Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Last month, an article appeared in The New York Times about how television screens are taking on more of the look of computer screens. (See http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/24/business/media/24clutter.html?pagewanted=all .)Networks are cramming promotions, news crawls, and other streams of information both wanted and unwanted into our tv viewing experience. The impression that many viewers are left with is that tv screens are far more "cluttered," states the author, than they were until recently, and the experience of watching television more closely resembles that of using a computer.
It is interesting that the clutter is what is related to the computer screen experience. A good computer web page should theoretically not be any more cluttered than a good television screen. But that's not how the users or apparently the networks that are defining our content see it. Whether it is truly an advantage to clutter our television screens in order to make them more appealing to a computer-saavy audience is by no means clear.
In the case of someone trying to read subtitles (one example that opens the article), the added clutter can be entirely maddening. Being a pretty hopelessly linear thinker, I personally find subtitled films a little tedious between trying to follow the plot, take in the lighting and other visual film effects and reading the dialogue. But when the words are obscured by some piece of information I am not focused on at the moment, I am not pleased.
When I watch a program, I do not want to buy the character's shoes. But that is what snipes are for -- to make the most money out of each viewer in this media or the next. An icon will direct viewers of tv shows to places where they can purchase related items.
Screen clutter can be "extremely eye-catching" according to UPENN sociologist David Grazian, despite the research that suggests it impedes comprehension. But the comprehension issue does not deter network moguls who see each iota of screen clutter as money in the bank. So it appears that television screen clutter is here to stay. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go do some vacuuming.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
D. Norman author of Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things (The article we read the second week), speaks of devices that seem easier to use, because the user finds the design aestitically pleasing.
Do you think a brand name can evoke the same emotion? Does ESPN.com recieve millions of hits per day, because people trust this source, despite web design that is a bit cluttered?
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
One of the things that stood out to me while I was reading was the section on why users scan. Whether I am doing research for school or work, I feel that there is not enough time in the day to find everything that I need. Scanning is the perfect option for me. It helps you decipher between what's a good article and what's something that isn't exactly what you need. "Scanning is an efficient method to hone in on useful content. It takes less cognitive effort, so users can focus attention on fruitful areas" (Nielson, Loranger pg 259).
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Each page has a center dial, of sorts, which displays the navigation of the site. Clicking "movies" will bring you to another dial-like nav displaying links to individual sites for each movie or sequel. The other pages also follow suit. The black background and orange font work (obviously), and along with silver text for the nav, its always easy to read and follow.
The only problem I have with the site is that as you browse, the huge "Halloween Movies" logo at the top does not bring you back to Home. There is a (too) small button on the bottom of each page that says "Home". I always forget its there, and even knowing that I have to find it to go home, I always click the huge logo on the top multiple times.
Overall though, I'd say the Halloween site isn't the best I've ever seen, but it's good enough to get this Halloween junkie his Michael Myers fix.
Monday, October 22, 2007
This site fits in nicely with this week’s readings because the writing is clear and concise, but clever at the same time. The front page contains snappy headlines with no more than a one sentence summary of the story. If you are interested in reading more, just follow the links, if not, at the least you have been entertained and informed. The approach on this site follows the suggestions laid out by Jakob Nielsen and Hoa Loranger in chapter 8 of “Prioritizing Web Usability” when they state, “write for the way people read on the Web. Design your content to match human behavior and tailor it for optimum scannability and comprehension.” This site definitely capitalizes on it’s scannability with its short, crisp writing.
The Supreme Story Program
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I am a big fan of Communication Arts Magazine, it can be a bit expensive but it has great articles and displays many examples of new and upcoming designers and their work. Below is a link to the magazine where you can buy the Interactive Design Annual which is also on sale at your local Borders.
