The key features of a website are its visual engagement and the way the user navigates it. The primary problems that can occur with these features is that the information being displayed can become too plentiful and overload the user or be lacking in some manner so that the user doesn’t stay interested.
Elves K. (2015, April). Talent. Limitless with encouragement. Retrieved from http://obandoa.wix.com/univ111
Carr N. (2008). Is Google Making Us Stupid?. In Focused Inquiry: Evolving Ideas (pp. 101-107). Plymouth, MI: Hayden-McNeil Publishing
Rosen, D.E. & Purinton E. (2004) Website design: Viewing the web as a cognitive landscape. Journal of Business Research, 57, 787-794. doi: 10.1016/S0148-2963(02)00353-3
User Interface Engineering (Producer). (2015, January). Jason Grigsby – Real World Responsive Web Design. [Audio Podcast]. SpoolCast. Retrieved from https://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2015/02/02/jason-grigsby-real-world-responsive-web-design/
Is Google Making Us Stupid?
In Nicholas Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” he argues that the Internet is causing us to become a more distracted and less intellectually engaged people. Carr states that not only does his own concentration drift more easily than it once did but also that media has changed itself to suit the fact that many people move on to the next topic after reading for a little while.
The World Wide Web is a system that allows for immediacy in our pursuit for information and content. Carr tells us how the brain is malleable, even in adulthood, and how technological advancement has helped shaped the way our mind works. The clock organized our days in to mechanical segments and the Internet bombards us with information that spreads our attention. While the Internet is absorbing and replacing other forms of media it may also be the “better” of accessing them. Carr states that his concerns maybe like so many others when new technologies came about in the past only to have their benefits outweigh the concerns, even valid ones, of their detractors. He goes one to tell us how this time we are filling up our “quiet spaces” and that with that we may not long be able to us our intelligence in a deep and meaningful sense as we only rely on artificial intelligence.
“They typically read no more than one or two pages of an article or book before they would “bounce” out to another site.”
Visitors to a website reportedly will read only a small portion of the total content that is available to them. After reading a couple of pieces of information they will either click a link that goes to another website or close out altogether.
One reason many visitors to a website leave it so quickly comes from either too little or too many visuals. This could be a bland presentation or intrusive graphics that distract or disrupt taking in the key information being displayed. Also, the navigation experience can be lacking or overly convoluted. A menu that changes with each page or a site map that looks more like a mess of wires than a flowchart will greatly detract from the user experience.
“It injects [an absorbed] medium’s content with hyperlinks, blinking ads, and other digital gewgaws…”
The connectivity provided by the web allows for multiple media to interact with each other that can be seen as intrusive when attempting to use a particular medium.
Here the visual component is obvious, that is the icons, pictures, and text we see when encountering media via the web. This is something that can become overwhelming if it is not organized in an efficient manner. The issue of navigation is bigger here. When a user is alerted to a message that the recently received it can take them out of the experience they are current in.
Web design: Viewing the web as a cognitive landscape.
The goal of the study “Website Design: Viewing the web as a cognitive landscape” by Deborah E. Rosen and Elizabeth Purinton was to develop a scale to measure effective web design and to gain insight into its characteristics. They state that their work is based on the Preference Framework of Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, which is research on patterns in physical environments and the end user’s experience. Rosen and Purinton start off using the same four measures that Kaplan and Kaplan developed, coherence, complexity, legibility, and mystery, but find out that mystery seems to be a good measure for the digital environment. They argue that perhaps mystery in a website could be a negative as their subjects said “they did not like sites which made them… search extensively.” They conclude that web design should express simplicity while also engaging the user with dynamic environments.
“Complexity implies the website design contains a variety of images that satisfy the desire to explore the environment.”
Complexity is one of the measurements the authors’ use for their study on web design. When used to enhance comprehension it can bring a higher frequency of use by visitors. It is the variety of elements that encourages visitors to explore the site.
This is the best example of the tipping point that is the balancing act of visual engagement and the method of navigation. If your site lacks complexity it may hold interest for a bit but there will be no reason for people to return. If it overly complex it can confuse visitors and end up discouraging any one from going beyond the home page.
“In the debriefing, subjects praised Banana Republic’s homepage for “rewarding” the web surfer by responding to mouse movements on the page with changing graphics.”
This was stated as part of the author’s explanations of why their fourth measurement, Mystery, didn’t seem to apply to the web the same it applied to physical world landscapes. That while a mystery to the content was not desired by the user it still seemed important that there was a level of engagement or flow that causes them to be interested in continuing the browsing experience of that particular site.
Mystery is some that certainly doesn’t translate the same between the physical world to the digital one. In stories and in landscapes mystery has visual cues (imagined or physical) as to what maybe behind the proverbial (or literal) curve in the road. On a webpage the visual cues need to be more obvious with what they are about. Scrolling over a series of pictures and the one you are currently on enlarges allows the user see it clearly while still being able to see the connected images. If these “rewards” become the focus it can draw away from the information you are trying to convey. As for navigation, no one wants mystery in how they travel when you are looking for something in particular. While changing graphics can lend a sense of interactivity to a menu it can also cause confusion without proper indexing of that menu.
Jason Grigsby – Real World Responsive Web Design
In this episode of SpoolCast, Jared Spool interviews Jason Grigsby on the topic “Real World Responsive Web Design” where they talk about how the design and development processes of making a website are becoming intertwined as the variety of web access has increased. They start of discussing “responsive web design” and how it relates to the growth of mobile devices with smaller screens. When large websites are displayed in those tiny spaces it is difficult for the user to access the information properly. From there they talk about the tools that are used to display the many elements of a webpage. Grigsby states that the majority of performance issues with a webpage comes after the HTML document (the core structure of a webpage) is delivered to the browser. Therefore it is important that what is on the webpage, things like graphics, scripts, and other features, are designed in a manner that the greatest number of end users can use it as the developer intended.
“It’s going to take us a little bit to get used to these new tools, and to decide when they’re appropriate and when they’re not appropriate.”
Jason Grisby is talking about his company makes decisions regarding images when trying to determine how a particular web browser and/or screen size will interact with an image on a web page. These tools are things from picture file format to how they load onto the screen with CSS or java.
It is here that decisions are made about how visual engagement and navigation are used. One major issue is that by the time developers and designers are used to their tools the next innovation is just around the bend. If the manner in which these key features are produced is constantly changing that it will remain problematic for average users to adapt to the interface.
“I also feel like it’s no different than the complexity we had in the early days and that we just eventually learned it well enough and our tools got better”
Grisby is talking about how some developers a resistant to the complexity that would come with developing certain speciation and standards for picture elements. Complexity is unavoidable with anything new that comes about as the people who work with take time to understand it better. Once its limits and capabilities are understood then more efficient tools can be developed to utilize these elements properly.
We continue to see complexity being an issue in the design process of the web. While there are tools to help with this process those tools can be incomplete or even inefficient if they were made for an older style. Trying to make the visual and navigational elements of a webpage in a manner that maximizes the enjoyment of the user’s experience while also displaying the information the site’s owner wants most seen is the problem faced by all who interact with the web.