Sunday, June 15, 2014

Here's a short presentation I made on Content Governance (or Management). The video is pretty wordy, so I'll let it do the talking. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Some Thoughts on Web Standards

I’m going to try to be as concise about this as possible, since I’ve done extensive research into the area (and come across a few of these articles) before. I don’t have a smartphone or any type of mobile device, so in preparation for an early class on User Experience and Interface (UX/UI) for mobile applications, I looked into a lot of the conventions and elements that are taken for granted on smartphones, as well as the reasoning behind why they are the way they are. But I’ll get to that later. Here are my thoughts on the questions and the articles:

What are Web Standards, and why are they important?

Web standards are a series of expectations in user interface on the web. These are the things that are placed in similar, um, places across most web pages. If you want to see a website’s logo, you look to the top left corner. When you mouse over a hyperlink, if changes color (or style, or underlines, or something like that). These are all things that we assume will happen every time you open a website. Now, these types of things are important because they allow the user to get a handle on the site pretty quickly. Look at it this way; imagine if you were doing research across a couple of books. One of the books has a table of contents in the front, and you get used to using that to find chapters. But then the next book has its table of contents in the back, and every time you go to look up a chapter, you mess up and go to the front of the book by accident. It’s a pain in the butt to have to relearn basics, and web standards help prevent that.

What do I think of web standards?

I think that web standards have their place. They’re obviously a very important for usability and continuity, but quite frankly, the Internet that Jakob Nielsen describes is pretty bland. If one hundred percent of a website’s elements were standardized, there wouldn’t be any room for interesting design, or more importantly, innovation. I know he sort of calls off his dogs and admits you can’t standardize everything, but even the degree he wants standardization to is a bit harsh. Personally, I think the makeup of the web is at a pretty good place right now; a lot of sites are standardized (I’m lookin’ at you, social media), but there’s enough difference in other parts of the web to keep it interesting. And enough to give room for new ideas, maybe even future standards, to arise.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wrapping Up the Semester: Mobile/Interactive Design

I don't own a smartphone, and I had never even held a tablet before this class. I had an inkling I was behind the technology curve in that regard, but it was really cemented for me when, at the beginning of the semester, the professor, Pattie Belle Hastings, had us lay out our phones on a table so we could talk about the average user profile of the room. Out of the whole class, I was the only person who didn't have a smartphone. At least it was unique.

Yes, that does say 6:32 am. Don't judge.

From there on out, though, I had to do a lot of research to keep myself on par with the class. Even the most basic elements of apps, like menu structure and icon placement, I had to research. Personally, I think this gave me an edge, since I essentially had an excuse to really delve into the things that most smartphone users simply take for granted, learning about the design decisions that influence smartphone design. It also let me criticize the system a bit and find my own ways to do things (for better and for worse; I've never heard the phrase "This is a safe place to fail" so many times in my life!)

All told, I don't think I failed (Well, at least I hope not, since I kind of need this course to graduate in a few weeks!) I learned the most I ever have in any one class from Mobile/Interactive Design, mostly because I started out knowing so little. I feel like I was able to effectively research to make up for my technological deficiencies and come out with very strong designs and layouts. I really enjoy the field of UX/UI; it's something I would definitely consider for a career in the future. There's a nice cross-section of print design and game design in the field, it almost feels like that could be where my whole career as a designer has been headed all along!

And who knows, maybe one day I'll get a smartphone to test my own designs on :P

Tabletop - UI Prototype Demo

Here it is: the User Interface Demo of the Tabletop Game Prototyping App:
The prototype is hosted on the Invision App prototyping tool and can be accessed here (at least until June 2014, then my temporary membership to the program expires). I'll admit, the set-up I made for this app is a lot more "demo-centric" than my previous Errands App, but that's because this app has a more robust set of uses and directions. In retrospect, I probably could have made a more interactive prototype in Flash; allowing the user to actually manipulate and edit the objects. There's always room for improvement :P
It's kind of neat to have moved the Tabletop Game Prototyping App to the UI mockup phase of development. I've become really attached to the project; it's definitely my favorite app design I've done, probably since I really think that an app like it would be an excellent tool. It's generated a surprising amount of positive feedback and interest, enough for me to consider revisiting it with a few of my programmer friends. With just a small amount of refinement, this could even be put up on Kickstarter in the hopes of generating enough funds to make it happen. Either way, I'm very happy with the way the app design has come out, and I think I've developed both a strong visual design and a strong user interface design.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

For when you can't ask your design friends for help...

... there's "Critique that Sh••!"

If you're looking for a good laugh at the expense of your own design, ftp your project to the web and plug the url into this site. The computer gives you a nice what-for!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tabletop App Paper prototyping

I tried something new with this prototype. Unlike my previous one, where I used a whole new screen for each menu, submenu, etc., I tried separating out the menus and just placing them over the background screen to simulate ho the app would actually work. Now, I did run into a few issues; about midway in I admit that I forgot to print a menu, and the "back" button from the Playtest screen is mysteriously missing. But, it did let me show off the "drag and drop" elements of the app in a paper prototype environment, which I'm kind of proud of. In my defense, I did try to keep the number of screens to a minimum so that I could just add menus on top, but clearly some of navigation fell by the wayside (or to the floor when I was trimming).

Next time I do this, I have to lay it all out and go through it a few times myself, that way I don't have any embarrassing little hitches in the layout. Also, using some basic color might help; just watching the video, I can see the whole thing is very gray (between the table and the paper prototypes).

Special thanks to Nick for being the user, Jason for filming, and Ninjamock for being a sick tool.