Current Issue: 2007 September/October Interactive Annual 13 $16
In addition to showcasing the winners of our thirteenth Interactive Competition, the September/October issue includes feature articles on the innovative work of Boston-based agency Modernista!, Shino Arihara's narrative illustration, the powerful imagery of photographer Marcus Swanson and Robert L. Peters's in-depth look at graphic design in Australia. You'll also find insightful columns covering design, culture, creativity and marketing.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
www.MTV.com has always managed to stay interactive. There are options to watch full episodes of popular shows, chat with people about similar interests and blog about whatever is on your mind. The site may come off as busy at first glance but when you consider all the things MTV has to offer, you see that it is quite amazing that they can include all that they have into a Web site. It is always nice to know that if I miss an episode of "The Real World," I can visit the Web site and with a quick click of the mouse, watch it online.
SALISBURY, Md.- The president of Salisbury University faces questions after posting photographs on a social networking Web site.
SU President Dr. Janet Dudley-Eshbach posted several pictures on her Facebook profile.
Among those was a picture of Dudley-Eshbach pointing a stick toward her daughter and a Hispanic man.
The caption underneath the picture reads that Eshbach had to,"beat off the Mexicans because they were constantly flirting with my daughter."
Another picture shows an animal, a tapir, and has a caption referring to the large size of the animal's genitalia.
WBOC recently found out about the photos, and after asking the president about her profile and the pictures, she took down her Facebook.com profile.
After making calls about the story on Monday at 3:45 p.m., Dudley-Eshbach removed the two controversial pictures by 5 p.m.
By the end of the day, she had removed the entire profile, but only after leaving them up and open to the public for more than eight months.
Facebook.com makes an automatic time stamp when a user posts a picture. Dudley-Eshbach put her albums up on Feb. 3, 2007.
They were available for anyone in "The Salisbury Maryland Network" to look at, including people who have nothing to do with the university.
Many students say even though the president deleted the profile, they are still upset.
Freshman Jovan Turner said, "Personally I'm offended and I'm not even that nationality. It's not something I would expect the university president to say."
Melissa Holt, also a student, said, "I don't think it's very professional of her. She's representing Salisbury and by going out and having a Facebook, she's known as the Salisbury [University] president. She needs to be respectful as of everybody's opinions and backgrounds."
What all those students want to know now is why she posted the pictures in the first place.
The president refused to talk to WBOC on camera but issued a statement through the SU media relations department.
In part, it reads, "Many of us are learning about the positives and negatives of public networking sites such as Facebook. I regret that some of these family vacation photos, with captions that were only intended to be humorous, were included on Facebook."
You can read the president's full statement on our Web site.
Dudley-Eschbach is accountable to the University System of Maryland's Board of Regents.
WBOC requested to speak with the board's chancellor.
Anne Moultrie, the associate vice chancellor for communications, sent an e-mail late Monday afternoon that read "Still no availability at this time," but WBOC will continue to seek comment from both the chancellor and from Dudley-Eshbach.
Dudley-Eshbach has been the university's president since 2000. The school had 7,581 registered students in the fall of 2006.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Another example that was given was http://www.mtv.com. I have noticed that their font is small but I guess I have grown accustomed to their site and no longer flinch when I look at the page layout.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
I thought Chapter 8 was of much more importance and interest to me, especially since I come from a background in Journalism. Nielsen recommended writing for the web using the inverted pyramid style, a method journalists use to get the Five W's right up front in the lead of a story. It makes sense that writing for the web should be the same way. Many of the examples provided showed flaws that are definitely worth mentioning to ensure we avoid doing the same.
I was shocked to read that 43% of Americans aged 16 and older are only at the literacy level similar to an eight grader (Nielsen, Page 265). Even more sad, on Page 268, Nielsen uses an example of the HealthLink site, but writes "It is written at about a grade 12 reading level, which sadly, is beyond the capabilities of many high school graduates in the U.S." That makes me feel really, really bad for our country, though, puts a damp perspective on writing for the web. If that is the type of audience we have to cater our designs and writing toward, its good knowledge to know.
