Scholarsteve’s Blog

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Don’t Make Me Think

In the future I’ll be starting my posts on books off with their citation. This is just a good way for me to be lazy and have everything already taken care of when it comes time to assemble a works cited page. I’ll probbaly also put the readings list in citation form come to think of it.

I spent a part of my winter break reading Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think.” I read the first edition of this title when I originally took Hypertext, but felt that it would be good to read again as a refresher on what to think about as I analyze the Web and to see what kind of new content he added. Unfortunately, one of the big changes was that he removed three chapters on usability testing. I was especially looking forward to looking back on theses chapters as one of my projects will focus quite a bit on usability testing. Fortunately these chapters as well as feed of a real usability test are featured on his Web site: I’ll be looking at this later as a resource to draw on when I do my own testing.

The title of the book is serves as Krug’s credo for Web design. He shows how seemingly miniscule distractions can snowball into an all-around unpleasant user experience. A good amount of space in his book is spent on the experience from the user’s point of view. As a designer it can be easy to become lost in the project. What may make sense to a designer after looking at the site for hours may be unintelligible for the user. Basically, Krug stresses that information in a site should be easily accessible and interpreted by users.

I think what I find most interesting about Krug is that through usability testing he shows us things in design that we might not consider. He stresses that unlike a print publication or anything of the sort, there is rarely a sense of our surroundings when we are on a Web site. How deep am I in the site? How deep does it go? Without an effective navigation and search tools, users become lost and frustrated. Structure and hierarchy in well though out site will bring users back again and again.


January 7, 2009 Posted by | Don't Make me Think | 1 Comment


Below is the formal proposal for the independent study. I will add a detailed reading list as well as formal project descriptions in the future.

I would like to propose an independent for the spring semester in 2009. The focus of the study would essentially be a continuation of Hypertext. In this study I would like to further develop my Web design skills, and integrate knowledge of other programs such as Adobe Flash into those skills.

Learning Flash is beneficial as many Web sites incorporate some level of Flash into their design. I would like to one day professionally write for Web sites and feel that a basic degree of Flash knowledge would make me more marketable in the same way that a basic knowledge of InDesign has helped me to work as a writer and editor for print publications.

I would also like to study theory on hypertext creation as well as other theory pertaining to writing for new media. I will target texts that focus on Web writing and information architecture. I want to learn about current techniques for writing Web copy and the ways that the layout of the site influences audience reception. To do this, I have selected several texts that focus on these subjects and will relate to current designs. I hope to identify issues present in writing for the Web when considering structure and readability and identify what scholars and professionals pose as the solutions to these issues.

As I complete readings for the course, I hope they will be relevant to my portfolio, which will likely be a critical analysis of some of the projects I will complete in this class. For this purpose I will utilize texts focusing on usability. These texts will help me analyze the Ecology Action Center Web site and create my recommendations.

Readings: Prior to the beginning of the semester I will create a final reading list for the semester.

Responses: I will maintain a blog focusing on responses, criticism, and critiques of the readings, as well as the process he follows in completing projects. By utilizing a blog to respond to the readings and making full use of the extra features a blog might accommodate, the independent study of hypertext will also be able to be conducted through an outlet of new media.

Projects: I will complete three projects by the end of the semester.

1. Analysis: I will analyze the Ecology Action Center Web site and focus critically on its structure, design, text, and overall affect on the user. Working with the main stakeholders of the site, I will identify the overall purpose of the site and intended goals. I will then prepare a report detailing recommendations on how the site can be revamped for maximum audience effect.

In doing this project, it will allow practical application of the usability texts that will be engaged during the study. The texts on writing for the Web will also allow me to assess how Ecology Action Center’s copy is being portrayed on the site in relationship to their intended affect and recommend ways that it might be improved.

2. Creation: I will create a multi-page Web site using CSS. The Website will also have elements of Adobe Flash. The site will demonstrate knowledge of design principles and serve as a practical application of Web design skills.

3. Final: The final project will (hopefully) serve as the shell for my graduate portfolio that will be presented to a committee in lieu of a thesis. I will make use of hypertext theory and design principles in constructing the site. The site will demonstrate an advanced knowledge of hypertext construction and utilize CSS.

*The professor retains the right to restructure projects in any way he deems fit to ensure a fruitful study.

Procedure: To accomplish my goals and complete the proposed projects, I will make use of a variety of resources available to me.

CTLT: I will take courses in Flash and Dreamweaver CS3 to learn new and refine current skills respectively.

Web training: I will make use of sites such as for training in use of various programs and methods.

Personal resources: I will gather knowledge from colleagues who are familiar with Web design.

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Course description materials | Leave a comment

It begins…

I am creating this blog as a way to record my thoughts and findings as I work my way through an independent study of hypertext that I am engaging this semester. I am going to read several articles and reflect on them, and also look at books on everything from information architecture to usability testing. Thrown in with the academia, I will also be looking at books centering around creating readable, eye-catching text for the Web. Granted, these blogs might not reflect the way I might write if I were to create marketing copy or anything of the sort, but it will provide a good way to organize the extensive research I will be doing. I will also be creating a couple of Web sites using CSS as projects and will provide the links to those sites. Heck, I might as well post my proposal. Enjoy the ride. I know I will.

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Course description materials | Leave a comment