So in this series I was reviewing some of my notes from a class I had taken. I thought I would re-organize the notes and post them as a series on visual design. I will provide links to sources and resources for you to check out that will be a great supplement. My notes were taken from a class that used the book Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability as one of the textbooks. This is a lengthy post but I believe it contains some great information to help you with your designs and clients.
Step 1: We must learn to think before we speak
This simply means that we have to think about images, text, organization, interaction, motion, video, and more. We need to work these things flawlessly together to create amazing presentations. Wroblewski states, “Speaking ‘web’ means thoroughly thinking through the organization and interaction of a Web site, and how it is presented to an audience (Wroblewski).” To successfully communicate over the web we have to merely communicate well. Does that seem confusing; basically, even though it is different to communicate over the web than other forms of communication, it is still communication and follows some of the same rules.
Step 2: Knowing what to say
Some communication can be interpreted by two different people two different ways; so it is vital to recognize this to be successful at speaking “web.”
So, how do we communicate well?
How do we make sure user #1 and user #2 both receive the same message and that what they see or hear is our planned message? Sometimes just thinking through the most important message that you want to get across and how to effectively articulate often does the trick. Basically, we have to make sure we are conscious of what we are saying and to whom we are saying it to.
Who is saying what to whom?
Step 3: Saying it in our new “web” language
There is a message whether we are aware of it or not. Every web page and web site has a message; sometimes these are deliberate messages and other times they are not. This message is communicated by imagery, content, colors, sounds and many of the items listed already in step 1. If we don’t give enough thought to what were “saying” then sometimes our message can come across mistaken.
A simple example: Let’s say your favorite color is red and so you design your site strongly in red. What are you communicating? Does the user know it’s your favorite color? According to Color Wheel Pro website red is the color of fire and blood; so it’s often associated by rage, war, danger, strength, power, love and determination (http://www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html). Now what if this was for your new family Diner; did you want to portray danger, war, rage or love? The intended message needs to match the users interpretation of what we are saying. We need to make sure that when user #1 and #2 visit your site, they interpret your message the same way. In order for the user to be able to use the site it has to be understood.
Step 4: Effective communication
We can ask several questions that can help us understand our sites goals and mission.
(Some questions came from usability.gov)
1. Who are the users of your Web site and what are their tasks and goals?
2. What information and functions do your users need, and in what form do they need it?
3. What hardware and software will the majority of your users use to access your site?
4. Who is your audience?
5. How would you describe the site?
6. From an organization’s viewpoint?
7. From a user’s viewpoint?
8. Why are they coming to your site?
9. How do users think your Web site should work and what are their experience levels with the Web site?
When talking goals we need to make sure these are clear goals. Instead of saying my client needs a cool menu; we could say, we need an interactive menu that never loses the user or leads them to a dead end. Just make sure your goals and tasks and other answers to your usability questions are clearly defined.
Step 5: Getting to know you client
Before we start designing for a client we need to spend some time educating ourselves with the client. What do they do, what do they need and what do they expect of you? Before we speak for the client we have to be familiar with the client. This can be done by analyzing their brochures, examining their business plan, trying their products or research their industry (I find this one to be a great way to learn about what you need to do).
Step 6: Mission statement
Now that you’re entirely overwhelmed with all these steps and information we need to put it together. This allows you to refer back to it to keep you on track. Write a mission statement in response to your usability questions.
Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability by Luke Wroblewski (Highly recommend this book)