Website

Allie Simmons

Here’s my website, targeted mostly to those looking for a freelance writer. I also wanted to make clear that I am experienced in various types of communication, from PR/ social media to public speaking. I stressed simplicity, because that is a key aspect of my personality, interests, and the style of my work.

Love At First Site

A reality we’ve learned time and again this semester is the short attention span of Internet users. And you’d think that this reality would make Web design fairly easy. It would seem that Web users are generalists; they don’t have time to inspect details. That would make sense, considering the amount of time a typical audience member spends on a homepage, but, according to Carol, this fact actually makes inspecting and perfecting the details of a site even more important. A web designer needs to make sure that the first impression of a homepage meets all the needs of a user, both quickly and clearly. Not only should the page be aesthetically pleasing, but it also needs to be very easily understood. Web design in complex, but it should not appear so. That which is difficult to design should be overly simple to navigate.

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This homepage is simple and quickly easy to navigate. There’s no question of where to go or what to do. Carol touches on the fact that “main structural divisions should be obvious.” Not only is structure important, but also the aesthetic neatness, content correctness, and grammatical accurateness are all necessary components of good web design. These are things we often take for granted in the world of texting, Facebook posts, and tweeting. Errors might be acceptable in these forums, but they’re not tolerated on websites. Such mistakes take away from the credibility of the site, and consequently, the company/ individual. The quality of a webpage is a direct reflection of the person/ group it represents.

While close attention to detail is crucial, it’s also important to avoid “meddlesome editing,” or over-editing. There comes a point when touch-ups are unnecessary. Instincts can be good; it can often be counter-effective to change things over and over again.

Yet, at the same time, a webpage must be “rapidly adaptable.” It must be easy and ready to change. To do this, a web designer must “think in layers,” so that they can be prepared to remove or add anything and everything.

 

 

 

 

Plaintastic

I love simplicity. That’s why I love this Pure Barre website, and not just because I love Pure Barre. I think the style of the website perfectly reflects the attitude and atmosphere of the Pure Barre company. The stores are decorated with the same color scheme, in the same black and white, sophisticated fashion. The work out itself is refined, characterized by small, simple yet effective movements. And that’s what this site is: simple yet effective.

Reddish emphasizes the importance of knowing your audience. Of all the aspects of website design, this is undoubtedly the most important. It’s not about what you think looks good, or what is most clear to you. If it doesn’t attract your audience or relay information in a way that is easy for the reader to understand, your site is irrelevant. In order to make sure you’re catering to your readers, here are some questions to ask:

  • Who is my main audience? What are their main characteristics?
  • What are they looking for?
  • What do they need to know about me that relates to their interests?
  • What kind of persona can I create that will attract them?
  • What are my goals and tasks that are relevant to them?

Not only does the Pure Barre site address these questions, but it also follows the rule of being content-rich without being overly wordy. Typically, audience members read very little on the homepage. They usually have a specific question, so they will go to the place that most likely holds the answer. This homepage clearly directs to user where to go, without overloading them with information. 

A totally different business, with a totally different goal. But, I would imagine, Anthropologie and Pure Barre have very similar audiences: wealthy, 20-40 year old women. While Anthropologie sells clothing and home décor, which is obvious as soon as you open the homepage, and Pure Barre sells fitness, I see a similar scheme on both sites. A distinct logo, complemented by simple, sophisticated, and interesting decoration. The page accessories are not overwhelming, but definitely noticeable. Both emanate a sense of effortlessness, something that people look for in both exercise and fashion.

I want my website to be a combination of these two websites. I want it to be creative, yet plain. I want my work—writing—to be the highlight. I don’t want overwhelming amounts of design or text, but I wanted to represent time and care put into both the appearance of my site and into the representation of myself. Anthropologie and Pure Barre just happen to be two of my favorite things, so I may be biased. But I just think less is more when it comes to selling yourself.

While I would change the wordiness of this homepage, I think it’s a good balance of branding, simplicity, and assertiveness:

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I also love the branding of Sprinkles Cupcakes. Simple yet recognizable:

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It’s All About Me

By me, I mean the user. While products produce traffic/money for the creators, it produces information and necessary services for me, so I, in turn, can create and sell my own products. And so the cycle continues. It’s nearly impossible to skip the technological steps in this process, considering nearly all of our know-how comes from Google-generated information. I need websites to know anything. Of course, there is knowledge be found and expertise to be learned from other people, but for a quick solution to my problem or answer to my question? I’m not going to call a friend, use a dictionary, or hit the books in the library. I’m going to search for it on the all-knowing Internet. It’s efficient, and this fact is, nowadays, arguably the most important aspect in completing a given task.

This is common knowledge. For nearly everyone in the world of work, there’s an understood requirement to be adequately tech-savvy. It’s no surprise that websites are currently the best and quickest resource for what we need to know to do what we need to do. Since we rely on technology in almost every other aspect of our lives– social networking, entertainment, our morning coffee, getting from A to B– it’s second nature to turn to technology at work.

