Friday, December 11, 2009

Elf Yourself!

I found this site called It is hilarious and the ultimate example of interactivity on the web. On this site the user literally becomes a part of the animation. It is sponsored by Office Max to bring holiday cheer to all of its customers, and gain a few more in the process. I posted earlier about how interactive sites boost sales!

The website works by uploading a photo of yourself. The website allows you to adjust the size and cropping to get the perfect picture of your face! Next you will adjust your mouth, so your animation can sing, of course! After this is done you can add friends. You can have up to 5 elves within your animation.

Finish adjusting your friends and play your animation. If that doesn't put you in the holiday spirit, I don't know what will!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Online Video Statistics

Online videos are viewed by nearly 73% of the internet population. This is about 123 million Americans that watch online videos every week. 26% are humorous 60% are ads. 44% of people watching these videos will take action on an issue because of an online video. 76% of viewers will share a video they have seen with a friend.

These videos are short and easy to access. Of the 2.5 billion videos being viewed on the web, 2.4 billion come from YouTube. The average length of these videos is 2.6 minutes. The average viewer watches 68 videos a month, or 3 hours worth of videos. Businesses also have seen a 35% increase in sales when they offered some kind of virtual tour or video showcasing their product.

I found this article interesting because the internet and online media has become part of our everyday lives. In recent years the YouTube internet video phenomenon has started. Videos are everywhere on the internet and these statistics just show how useful internet videos can be, especially in marketing and sales or products.

Google Real Time Search Results

Google is one of the top search engines used on the web today. A single term can render thousands and thousands of results. Google has now added a new feature to its site. Now when entering a term into the search criteria, the user can view results from Facebook and Twitter in their search results. If your Facebook profile is set to public then anything posted in your status could possibly turn up in Google's search results.

The same is also applicable to Twitter. Anything that you post on a Twitter site can also show up in Google's search results. The Facebook and Twitter results will show up in their own section. They are constantly update. Four or five results will show up at a time and will update as soon as new results that match the search criteria are posted.

Rule the Stars

Interactivity has been a consistent theme throughout my classes this semester. Interactivity is a way of creating an application or website that allows the user to have a greater experience when visiting a website. They become a part of the website and get to adjust the atmosphere they are in.

I was searching for different examples of interactive websites when I cam across This is a fun interactive website. It isn’t meant to teach a certain message, it is purely recreational. The website opens with a main page that asks, “What would you do if you could rule all the stars in the sky?” The viewer is now left in there own world that they are totally in control of.

The tool used is similar to the Pen tool in illustrator. It allows the user to create shapes using points. These shapes can be bent or manipulated however the user wants. My favorite part of the site is when you navigate to the link that says “Preview”. This allows the viewer to see their star creation in the sky, and it is rotated 360 degrees, so it actually looks as it is floating in space. I thought this was a unique website and a good example of the interactive pieces that we have talked about.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Stopping Internet Piracy

Internet piracy happens everyday. It is the biggest threat to the film industry. Low budget, independent films are hit the hardest by piracy and large film studios lose millions. The Internet is huge and impossible to patrol, and on top of that the Internet is anonymous in most cases. It is very hard to catch those that download film illegally from the Internet.

France is the first country to create a government agency that specifically targets, and punishes, Internet pirates. England has also compromised and come up with a way of dealing with Internet pirates. Representatives from Greece think that the best way to stop Internet piracy is to educate the people about it, and what the punishment for being caught may be. Repeat offenders are easier to catch. Other countries addressing the piracy issue think that punishing repeat offenders will put Internet pirates and the film industries on the same playing field. France has even proposed shutting off the Internet connection of those repeat offenders that are caught.

Regardless of the punishment, the fact remains that the digital world we now live in brings its own new set of criminals, which must be addressed. Completely cutting off a persons Internet connection seems harsh, but we lived without the Internet at some point. Maybe this is just what we need to stop Internet pirates, but will the US ever adopt this method?

