Week 16 Reading

This video definitely helped me understand how design is perceived cognitively, and gave me plenty to think about when applying design in the future.

The visual examples used throughout the presentation were exceptionally well-done and easy to follow.

The bits about peripheral vision, color blindness, and silhouettes vs. photo-realistic icons were perhaps the most memorable.

I enjoyed seeing the use of color, text, design, and usability all touched upon together, reinforcing many of the concepts we’ve discussed in this course.

Week 15 Reading

As someone who has seen and discussed the Minard Map and the Bauhaus institute in a previous class (Presentation Design), I very much enjoyed this reading; not only because I could accurately visualize the examples being discussed, but also because it reinforced some of the major concepts I try to apply to my work (many of which we’ve already stressed in this course.

It was especially nice to see these concepts applied to the often dull industry of statistics. “Good design…is not about making dull numbers somehow become magically exhilarating, it is about picking the right numbers in the first place.” It’s about data that matters to you.

Week 14 Reading

I’ve heard plenty about the recent health care push, but this is first I’ve heard about the outrageous failure of the HealthCare.gov launch.

The article does an excellent job of explaining the site’s glaring downfalls.

I’m still a bit of a beginner when in comes to understanding the intricacies of plugins and JavaScript, but it’s quite obvious that HealthCare.gov went way overboard with the shear amount of files, plugins and downloads.

The user experience — the most important element in my opinion — was a complete failure: the broken sign-up process, the miscommunication with insurance companies, the customer service mix-up, etc.

Take all that, throw on the security and privacy issues, and you have a clear-cut launch disaster. Cheap, affordable health care is an ideal goal, but this appears to be another case of someone cutting corners in the development process to simply meet a deadline.

Madison College Mobile App

As a current student at Madison College, the priorities that immediately came to mind for a mobile app are Student E-Mail, Blackboard, and myMadisonCollege. From there, I considered and tried to implement features that both students and non-students would often need or utilize.

A major part of the creation process, was simply looking at what was already there (the website, the mobile site, the app), experimenting with it and reflecting on past experiences with it. My end product was simply a combination of the current mobile app and the strengths of the mobile site (email and easy-to-read vertical tabs), plus the addition of myMadisonCollege.

Week 13 Reading / Videos

The Tesco virtual supermarket is a system I’ve been aware of for several years now (article is from 2011). The Microsoft video actually showcased exactly where I see our technology growing over the next couple decades, at least in terms of functionality (perhaps not cosmetically unfortunately).

Technology has grown exponentially over the last century, and I believe it will continue to do so for centuries to come. Futurama is simply another example of taking current top-teir technology of the time period (space, deep sea, highways, etc.) and stretching that technology to its potential extremes.

Perhaps the biggest contrast between Futurama and the Microsoft video in my opinion is the simple concepts of risk, reward, and cost. The cost and risk involved with deep sea and space colonization is obviously through the roof, while the reward itself is not currently a necessity compared to Microsoft’s vision of a world full of seamless and instant connectivity to complete day-to-day tasks and transactions.

Week 12 Reading

Chapter 8:

We tend to think that users are like us, but they’re not. All web users are unique; there is no “average user.” It’s not about whether someone might like this or this, it’s about creating a functional and positive experience; use common sense and plenty of testing.

Chapter 9:

There is a difference between usability tests and focus groups. Usability tests consist of one user at a time being shown something and asked to either figure out what it is or how to complete a typical task with it. Focus groups consist of a small group of people sitting around a table reacting to designs and ideas shown to them.

Test your site. Test your site. Test your site. Even if it’s just one person. Fresh, unbiased, unprepared eyes need to experience your work, preferably well-before the site is close to completion or launch. Testing shouldn’t be used to prove or disprove something; it should be used to inform your judgement, and it should continue to be tested well after your site launches.

Typical problems receieved through testing include: unclear concepts, unfamiliar categoration or naming, and simply too much going on. When analyzing feedback, resist the urge to add new features and additional instructions; often the right solution is to remove distractions.

Chapter 10:

Common courtesy on a website, much like in real life, can go a long way when it comes to interacting with people. Consider the main things people want to know when they visit your site and make it easy and obvious for people to find it. Simply show some effort and provide users with tools that will improve their experience (printer-friendly pages, FAQs, etc.).

Chapter 11:

Accessibility is obviously an essential part of web design — essential enough that it can often be intimidating to designers and developers. Will it compromise the ideal design of the site? How much time do I need to invest to provide acceptable accessibility?

