One of my new clients needed a logo, banner (6ft x 4ft)) and website. I’ve got a prelim. website done. This website led to another website project that I’ve not even started on. It’s for another drug prevention organization.

Now if I could only balance this work with my internship.

 

I’ve never really followed politics. I guess I started when I did a website for John Howser. The conversations we had about his opponent and other politicians made me intrigued. Then I began to follow the Kerry/Edwards campaign and even had their bumper sticker (*gasp!). I shook Edwards’ hand at a speech in Cape Girardeau, MO that I was invited to by Howser.

Then began the primary season for the 2008 Presidential Election. The first nominee I had heard of was Ron Paul and I almost began to like him, until he didn’t stop speaking in his grumpy, whiney voice all the time. Then I heard Huckabee answer a question about faith and politics at a debate. I was sold on Huckabee the moment after he finished answering. I then joined his email list and checked his website almost daily to find out more.

Well, grandpa McCain became the nominee and everyone dropped out, except Ron Paul who is off in his own little world where every problem in the US revolves around “the value of the dollar dropping” and I was not going to support McCain for many reasons.

Then I remembered that one youtube video I watched of Obama speaking at the DNC. You know, the one where he blew everyone away. I began learning more about Obama and was convinced that he’s got something special. People say that it’s not all about oratory skills, but it sure helps and oratory skills are definitely going to hurt McCain, since he lacks in that area. I heard someone say that Obama isn’t running a campaign, he’s leading a movement. They said that as if it was a bad thing. I think it’s great that he’s got a targetted message and wants… you guessed it “Change”.

I went to the Des Moines rally where Obama declared that he had a majority of delegates. I also shook his hand which was pretty cool.

A little about McCain
I spent the semester in Advertising research John McCain and how he could better reach out to student/young voters. There aren’t many routes he can take, without changing his message, beliefs on the issues and getting younger. My research showed that he has one of the lowest number of facebook supporters of all the candidates, his own website also receives traffic from primarily 30 yr olds and above. If you compare this to Obama, it’s amazing. Obama has almost 1 million facebook supporters and his own website draws people from every age group at an equal rate. So my project was to create a “Students for McCain” website that wasn’t so depressing as his current site. The results are here. Before McCain recently redesigned his website it was almost all black,gray and dark blue. Not the color scheme I would choose for the oldest candidate running for the highest office in the US. I also tried making the site full of interactivity, which his old design lacked. It is a blog-style site so people can comment and have a community among themselves. There is also a video player of his cooler appearances (most of them have been taken down from youtube since the project ended)

Did anyone see this speech?

He seems so flat and angry in this speech. Not to mention, he can’t seem to read the teleprompter. To me he seems so old-school politics. My favorite is when he says “Now that’s not change we can believe in” a few times he always smiles and chuckles softly aftewards. It’s kind of creepy. I also think it’s funny that he pauses when he wants applause, and there’s an awkward pause when he does so.

What are you thoughts on Obama’s movement that is drawing millions and McCain’s lack of a movement?

Two weeks ago I began an internship at August Home Publishing. I think I’ve learned more about layout and design in the past two weeks than I have in the past two years. Doug Appleby is the Assistant Art Director for Workbench magazine. He is the greatest designer I’ve ever worked with and for. He always knows how to push me to do more with my design, and his ideas never fail to work. Although, unlike professors I’ve had, he doesn’t tell me exactly what to change, he inspires me to see what I do and don’t like and we end up agreeing on what should be changed. Check out his website. He has some great photography.

Workbench magazine is one of five that August Home publishes. It is the only magazine that was not started by August Home, but was bought a few years ago. It is the only one of the woodworking magazines they publish that is changing their target audience to the 25-40, male AND female crowd.

Workbench is different now, because its look and feel is very similar to what you see on TLC. Before this switch in audiences, something like putting type on a vertical path or something on an angle would set people on edge… and I’ve heard that it sometimes still does. But to design for Workbench is to really understand the audience of younger male/females.

Something besides all horizontal text, white-bread photography and cluttered pages is needed to reach this audience. So, white-space, unique info-graphics, and innovative spreads are my best friend this Summer. My job is to redesign about fifteen articles that have been previously published in the past 4-5 years. These will be in a new book coming out in January of home-improvement articles about home storage. I’ve got two articles 90% done.

