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Entries tagged "Design"

 

Communication Is Vital, Context Is Key

By Nathan Moore
August 19, 2010
 

Communication is vital. However, when considering effective communication, context is frequently overlooked. If communication is a process, then context is a key building block of that process.

The video below is one of the most creative and artistic displays of contextual communication I have ever seen. Every scene in the video communicates a single word.

 

If we were to take each of these quick scenes and separate them, they would communicate something entirely different… or nothing at all. Even rearranging the scenes would break the communicative process.

The brilliance of this video is that every scene fits within the context of the scene preceding it. The video begins to communicate words despite the lack of visible text. Even the dialogue is sparse. There are only a few spoken words sprinkled throughout the film to assist in the flow.

Every day, we project and decipher context constantly. Tone, mood, and body language give context to the words we are hearing and saying during conversations. Camera cuts, scores, and editing effects give context to the films we watch. Tempo, pitch, and even instruments give context to the music we hear.

In the same way, context is what makes a design communicate effectively. Differences in color schemes, placement, and even font selections can communicate different concepts. It is imperative that a design communicates the intended message correctly. Context guides this process.

 

 
 

What Is Strategy Really Worth?

By Nathan Moore
July 30, 2010
 

One of the things we practice at Anthology on a daily basis is strategy. Every decision that we make is intentionally executed to help our clients meet their goals. Websites are no longer just websites; they are marketing tools. Designs are no longer just designs; they are a conduit for effective communication.

It never ceases to amaze me how some companies and organizations think that having a website that was created using a “Website Wizard” will suffice for an online presence. Even when these groups hire a web company, many times, they go for the cheapest option and end up with a horrible template-based design with a logo thrown in the header. These solutions, though cheap, lack the thought and strategy that are crucial to a successful website.

When planning, designing, building, and implementing websites we usually ask two questions with every decision we make:

1. Why are we doing this?
2. What is best for the user and the client’s goals?

The answer to the first question, “Why are we doing this?” forces us to make intentional decisions to benefit the project as a whole. Many times, this also cuts out much of the “fat” that tends to weigh down many websites. If there is no point in having it, we remove it.

The second question, “What is best for the user and the client’s goals?” forces us to act in the best interest of the user and the client. This question arises frequently when we discuss how an interface should flow or what elements we can utilize to strategically draw the users’ attention. The result is an extremely usable website that meets the client’s goals.

However, strategy usually comes at a price. Cheaper solutions that are not driven by strategy are not the best fit for a successful web presence. Everything, from the navigation scheme to the design, needs to be done in an intentional manner to optimize impact and to make your website work for you. Otherwise, it is just wasted web space.

 
 

Life Optimization and Efficiency

By Nathan Moore
September 11, 2008
 

I have always been a freak about efficiency - I guess it is a combination of having an appreciation for aspects of engineering and having the tendency to be slightly obsessive-compulsive from time to time. Optimization yields efficiency.

In my day-to-day life, I try to optimize whenever possible - from lines of code in a long web app to simple things like how many loads of laundry I do in a given month. I always try to find the fastest way to get from point A to point B without affecting the quality of the end product.

Optimization is really key to progressing and evolving as an individual. As you optimize aspects in your life, you can begin to take on new things, bigger responsibilities, and explore different options.

Programmers always boast about optimization of code, but I think the principle can apply to all areas of our life - even design. Some of the best designs I have seen have been optimized for simplicity and communication. It is all about getting the core functionality of something and removing the clutter.

 
 

"Above the Fold" and Designing for the Web

By Nathan Moore
July 26, 2008
 

I think too much attention is given to the concept of “above the fold,” especially in regards to web design. This concept was borrowed from older print design, and more specifically, newspaper design - Old media.

These days, many old-minded people still assign an unreasonable amount of value to “above the fold” on the web - or as it is now commonly referred to as… “above the scroll.” This is the portion of the page that a user will see without having to scroll down for more content.

1. The “Above the Scroll” area is important.

Don’t get me wrong. The top portion of the page is important. There is no doubt about that. However, the major problem is that the first reaction to the sense of “valuable real estate” is to try to cram as much information in the “above the scroll” area as possible. This is just wrong. Prioritize the information and have a keen editor’s eye.

2. User screen resolutions are different.

The days of 99% of users having a 800x600 screen resolution are over. Screen resolutions are so diverse now that it is difficult to tell exactly where the scroll line occurs. Because of this, the thought of defining the line becomes extremely vague.

3. Users know how to scroll.

For goodness sake, most mice now have scroll wheels. I think that many designers disregard the fact that users can scroll down for more content. In fact, most users scroll the entire page even if they do not read it… It is called skimming and users probably do it on your website more than you think. Learn to work with conventions, not against them.

When having a site designed for you, make sure the space at the top of your pages is used wisely, but do not overdo it. Define a list of the most important things on your site or page and use that as a guide to arrange the content effectively.

 
 

Spice Up Your Web. Try a Pattern.


July 07, 2008
 

[by Katie Laxton]

Some of my favorite blogs have one thing common. Sure the content is great but with all the blogs available to read, great content isn’t too hard to come by. No, my favorite blogs are like my favorite men…they are all quite easy on the eye! They not only inspire me with their wealth of information but with their wonderful graphic content as well. I mean, is having both too much to ask for? A teacher of mine once spent an entire class period talking about the fact that humans do not think with words, they think with images. I am seeing examples of this in new ways everyday. Today in particular, I notice it through background patterns.

Since web design is no exception when it comes to following optimal column width and with computer screens forever getting bigger, browser windows often leave plenty of blank background space. While it is important not to distract the viewer from the information your site is trying to get across, it never hurts to spice things up a little. Sure, backgrounds are neutral for a reason but that doesn’t mean you have to use a solid color or, for the more adventurous, a gradient. Patterns aren’t just for fabric and bad 70’s wallpaper any more! There are some great sites out there that provide some wonderful (and some not so wonderful) background patterns free of charge. Just to name a few of my favorite…

http://www.k10k.net/pixelpatterns
http://www.squidfingers.com/patterns/
http://citrusmoon.typepad.com/citrusmoon/
http://www.noqta.it/dromoscopio/
http://playground.everydayicons.jp/

Just be sure to choose wisely. Some of the patterns are so creative and vivid they may be the only thing a visitor sees on you site. Enjoy!

tags:  backgrounds  Design  patterns  visual  Web Design  website 
categories:  Design