What I learned from this module’s assignments is that you want the design to be somewhat predictable and consistent for the user interaction.
This ran contradictory to my initial impression of what the “design” of a site should be about. In my original storyboards, I had navigation links on the right side of the page and then would switch it up on another page of the site because I didn’t want it to feel monotonous. It just felt like it would be so boring! But after watching a video on Adobe and reading a few articles, I realized that by making it predictable you are really making it intuitive for the user. They don’t have to think about how to navigate, which allows them to give full attention to the content.
The pretty part should be in the aesthetics – but don’t mess with the interface. No one likes a site that is complicated or hard to use. If I get frustrated with a site, I just google what I’m looking for and go to another site.
So the other main thing that I am starting to understand is that print and web are totally different. What I thought would look good on paper, ends up looking like too much on the screen. I realized this when I started making a Style Tile of the colors and fonts I wanted to use.
Here are pictures of the storyboard compared to the Style Tile:
Storyboard for the Bio Page
For example, I originally thought that I would make actual squares as buttons for the links. But when I tried it out on the page it looked unnecessary. I thought that just using the word itself was cleaner – and everyone knows that you click on the links. When you are staring at a white page, it feels empty. When I look up at a screen the small details just seem unnecessary. It’s counterintuitive to how I like things to look on paper, but I realize now it is a different medium and I will just get used to it with practice.
Well, in an effort to catch myself up there will be a series of posts as I move towards catching myself up in this class.
This week’s lesson covered stock photos and web design mistakes. Often you go to a big company’s website, or corporate literature and see these images of business people. I doubt most people think about where these pictures come from. A lot of times, I just assumed that company’s would have to have some sort of a photo shoot to help create their latest campaign or literature. This is what fashion retailers do, but now I wonder if companies like Comcast just get these images from these stock photo sites like Gettyimages.com or shutterstock.com.
We had to read about bad web design and the biggest take away for me was that aesthetics do not mean a web site is good. Being able to get the information you want from a site is what makes it good. An example is the website for Blue Bell Ice Cream.
When I first went to the site, I thought it was pretty. I liked the way it looked. But it is hard to navigate because things are not clearly labeled – so you do not know your options. You have to hover over things, which is referred to as “Mystery Meat Navigation”, to figure out where to go. The problem is that unless you study the site or write out a key for yourself, you don’t remember what the compass links to versus the two identical ice cream containers. The point is that you cannot sacrifice function for looks.
I was very excited to see that Miranda July was one of the featured artists in our digital design class. She is creatively fearless and original. When you see a Miranda July film, or read a story, you get to go to a parallel universe and experience something new. Everything is quirky yet insightful and honest, without feeling forced.
I was first introduced to her when I saw her film Me and You and Everyone We Know. The movie has several characters with lots of issues that manifest in odd ways – like the little girl who is obsessed with building a hope chest for her future husband. Here is a great review of the movie by Roger Ebert. I cannot wait to see her new film, The Future, which features some narration by a cat and is in theaters now!
I’ve also read her book of short stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You. My favorite story is “The Swimming Lesson” where a woman is basically teaching these people how to swim on a carpeted floor in their home. All the characters are seriously committed to what’s going on and it is just crazy.
It makes me think back to when my sisters and I were younger. We would play my parents’ James Bond Soundtrack on the record player, clear a large area in the living room and pretend to be figure skaters while our parents were at work. I remember those times as a very happy part of my life and in retrospect, part of it had to be because my life revolved around being creative. I was drawing pictures of groceries so we could play “grocery store”, we would draw up ad campaigns for our ad agency and we would turn our Barbie’s Dream house on its side so we could pretend it was a car. I realize that this is what children do, play and pretend. It was so much fun losing yourself in those games and getting to be whoever you wanted.
Miranda July seems like the kind of person who does something creative, for the simple pleasure of it, everyday. She is not afraid to video herself doing a crazy dance or narrate what she imagines is the story of a random picture…she is truly inspiring.