digi-mod... Modernism online

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Information architecture is an important thing for me to think about while I redesign yournew.com. Due to the complexity of the page, I'm going to need to create a complex heirarchy. There are simply too many services offered by yournew.com to use a simple spoke and hub architecture. Im going to take a lesson from the modernist movement and reorginize the information in a sleek and focused manner. The site has a lot of "ornate information," and does a poor job of concisely listing the benefits of the services.

One of the biggest problems I face in my redesign is making sure the web reader doesn't feel lost in the sea of services. I'll have to redefine the regions of the site and make sure they are clear and visable to the reader. THe paths to take the reader to each region will also need to be clear. I'll try to make use of white space and impliment graphics if needed. This can make important information stand out, and will direct the readers eyes to where I want them.

Specifically, on the homepage, Im going to need an introduction that grabs attention, creates brand recognition, and informs the reader as to why yournew.com is the site for them. I also need to place services "starting above the fold" and try to give the reader a reason to scroll down. I"ll also have "quick links" that will mimic the list of services.

Once off the homepage, the next pages will need to convey the impression that the reader has gotten to where they want to be. Tailoring headings will allow me to do this. I'll also need to throw starting outlining benefits of the service in order to start hooking the costomer. Since yournew.com offers webpage design templates, I'll need to convey their importance. Relating to the customer that yournew.com offeres easy to use dyi designs will give the customer direction. Giving them more information and links to sample templates can act as a node as long as Im writing the content to convey the idea that any regular joe can have a fantastic and optimized website if they use yournew.com.

Fashion....re-re-re-re ReFashion.

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By picking yournew.com for my final project, I am undertaking a challenge. The homepage throws so much content at the web reader that its difficult to find a place to begin a redesign so I'll begin a site map and develop a "wire Frame" for the site in order to make it easier to reorganize. The headings used on the homepage are pretty terrible. None of them are really attention grabbing, nor do they offer guidance or a place to start for anyone unfamiliar with yournew.com's services. I will have to develop titles that will interest customers and make them either want to use the service, or learn more about the service. My goal is to re-title the headings and reorganize the information so it seems less intimidating and dense, and more readable. The faster a web reader can find the service they are looking for, the more likely they are to use it.

Fortunately yournew.com doesn't have many images to redesign. The image underneath the title banner draws a lot of attention to itself because it's so much brighter than the rest of the page. Designing an image that better captures the essence of yournew.com might be hard to do. Instead of worrying a lot about the title graphic, I'll try to think about where additional images could help the reader focus there attention. I'll maybe use images of happy customers to help illustrate how easy to use the new yournew.com will be. Although additional images may help, maintaining a balance between image and content may be difficult because of how much content is already on the homepage. I'll probably have to decide what content gets the boot before I mess around with images. Developing a wire frame of the webpage will probably help me decide if any images are necessary.

Each chunk of text has annoying green links on the yournew.com homepage. I will change their appearance. Reorganizing the links in each section probably won't be that difficult. I'm thinking I'll be able to have a meaningful title, a bulleted list about how the service can help you, and something like a "click here to get started with X service" link that will take the customer to a page with more information, and more benefits to using yournew.com.


redesign

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Trying to find a bad website turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. I didn't really want to do anything to outlandishly horrifying because it would be either to much to tackle or to obvious and unchallenging. I think I found a perfect candidate for redesign: yournew.com.

Overall, this site is green. In fact, its annoyingly green. I think I counted 4 different shades of green on the homepage, which is going to be the first page I redesign. First item on the list for redesign is all of the text. I will want to decide on what needs to be cut, what the key points are, and try to offer the audience what they need. The website offers an almost absurd amount of services so reorganizing the information describing them will also need to be done. The text, at times, flip-flops from italic to non-italic, and there are a crazy amount of hyperlinks! Also, there doesn't seem to be any kind of search bar for content, only one to see if a domain name is available. The opening paragraph on the home page is unclear about what services are actually offered through the web page.

The second page I'm thinking about doing is yournew.com/search_engine_optimization. This page is very long and needs to be shortened with "to the point" information. Although there are quick links to the information below on the page, they are tiny and blue on a green background. This makes them hard to see. The first time I went to the page I completely ignored them because of their awkward placement and color.

The third page I'm thinking about redesigning is yournew.com/web_hosting_reseller_program. Like the previous pages, this page follows the same template, uses intimidating blocks of texts, and overall doesn't help the audience easily find what they need.

To revise the websites, I'll go through and reorganize information, change font sizes and colors, utilize space to put grab and go information in easy to spot places, include links on the home page to a list of services, utilize a drop down search function and a keyword function, and edit the language used when necessary to make the key points easy to identify and easy to follow.

toobcasts

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I don't think that youtube or podcast really change our understanding of writing on the web. Like writing, they are both designed for an audience, and typically have a purpose. Whether that purpose is to inform, or entertain is up to the designer of the program. If anything, youtube and podcasts might act as a more direct way of getting information. If I have to do a research project on a robotic limb, it might be more useful for me to actually see how the robotic limb works, rather than just read an explanation of how it works. In that sense, youtube, podcasts, and web writing all seem to compliment each other to better accomplish an agenda.

