Creative but Easy – Margaret

This week we looked at a lot of different sites and the best ones were generally the ones that found a happy medium between being creative but still easy to use. On many sites I was able to appreciate it for its content and its aesthetics, and while this is clearly possible, finding this balance is proving to be rather difficult.  Sometimes when sites make the transition from being general content to scholarly content it loses its aesthetic appeal (usually becomes more text heavy as well, which is fine but the occasional break between large sections of reading is something I appreciate about other sites). It makes me wonder if extra aesthetics takes away from the credibility of the work or if people just don’t associate scholarly ideas with aesthetics. 

The UX short about killing our darlings really resonated with me because it reconfirmed the notion that following something through to realize it isn’t the best possible option is normal. I often get halfway through a project to realize it isn’t the route I want to take and I usually start completely over. I guess it would be more efficient for me to try starting over partially (instead of scrapping everything). 

When it came to the workshop we did in class on Wednesday, I found out just how expansive my project idea was,. This also means I’ll need to get more realistic. However, it also showed me that my reasoning behind my topic was very concrete.

Womenwill – The Divide

The site called Womenwill is an example of a site that is creative and interactive but it is also simple enough to use. While the site is a bit ambitious, I would like to make something similar that is interactive and still user friendly. The site starts off with a infographic kind of video, which is something I was considering having on my site using Powtoons. After you get through the inital video/interactive infographic you get to the actual site

Womenwill is a site run by Google and doesn’t say who the specific authors are. The intended audience is composed of people who are looking for information about the treatment of women internationally (which is exactly what the site provides information about). The information discusses things like the wage gap, equality in the workplace, and the third shift (which is the extra shift created for women after they get home and still have housework to do).

Overall, I think the page is effective in its design and formatting because even though it seems to have a lot going on, the user really only has to scroll down. They get the full experience and they only have to scroll (which is made apparent by the arrows). There isn’t a search bar, but all of the information on the site is clearly laid out to the extent that I don’t know what else someone would need to look up. There aren’t any articles or continuous posts, which also means there is no use for an archive. However, there are tabs at the top and bottom of the page that will help users navigate the page.

I also think this site would be approved by Krug because they made the things on their site very obvious. The clickable parts of the site are very specifically labeled and it is clear what they do (it is also clear what the user is expected to do with the various items). That being said, it doesn’t have “you are here” indicators (unless the scroll bar that gets darker the further down you go and essentially shows how much you have left to see counts) and it also (as I mentioned earlier) doesn’t have a search bar.

There isn’t anything I’d change about the site. It achieves the things that it appears to want to do. I would like my site to be straightforward but creative like this one. I liked that it was essentially one motion required on the users’ end, but it was still interactive. In addition to their set up, I would like the things people scroll down to see to be a quiz or a game as well as the other information.

Womenwill. (2017). The divide. Retrieved from https://dataexplorer.womenwill.com/intl/en/thedivide/

Media Literacy – Margaret

via GIPHY

This week my UX design short presentation reinforced the idea that less is more sometimes. As corny as it sounds, I often feel like college work leads us to be more fluffy than anything else. We write with big words that come in a complexly structured sentence. Of course, while the ideas could be helpful to the general public, nine times out of ten it doesn’t come in a form that many people beyond the relatively small world of academia will understand. Unaccompanied by glossaries or even links to other sources (that are more straightforwardly written), the general population would spend more time grappling with the fluff and lose steam before getting to the part of the project that really mattered.

This made it difficult for me to decide on a topic for my class project. While there are a lot of people who might not be able to understand the things put out by there academia community, there are people who are tripped up by things that are presented in much more basic information. So while it would be great to be able to create something that helps everyone at some point, for now, I am starting with a more general media literacy project.

As it stands, I am thinking about an interactive kind of page that has short quizzes and games that promote media literacy. My goal is to make something that explains the importance of media literacy, explains ways it can be achieved, but is also relatively fun.

A Guide to Media Literacy

  • I am researching media literacy, because I want to know how people become media literate and how it is measured,so that people will understand how to respect the internet and digital humanities instead of being afraid of all the bad things that can be associated with it.

Since something we talk about a lot in this class is whether or not there are two sides to Digital Humanities, I would like to produce a product that falls somewhere in the middle. A combination of powtoon explanation videos and explanatory paragraphs that will walk readers through what it takes to exist effectively in this digital space. If more people understood the importance of media literacy and how to go about becoming media literate, there might be more people who are open and accepting of digital humanities as a concept. Videos can sometimes explain things that words alone cannot and I think this is something that can also be said about the formatting decisions made in the Digital Humanities world.

This project will likely start with an explanation of what media literacy is and the importance of it (including a few examples of the consequences of poor media literacy skills ). A source I will be looking into is a journal article by Maxwell E McCombs and Donald L. Shaw called “The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media.” Agenda setting is a tool most media sources use to guide their following, but most people are not informed enough to recognize its influence.

I will also look at other articles about what media literacy looks like at different ages. One such article is written by Renee Hobbs and Richard Frost. This article is called “Measuring the acquisition of media‐literacy skills” and is written in both English and Spanish (which I thought was cool because even though Google sometimes offers to translate, literal translations are not always up to par). Both of these articles and the others like them are available to read online through Davidson College access.

