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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Web Development Resources

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 4.9 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Mar 17, 2003 by Information Technology Editorial Board
Overview: The SmartWebby Free Web Development Resources website
(http://www.smartwebby.com/resources.asp) is a collection of articles,
tutorials, web site tools and tips aimed at advanced beginners as well as more
experienced web page developers. The site is part of a commercial web design
business.
Compared to other sites offering insights about web development resources, the
Smart Webby website has two unique characteristics. First, all the resources
offered are uptodate, reflecting active efforts to keep the contents current.
Second, the learning resources are pegged at a level slightly above the "basic"
level, and reflect a more "hands-on" orientation.
Learning Goals: The learning goal is to provide information/knowledge about resources related to
web development. The information base is not necessarily anchored at a basic,
theoretical level. For example, if a certain brand of software is deemed
especially suitable for a web development application, this site recommends it.

The website has the potential to teach users all aspects of web page design and
creation. In addition to covering all aspects of web page design (focusing on
the use of several Macromedia products like Dreamweaver and Flash), there also
are articles to help make sure the user?s web page is displayed correctly and
prominently by search engines.

Target Student Population: Primarily targeted at advanced beginner or intermediate level web designers, but
is understandable for anyone at the undergraduate level of higher.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: This site is not novice-friendly. Often, the descriptions assume that users
already have basic knowledge about web development. Awareness about how web
pages work and how they are created will help users benefit from this website.
Furthermore, this site does not cover any of the basics of housing a site on a
server, creating and uploading files to the server, etc. The key focus of the
included materials is on design and enhancement of web sites.
Type of Material: Most of the information is in the form of informal reports, tips, condensed and
"hands-on" recommendations about specific tools and resources useful in web
development activities.
Overall, this website provides a categorized listing of articles grouped
according to these topics: Web Design Guide, Web Promotion Guide, Simple Dynamic
HTML Guide, Flash and ASP Unleashed, Interactive Web Products (these are
products for sale by SmartWebby), and Flash Actionscript Guide. For each guide
category there are a number of articles, step-by-step tutorials or lists of
?Tips ?n? Tricks?.
Recommended Uses: This site provides an eclectic array of uptodate and practical information about
web development resources. It is a great supplementary resource for students
engaged in learning projects that require construction of new websites, or
maintenance/modification work involving old websites.
Overall, the materials presented at this site best serve as ancillary resources
to instruction in web design. The materials are of very good quality. While
these materials are categorized, there is little to tie together all the
information in the form of principles or goals of web page creation and design.
Also, the topics are often rather narrow in focus (e.g., validating email fields
in a DHTML form), requiring additional instruction for the beginning web
designer in appropriate use of many of these techniques.
The materials at this site could also serve as an excellent reference for more
advanced web designers who want to learn new techniques or who want to refresh
their knowledge in the areas covered by this site.
Technical Requirements: None.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.9 stars
Strengths: The content quality is superb, in part because the site's contents are carefully
screened and updated regularly. The Smart Webby site clearly states that it
emphasizes quality over quantity.
The materials included in this site are clear, logically organized, and very
well-presented. The site in itself is a great example of good design. Articles
are well-written and illustrated, and the tutorials are quite simple to follow.
Many include cut-and-paste samples (e.g., of Java code) that the user can easily
adapt to their purposes. Where techniques (e.g., playing sounds on mouse
rollover) are discussed, examples are provided; where code is presented, an
annotation generally follows.
Concerns: Given the commercial characteristic of this website, there may be a slight bias
toward Smart Webby products in the contents of this site.
The coverage of topics regarding web design may not be comprehensive and tends
to favor certain software (e.g., Macromedia products). One step to make this
site more user-friendly is to tie together the various topics in a manner that
goes beyond their organization into categories. Also, it will help improve the
instructional value of this site if the user has the option of avoiding exposure
to advertisements for SmartWebby products.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The resources offered in this site appear especially suitable for a top-down
approach to teaching. That is, rather than have students focus on developing a
basic, grass-roots, bottom-up approach to learning the fundamentals about web
development resources, teachers could use the Smart Webby site as a resource to
identify the most current and most important web development tools available,
and then have students learn more about each tool from other detailed sources.
Overall, this site is a great resource for anyone learning to design web pages.
While it is not designed to cater to novices, the information provided is fairly
wide-ranging and well-presented. The site itself does a fine job of
exemplifying good web design.
Concerns: The contents of this site change to reflect changing developments in the
evolving field of web development. Teachers need to anticipate and plan
accordingly while using this resource in their classes. Finally, This site
might pose difficulties for the true beginner. This is only a mild concern
though, as the site?s focus is more on good design than on basic webpage
construction.


Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: Very easy to use. Information is logically organized into appropriate
sub-headings. Content is clearly presented and the pages are nicely
constructed.

Concerns: None.

Other Issues and Comments: Overall, this website is a valuable learning resource. It is most suitable for
intermediate to advanced learners, and offers several "hands-on" tips that will
substantially improve the quality of web development efforts, and save users a
lot of time and effort.