Video is more restraining than writing. If I'm watching a video, I don't have to imagine what anything looks like because I get to see it. Writing on the other hand requires people to imagine or think. Because of this, writing requires descriptive language, where video can be more straight forward. If I'm making a video, I can just show something.

I think overall, compared to writing technologies like blogging, youtube and podcasts have made it easier for people to develop a persona that isn't their own. When youtube first came out and vlogging became the craze, a vast majority of youtube users believed everyone using the medium was being themselves. Web-shows like lonelygirl15 took off as huge phenomenon because majority of the people watching actually believed the characters were real. It was a huge deal when the creators of the web-show were exposed and admitted to having written scripts and used an actress. I think that because people get to see something happening they somehow think it's more credible.


Case study

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On page 46 of the Redish text, a case study exploring the effectiveness of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services home page. The original webpage was cluttered with oddly designed buttons and confusing logos, discrete and confusing search functions and distracting news headlines like, "Spotlight on west nile virus information." These features don't make the page very user friendly.

Redish was right to say the site failed at establishing a brand, failed at setting a tone and personality, and failed at directing the users effectively towards information. In fact, the original site was hideous looking. The elements that Redish discusses in the text are essentially describing a blueprint for an efficient and effective website. The redesign follows principles Redish outlines such as an easy to find search box, a short mission statement, and easy to follow links. Also, the redesigned page seems to be tailored more towards an "F pattern"

Although the redesign was more effective, I can still see some oddities around the page. Why is the word "Search" both spaced a ways away from and to the right of the search bar? It also might be helpful if I know what all those bullets were for. Are they links, or just giving brief information about the topic? The tone and personality of the site are still a bit awkward feeling to me. What I mean is, I feel like all of that bulleted information could probably still be organized in a less intimidating way.

A home page that suffers from some similar issues is http://www.cti.org/. This site has annoyingly placed hyperlinks, confusing logos, odd fonts, and long objectives. I will be looking at this site as a candidate for my redesign project.

Reading about informavores made me hungry

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Reading the Nielsen articles made me think two things: Out-dated, and duh. It was no surprise that users found concise, bulleted lists easier to read and more engaging than a block of text. Lists are less intimidating, and easier on the eyes. Plus they are easier to scan, which is the point Nielsen was making.
Often times, the only reasons I scan something are because it isn't holding my interest, and because I want to get away with the maximum benefit for the least amount of effort, which is Nielsen's second point. If I can get away with scanning an article, I probably will; however, if the article contains content I need to know, such as definitions, formulas or figures, I will read more attentively.
As far as thermal eye scans go, it makes sense that majority of web readers would make an "F" shaped pattern because, like Nielsen says, good web pages are often written with a conclusion on top. My eyes will grab the conclusion, thesis, topic sentences, and probably scan the rest if it is possible.

So, am I a linear web reader? I am if the content is engaging and relevant to my interests, otherwise I dont see the point in being a linear reader. As far as books go, I find I have the ability to stay focused and engaged. In doing so, I find I retain a lot more info from a book than I do the web.

Even when I read interesting wikipedia articles, I find myself reading the entire article and then clicking the links that will further my understanding. When I find myself reading in a non-linear way, I find myself needing to back-track to much in order to connect ideas and concepts. If I grasp the whole before I go after the particular, I find that I understand both better.

As I scrolled through the assigned readings this week, I came to the realization that a lot of people (at least 2) are concerned about what the developing instant and digital lifestyle is doing to us both physically and non-physically. Before I dive into critically assessing the readings, I found it a bit ironic that hyperlinks were scattered throughout both the Carr and the Turkle articles since both articles were about the possible harm of the hypertext-layered reading experience. It just goes to show no digital word is safe from the approaching doom hypertext is bringing to linear reading. I can only hope no one reading the Carr article was daring enough to follow the embedded advertisements... unless of course, the reader was so inspired they absolutely NEEDED to purchase Phaedrus from amazon.com to better understand the ancient quarrels against the written word. To think that this kind of advertising actually works is depressing because it means that sooner or later articles will not only be under written by companies advertising products, but also contain product placement in the form of keywords scattered throughout the articles. I understand that this is already happening because I can see keyword advertisements in every article I've read in the past 2 years. It's getting worse, however. As companies begin to lose more and more money because TV advertising and print advertising just doesn't cut it anymore, we will enter into the age of "digital annoyance" where every word is an advertisement and every product is a hyperlink away.

Anyways, back to more relevant content...

I believe that technology is a part of a process. Culture drives technology and technology drives culture. The cell phone is an example of this process because it is a relatively new technology that was designed for verbal communication, but evolved into an all encompassing mobile entertainment center and work station. Why did this happen? It wasn't simply because mobile technology became powerful enough to handle applications and internet browsing; it was because consumers realized they carry their phones more than they carried their wallets. If consumers can travel with something that can entertain, communicate and network, they will never be bored and "alone" again. If people didn't want it, it wouldn't stick around for very long.

