A shot of Charleton Heston from Soylent Green

Final Steps for Module #1

When Revising Consider the Following

Lay Out Clearly What Design Activities You’ll Engage in Through Your Objectives

My focus thus far is on the content of the website and the information design needed to improve it and make it attractive. I would prefer to focus on this and let this lead a redesign that would abide by the elements, principles, and theories of design (and avoid layout sins). The website needs to be attractive and easy to navigate; focusing on having a bold or drop-dead gorgeous design (could detract from the usability of the site.

Notice how the author of the above clearly lays out the items they’ll be redesigning and the overall purpose of doing so.

Identify Specific Issues With The Current Design

There are a few edits that should be completed to make the menu bar simplified and user friendly. It is currently a stagnant bar with all pages and subpages displayed at once. A sleeker appearance to this area would make it easier for users to find what they need without being distracted with all the information presented at once. The main menu consists of four sections in the following order: ‘The Gallery’, ‘The Soda Fountain’, ‘Artists’, and ‘Events’. The submenu consists of 10 items that deal entirely with material types that the artists use. With this list being so extensive, it adds another diversion for the user seeking information. The Soda Fountain’s tab separates the gallery from the rest of the art-centric selections. This organization seems careless; similar items should be grouped together. The homepage, which contains information that can be found nowhere else on the site, such as the hours of operation, a link to the online store, and the newsletter signup, can only be accessed through the logo at the top. Not all users would think to click on the logo to arrive back home. Likewise, the contact information can only be found in the footer, a location that isn’t overly accessible on longer pages.

Notice how the author of the above lays out specific issues with the current design that they will be repairing.

Use Client-Sensitive Language

It can be easy when writing these types of proposals to forget about the people on the other end, people who are often not designers. You generally did a good job not using jargon, but need to work on softening your tone.

It’s important in these documents not to use language the client will be unfamiliar with, such as “negative space” or “ROI.” More commonplace terms like “font,” “visual design,” and “color scheme” are ok. As you edit your documents, ask yourself: what would someone with no knowledge of the subject matter of this class not understand? Then replace those terms with more commonplace ones.

Your tone needs to be that of a gentle teacher/guide, however, not a drill sergeant.  When I read things like this (a personal favorite from a past class), I cringe:

Beginning with the layout issues, the website falls for the first of the layout sins, “centering everything.” Except for the mailing list box at the bottom of the page, every piece of text is centered. Centering all of the text makes it easier to find the limited information present, but it also clashes with the visuals that break apart the text, which makes the flow of information hard to follow.

It’s not that this information is inaccurate, but from years of working with clients, I can’t imagine sending this report to one, which some of you might be doing. Consider the following revised version, which conveys the same information without coming across as snarky:

The layout of your website could use some revision. Modern websites typically avoid centering information, for example, so this might make your website look dated to some customers. Though centering all of the text makes it easier to find the information present, it also clashes with the visuals that break apart the text, which makes the flow of information hard to follow.

As you revise your documents, ask yourself: how would you feel if you were on the receiving end of the document? When in doubt, report objective information rather than using adjectives or other descriptive parts of speech that come across as value judgments rather than constructive feedback.

To Complete the Module

7) 2/10/21 by Midnight ET >>

Revise your document and hand it in. The point of receiving feedback from your peers, and also from myself, is to help you improve your writing. This process will be negated if the draft you submit to the course website is the same as the draft you hand in as your final. Revise, revise, revise.

  • An individual Cover Letter and a final draft of your Design Brief are due to Canvas by Midnight ET

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