The design process at Workbench is a push and pull to go further with design and really get in touch with the audience, and also uphold the tradition of the magazines at August Home Publishing. I can’t wait for my first layout meeting with the art directors and the company president. It shall be interesting.

Oh, I also met Senator Obama two days ago. I shook his hand-how cool is that?!?! Check out my photo album from the Obama Rally!

I had my senior Visual Communication show on Monday, and it would seem like I have nothing to do. Though, I’ve been working on some freelance work in the past two days. I got some logo sketches done for Putnam County Partners in Prevention and a theme/logo for the MH Film Festival. Check ’em out.

This coalition is a drug abuse prevention program that just started. I will be designing a website, brochure and large banner for them. It all starts with the logo.

Meadow Heights – or maybe just Michael 🙂 had a very focused idea of what they wanted. It makes it easy to design when they have a style and approach in mind. I did go out of my comfort zone to do this. I usually don’t do such illustrative work. Mini-site for this coming soon.

I’ve got website projects in all stages of production. A recent website project for Truman Media Network (TMN) is being programmed right now http://transfer20.truman.edu. My goal for TMN was to make it very accessable to visitors. I took many cues from CNNs website.  Also this was a test in “making a website with an existing logo that isn’t very well designed” The best thing to do is to use much whitespace around the logo and let it stand for itself, and don’t try to hide it with texture background or large graphics near it.

My two websites for my portfolio are now done. The two clients I decided on were a church in st. louis and a blues guitarist The audience for each is drastically different, and I hope the design depicts this. There’s also a mini-site for the church for their three week message series titled “Questions” With the blues guitarist I tried making it distinctly different from another guitarist website I made.

I’ve got another freelance client that wants a website, logo, brochure, banner for their drug prevention coalition, Putnam County Partners in Prevention. This will have to wait until after finals week in order to start brainstorming.

Meadow Heights also needs a website redesign, which I need to get done with… Why do I never have enough time for everything? haha

Today I presented in Advertising about a proposed “Students for McCain” website that Anshu (group partner) and I felt was needed for McCain. The website is here. I suggest watching the videos, especially the one about everything that is younger than McCain, such as the golden gate bridge, velcro, mcdonalds… and on and on. Get this, Dick Cheney is even younger than McCain.

Another website/poster campaign that just went live is for “Information Security Awareness” This has been a semester long project to create posters and the website.

In about a week I will be moved in near Des Moines, preparing for my first day of work at August Home!!! SO EXCITED.

Drawn from a black and white photograph taken in 1959

  1. Websites should look pretty and that’s all that matters.
    They should be well designed, but from a usability standpoint. It’s not a magazine ad, where the audience just looks at and reads it. Think about how the user will navigate through the site, their Internet speed, browser support, search engine optimization.
  2. I don’t know HTML so I’ll just use Flash to build my website.
    If it was 1999, maybe this would fly, but not today. Building websites purely in Flash is a misuse of Flash and an alienation of web useres. Flash is a motion graphics program, not a website editing program. Flash is meant to enhance  well programmed and designed websites. You will alienate visitors because they won’t find your website in the search engines. What about your grandma? She might not have the newest browser or Flash player which will allow her to view your website.
  3. I’ll welcome my visitors to my website with a “click here to enter” page. (see the screenshot)
    This is usually only done with Flash websites, but this is the silliest thing someone can do. By typing your web address in, it is a sign that they already wanted to “enter” your website. Keep the front door open and let them land right there in your living room, aka: your full homepage. Even if this page is only here so users know they need flash player to view the website, they most likely not going to take extra time to get the flash player just to view your website, unless it’s your very devoted mom.
  4. I’m using tables to lay out my website, because I just don’t get this new fandangled CSS thing.
    The Internt began as a way to present and transfer content in purely text format, with no layout needed or required. Tables were added shortly after so that tables of data could be displayed. Then someone decided that they could use a table to design their whole website. They even began nesting tables inside one another to create their complex web designs. Tables are to be used for “tables” of data, and CSS should be used for the layout and styling of a website . Cascading Style Sheets separate the design from the content. This means that when you want to redesign your website in a year, it will only take a few minutes. For example, I recently changed color schemes on my approx. 50 page portfolio website and it took about 10 minutes. If I was using tables, I would have had to open each of my 50 pages and change colors manually. I admit, in high school I learned to use tables, and it took 6 years to make the switch, and what a change it has been.
  5. Image maps are the best thing ever! I can create a website in seconds!
    What about visitors to your website who are disabled and use a screen reader? When they visit a well programmed website, the contents of the website is read to them out loud by special software. If your website is primarily image-based or even Flash, then all the disabled visitor will hear is silence. You can also alienate your visitors with dial-up Internet, because they will wait many times longer for your website to load. I will admit I’ve used image maps. Just check out http://www.sargent-construction.com The whole circle motif is an image.
  6. I just make my paragraphs of text images so that the user will see exactly what I want them to, in the correct font, size, and color.
    It is true that the user might see a different font or size if you use real text, but that’s part of the beauty of the web. The user can decide, via their choice of screen resolution, font size, etc how they view your website. By making your text an image, you take that right away from the user, while also blocking that content from search engines and slowing the load time of dial-up users.

