted on the navbar so that the user can see where they need to go, and where they’ve been from the ‘where are you’ indication.

An important feature of a news website is the video. Video on the site loads quickly but the streaming is weak, making it jumpy. The sound for the video was also jumpy. However, the podcasts download.ed instantly and had very good sound and streamed quickly

Finally, there is the chance for users to post opinions under particular stories, but generally only under big stories. The UGC is at the end of articles and contains the thoughts of the public. However, users have to be a registered member; this automatically divides the users. It would be beneficial if this was open to everybody.

In conclusion, through looking at the different elements of the website it’s clear that learnability and usability are the most important factors. The website is easy to learn due to its consistency. The Times Online uses the mentioned features effectively to make the site a positive experience that users will revisit.

April 30, 2010

Summer heights

Posted in Portfolio - previous work tagged , , , , , at 2:08 pm by Tara Duncan

“I don’t think I can do this,” Ana said as we slowly starting rising towards the clouds, in what can be described as no more than a giant balloon. This was the first time that, my friend, and I decided to go on the infamous Bournemouth Eye – more commonly known as the Bournemouth Balloon. One of Bournemouth’s top attractions. 

As we set off from the safety of the ground, all I could think was ‘don’t look down, just don’t look down’. Two girls, afraid of heights deciding to go on hot air balloon floating 500ft about Bournemouth’s gardens, I don’t know whose ingenious plan that was! However that feeling soon changed when we finally reached the clouds. 

The balloon elevated slowly, thankfully, giving us both time to get used to the height. The rise was incredibly smooth as it reached its optimum altitude, which definitely made us feel safer. There was a family of four also on the balloon with us.  The children didn’t look much older than 10 and they truly loved it, on of the boys shouted, “Mum, Mum… I can see boat,” They sounded so excited. It was an experience they wouldn’t forget. 

Imagine it, standing 500ft above Bournemouth looking at seven miles of Jurassic coastline including Poole harbour and Isle of Wight. A gentle breeze running through you’re hair, and the sun beating down. It was certainly a breathtaking experience, one that isn’t to be missed if you find yourself in the Bournemouth area. 

Ana described it “Like being on cloud nine.” cheesy, I agree. But I couldn’t have put it better myself. The balloon also overlooks the English Channel, some of the New Forest, Sandbanks and Old Harry Rocks, there really is something for everyone. 

Don’t worry if you don’t know much about these surrounding areas because there are members of crew on board who are more than happy to tell you anything you want to know about the landmarks that are in sight.  One crew member said, “I love this job, I get to talk to the general public about the landmarks which I love, especially Old Harry Rocks – the white chalk cliffs what more could I ask for?” 

Sophie Tyler, a student at Bournemouth University, who has also been on the Eye told me that it was one of the best things for tourists to do it if there on holiday. “A hot air balloon is something that I thought I would never get to experience, but coming here has shown me differently. The views were just magnificent, I would definitely do it again.” 

The balloon can be conveniently accessed in the award-winning lower Bournemouth gardens, between the pier and the town centre, 20 miles from the highest public observation point.  And it’s not exactly a feature that can be missed! While waiting to go on the Eye, there is the chance to look around the stunning Bournemouth gardens. The gardens are split into three areas of Victorian beauty, the lower, the higher and the central garden. The gardens also include 4 kiosks, bungee trampolines, flight simulator and the chance to listen to a free live open-air performance while sitting on the grass. The perfect beginning or end to the balloon ride that you will never forget. 

