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Typography and Web Design | Malleable Mediums

Frank Chimero had some points that I could relate to in his article, "What Screens Want". He even spoke about car phones which I just posted about not too long ago. He posted a video that highlighted the surge of the era of plastic and how it became a way of making things look like things we couldn't afford had they been made out of the original material. Chimero relates this to screens and software and the manner in which it appears like what it is replacing. Everyday digital tools that we use such as calendars, and the mail icon for Mac (postage stamp), and file icons are examples of these. Designing for the screen is about time, movement, and change, not necessarily the correct "grain" or texture/ appearance of something. Frank Chimero calls this flux, and it is all about movement, not necessarily just animation, but adding a sense of time and change to all facets of screen design. The genie effect of windows closing and opening is an example of flux. It enhances the interaction, creating a more rewarding experience. He also relates the sometimes confusing abstraction of geographical maps to the communication of information on the internet and calls for a system that distorts less , based on the following principles:  extensibility, openness, communication, community, and wildness. I liked the article, I plan on reading more of what he has to say.  

The New York Times Web Reboot talks about how the newspaper made the website more like viewing an actual paper by changing the background color to a duller grey/off white color like a newspaper, having long scrolling articles, eliminating pages to turn. The comment section is now on the side of the articles instead of below them. It's a faster, more interactive experience that relates more authentically to reading a printed newspaper. 

The Web Design/Typography articles further expresses the importance of typography and communication and the bad excuses for poor web typography. It speaks strongly to using type as a user interface rather than for decoration. It isn't about what typeface you use, but the manner in which you use it. The articles also talk about how crucial it is to understand and familiarize yourself with the mediums in which you work with. I completely agree with his emphasis on the unprecedented importance of typography in web design for purposes of communication and clarity; we want these interfaces to work for us, and work well. It is much more about the website's functionality rather than it's appearance, he claims, but good taste is nice too. Although, with the precision of the rules of typography, taste sort of comes last. If the fundamentals are understood, the two go hand in hand. I also agree about reading more books, I started reading again over break. I read somewhere to keep a fiction and non-fiction book by your bedside, which is exactly what I had picked out. 

These articles were really insightful, I enjoyed reading them as I can relate to a lot of the ideas. I like the way Chimero broke up his paragraphs with simple imagery, giving the reader a bit of room to breathe. I picked up my copy of The Leavenworth Times which is the newspaper I'll be dissecting tomorrow. Something really weird, the front page says "Design Consultant Ok'd" and if you knew Leavenworth, you'd know how strange it was that this was the headline. I never buy newspapers, so that was a little weird. Granted, it's for a road design, but still. 

Three News Websites

I usually skim through google news every day on my phone just to get a quick brief overview of what is happening in the world, morning and night. I like their phone app because it's easy to read and I can drop down to view more of an article before I decide if I want to invest my time into anymore of it. I don't get a sense of a partial party, which I like. It is divided into U.S., Local, and World sections. And then I think a suggested articles drop down. 

I went to the Kansas City Star, CNN, Fox News, New York Times (I didn't see the redesign they were speaking about) and they all seem to have the same sensory overload for me. A lot of images and type , I wish there was some way to highlight some things or cycle them through so that less could be seen at once. CNN probably uses text in a more interactive way than any of the others I visited. They have one big image and the left hand panel is all type that registers differently if clicked. NPR is also really legible and seems to breathe a lot easier than most. It's probably my favorite. There is no dominating red or blue, it's very neutral and soft in appearance. It seems to be created for a universal audience, which I really appreciate. Although, I think single scrolling through imagery can give some people a headache. I'm not a believer in a ridiculous amount of clicks or an interface that only uses endless single scroll, I think there is interactivity somewhere in between. MSN uses mainly images with text descriptions, but a very image heavy page. They sort of started the image heavy news page, or at least that's what I remember from previous years before the news was mainly online.

My general impression is that the audience isn't really taken into account, it's more about seeing how much information can be shoved into one page and how to get the most views. I think the headline should be isolated in imagery. Most news websites feel claustrophobic with an overloaded display of information at one time.

BBC news is well-organized, it feels easy to navigate through. I think they are trying to reach a universal audience. There is a lot of red on the page which feels a bit loud to me, but doesn't distract from what I'm looking at. At a second look, I think BBC has too much imagery. I am overwhelmed and am not sure what to click on.

NPR also feels well-organized, a bit more airy with one singular image highlighted at a time, another being viewed with a scroll. It feels like it is geared towards a mature audience with it's use of clarity and larger, bolded headlines. I like the sense of hierarchy but I think it could be pushed even more.

The Kansas City Star's website feels junky and way overcrowded. I feel the most overwhelmed with this website. It also lacks credibility when things get too overcrowded. It could definitely use some negative space and hierarchy so I can decide what to read first. I think it's geared towards a general audience, maybe non specifically, which is problematic. It's generic and seems thrown together, even though it probably wasn't. It scrolls into oblivion and I get completely lost. I think it could help if there was less scrolling. 

It's interesting to evaluate the different treatments of typography and image through these different websites. When communicating the news typography is particularly important because it can be used to manipulate what the reader sees first, or sees as most important. It can also create so much noise that you don't get your audience to see what you want them to see. I can see that I want to simplify my website to make it feel more airy and easier to read. I want to have a strong system of hierarchy so the viewer doesn't feel overwhelmed. I want it to feel familiar and simple to use. I'd like to have text boxes that scroll with fixed images to retain the article's importance and not distract the reader. I'd also like to have a "lights out" option for video to turn off the background completely when viewing the content.