The good thing about this topic is that a lot of other scholars have already started the work, which is good and helpful for other people within the borders of academia. It’s not so good because while we all pretty much agree that everyone should have some form of media literacy skills, there are different takes on how this is achieved. The fact that there are people without access to the internet in general not only further complicates the topic, but it also raises a bigger question about the lack of access to information more broadly.

Bibliography:

Herreria, C. (2017, September 27). Mark Zuckerberg: ‘I Regret’ Rejecting Idea That Facebook Fake News Altered Election. Retrieved December 05, 2017, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mark-zuckerberg-regrets-fake-news-facebook_us_59cc2039e4b05063fe0eed9d 

Hobbs, Renee, and Richard Frost. “Measuring the Acquisition of Media‐Literacy Skills.” The Reading Teacher, Wiley-Blackwell, 9 Nov. 2011, ila.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1598/RRQ.38.3.2.

McCombs, M., & Shaw, D. (1972). The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 36(2), 176-187. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2747787 

Ritzenthaler, Daniel. “What Does It Mean to Be Simple?” 52 Weeks of UX, 23 Dec. 2011, 52weeksofux.com/post/21026021557/what-does-it-mean-to-be-simple.

“What Does it Mean to be Simple?” by Daniel Ritzenthaler

In Daniel Ritzenthaler’s UX article, he discussed the importance of simultaneously being thorough and concise. He identifies three key areas that explain how this can be achieved.

  1. Have a core idea/theme: Having too many ideas can complicate a decision that Ritzenthaler says should be binary. The user should be able to clearly decide if they are actually interested in the media they are engaging or not. One idea also allows for a more transparent layout. This could be as simple as the button on Google saying “Search Google” instead of “Find Answers Now.” While they both can be attached to the same underlying meaning, one is more straight forward.

This piece of advice was ironically more complicated initially, but Ritzenthaler goes on to give his definition of a single core idea. He says that it is binary, clear, reiterated occasionally but appropriately, and it should come with a clear (and obtainable) end goal.

2. Improve Clarity Over Time: This part is achieved `by establishing a clear beginning and ending. So functioning on a need to know basis is the way to go. Including more information than is necessary can distract the user from whatever it is you want them to focus on or eventually do (e.g.: Saying that your particular product increases heart health but then spending more time adumbrating on the things that contribute to diminishing the overall health of your heart as opposed to further describing how your product helps).

Improving clarity also requires smooth transitions from point A to point B. Smooth transitions ensure that the intended end goal is accomplished.

3. Be consistent:  This part is essentially what it sounds like. Establish patterns, simplify your routines (and if you need to replace any pieces of your routine, then do so with things that were similar to the original), and realize that every now and then its okay to step outside of your intended box.

Overall:   It is easy to want to go into detail about everything or use beautiful and poetic language to entice your users, but that can sometimes do more harm than good. As Ritzenthaler shows, sometimes less really is more. So the key to simplicity is finding a balance between too much information and not enough (which I think should be called the Goldilocks Effect).

A good example of Ritzenthaler’s method is found on this site.

This site is free of excess words, but it says and does just enough to entice people to want their services. It also creates a binary for the user, which is whether or not their planning services are sufficient for their event. There are also cues on the page like “scroll” that ensure the users know how to use the page, it is consistent to its core idea, and it is effective without being too word-heavy.

References:

Lettuce & Co. “Https://Www.facebook.com/Lettuceandco.com.au/.” Wedding Styling and Corporate Event Styling Melbourne, lettuceandco.com.au/.

Ritzenthaler, Daniel. “What Does It Mean to Be Simple?” 52 Weeks of UX, 23 Dec. 2011, 52weeksofux.com/post/21026021557/what-does-it-mean-to-be-simple.

Process Blog

via GIPHY

This week we took a look at the various ways that digital humanities could be both helpful and harmful. Essentially I think that there is a happy medium between the two sides that were presented in class. I found it hard to separate the use of digital tools and standard pen and paper kind of tools because I find that often times I start my process with one set of tools and then improve on it with the other set of tools.

We discussed the possible ways in which one set of tools was better than another and after class, it dawned on me that at one point the way that we discuss the dangers and inaccessible parts of the internet, people were also discussing around physical texts. Books and reading, in general, used to be a luxury that many people did not have access to. So to me, the discussion of which form of information is better is one that is based in a certain amount of privilege (that would be easy to overlook).

These discussions made me wonder what tools would be more appropriate to use for this class’ project. Since this is a digital design class, I feel like I should get away from the traditional kind of scholarly article and try something new. However digital related things are new to me so I think finding the happy medium between a traditional essay and an online kind of platform (maybe an interactive online-based scholarly article) is the route I should take. This would then address some of the accessibility issues because the interactive pieces could be further explanations of whatever pieces are the most jargon-heavy or places that require a lot of background knowledge.

Margaret

I am a country girl who loves taking on various creative projects. While most of my time is spent going between work and school, I do try to find time for myself. This time usually comes when I am not busy doing homework. In my room, there is a space with a disco ball and lots of pillows and I like to go there to genuinely relax (no work is allowed in this space).

In life, I aspire to be happy in my environment. As corny as it sounds, millions of people spend their days chasing their dreams of financial stability into jobs that promise them wealth at the cost of their happiness. While I don’t know that I want to do specifically I know that I want whatever it is to be of some benefit to my community, without draining myself of life.

See my work for the semester here.