Week 1

The first article provides a survey history of web, starting from the “dark days” of code or HTML, tables, then Javascript, Flash, CSS, grids, Responsive design, and Flat design as designs become easier by simplifying the overwhelming complexity of code. The second article addresses the design within the formation of a Google gmail account and points out both the good and bad design of this internet giant.

Why are these important? For the first article, it addresses history, and the history of web design displays improvement and simplification. Web design began with many flaws, including difficulty with different browsers. The article continues with the statement that instead of wondering if designers should learn code or developers should learn design, there have been strides to make a bridge between the two. The history of web design shows that a designer doesn’t have to understand all code nor deal with the same difficulties as before, which is a personal relief to me.

Earlier on, many designers were turned away because of difficulties. Simplification has helped bring many into the field. Later improvements, like tables, bring the possibility of pictures, which Facebook and almost everyone else in reliant upon. Often older systems aren’t discarded but rather new programs are added to the collection of a designers’ resources, making many design schemes possible, as designers can draw from HTLM, Javascript, CSS, etc. We have Javascript to thank for popups. Flash multiplied the number of fonts we could use and helped better user experience with interactive websites and animations. The history of web design also displays others’ mistakes and warnings for designers to heed, including how too fancy of designs can eat up user’s data.

CSS helps further bridge the gap between design and code because it is not pure code but rather a language that described the layout, which makes it easier for designers to use. Grids make designs on phones possible, which is crucial in this age of smartphones. Responsive design brings us to where we can get the same information to viewers but design the layout of the website specifically for different devices; we recognize phones come with different expectations and ways to maneuver around the site. All in all, history of web design has brought many advancements. It has laid the foundations we can build from. Each program offers advancements we still use today.
 As for the second article, or rather slideshow, it gives many good tips and points out mistakes. For one, it is helpful to know that even large companies can slip up. The article illustrates that one could always improve and no one is entitled to the think they know it all, which are lessons for all designers. With tips, it illustrates the importance of several features. One, don’t be afraid of white space for it helps provide a clean look. A design should be consistent to avoid chaos and to uphold a unified look of the company. It is very important to step into the shoes of the user and assume they know little if anything about the site. Since the creator and designer know much about the site, it is easy to forget that the viewer does not. Therefore, tips for smooth navigation through the site help limit frustration. Also, personalization is a fun feature that lets the viewer feel more welcomed.

The second article also reveals many things to avoid. One, a design requires good writing. Google is guilty of circular reasoning when they claim their email is easy and simple but do not say to what. Also, if the goal is to guide someone through a process, the site shouldn’t give the viewer multiple options to get to the next step because the viewer will not know which one to follow. With personalization, sites should not require unneeded information, requiring people to fill out many fields just for an email. Also, one should be aware of the consistency of all the design elements. Don’t mix styles, such as clean design and sketchy illustrations. And very importantly, the design must be field-tested. If a carousel of pictures and descriptions moves too fast, it is of no use to the user.

New methodologies from the history of web design actually are similar to the very first designs, where modern day web sites have been simplified to “flat” designers where the design conveys its content with more simplicity so the message is not lost in fancy tricks. Web fonts also allow for many choice of typography that actually look good on a screen. As for the Google article, personalization may not be very new, but Google uses it as soon as they can, taking the information like the person’s name and using it as soon as the first welcome page.

Concerning drawbacks, the articles speak of animation and interaction in almost a negative light, when they can be useful when used without excess, which I am interested in. It did address some interests including the modern tendency to simplify design, where there is still character to the design but not excessive decorations and distractions. One thing it didn’t quite mention is the use of short videos for backgrounds, instead of a static picture, and how these are still acceptable today. For the second article, a drawback may be that the Gmail was older. I believe issues have been addressed in the most recent Gmail. Nonetheless, the slideshow was an interesting way to look at it through the eyes of a newcomer and avoid mistakes.

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