These ideas are ones I’ve spent eight years learning. I’ve made all these mistakes at one time or another, either for my convenience or because I truly had no idea what I was doing. The biggest idea above that can actually be a good thing to do would be ‘all flash’ website. For product promotions and mini-sites, it is definitely appropriate to use primarily flash, because you want to sell the product with a “flashy” design… Pun intended But if you are creating a corporate website, or even a band website, think about search engine optimization, usability, functionality etc.

The era of ‘pretty websites’ has passed. People now demand more usability, interactivity and functionality. If you can create a well designed website that is usable, functional and interactive, then you’ve figured something out.

 

As journalists we believe the guiding principle of our profession is accuracy; therefore, we believe it is wrong to alter the content of a photograph in any way that deceives the public.

As photojournalists, we have the responsibility to document society and to preserve its images as a matter of historical record. It is clear that the emerging electronic technologies provide new challenges to the integrity of photographic images … in light of this, we the National Press Photographers Association, reaffirm the basis of our ethics: Accurate representation is the benchmark of our profession. We believe photojournalistic guidelines for fair and accurate reporting should be the criteria for judging what may be done electronically to a photograph. Altering the editorial content … is a breach of the ethical standards recognized by the NPPA.

This is the center of the debate. I agree, designers, photographers and journalists shouldn’t add or take things away from a photo that will change the “integrity” of the photo. If you take out a person or a building or even add a person or building, that shouldn’t be done if the photo is being published in a newspaper or magazine. But what if you have a photo of a person with the background cutout and the photographer decided to take a photo with the half of one of the shoes cropped off. Does the designer whip out the graphics tablet and open up Illustrator and paint in the tip of the shoe, to complete the photo? I would say, yes, you should, especially if you are cutting out the background and there would be an awkward cropped foot floating in the middle of the page.

This exact thing happened this week in the Index (see this pdf). They published a photo that had the background cutout of a person’s foot but it was cropped off. It looked horrible and very incomplete. As a designer I saw laziness on behalf of the photographer and designer. But it wasn’t laziness, it simply was due to their ‘ethical’ restrictions. So, after looking at the PDF I realize they DID manipulate the photo, they placed a cutout photo on top of the rectangular photo with big fatty white drop shadow. Don’t believe me, check out this photo. They cutout this photo and placed it on another photo, to look like the person was in a different photo. Now if this isn’t changing the integrity of a photo, I don’t know what is. Maybe it’s unethical to also to publish recipes that are correct (see the Instructions section of the currey rice recipe where they call for chocolate chips and walnuts).

If it’s unethical to enhance photos without changing the meaning or integrity of the photo, then I’ll never work for a newspaper. I agree that we shouldn’t add or delete major aspects of a photo, but simply finishing the job of the lazy photographer I think is justified.

The other thing is that the photos a designer chooses should be ones he can successfully implement into his design. If we, as designers aren’t allowed to make photos look great through color correcting, levels, cropping and slight enhancements, then we shouldn’t use a photo. Maybe we’ll make the writer mad by using only typography or simply find another job, one that allows for creativity.

I heard someone in our discussion say that newspapers shouldn’t look pretty, they should just convey information.

Yeah. Right.

If the paper didn’t look pretty, no one would pick it up besides the newspaper staff who wrote it. Designers also make things functional and usable, not just pretty.  Think about posters, you don’t even look at the ugly ones, you are drawn to the readable, functional, beautiful ones.