The balloon sits in the lower garden when it’s not in flight. Mark Spate, a local of Bournemouth, said, “The space was just wasted before the eye was placed there, and it certainly has put Bournemouth on the map for more than being just a retirement town.” the residents of Bournemouth love the Bournemouth eye, it looks so nice during the summer when it’s flying in a clear blue sky said Spate 

The experience is perfect for everyone, from the youngest of children to the oldest adults. One customer recently just celebrated her 100th birthday on the Eye, said a member of the crew. The Bournemouth Eye is great for sightseeing, what more could you want to see? For those on a romantic getaway the Eye offers the ultimate romantic experience with the chance to go up in the balloon at night while illuminated. On Friday nights there is also the chance to go up in the balloon and watch a fireworks display from Bournemouth Pier. Looking at a panoramic view of Bournemouth and Poole while watching fireworks, with a loved one, simply perfect. 

I spoke to Lily Richardson, aged 23 from Winton, near Bournemouth. Her boyfriend surprised her with an illuminated ride on the Bournemouth Eye for their one-year anniversary. She describes it as “The most magical moment, it was so romantic I almost cried.” she went on to say that she would recommend the balloon ride to anyone and everyone. 

As a student, I had to pay £9.50 for a ride on the Bournemouth Eye, with a valid student card of course. The price for adults is £12.50, and Under 14s it’s £7.50.  The prices of the Bournemouth Eye are fairly high, but well worth it when you see the view at the top. With this you also get a souvenir photo, perfect for families on holiday, and students alike. There is also the chance to buy a passenger flight certificate as an official record of your flight on the Bournemouth Eye. The children love them, the crew told me! 

For those of you afraid of heights, I would describe this as the perfect way to overcome this fear without pushing yourself too far. The Bournemouth Eye website, states that the balloon uses the latest technology to provide a completely safe and exciting high-flying adventure.  Tethered by steel cables, that balloon is going no higher than the 500ft, you’re promised.  Although I would have to say that it wouldn’t be a great idea going up in the balloon when it’s windy- that’s only for the brave. 

The Bournemouth eye, and gardens


While walking through Bournemouth town centre I asked a retired couple what they thought of the Bournemouth Eye. The lady, Gloria, said that she sees the Eye as a Local landmark she said that Bournemouth just wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t there. “You just haven’t been to Bournemouth till you ride The Bournemouth Eye.” 

The Bournemouth Eye unfortunately is a weather dependent attraction and operation may be ceased due to high winds, but operates in rain. However, as it is mainly open during the summer and spring months this is rarely the case. I would certainly recommend going when the sun is shining, as you can see for up to 25 miles when it’s clear. The balloon operates from the beginning of April through till the end of September. From 9.00am until 11.00pm so there are no restraints to the time of day you need to go. 

So, if you get the chance don’t miss this opportunity, there is no better way to see the stunning scenery of Poole and Bournemouth. There is such a different range of things to look at whether it’s the countryside and the peaceful setting of the New Forest or the built up busyness of Poole Harbour. No one will walk away from the experience unsatisfied.  Ana and me certainly didn’t.

March 18, 2010

Green party website

Posted in Web analysis' tagged , , , at 10:07 am by Tara Duncan

Looking at The Green Party web page it’s clear to see that there’s need for a serious update. Just from opening up the homepage it’s easy to see that the website is outdated, and lacking in design. There are many ways in which the site could be updated to become a much more effective tool. In comparison to this Barack Obama’s website is an example of how a website can be useful, also shown by his success in the 2008 elections through his use of web communication. The Green Party’s website should to be more direct and powerful. It should tell the people what their going to do not asking the audience what they think should be done, much like Obama’s site.

Ultimately the biggest disappointments of the website would be the layout, design and colours used. It would definitely be recommended that the first thing the Green party need to do is a website re-design to approach their audiences. The colour used on the website is green to represent the Green Party. However, I don’t believe that the colour here is used effectively with a large amount of white space it makes the website dull. The general layout of the website is also something that the website needs to work on.

The links at the side of the page displaying their aims look like adverts, these need to be made clearer. They need to stand out, the policies should be one of the main themes on the site. The main links on the page are highlighted with a green background, which is effective as it draws the users eyes to the main tags. The general look of the website is quite dull with blocks of writing. This could be edited more effectively to give the audience a much more pleasing experience.

