Things I wish I’d done before building my portfolio page: read these chapters in Lupton and Golombisky & Hagen and watched the Lynda.com tutorial. These three sources provide a lot of great info and ideas on web design (and design in general) and construction, and compliment each other well. The Golombisky and Hagen chapters provided a great base for general layout ideas and design principles (several of which I violated on my first stab at my portfolio website…boxes anyone?) The Lupton reading extended this general basis a little further, providing more detail on the application of these design principles to the web as well as giving a good sampling of options available for web design, many of which are well advanced beyond my abilities. Finally, the lynda course went through the nuts and bolts of actually turning these design concepts into a website using dreamweaver. Combined with the feedback I received in class last week, I have a pretty good laundry list of updates and improvements to make to my portfolio page.
The Lupton readings were useful in providing web-specific design ideas, but I felt that the Golombisky and Hagen chapters were actually the most beneficial to me moving forward in the class, and my overall progression in digital history. the seven elements of design, six principles, and four laws of Gestalt theory provide a structure way to look at and evaluate my website, while chapters four and six provide some examples of good dos and don’ts of layout design. This conceptional framework is certainly more cohesive and effective than my previous system of simply “does this look good?”
Finally, the Nielsen article offered some good (and very specific) guidelines on a very important element of web design: clearly denoting where your clickable links are. This is perhaps the most important single element of a webpage, as it shows user how to navigate through your site, and this user-controlled (but designer influenced) navigability is the defining feature of the web. While some critics accuse Nielsen of attempting to “destroy design and bring back blue links on white pages,” his guidelines are more flexible than that an merely represent some best practices for ensuring that your links are easily and intuitively identifiable, and conversely that no other elements of your page are mistaken for links.
A final thought for the week is that for future semesters of this course it might be useful to switch the scheduling of this week and last week’s readings. While going through and fixing typographical issues on our pages would be fairly easy, having these design concepts before turning in our portfolio pages (especially the Lynda course!) might have saved a good segment of the class from a lot of mistakes and avoided some extensive revising this week. Although maybe doing it wrong the first time had some learning value.