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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Refresh the Triangle - recap

i am here tonight (2/28) at iContact for the fourth Refresh The Triangle

phpJBSAPI

Topic for tonight: Justifying Design
our Speaker is Rob Goodlatte
http://robgoodlatte.com/
he is a Duke undergrad, who is going to work at The Facebook in June
(see his blog post for more on tonight's subject)
here is a transcript-ish live-blog:
(please comment with improvements and corrections where needed)

we need to justify design decisions
design work sometimes is play with aesthetics in photoshop until something feels right

* act with purpose *

one of problems on web today
stop at aesthetics
let's just make this look pretty
design not equal to art

you need reasons to do things
  • context
  • meaning
  • reason
but back up a minute...

* you need to consider *
  1. purpose
  2. function
  3. aesthetics

there is a hierarchy of questions to ask for each of these

used to push things around on the screen until things looked right
this takes a long time to develop things
there is no reason to do anything
it's just, this looks nice

look at problems
define goals from that

in design iterations on his own site, Rob moved to a grid layout
"Grid is the new Black" - Khoi Vinh
what are you trying to promote with your grid?
break it up into magazine teaser sections

* understand your client's culture *

communicate values through design cues
visually indicate a message about client

* communication *

this is what your design serves
web = text-based medium
don't forget this, it is important
look at blogger
"create a blog in 3 easy steps"
simple, clear, text, powerful, precise

"copy is the easiest and often the cheapest part of your site to fix" - jeffrey zeldman

this is central to web design
this is what you should do first
and iterate often, revise

* dress appropriately *

logo in upper left
don't be original, try to be good
innovate by presenting a cohesive purpose+function+aesthetics

* create a user flow diagram *

you can do this on a napkin in 5 minutes if need be
this process is really helpful to identify what the user is trying to accomplish in the fewest or continuous steps

you can do anything with:
order
variety
contrast
balance
shade
light
(there were more here that i missed)

grids are good - an awesome preso by Khoi Vinh

typography
i love typography
typography is good, it can be great
it can make all the difference

so i know all of you are saying:
all these sites are gorgeous
but how do you get there?
best place to start is to sketch things out
carry around a sketch book

draw it and combine things
and then see what works
i can't draw but we can sketch
it's so low rez that the shapes show what works
in writing, record
some copy
and navigation script

you can't just browse around and find a theme and transform it into your site
you can't start with the solution and mold it to your site
one of the funniest thing i've heard is 'we want a site that conforms to the latest Web2.0 design standards."

* have a voice, not a style *

the most distinguishing marks of a designer is how the process show through in the solution and the function

and we're done, that's what i have to share. thanks for coming, please ask questions. - Rob

now for some Q&A:

what's appropriate for formal web designer education these days?
of course fundamental graphic design
you need to know about web programming
more than html, css, photoshop
how do these things function?
an ability to adapt to constant change and the pace of change of the web
everything you learn in college is stale by the time you graduate
the web is fast

what about continuing education?
1. a healthy appreciation of design history
2. follow a list apart - this is where you're going to see the web changing
much of what is on the web now is old design rules
idea of navigation is old ideas

what about sites like ebay, craigslist, or myspace?
this is not the recipe to success, this is a problem solving approach to design.
ebay, craigslist, myspace address the purpose and function but maybe aesthetics aren't the most important thing against the other 2

by the by, i won a white iContact polo shirt for calling out that 'Copy' was the thing Zeldman stated was often the easiest and cheapest to change. neato. some other guy won a coffee mug for belting out the number of grid lines on one of the charts. wow.

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