The articles need to take the world's "digitization" one step further. We are in the midst of a multi-stage cultural phenomenon. What we're experiencing currently is a digital-renaissance (for lack of better term). Digital technology is affecting art, music, writing, reading, commerce, war... et cetera. It's also changing the way we teach and the way we learn. The machine is taking control and has integrated its way into every aspect of our lives. Resulting from the integration of digital technologies is alienation and isolation. The problems that Turkle was discussing in the article "Can You Hear Me Now" are very real. Approaching strangers for casual conversation in campus commons, and at bus stops is becoming uncommon and often times strange. This does not mean that people don't enjoy random conversation with strangers; however, it does mean we need to rethink the way we approach and strike up conversation. Perhaps we must take interest in the person's technology before the person.

I mentioned earlier that we're going through a multi-stage processes. The fact that we're getting comfortable with the alienation digital technologies brings us is both scary and good because the digital age is really just a precursor for the virtual age-- an age where fully developed virtual reality enables us to travel the universe without ever leaving our room. It goes beyond being fully submerged in digital technologies. It is the future beyond the digital age.

Spaces

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I feel like one of the points Bolter was making while discussing how hypertext is refasioning printed copy is that hypertext allows digital print to be read in a nonlinear, interactive way. For example, if I go online to www.wikipedia.org and search for "evolution" I will be brought to a page that contains a description of what evoltion is. Inside that description, there are several blue, underlined words that can be clicked with the mouse curser. Once clicked, you will be taken to another wikipedia page that will describe whatever it was that you just clicked. This is a process of trolling for information. Its nonlinear in that you can simply click a word, be transported to something else, and then go back to your starting place. Bolter describes this ability as "layered writing and reading. (P27)"

I would also consider hypertext and the digital interface nonlinear because of how easily video and audio is integrated into the reading experience. Audio and video are often intertwined with hypertext to help make the author's thoughts more apparent and understood.

Another way hypertext refashions print is by being extremely editable and transferable.
Virtually anyone can copy hypertext and edit it at any computer and then repost. Again, wikipedia is a great example of this because it is a user-generated encyclopedia. It's success relies on competent users editing and adding to the content of any given entry in the wikipedia data-base.

The Digital World

Although I technically wasn't born into the digital age, I consider myself to be a digital native. I was introduced to technologies like the computer, the internet, the mp3 player, and the cell phone at a young age and thus was able to not only be a part of pop culture trends as they occurred, but also as they developed. According to the article "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants," the crux of the digital age is that "digital natives" are "immigrants" to the pre-digital world that hosts our education institutions. According to the author of the article, the digital natives process information differently because of the constant digital stimulus that surrounds them. As a result, the author concludes that teachers must develop a methodology that employs digital technology that digital natives can understand and use to their advantage in the learning process.

I found myself disagreeing with most of what that article said. I do agree that new digital technology should be used in conjunction with old technology as a way to better teach students, but I disagree with the idea that it's harder for students to learn because they've grown up processing information differently. I feel like this article blames technology for students being irresponsible and unwilling to focus. Because digital technology offers us so many more ways to socialize, students are simply choosing to benefit themselves socially. Is developing a video to teach students something really going to keep them from scanning facebook every 10 minutes? If anything, more emphasis should be placed in teaching children how to focus on single tasks since we're growing up in a multitasking digital world. The changes the author hopes for are not something that can happen overnight; however, as more digital immigrants are replaced with digital natives, changes in the way we teach will undoubtedly happen.

Almost exclusively, I use my computer to write. The only exception I can think of currently is in class note taking (I still use the pen and paper for that one). I use the computer almost exclusively because unlike the teens surveyed in the "PewInternet" study, I feel like writing on the computer makes me a better writer. While using the computer, I have an encyclopedia, thesaurus, dictionary, and spelling and grammar check all at my finger tips. It makes editing my writing significantly easier, and it makes researching ideas significantly easier.

I also use my cell phone to write. Not only do I send 100+ text messages a day, I sometimes use the text message function on my phone to save ideas I have. Once I write an idea in my phone, I can easily email it to myself using my cell phone and work on it using my computer. One phenomenon that is taking off in Japan is writing novels using text messaging (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/12/22/081222fa_fact_goodyear). It's odd how different cultures use modes of writing differently. While the "PewInternet" study concluded that most teens surveyed don't consider text messaging writing, teens in Japan have taken a whole different approach to the capabilities of texting. It will be interesting to see if the cell phone novel takes off in America.

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Recent Comments

  • Lee-Ann Breuch: It's interesting that you are revising a site that is read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Hi Eric, It sounds like you have an excellent plan read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Hi Eric, Nice choice for the web redesign. I agree read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Your comments remind me of something Bolter said about writing: read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Good comments about the HHS site. Yes, the redesign is read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Interesting comment here about Nielsen being outdated. It might appear read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: The idea of a "digital renaissance" is quite interesting. I read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: The idea of a "digital renaissance" is quite interesting. I read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Hi Eric, Great job thinking through the ways that hypertext read more

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