My question is, then, how are designers of technology– website designers, especially– still failing to create sites that are user-friendly? I think everyone can agree that the user is the most important component in determining the success of technology. That which is easy to use will be bought and used more. It will be promoted to other friends, talked about, advertised, and, eventually, it will become a leader in that specific market. And while I know nothing about writing code, and while I am nowhere near a tech expert, it seems like, with all the techy geniuses we have in the world, everyone would have this figured out by now.

And maybe I’m just not that smart. Not saying that sarcastically; it’s a definite possibility. WordPress, for example, while way cooler than Blogspot, is just not instinctive to me. I struggle to figure out where to go, what to press, and how to accomplish what I want to happen. I’ve talked to other people who feel similarly. Which is just ironic to me, because WordPress, and blogs in general, are supposed to serve as the beacon of digital democracy. I mean, think about it: without blogs, the foundation of the Internet’s existence as a hub for “expert amateurs” would crumble. Sure, there’d still be Wikipedia and chatrooms, but the common person wouldn’t have nearly as much influence as they do through blogging. Shouldn’t blogging websites, then, created exclusively for users to publish ideas, be the most instinctive sites out there? Just a thought.

And I simply cannot resist talking about the most obvious tragic, user-UNfriendly Internet scandal now occuring via our government. I’m not trying to turn this into a political post; I’m just saying… come on? Really? Maybe with all the debt we’ve accumulated we can’t afford better code-writers to execute, in our president’s view, the most important legislation in decades? Somehow I think that can’t be true. Can the most powerful man in the world really not recruit someone who knows how to make a user-friendly website? Maybe we should send a copy of Garrett’s book to 1400 Penn. Ave.

Aww. Sweet pic. I’m sold! AND this site looks super user-friendly. Not too many buttons. Just gimme my low-cost healthcare, and I’ll be outta here!

 

Oh, okay. That makes sense. I’ll just type in that concise, simple-looking code there and proceed to checkout! Yay.

Alright. My cancer can definitely just wait, then.

I’m not bashing healthcare here. I’m just bashing the ridiculousness of the system. In chapter two, Garret discusses 5 important factors in building a website: Surface, Skeleton, Structure, Scope, and Strategy. It seems to me that the Obamacare website has got its surface aesthetics down pat. Really, the mother-daughter combo warmed my heart and definitely allured me to buy healthcare (not really, but almost). And maybe the skeleton and structure are okay, too. I’ll even give them the scope. The strategy, however, not so much. At least not good enough for proper, effective execution. It’s just baffling to me that of all the website in the world, the one that offers apparently the most important service there is doesn’t actually serve at all. If anything, it confuses, frustrates, and wastes. Certainly those were not the “product objectives” the site creators aimed to reach.

 

Eviewlution

The Dick Van Dyke Show, a sitcom filmed in the 1960’s, serves as an example of a third-person point of view, slapstick comedy show, complemented by wit, quick dialogue, and practical joking. The point of view doesn’t change, as is typical of most sitcoms, especially in this time. In 2002, the show was ranked 13th on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. So, obviously, people received the show well. They watched the show like the narrative that it was, and enjoyed it in that form.

Here’s another comedy, of the modern era. This is an example of a variety of points of view. In the show Modern Family, there’s no narration. Just action, dialogue, and an interview. It’s a similar format to The Office. In the midst of the action, you’ll find members of the cast making eye contact with camera– a move not typically seen in sitcoms. It adds to the organic nature of the show and emphasizes comedic timing. Completely different from the Dick Van Dyke Show, even though, in many ways, it’s the same type of humor. The genre of comedic sitcoms has thus evolved, not so much in content as it has in point of view. This changes how we, as an audience, respond. With the first person point of view offered in Modern Family, we may feel more engaged, and we may enjoy the storyline more because of that.

How will the comedy genre continue to change as far as points of view go?

Have other genres transitioned to third person to multiple points of view?

 

The Art of the Edit

Editing is arguably the most important part of film making, and definitely the most difficult. It’s more than something you learn; it really is an art. It takes both experience and talent to edit a film in a way that the viewer cannot tell it’s edited. It should flow, telling a story seamlessly. In my broadcast class, we’re learning just how challenging that is. It takes much more than studying a text book and a few hours in the studio lab to hone your editing skills.

It’s more than shortening film or fixing the mess-ups. It’s sequencing, transitioning, cutting, revealing, and composing. It involves careful attention to detail. It requires correct framing in order to effectively portray the emotion of a particular scene. From documentaries to reality shows, editing is crucial to capturing the audience’s attention and conveying the appropriate messages.