The Green party website is doing something right, by having a webpage directly aimed a youths (Younggreens). This is effectively expanding there target audience and giving the youths information and stories that they can relate to. However, this needs to be aimed at youths more so than it already is. While looking at the site it isn’t an attractive site, especially not for youths.  The link on the main webpage also needs to be displayed clearer and possibly highlighted.

There is a members only area of the Green Party’s website, automatically giving people status above the general public who have not joined. All areas of the website should be open to everyone. This will encourage more people to the website, by making people register to look at certain parts of the site it is discouraging them to carry on looking at the site.

User-Generated Content is a large area that this website could offer to its audience. Adding a blog under its policies could give the party the chance to see what the general public are thinking about certain policies and events. Ultimately this would give the audience a chance to voice their opinions and show the Green Party themselves what the general public is thinking.

Overall, although there are a limited number of factors discussed here it is clear to see that the website could be used a lot more effectively to increase there audiences. The factors discussed here I believe are the main disappointments to the site. However, with a little work and attention this site could be developed into a much more effective promotions and advertising tool for the Green Party.

February 11, 2010

Timeline: social networking sites

Posted in Just for fun! tagged , , , , , , at 10:50 am by Tara Duncan

Social network sites are web-based services that allow individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile, and to be able to articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection.

1997: The first social networking site, sixdegrees, was created.  Sixdegress was promoted as a tool to help people connect and send messages. It however, failed to become a sustainable business and closed down in 2000. Its founder argued that the website was simple ahead of its time.

2002: Friendster is created to compete with, (an online dating service) on the basis that friends of friends would make better romantic partners then strangers. The site failed to keep early adopters due to the technical difficulties, social collisions and a lack of trust between the site and its users.

2003: The term ‘YASNS’ “Yet another social networking site” was coined due to the rapid growth in the amount of social networking sites. These websites also started introducing media sharing like flickr and youtube.

2003: MySpace was introduced to compete with other sites such as Friendster. MySpace was able to rapidly grow by capitalizing on Friendsters alienation of early adopters. The popularity of Myspace also grew because they regularly added new features and allowed users to personalise their pages

2004: Facebook was introduced as  social networking site solely for Harvard users, only accessible to users who had a email. This rapidly grew to include more college and universities, which could sign in through their own emails, to become a private networking community.

2005: News corporation brought MySpace fro $580 million. safety issues started to plague, the site was implicated in a series of sexual interactions between adults and minors which promoted legal action. A moral panic about sexual predators quickly spread, however research suggests that the concerns were exaggerated. Bebo was also introduced with various security levels it combines community, self-expression and entertainment, enabling consumers to create, discover, and share digital content in entirely new ways.

2006: Facebook becomes available to everybody, providing they have an email address. Facebook advance other social networking sites due to its ability for outside developers to build applications which can allow Facebook users to personalise their pages. Twitter is also introduce and argued to be the ‘SMS of the internet’

2010: The latest social networking site was introduced this week. Goggle Buzz has been introduced as a ‘a social media sharing service’ which is built into the Gmail window. Buzz lets you share photos, links, videos, and status updates through your Gmail inbox or your mobile device.

January 28, 2010

My top five favourite websites

Posted in Web analysis' tagged , , , , , , , at 10:29 am by Tara Duncan

My top 5 websites are:


  • Google is my top website, its simple to use, fast and effective for everyday internet browsing.


You Tube comes second because of the vast amount of material, which never fails to entertain, also useful for looking for academic material if needed


– Facebook

  • Facebook is third because it makes it easier to keep connected to people from home that I otherwise would have lost connection with. Also handy for keeping updated for what’s going on, and uploading pictures to share.

Groove Shark

  • Groove shark is a music website, free to listen too. It has a vast selection of music and is quick to load, and its easy to understand how to use


  • Good for looking up ideas and concepts that I don’t understand, can explain them in simple ways to gain quick knowledge.