My final thoughts: I believe editing photos in order to create the best image for the specific layout or story is what we should do, not follow an ambiguous rules, that don’t keep design in mind. Why can’t the newspaper designers have a code of ethics that begins with “As designers, we believe that….” ?

Check back with me in 5 years, I guarantee I won’t be working for a newspaper.

  • Only two days until I find out if I got the internship at August Home.
  • Only seven days until my first and only exhibition at Truman goes up in the Art Gallery.
  • Only seven days until my mom comes to Kirksville to see the exhibition.
  • Only two weeks until my last Spring semester ends here at Truman.
  • Only two weeks until my senior portfolio review.
  • Only two weeks until I see my aunt from Illinois.
  • Only four months until my last semester at Truman begins.
  • Only four months until I finally learn Flash… that’s if they hire a third Viscomm professor.
  • Only 265 day and 19 hours until I need to have a job.

I found this article by Andy Rutledge to be very interesting. He believes Poynter is doing the public a disservice by putting out studies on the eye movement of people who read things on the web or in print (the study is here). Now, I’ve always found information about the typical eye movement of people to be interesting, but nothing more. In high school, I learned people view a website in a Z pattern, starting in the top left and ending in the bottom right. I used this rule of thumb to design many websites that ended up all looking alike and were really boring. But since I’ve been in college, I’ve thrown the silly “eye-movment” rules out the window. It has never informed me on how to design something. Why? Because the designer can control the reader’s eye with design principles and elements.

I find it interesting that a school for journalists is studying eye movement of web and print readers. Designers have total control over the movement of the eye with the design principles they employ, so studying eye movement should be done case by case and not by journalists. This is like a school of graphic designers putting a study on how to write for newspapers or for the web. It just shouldn’t be done

Poynter has consistantly put out studies on the the eye-movement of readers, giving specific conclusions about their data. How useful are their conclusions? Andy Rutledge would say they aren’t very useful at all because an eye-tracking test can’t be applied to every publication or website. The reader who they tested on a certain newspaper might have been interested in the article, therefore read more of it. That doesn’t mean everything about that design is great and should be applied to every other aspect of publication design.

My communication friends might not like this quote, but I think, in this case, it is true. Poynter has done a study on something outside the realm of their profession. They are measuring something the designer has the ability to control: eye movement.

They’re making these mistakes, I believe, largely because they’re clearly not designers! The Poynter Institute is “a school for journalists, future journalists and teachers of journalists.” That’s great, but it clearly does not stand them in good stead when they so casually and unwittingly wander into the realm of design.

If you haven’t began to hate me, maybe this next excerpt from Andy Rutledge’s post will make you do so. 🙂

Eye-tracking Myopia

Here are a couple of examples of Poynter’s EyeTrack conclusions. Let’s examine some of their claims from the studies about online readers’ habits.

1. Users spend a good deal of time initially looking at the top left of the page and upper portion of the page before moving down and right-ward.

Not if the designer doesn’t want that to happen. What they’re referring to here are the behaviors of their study subjects when presented with the specific layouts used in the study. Any competent designer can craft a layout and design to elicit any specific entry/focus behavior on the page.

2. Ads perform better in the left hand column over the right column of a page. The right column is treated by users as an “after-thought” area and should be designed with that in mind.

Hogwash. Yes, a designer can make this so, but she can also design the page so that any area of the page allows ads to perform better. This is, in fact, the designer’s responsibility with many projects. The “after thought area” of a page is created by the design—if it is designed to exist at all, and is not always relegated to the right column.

3. Navigation placed at the top of a homepage performed best.

…For the specific designs used in the study, perhaps. But this again is wholly contextual to the design, the content, and the intent of the designer.

This is the sort of pap they would have designers, publishers, and editors believe and invest in. In their current pre-study promo article, they say, “Because the study adheres to the highest research standards, we’ll be able to offer industry leaders scientific accuracy on which to base the editing decisions they make every day.” However, as their conclusions are farcical and myopic, they don’t actually offer much in the way of valuable information. Their definitions of high research standards and scientific accuracy would seem to be unreliable.

So let’s let journalists write and study the effects of writing on readers. Also, let’s let designers design and study of the effects of design on viewers.