Journalism is extremely similar to writing for the web. You learn how to write concisely. You learn how to organize information and write so that everyone in your audience will be able to read and understand the material, all qualities that Nielsen suggests are key for web writing. Hopefully my studies in Journalism will aid me as I progress in the world of online content production.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
The site has changed over the past few years, but I still find it fairly simple to use and search for information, and sometimes sampling. I most love the histories that have been written and the influences and genres of music that are tied to the musician. It's an appealing and user friendly site.
I would like to see what Nielsen and Co. think is the perfect website, or if they even have one. I think that the major point that is being missed by these two chapters is the target audience. If people are coming to these sites, they at least have a little background information and can adjust to the different design styles. I understand that they are trying to make it very simple, but I think that they are taking some creativity away with these strict rules and standards.
Also I think being consistent with your navigation throughout the whole page is essential. It can not switch from one type of navigation to the next because it gets too confusing And people get lost. I was trying to think of a site that I use that does this and I couldn't think of any so either I have been to other sites that do this and have never gone back or no one really switches up navigation. If anyone has a good example for that let me know.
I think that for me simplicity in sites is important and I think that this chapter reiterates that. I like sites that are simple with a minimal amount of clutter. I think for me the apple site does this, there is minimal clutter, the navigation is simple, and you can find things easily.
The home page of the Osaka Museum of Natural History at http://www.mus-nh.city.osaka.jp.english took too long to download (nearly a minute). Most of the relevant information is below the fold. Links are confusing because it appears that the user can click on the green box in front of each link but that does not navigate anywhere. Links do not open in the same window, so it is hard to know how to get back to the home page. On the plus side, there is extensive and well-organized information on what specimens are contained in the collection so that if a curator or naturalist from another English-speaking country wanted to visit, they would know the major points of interest in the collection.
The home page of the National Museum of Nature and Science (Tokyo) at
http://www.kahaku.go.jp/english/ has a sophisticated and understated color scheme in shades of gray, beige and black with subdued accents of red and yellow. The site is organized in a way that is clear and understandable in a three column design. Only limited information appears below the fold, including links to related facilities.The design of the home page is, however, very boxy, not fluid, a approach which I personally find somewhat unappealing. Each of the major topic areas branch to a separate window, where a fly-out or pull-down menu might provide more detailed information leading the user to decide if they really wanted to navigate there.
The Beijing Museum of Natural History at www.bmnh.org.cn/web/en/ features too much content on its home page, much of it below the fold. It features a main photograph and several smaller photos that illustrate different departments. The small photos are way too small to really communicate or enhance the information provided. The large photo took an inordinate amount of time to download (more than 2 minutes). But aside from too much copy and the small, unappealing photos, the home page is not terribly cluttered. There is a gray bar at the top that seems like it should contain a visual of some sort, but doesn't. The menu across the top is clear and simple to understand. I have personally visited this museum and the web content doesn't really do it justice. It has some nice, thoughtful exhibits.
The Natural History Museum of Crete features an appealing green background in keeping with its nature theme. The home page is uncluttered, features a range of attractive visuals. The links are organized in a way that is easy to understand and navigate. The english version of the site, however, is challenging to locate. You have to click on a tiny british flag in the upper right corner, without any textual clues to identify its purpose. The links open in the same window, further assisting navigation. Both a Search button and site map are prominent and enhance useability.
The Royal Ontario Museum (Canada's largest natural history museum) at http://www.rom.on.ca/ organizes a wide range of links in an understandable way. All the links open in the same window, which makes it easy to figure out how to get back to where one has been. But the small square pictures next to the links suggest clickability when, in fact, only the text links navigate. The site could benefit from using video or some alternative way to share more visuals. All of the links to exhibitions are presented with the same visual, which is not very engaging.The use of complementary colors blue and orange, paired with maroon is understated, although I did not feel they were as appealingly sophisticated as the use of colors closer to one another on the color spectrum like that used in the Tokyo Museum web site.
