Our class was assigned chapters 2 and 3 from Brian Carroll’s Writing for Digital Media, published in 2010, and the information gained was quite practical. Some of the information was the type that any frequent web user inherently knows without being told, such as that online articles and content will be scanned, not read word for word; a consistent design on each page of a website makes the site as a whole more visually appealing and in turn more credible; and websites with a large number of pop ups and broken links tend to seem less credible.
Carroll explained how people tend to analyze how usefulness of a blog and pointed out specific characteristics of a user-friendly domain. Writing elements like the ability to identify with your audience and the knowledge that a level of transparency concerning how you come about a decision can add a ton of credibility and voice to a blog.
There are so many tiny details about web design that can only be analyzed by observing how we, the users of the internet, think and navigate while online. For example, at least 20% of every single webpage should be dedicated to navigation because there are so many opportunities to enter a website, not by the homepage, but on some page 12 clicks deep that contains information relevant to whatever you might be searching. Now, if you enter 12 clicks deep with no navigational elements, the website as a whole is a failure in my eyes because there is no way that the user can further explore.
In my opinion, Carroll’s information further reiterated the notion that even the smartest computer programmers must have an understanding of not just the technical aspect of the online world, but also of the personal aspect of those of us who venture into it. To truly create a successful domain, one must design it around the way humans read and think. In my previous blog (featuring the readings Is Google Making Us Stupid? by Nicholas Carr & Electracy by Gregory Ulmer) I explained how our societies are in many ways built around technology and the capabilities it may have. Now it seems that the relationship is more symbiotic; while society in many ways is centered around the newest technological advances, technology will always be centered upon what we as a society need. What a beautiful partnership.
Make the blog visually appealing, but at the end of the day remember that making it too complex will make it difficult to navigate. Don’t over do it, you’re only hurting your style in the end.
Another take away, don’t be afraid to break the rules! If you like it, do it! 😉
Brian Carroll explains that one reason we tend to scan our computer screens is because CRT screens (cathode ray tubes, aka the things inside computers) make reading text more uncomfortable than the experience of reading ink on paper. Why do you think designers don’t try to change the format of text-heavy webpages to better accommodate the human eye? I mean, the Kindle did it.