Friday, August 28, 2009


This is a copy of a product review that I have posted at my Leaders in Learning Blog. I thought that some of you other writers who are technologically challenged like me might appreciate this review also.


I’ve found a web design program that is technically not challenging at all.

As a writer and blogger, I’ve always wanted to learn html. So I purchased a book at a local discount store and even borrowed a few from the library but became disappointed when I felt like I was reading French in a mirror backwards. (The only French I know is my middle name and a Sunday School song.)

So, you can imagine how excited I was to receive a copy of a web design program for kids! I have two kids living at home and was a curious grow-up, so I figured it had to work for me but I was also a nervous, semi-literate html writer. In fact, I knew just enough about html to get myself in trouble.

After I began to watch this DVD, I felt a little better. It is very basic and non-threatening, guiding you step by step, through the stages of designing a web page. The only tools you need to have are the NOTEPAD program, Internet Explorer, your television and a DVD player. Well, maybe there is one more thing you need. You will want your remote control so you can pause the video and practice the lessons. (Alternatively, you can play it on the computer but you’ll have to be a pro at toggling screens).

You will want to keep your eyes on the TV screen or computer monitor as scenes transition between Brian Richardson’s mellow teaching and the computer screens of his equally mild-mannered teenaged students. I enjoyed watching and noting the manners and attitudes of respect shown by the teens as well. We did keep the remote handy so we could freeze the frames and copy the text.

The whole video is low-key and pretty easy to follow. My boys enjoyed watching their works in progress turn up as real webpages featuring their names and everything. The video showed how to create a Word Pad Document and then convert it into a web page. It also taught the kids how to create folders, save to various drives, how to find hidden code on popular web pages and more. Most of the clips were instruction on building the webpages. Both of my boys tried it. One of them was a little frustrated because his computer program was slightly different and we had to fiddle around to figure out how to convert the page to html and back to a WordPad document. Once we figured out how to do it, he jumped right back into designing. I sat with my laptop nearby and played around with the fonts and colors right along with my boys. Sometimes, we got so interested in making the letters scroll, changing the backgrounds and making up our own funny sayings, that we had to stop the movie to get back on track but each clip had enough review on it, that we were able to catch up quickly.

We learned about sandwiches--no, not those kind-my two boys became hungry at the thought of sandwiches, too--stop signs, the use of <> signs as well as how to make text scroll across the page in various directions. (See the title at the top? It's scrolling, aren't you proud of me? )Somehow the code made sense to us when it hadn’t before. I guess it was encouraging to see younger people, with less education than I, able to create and decorate a webpage. It gave me the courage to try it myself and not be intimidated by the computer words and code.

I didn’t get to watch all of the video while my laptop was available(multi-tasking took me away at times), but my boys watched the whole thing with interest.

I hope to spend more time working with the video. I have a lot more to learn from it.

What a great investment! It has a money back guarantee and for the special price of $19.99 (normally $40), a reticent or challenged learner can benefit from a low cost way to try out a potential career/hobby. It’s not for a programming savvy individual but it worked well for my kids and little old me. And who knows? It might be future job training for one of my boys. I can picture him now, making his business cards and brochures and selling people on hiring him to build their web pages.

As far as the quality of the video and acting, well, it was not super-engaging. The few jokes were somewhat flat but as a beginner instructional video, it was not bad. And the author/producer has a good motivation for selling his product. Not only does he want to help you learn to be more technologically skilled BUT also he donates a portion of the price toward charity. You might like to check out what he does and leave a comment. You can read up about that here.

Oh and for the other curious grown-ups: I looked up what HTML stands for—it’s an acronym for: Hyper Text Markup Language. With a name like that, no wonder everyone is shaking in their rhetorical boots. Folks who resemble that remark need to watch this video.

Do I recommend it? You bet. I did learn a lot and my kids enjoyed it as well. It was so easy compared to most other HTML programs and in the end, left me feeling like I actually might be able to play around more with designing web pages. I guess you could say, it takes the “timid” out of “intimidated”.


1 comment:

Rich and JoJo Tabares said...

Wow! I'm impressed with your techie prowess! A scrolling banner! And purple too!