I readily admit to a local bias, but the Yale Peabody Museum web site at http://www.peabody.yale.edu/ is one of my favorites. The home page is clear and simple with the signature "leaping" dinosaur fossil Deinonycus is an effective brand for the museum (hanging as it does in one of the hallways). The links are easy to understand and colorful. The clean white background makes the colorful visuals stand out. The Search button is prominent and very clickable. The interior pages are where the bulk of the content lies, keeping the home page simple and uncluttered. Both the web site and the museum are worth a visit. (Don't miss the colorful poison dart frog exhibit in the Discovery Room and keep an eye out for leaf-cutter ants. They're on their way.)
Thursday, October 11, 2007
It is an auto racing site, this guy created it who knows a wealth of knowledge on the subject. Although some may consider this site primitive by today’s standards it generates enough hits to be in the top 5 websites for auto racing and it is well respected by the racing community. Even after ESPN bought it(there is even a link from ESPN.com), they decided to keep the original template to stay true to the fanbase.
What does everyone think...is simple better? Is this site even simple?
Can changing a website alter a fanbase?
There are many variables that Nielson discusses into making that impression just right - these vary from the text flow, navigation options, the amount of white space allocated, and the grouping of items based on likeness (association). Essentially the message that i obtained from Nielson's reading is that keeping the webs page simple and organized is a key factor to creating the right impression / interest in the visitors. "Less is More"
One of the best examples of keeping it simple and organizing information in a small space can be found in the iPhone commercials - when the product was first released. The simplicity of the single person / phone portrayed upon a black background really intrigues the audience because they are not distracted by multiple graphics, text, or a moving background. The design of the commercials were simple and sleek - it was as if a friend was showing you the product.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
This MACcosmectics.com website does a good of being simple and consistent. Each page has the same menu lay out and does not change. Also the fact that each tab has sub tabs makes it easier for the user to find what she wants. The layout is simple and does not distract from the user’s goal. Every time I visit this site it takes me a short while to find what I want and leave. “Users are not looking for a scavenger hunt, so don’t hide main navigational items” (p.184). On this site, the navigational items are obvious and clear. They are easily understood and you know exactly where to click.
Monday, October 8, 2007
Perceived affordance was one of the more interesting things I read in this week. I can't stand when I get to a site and have no idea where to click. I drag the mouse around and do a little bit of what the authors called "minesweeping", and if I can't find anything, I am not happy. I'd say not knowing where to click is my own, personal number 1 reason of why I leave a site. I've also ran into sites exactly like the example in the book where the text is mostly blue, yet none of it is links. I honestly can't take it at all. I'd rather have 5 huge pop-ups in my face with blaring sound than a site with blue text throughout. It's quite painful.
Nielsen also mentioned the USPS website. Last time I checked out the Post Office's website, I had to put in a request for a change of address. What should've taken me about 3 minutes took me 20. I couldn't find the form, first of all. And there were about 3 duplicated links per single link and it was really messy and unorganized. Again, I had no idea where to click and how to find what I needed. I must say, that site can definitely use some simplification.
The two chapters really drove home the fact that designers need to design based on the users' expectations and convenience and not their own.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
I think it is interesting that I found this article during the week we were discussing usability problems because the usability problems discussed in the book never touched upon social issues. Is there a way to gauge social barriers on the Internet and how do we combat them, or do we even try? Going back to the Facebook article, I think everyone, especially teens, needs their own place where they can go to escape and communicate with other people who not only share similar interests but are also at similar stages in their lives. I think the message here is that although the Internet is a wonderful tool it will never be able to stay clear of the social issues of the real life.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
For one of my other classes, we have to print out the assigned readings every week. Most of the articles are in pdf format. I know it only takes an extra few minutes but I can't stand the fact that I have to save the files to my drive and then print them out. PDF/Printing was listed on the scale of misery.
Finally, privacy/security settings I thought should have been listed as a bigger usability problem. If you don't feel comfortable entering your information on a website, you aren't going to return to it.
Friday, October 5, 2007
Sound, whether its spoken word, unrequested music or a pop up sound effects are one of the most irritating things I find on websites today, and cause me to almost immediately leave a page if I can't turn it off.
Has anyone else noticied this recent trend? And is anyone else as turned off by this as me?