The editing here: the music, the framing, the cutting– it all portrays the “love” Catherine and Sean are sharing. The viewers are drawn in by the mood created by the camera work, the lighting, and content of the scene. Cheese aside, the editors accomplish their goal of portraying the message of love, connectedness, and romance.  The editors accomplished this by “cutting dialogue with similar camera angles and focal lengths” to reinforce “the goal of maintaining continuity within a scene.” This particular scene of Catherine and Sean was, most likely, much longer than this clip allows. But the shortness of it did not seem too abrupt, but seemed organic and worked to keep the audience’s attention.

Editors have the power to “alter reality.” He creates solutions for when a scene doesn’t naturally convey the message the director intended for it to convey. It doesn’t really matter if that’s not how Catherine and Sean’s conversation really went. That’s how it was supposed to go, and the editors have almost complete control of that. Here, the editor accomplishes the goal of advancing “the importance of the story” in order to “retain interest for the diverse audience the program hopes will view it.”

Does editing in reality TV make it seem more or less real? If a scene of a reality show was completely unedited, how would that affect the audience’s reaction?

May The Force Be With You

Subconsciously, we interpret a scene based on the signs, symbols, and shapes delivered to us in a particular frame. A frame that is not well-positioned or that contains poorly placed objects may cause us as viewers to completely misunderstand the purpose of the shot. We are, in essence, forced, to watch or look at a scene from a certain point of view, based on the factors presented int he picture. These factors include the following:

1) Main Directions

There a variety of possible directions in a scene. Some of these include: Horizontal, which elicits a sense of calm, Vertical, symbolizing power, Horizontal/ Vertical, which reflects a commonplace day, Level Horizontal, which emphasizes stability, Dymanism, which suggests energy, and Stress, which reflects a sense of urgency. Here are a few examples:

                  Horizontal:

Vertical:

Horizontal/Vertical:

2) Magnetism

Where an object is positioned in a picture determines the “pull” or direction of that picture.

Our attention is pulled toward the girl sitting on the beach. She serves as the center of the scene.

3) Asymmetry of the Frame

Our mind automatically focuses on the objects placed on one side of the screen. The part of the frame with the object is disproportionally stronger than the other side of the frame, drawing our attention to the subjects.

Lines going from the bottom left corner to the top right corner are perceived as going up. Lines going from the top left corner to the bottom right are perceived as going down. This is known as diagonal symmetry.

4) Figure and Ground

The figure and ground… or subject and background… depends on how we perceive a scene.

It is very difficult, and perhaps impossible, to perceive both figure and ground, or faces and a vase, at the same time. Our mind subconsciously chooses what we will see first.

5) Psychological Closure

Our brains tend to make organize scenes into geographical shapes. In order to comprehend the full meaning of a picture, then, the contents of the frame must be shaped or pictured in a way that allows us to easily imagine the rest of the object.

We can easily imagine the rest of the man’s face.

6) Vectors
There are various kinds of vectors. The main kinds of vectors are graphic, index, and motion.

         Graphic:

Index:

Motion (except actually moving):

All six categories are crucial components of a frame. In order for a scene to be well structured, the photographer, videographer, or director must be mindful of all six categories. Our minds are programmed to interpret scenes in a certain way based on how the frame is set up. By learning about the six factors of scene construction, both the photographer and viewer learn how to effectively send and receive the intended message. We are, in essence, forced by these aspects of photography and videography to perceive a scene in a certain way.

Which aspect of videography, if excluded from a frame, would have the biggest negative effect on the message a scene is trying to portray? Or does this depend on the other aspects of framing that are included in that scene?

 

2D > 3D

This was by far the easiest section to comprehend, but it’s still a lot of high-minded information that is difficult to sort out. The best way I can organize what I’ve read is to touch on a few phrases Virilio expounds upon in these chapters:

Industrialization of vision: Vision, at one time, was an art, a tool to be used to make significance of an image or object. Now, vision is a vehicle by which the marketplace creates its consumers. Vision is no longer an art but rather is a vacuum of images and ideas that are carelessly thrown into a consumer’s range of sight.

Seeing machines: video and photo-producing machines that trivialize everyday objects and people so that they lose their value. What is seen will not hold the same inherent significance that it once did. Two dimensional meaning will be given to everything– “real” or not.

Question of perception: Are we forced to see the images that we perceive? No. Are we free to see or not see whatever we want? No. We are both coerced by the increased influx of images and freed by them. We are given more choices and no choice at all.

Disqualification & Disintegration: With cybersexuality, men and women will be inept to relate to one another and therefore relationships, marriages, and families will disintegrate.

Telesexual consumer society: People join a cosmic brothel or participate in two dimensional sex. An individual no longer needs another physical human being to feel sexual pleasure.

Earth will no longer teach us anything: All the information we will ever seek to know will be at last put into a database. This doesn’t mean that Earth doesn’t have anything to teach us, but merely that we will not seek it.

 

Will we eventually convert into a cybersociety? Is this disintegration, as Virilio thinks, or progress toward efficiency and convenience?