Simply put, right now it’s harder than it ought to be to make every site accessible. Progress on this front requires continued support on mobile devices, government legislation, better technology and site building software, and motivational incentives.

Chapter 12:

It’s okay to bend (or even break) the rules of this book if you have a good reason. Bad designs can still be functional and usable under the right circumstances, and good design can end up unusable if not implemented correctly.

When it comes to the work place and providing good design, you can do as much as you want to make a site “look good,” but only if it’s not at the expense of making the site function properly.

Week 11 Reading

The beginning of this article focused on an ideal that I believe applies to many aspects of life: strongly consider what others want or need. Whether it’s online customers, viewers or simply having a conversation with the person next to you, putting yourself in the shoes of others is definitely one of the best ways to connect to people — regardless of whether you’re doing it sincerely or for your sole personal benefit.

“The 4 Second Rule,” on the other hand, is a new term to me but immediately makes sense in the world of Web Design.

Moving on, Contrast is something I’ve mentioned numerous times already in my blog and the course discussion board in regards to various web sites; it’s also something I recently studied and embraced in my Presentation Design course this semester as well.

Much like “The 4 Second Rule,” the section about not getting in the way of your sale, was another concept that never really dawned on me but also made immediate sense. I actually think that’s something I truly need to take to heart and keep in mind, because I occasionally get the feeling that I’m over-selling something, almost to the point of annoyance.

The rest of the article mostly highlights a lot of the do’s-and-don’t’s we’ve read about in our textbook thus far: navigation, text, content, etc., but it was enlightening to read a bit further into JavaScript, Web Standards, and Flash — all things I don’t have any experience with.

Week 9 Reading

This article reinforced something I’ve been practicing for a few years now with my communication skills: no one is an expert on everything, so be aware of what you’re an expert on and humbly and attentively listen to the knowledge of others. By pooling knowledge we can hopefully create or at least negotiate to a win-win solution.

The article did definitely enlighten me about the art of business negotiations and the right process to take with implementation, especially the importance of goals and deadlines.

Week 8 Reading

Chapter 4:

I thought the reading itself summarized the chapter very well: “We face choices all the time on the Web and making the choices mindless is one of the main things that make a site easy to use.” The examples/analogies used in the chapter (“Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral?”, language choices, etc.) are rather straight-forward and make the topic easy to grasp.

Chapter 5:

Omit needless words and avoid “happy talk” and instructions. It will reduce noise, emphasize useful content, and make pages shorter and easier to glance at. See what I did here?

Chapter 6:

“People won’t use your Web site if they can’t find their way around it.” Whether it’s your first time there or a place you’re familiar with, looking for an item at a store is much like entering a web site. You can browse yourself or you can ask for help. Navigation tells us how to use a site and what we can find there. Sections, subsections, search bars and utilities  are all necessary parts of website navigation, and Breadcrumbs show where you are in the context of a site’s hierarchy.

Chapter 7:

A home page should tell what the site is, what it has to offer, and how it’s organized. Search boxes, promotions, shortcuts and timely content are all needs as well; there’s also registration/sign-in links. Make clear what the site is; taglines and “Welcome blurbs” are valuable tools for this and the rest of the site should help reinforce it. “Good taglines should be personable, lively, and sometimes clever.” From there, make sure you answer the question, “Where do I start?”

Bonus — Chapter 8:

We tend to think that users are like us, but they’re not. All web users are unique; there is no “average user.” It’s not about whether someone might like this or this, it’s about creating a functional and positive experience; use common sense and plenty of testing.

Week 7 Reading

I’ve never used Flickr before, but I’ve been aware of the site and its purpose (but not until several years ago). It’s fall from relevance is clearly no surprise; nearly all social media sites and apps nowadays have the ability to store and share photographs, and often that’s only a fraction of the sites features (and the upload/share processes are relatively quick and easy). As the article states: “It missed the boat on local, on real time, on mobile, and even ultimately on social—the field it pioneered.” This article was quite enlightening to me overall — I wasn’t aware of Flickr’s heyday, Yahoo’s purchase of it, or even Yahoo’s major faults that caused it to fall behind Google — and that’s just some of the headline news; learning from the mistakes of others (ex: Yahoo’s, Flickr’s) as well as your own, is a practice I definitely try to apply to all aspects of my life.