Basically, copying the selected segment using one of the selection tools didn't work 95% of the time. Most of the time I would get an inverted outline of what I wanted, and when I would go and invert my selection in the previous picture, it still didn't copy over the selection I wanted.
So I just started chopping up my originals and pasting them onto my collage canvas. That worked great.
I remember when doing the vegetable assignment the book briefly mentioned something about this, or something related to it. When I looked I couldn't find it though, which means I am hopeful that this would come up in the chapter on how to make a collage of elements.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Contrary to Nielson's argument that "As much as web designers love to discuss the importance of elements such as graphics and layout, page design is not that important for people's ability to use web sites." I feel that deign has everything to do with the user's ability to interact with a site. You could have some really interesting content (text), but the website would not be user friendly/impactful/use able if it consists of poor design.
What is interesting to note about Nielson's findings is that all of the problems he outlines tend to lend themselves to a single problematic idea - design has impact on the outcome of the user experience. Poor design equals poor usability. If something is not easily search able, then it can easily be blamed on the design , because object/categories/subjects are not properly grouped together. Similar assumptions may be mad in relation to Find ability, Page design etc...
What we can learn from design is that asthetics is key to an excellent experience. You cannot create an aw--inspiring experience if the user's sensory is not fully intrigued by the design.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Chapter four states that although poor page designs cause annoyance to users, it is not a direct cause of a user’s failure on a web site. This chapter was very interesting because I agreed with the point that poor page designs that cause annoyance eventually leads to a user’s dissatisfaction with the site, thus leading to his reluctance to visit the site in the future. Personally, I rarely return to a web site that I find annoying or hard to navigate. There are just too many web sites out there that provide the same services.
because I work at a university and needed to look up some course descriptions
for an incoming student. This turned out to be one of the most frustrating
experiences I've ever had on a website. Oddly enough, there is no search field
anywhere on the site! Not even a site map! They have a drop down list of quick
links (which I think was on Nielsen's list of nasties, too), but that wasn't very helpful
at all, either. It took me to a few different landing pages in the site, but other than
that, I couldn't find any relevant information whatsoever. The whole experience was nerve-wracking and frustrating. Most schools post an HTML or PDF version of their course catalog, but not this one. I pretty much know the reasoning behind this - this institution is
more commercial, and wants potential students to fill out a "request information" form so they can contact the student over the phone and do their whole sales pitch (sounds sort of like our discussion last week about having to register on sites before they'll let you do anything).
Definitely not good at all for business. What college-aged student (or anyone else, for that
matter) has patience to weed through the entire site? I can't understand how they manage
to do business, unless it's mostly through newspaper ads, open houses, word of mouth, etc. They really need to think about fixing this problem, though, because the best way to reach
college age students these days is online.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Was anyone else surprised that "Sound" was given such a low percentage on the "scale of misery," which rates how web design mistakes weigh on users?
When it comes to web design, are we only concerned with the aesthetics?
I feel that every time our class has a discussion about flaws in web design someone laments about how when they find the automatic sports broadcast when they log onto ESPN.com to be an annoyance.
Once site that came to mind that is rather obnoxious, but the layout is nice is Room960. There is really loud house music when you log on, but makes sense since it is a web site for a trendy lounge that specializes in bringing renound DJ's to Hartford. There is even an option to the left to change the song, which is really interesting given the context of this site. Just don't open accidently at work!
Monday, October 1, 2007
*It would not let me edit my post so I had to repost it.
The home page of the International Rescue Committee, www.theirc.org, offers a good example of effective use of restraint in color scheme. Gold and black happen to be the logo colors of the organization, but the addition of gray and yellow-orange provide a limited color range that is particularly effective as a backdrop to the full color photographs of the organization's work.
An example of simplicity of design is offered by the Yale University Press home page at http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/home.asp. The links are clear and simple. The highlighted books stand out and "unfold" when the cursor is moved over each image. There is no clutter to confuse the user. All the elements are placed above the fold. Leonardo would have been pleased.