March 2010 Archives

Embarking on creating a few more useful, reader-centered and updated web-pages, the Security and Exchange Commission's (SEC) website is one that can use a design overhaul. When reviewing the site in question it seems to me that it is in a more passive than active voice. Ginny Redish in the book titled Letting Go of the Words, discusses how information delivered on a website should read as a conversation. Specifically outlined in Chapters 10-12 (p. 235-328), she states improvement areas regarding the use of headings, illustrations, and link names.

I will be applying these concepts to my revised version of the SEC's website. First, I will be completing a style sheet that matches the concepts of good headings listed on page 235 of the text. These include the following;
1. Getting the audience interested.
2. Helping them get a quick overview of what is on the page.
3. Setting the context for each section.
4. Helping them make sense of what follows.
5. Facilitating scanning so they can find the section they need.
6. Separating sections, putting a little space on the page.
7. Making the information seem less dense and more readable.

Secondly, as you might have already noticed the website doesn't make use of many pictures or images. In my opinion, this makes the website very dry, and reflects that it might not be updated to a newer fashion or standard. Redish discusses two principles I am going to deploy when creating the new pages. The first one being that the looks and pictures of the website should evoke a certain mood, this is discussed on page 288 of the text. I would like to relay that the SEC is not only there to govern securities but to help as an educational agency to not only financiers, but general financial consumers as well. Currently, the page to be quite frank is relaying information in a scare tactic sort of way by outlining enforcement over education. The second move forward comes from Redish's nine general guidelines for using illustrations effectively (p. 290). The few that stand out in regards to the SEC's website are the following;
1. Don't make people wonder what or why.
2. Use illustrations to support, not hide, content.
3. In pictures of people, show diversity.

The last area for improvement centers on organizing meaningful links. Overall, the SEC's website does a pretty decent job with this but I would like to make a few amendments to the design. As I discussed in my screencast, I want to manage Redish's philosophy of "grab-and-go," while still maintaining easy maneuvering throughout the site. I would like to initiate a top-bar that would have title links and drop-down menus for information that the site offers. I will keep within the 12 guidelines listed on page 308 of the text. Most importantly, keeping an active tone when naming the links and titles, and thinking ahead by matching links and pages. Also, making use of getting back to the home page and previous menus and web-pages within the site.

Website of Choice for the Final Project

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For the final project the website that I am going to review is the Security and Exchange Commission's (SEC) site: http://www.sec.gov/. Looking at potentially going into the finance arena after college, I researched that having a vast understanding of the SEC and regulations will ensure my success. The SEC's mission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation, which is found when clicking into the "What We Do" hyperlink on their homepage. I found that initially reviewing the page was difficult due to the layout of the homepage. Also in my opinion, certain elements of the home page should be more emphasized than others. Such as the link to Investor.gov, which is an excellent site for regular consumers of financial products and services.

The three separate pages of the site that I am going to revise besides the home page are the following:
I.) What We Do
II.) For Seniors
III.) Trading and Markets (A division the the commission)

I am going to revise the site and pages to make it more reader friendly. For example with the Senior's site I would like to make the font a touch bigger and easier to read. Maybe incorporating buttons for links instead of just the underlined hyperlink. As far as the homepage is concerned I would like to move the mission of the SEC to under the title. Also moving the different sections to drop down boxes on a line under the title.

Using concepts from the book, "Letting Go of the Words," by Janice Redish (p. 3-8) such as keeping the website as a conversation, answering people's questions, and incorporating the feature of "grab and go." The author discusses specifically on page 7, "User-centered design is a process for creating products that will work well for the users. When you practice user-centered design, you focus on people: their goals and needs, their ways of working, and their environments."

I am looking forward to this upcoming project and learning a more depth knowledge of website structure and design.

Writing for the web including YouTube and Podcasting

In today's market video and podcasting have become a new norm for relaying information quickly and efficiently. With the advent of personal devices such as laptops/netbooks, smart-phones, and the use of ipods digital information is growing at alarming speeds. Writing is now being transformed to mesh with this new media. No longer is information being held to print via means of books, newspapers, and magazines. Writing today is directed more in with use with these mediums in the form of scripting.

Mindspring.com has outlined an effective 10 point scripting process (http://www.mindspring.com/~mmm/10point.html).

Expanding Composition Audiences with Podcasting (Bowling Green State University)
http://www.bgsu.edu/cconline/podcasting/

People now are using listening and hearing as a center point to gain information. Reading is dissolving through new and faster technology. Keywording, script structure, and the use of an audience analysis is centered on creating a viable communication deliverable (Youtube video, podcast, etc.)

Effective User-Friendly Website Design

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There is nothing more frustrating and time consuming than having to sort information on a poorly designed website. From trying to find a product and service to researching news and academic articles, today's internet consumer has their expectations set at high levels. The consequences of a poor website can be as basic as people not reading or reviewing your page. This can also lead to a decrease in business relations, sales, and service. Janice Redish in her book Letting Go of the Words, in chapter 4 provides insight to effectively produce reader-centered websites. Examples of her key messages are as follows;
a.) Most site visitors are on a hunt- a mission - and the pathway is just to get them there,
b.) People don't want to read a lot while hunting
c.) A pathway page is like a table of contents
d.) Marketing is likely to be ignored on a pathway page
e.) Many people choose the first option that looks plausible
f.) Many site visitors are landing in your site
g.) Keep the website smooth with easy transitions, and less having the visitor utilize a back button/movement.

My example of a bad website is the Minnesota Department of Driver and Vehicle Services site (http://www.dps.state.mn.us/dvs/index.html). This website is not updated and not efficient. Right away up entering the site it throws information to you even if you don't need it. I am guessing that most people that visit the site want to get basic information right away such as licensing and fee's. How about having a search box at the top to help the person navigate to their nearest DMV location? Could the page have a site directed at teens and information they need to know for when they need to apply for a first-time license?

Redish discusses understanding your audience with website design. To apply this to the DMV website could be to have groupings of different users. Such as first-time license applications and teens, renewing licensees, transfer licensees, commercial drivers, etc.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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