Week two:

For me, this week’s readings jumpstarted my thinking about the projects we will be generating over the course of the semester. While we’ve spent some time talking about the organization and structure of webpages in other classes, I’m looking forward to taking it a step further and testing out these ideas.

There are a lot of examples of poor web design available. (My bank has a particularly terrible webpage.)  However, identifying poor design depends on how users evaluate them. I complained about this last semester, but in celebration of a 150 year history my alma mater put together a very pretty and very ineffective timeline that showcases images and content. While it’s “pretty” and “showcases information” – it is also useless. Users can click on the highlighted events to view images or read content, but the experience ends there. There are few links to sources or lengthy descriptions and there’s no opportunity for additional interaction with historical content or other users. A redesign of the site would take into account the arguments in this week’s reading: form AND content matter. As Norman argued, an attractive and pleasant user interface improves the experience of users- but so does intelligent and careful design (Elish and Trettien).

What does it mean that people evaluate aesthetics rather than content or effectiveness in using web pages (Web Credibility)? It means we have to think carefully about how we put pages together- so that they are both pretty and useful.

This week I commented on Sara’s Blog and in my own comments below.

8 thoughts on “Week two:”

  1. First of all, that bank website is absolutely awful. I’d hate to think how much they paid for that to happen. I suppose that speaks to Dr. Petrik’s ideas last week. It’s important for us to know a little about web design in order to help out our future employers (and potentially keep them from wasting a great deal of money! ). Also, I think that given the criteria from the Stanford Study, the bank website looks alright. I wonder if therein lies the difference between corporate design and academic design. Corporations simply need to look credible. Academics, who are pushing a bit more of a narrative, need their design to help the narrative along.

    Which, of course, brings me to the Gallaudet page. As you said, it’s pretty. It’s also a pretty big pain to use. Because of that, I’m not even sure it follows the recommendation laid out by the Stanford Project. It certainly isn’t easy to use or useful. Nor is it particularly easily to verify the information (though of the fact that it comes from an academic institution helps its image). As you said, that does lead me to think that there are certain standards academic websites (and the digital humanists that make them) are held to, and it’s more than just being pretty.

    1. I totally agree, on all counts! And I also, given the Norman reading, understand why attractive interfaces are so important- we feel better about using things that are aesthetically pleasing. Another example would be the difference between course management systems I’ve had experience with: Blackboard and Canvas. While the functionality of these sites is the same, Canvas works better. Not because it offers any additional features, but that it’s layout is more intuitive- it looks and functions like things we are used to, like Facebook.

      I don’t know if all this thinking is making me more or less excited about applying these ideas to our own projects- hopefully we’ll be able to achieve a balance of both function and form.

      1. I think Kasey makes a great point about the difference between corporate and academic web design. The design of the site not only has to appeal to the user in the first ten seconds they are visiting but it also has to match the content and add to the users experience. Any academic website is going to have significantly more text than others. The text will often be in big blocked chunks and the design, I think, helps to break up that text, provide readability, and ultimately keep the user around in hopes they explore the whole site.

  2. I’m fascinated with the idea that people chose to overlook problems with the Mini Cooper because it was so fun to drive. I wonder of Consumer Reports has a metric for that…

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