Technology and Visual Appeal

3 04 2008

When watching the podcast of Hans Rosling’s talk at the TED Conference, I could not help being hooked.  Not only did the information he presented help to eliminate some of the myths about longevity in third-world countries, but the software he used for his presentation was amazing!  I was a biology major in a former life, and as I was watching his presentation, it made me think how much more impressive my senior thesis could have been if I had a program like that with which to show off my statistics.  That got me thinking about how I could use a similar concept to for my website.

While there are a few charts and statistics I could present on the amount of radiation poisoning for a particular group, I was thinking more about the overall look of my site.  What was it that got my attention about his presentation?  Was it just the moving charts, or was it the colors and the visual appeal of his overall presenation?  I decided it was a combination of both.  His charts were interesting with their moving statistics and what not, but the part I could apply to my site was the overall concept of putting information in a format that the audience can understand and relate to.  The graphs looked good because they were easy to understand, while incorporating a sort of multi-media.  For my website, I need to make sure that the language is scholarly, but still understandable, and try to supplement some of the text with video or audio files that relay the same message.  Watching this podcast gave me many ideas for how to capture my audience’s attention without using fancy programs. 





Putting Accessibility to the Test

26 03 2008

Wow.  I can honestly say that after doing the WebAIM screen reader simulation, I completely understand why Prof. P. wanted us to have a short navigation bar with clear subject links.  The homepage of the “U of A” website alone had 21 navigation links with at least two graphics.  By the time I was getting ready to listen to the menu for the third time in order to figure out which link I needed to follow to get the necessary information, I was already tired of hearing it.  I can’t image what it must be like to try and navigate a site like that every day!

After following this simulation, one of the things I would have liked Joe Clark to go into a little more depth on (and maybe he does in further chapters of his book now that I think back to the chapters he referenced) is how tedious screen readers are, and how concise web designers need to be when creating things like their navigation bars.  It’s one thing to listen to text being read, but it’s something completely different to listen to a huge list of navigation options multiple times in order to navigate to multiple pages.  I found his discussion on the different terms a little repetitive, and almost a little sarcastically demeaning.  He seemed to present some good problems, but not very many helpful solutions.  Again, the reasoning for all this could very well be that he resolves the issues in the remaining chapters in his book, but we’ll see.





Photoshop, Oh Photoshop

5 03 2008

So I started out this week by playing around with putting my own image in the background of a page, playing with the lasso tool, and such like we did in class.  I came up with a product that I kind of like, and was planning to make the new background for my typography page.  However, a recent poll of friends and family has come to the conclusion that it’s nice, but it doesn’t really best display my information.  You can see the revised page here if you like, and feel free to way in on the debate of course. The page the most seem to like is here so that you can do a proper comparison.

As far as the readings for this week go, I thought they gave some interesting techniques and tips for using Photoshop.  I particularly liked the site on creating gradient backgrounds, although that had more to do with proper mark-up than Photoshop.  Also, I found Karen Eismann’s restoration and retouching techniqures in Photoshop to be incredibly helpful, but a bit overwhelming.  Like Sherpa John said, I’m glad that Spring Break is coming up so I will have more time to play around with Photoshop and discover its various functions and techniques.





Finally!

21 02 2008

After many tedious hours of playing with my endnotes, they all work.  I also included my pull quote and two block quotations.  The two block quotes look slightly different because one is a picture I created in photoshop using my text of choice, and the other is one that uses proper XHTML and CSS mark-up for block quotes, since I figured part of the point of this assignment was to show we are capable of creating block quotations. I included my requisite picture as well, and after some fiddling, was able to classify it in a way that allowed it to be placed on the opposite side of the column from my pull quote.  Thank you Jerry for the tip on using mandarindesign.com for the CSS coding on the pull quote, by the way.  Other than that, I can honestly say that I am finished with my type assignment. *breathes a sigh of relief*





20 02 2008

My type assignment is coming together slowly, but surely.  Majority of the work is finished, I just have to fix my block quote, and add the rest of my endnotes, as well as insert my pull quote.  You can see the progress so far here or by following the link from my homepage. Let me know what you think!

Also, I commented on Scott’s blog and Rebecca’s blog.





Mystery Solved

20 02 2008

So I’m sitting here trying to put footnotes into my nice little body of text when I discover one of the most useful functions on Dreamweaver.  If you place your cursor on any text within your XHTML coding, on the right-hand side of your screen above your sight index, Dreamweaver will tell you what section that particular bit of code belongs to, as well as what CSS properties are applied to it.  For example, a paragraph in your content section will come up properties for “#content p,” font size….line height…etc.  Also, if you click on the end tag for any element, such as a div, it will tell you what that end tag belongs to.  It is through such use that I discovered the answer to my problem.  I was placing my footnote div and discovered that there was an end tag about my footer that was coming up as “body.”  I thought this was odd since I had a body end tag below my footer.  In my rampant search to discover the beginning tag of this div, I discovered that it belonged to my “mainwrapper” div.  However, it was coming up as body because my CSS had that particular property labeled “middlewrapper,” which is what I had changed the name to on my homepage when I was originally writing the code so that I would not confuse it with my border.  However, I completely forgot to change the name on all the rest of my pages.  So, now my little Dreamweaver box happily informs me that my end div tag belongs to my wrapper.  Thank you little Dreamweaver box.  Another mystery solved.





Hmm…

19 02 2008

So I seem to have run into a rather unusual problem this evening while working on my type assignment.  Earlier in the day I fixed some of my CSS code to be more readable and less complicated.  Now, I’ve discovered that for some reason, my final project homepage loads with the correct margins on my navigation and content sections, but all the pages that are linked off of that page, that are all linked to the same CSS page as the homepage, do not have a left margin on the navigation, and double the margin on the right side of the content bar.  I have looked over my CSS and XHTML code several times and cannot figure out what is happening.  I even tried running my pages through the validators again to see if maybe I missed something somewhere, but they came out clean.  I think it’s really weird that my CSS is loading the margins correctly on the homepage, but incorrectly on all the other pages, even though it is the exact same CSS page.  Any suggestions?