Simplicity and Style

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Think about your expectations when reading a newspaper. Usually, you read an article in a newspaper to gain straightforward information and rarely expect to find intriguing visual elements other than the occasional picture. With blogs and websites, however, users automatically expect a higher level of interactivity and visual appeal. Today’s readings, from Brian Carroll’s Writing for Digital Media, discuss possible ways to encourage this kind of document design needed in the online media world.

Online Style and Techniques

In Chapter 3, Carroll explains specific tactics used to promote user engagement and usability. When designing a site online, it is important to remember that users can potentially access any page within your site before accessing the homepage. For this reason, repetition and consistency are key in digital media! Great blogs and sites therefore have a carefully planned site and an easy to use, easy to find navigation. A simple and clear navigation allows users to find their way between the “islands” of pages that stand alone (59).

Graphic DesignerSimilarly to simple navigation, Carroll encourages a simple visual style as well. The visual element of a blog and site greatly affects the user’s experience and the user’s likelihood of continuing to browse the site or return to the site at a later time. Graphics are certainly encouraged to attract user’s attention and to clarify complicated content elements. However, choose graphics wisely because too many visual elements can confuse or distract the user!

When in doubt Carroll says to K.I.S.S. “Keep it simple and scannable!” (60).

Digital media must be scannable because Web Design expert Jakob Nielsen states “only 16% read word by word.” He previously claimed that users simply don’t read online, but further research of his depicts that users do make the switch between scanning and reading if their interest level becomes high enough.

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Headlines and Hypertext

Chapter four of Carroll’s book discusses the value of headlines and hypertexts. While funny (or punny) headlines might seem more appealing, short and simple headlines provide users with a quick insight into which information to read or to scan. Straightforward headlines also promote web traffic to your site or blog because users are more likely to stumble upon your blog if your headline matches their key word search.

Hypertexts add another layer to digital media because they provide another layer of interactivity and encourage users to gain control about what they are reading. However, bloggers must know when to use links. To keep up consistency, hyperlinks should always maintain the current tone and flow of the article. The words “click here” should never be hyperlinked, a rookie mistake I myself have made! The best hyperlinks fall into place seamlessly with the rest of the article.

Discussion Questions:

  • Where is the best location for a site’s navigation?
  • Should hyperlinks open to a new tab/window or replace the current page being viewed?

Until next blog,

Evan

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