#Iamondays The Lack of Mapped Images?

Christen tweeted about Interaction Design Foundation, which is a webite that shows a lot of free educational materials involve Interaction Design. I clicked this link, after I prepared to be wowed. However, I was rather disappointed. The website seemed to lack the interactive design as well as any existence of mapped images. While the website is easy to navigate, it’s a bit plain and dull. This seems kind of ironic as it’s promoting interactive design. The colors are black, white, and gray. The only color that seems to stand out is the blue buttons at the top right of the screen that highlight the users to join them, log in, or publish something with them. I supposed these colors are used to emphasize the most important elements of the website. This could further indicate that you must join in order to participate in this website. The headlines and subtitles are typically bold. There’s not a lot of confusion happening on this website. There is a toolbar across the top, which displays exactly what the bleak images and subtitles display on the homepage (the main information of the website). Furthermore, if you scroll down on the homepage, each section is displayed again, with an image and a summary of what you might find in each section. I find that this design seems like it may be too much. I’m not sure I’d agree that it needs to display the main ideas three different times on the same area, what do you think?

I decided to click on the section labeled “Free Wiki Bibliography”. Again, this section of the website was well organized and easy to navigate, but it was full of text only. I thought that each section could have been created into a mapped image. For instance, each conference on the Wiki Bibliography could’ve had timelines that were interactive. Instead, the user must select a specific date, click on it, and further read through the information available. As Edward Tufte argues in Beautiful Evidence, data is more credible when contextualized (p. 22). If each event was contextualized in some way, it would become much more credible and easily associated with.

The website requires a lot of clicking around and exploring. I decided to check out the “Free Encyclopedia” section. By clicking on this link from the home page, I’m then directed to a page of 35 titles of self-help articles involved in some type of interactive design or service. Other than the titles, I had almost no knowledge of what was behind the articles. I wanted to click on something that might offer more user interaction, so I decided to look at “Visual Representation”. Each article is available in a tablet or PDF version, and offers links to a forum or a question form for the author. I thought these were neat buttons introduced, but they seemed a bit oddly placed at the top of the article.  This specific article on “Visual Representation” involved a lot of different approaches. It not only offered text, but also video, graphs, and data as well. As Tufte states, users must understand “what the words mean in relation to the image, and what the images mean in relation to the words,” (p. 88).  For instance, in this specific section of the website, you might not understand the importance of “The Grid System” if you failed to read the article or watch the videos on Visual Representation.

There’s also a “free image” library, where one can use as long as they adhere to the “copyright terms of each individual image”. I find this attribute pretty awesome, as most pictures involve Creative Commons, which is something the world should be pushing for. When I clicked on “Join us” in the top right corner of any section, I was surprised by what came on the screen. A nice interactive design showed up, that allowed me to become a member. I could write my name in an actual certificate. There are nine different certificate templates I can chose from and place on any number of websites if I wanted to. I could find my network on an actual map. I could list my skills based on types of technology. I found this small section of the website to be the most inviting and enriching. Each image tied in with the specific section it was explaining.

Another tiny little tool I found to enhance the website: you can click that little tree in the top left corner any time to return to the home page. The tree represented a home. To me, this is a metaphor in itself. Trees grow tall, humans grow tall. I’m a big fan of this tree, especially as I assume it’s the logo image of the company. The tree appears as a big, white oak tree. Instead of buds on the ends however, are pieces of paper. I think this logo could be incorporated much more into the design, as it’s a metaphor that speaks for the company itself.

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Categories: #IAMondays, Alphabetic Text Analysis, class activities, images, mapping, pictorial images, technology, tufte | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “#Iamondays The Lack of Mapped Images?

  1. Devon

    I agree with what you said about the website being ironic. After looking through all the beautiful websites we find on #iamondays I figured something about interactive design would have to be cool. One thing they did use was a LOT of images. Unfortunately, I felt this made the homepage cluttered. I think they layout of the page was intended to draw readers to each section with pictures, but I saw it as a distraction rather than helpful.

    I too went on the “Join us” page after you mentioned the interactive certificate, and I really enjoyed that as well. I am wondering why the entire site was not built more like that. Perhaps the creator were worried about loading time for the page–as we often see problems with pages that run on Flash and require lots of loading and buffering.

    Overall, I think this site could probably be streamlined a bit to make it more efficient, especially if they are a “design foundation.”

  2. I also find the desaturation, especially juxtaposed against the color images below the fold, to be bland. And because the calendar and the encyclopedia pages appear in the navigation bar, it doesn’t make sense for them to appear so far down the page, either. Like you said, the site requires digging because you aren’t sure if the calendar button at the top of the page takes you to the same place as the calendar image toward the middle of the page. Why the redundancy? The site is functional indeed, but doesn’t stir the imagination with its design.

  3. There’s something to be said for simplicity of design. While the site is a bit too bland, it certainly is easier to navigate than some others that are more complex. One of the things I find difficult with some sites is when the links aren’t clearly labeled (such as when there is an icon with an image I can’t interpret, and I therefore don’t know what the link is for until I click it). I therefore liked the fact that this one includes both an image and a description (“Free Educational Images” with a picture of a polaroid photo, for example). It makes it easier to find where I’m going, and that’s an important point in design.

    And the second set of links after scrolling down isn’t as redundant as they seem; they include samples you can browse before navigating to the individual sections of the page. For example, the first four videos shown (from England, Denmark, Germany, and Italy) are also the first four videos you’d find after clicking on the link to the videos page. They provide a small sample on the main page to give you an idea what you’ll find in the larger selection on the videos page.

    The site could use some more color and imaginative design, but it does have some advantages when it comes to sheer functionality.

  4. I agree with Jason, that there is something to be said for simplicity of design. However, I think the design is more bland than simplistic. There is no reason sparse design can’t be exciting. But it isn’t here. It’s colorless, and not well thought out. Everything is ~there~but nothing makes me want to investigate the site.What you see when you scroll down could easily be incorporated into the main page-what you see when you get to the page. Judging by the design of their own page, I am not convinced that the foundation is made up of the world’s technology elite, and am less likely to want to use what the site has to offer.

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