Article Link

Team of Rivals Assemble to Harness Digital Media

Everything today is digital. If it can’t be found on an iPhone or Blackberry, then it isn’t important. This is the view of a lot of the worlds population. This move to a digital world has brought together some of the biggest rivals in the magazine industry. In an effort to take part in the digital world some top names in the magazine industry may be joining forces.

A new company would be formed that would bring together magazines like Time, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Sports Illustrated, etc. This new company would act as a “library” where digital copies of each magazine could be purchased. Printed magazines will still be for sale, but this new company would help these magazines account for those readers that are in need of digital copies. The layout of this application would unify each magazine into one easy to use area. However, each magazine would be responsible for the digital design of their magazine.

Social Networking vs. Google

Google has spent the last decade at the top, when it comes to online business. To many people it is the place to get your information. The search engine can yield billions of results for a single search. However, some say that Google’s reign may be coming to an end in the near future. The billions given by a Google search was once seen as a good thing. But, in our ever-busy lives we are constantly looking for the quickest easiest solution.

Social networking has taken over the web in recent years. It is much easier to get answers through social networking on sites like Facebook and Twitter. People are more likely to take the quick, easy route, and get answers from people close to them that they trust. No one wants to sift through thousands of pages of results anymore. Also, because Google is such a big business, and one of the pioneers of internet business, it is slow to adopt new philosophies. Google has not undergone many significant changes in its decade on the top. Only time will tell the fate of Google, but what is known is that Google will never fully disappear. Google has become one of the icons of our generation.

Google Adds Automatic Captions to YouTube

YouTube has become one of the most widely searched sites on the web. It is so widely used that every minute 20 hours worth of video is uploaded to the site. We have all visited the site. There are videos for everyone spanning thousands of subjects. There are endless how-to's, music videos, aspiring artists, and mindless entertainment videos. We all enjoy these videos. We navigate through the site with ease. But what about those with disabilities?

Any cable TV channel you watch today will have the option for closed captioning. So, wouldn't it make sense for a popular video website to also offer captions for its videos? This is exactly what Vint Cerf, a Google VP, thought.

YouTube currently has an option for users to add their own captions to videos that they upload. This feature is rarely used and isn't beneficial to those that may be hearing impaired. So, YouTube has taken it upon themselves to create closed caption channels on their website. They will begin using a recognition software that will automatically create captions on any uploaded videos to create a more user friendly experience for anyone that wishes to visit the site.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Usability Findings

When creating a website, one of the most important factors to be looking at is usability. If person visiting your site can't find the information they're looking for, they have no reason to be on your site. Usability ensures that viewers are navigating where they need to, are viewing what you want them to view, and keeps them from quickly leaving your site. Dmitry Fadeyev wrote on article on a few of the top usability findings by combing studies done across the country.

One of the top usability findings is that people judge a sites credibility by its looks. If your site has a good design then people are more likely to take it seriously and stick around to view your information. A poorly designed site reflects badly on whoever the site is representing. Also, upon visiting a site for the first time 77% of viewers will not scroll down the page. It is important to have a well designed site to keep the viewers attention and have you most important information near the top of the page.

One study also found that blue is the best color for links. Even though designers want to create a unique layout for a website that is interesting, the average user attributes the color blue to links, and may become lost. Finally, what I found to be very interesting, is that we are instinctively drawn to faces. When looking at a website it there are people on it, out eyes go there first. So, according to one study, having a face on your page that is looking towards important information, or somehow gesturing towards information, then that information will most likely be read first.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Horizontal Web Navigation

I came across an article that talks about the shift from vertical navigation on web pages to horizontal navigation. This has become the favored design as of recently. Everyone seems to be applying horizontal navigation to their web pages. The switch from vertical to horizontal navigation is both for aesthetics and for usability.

The article says that when someone visits a website their primary point of focus is the navigation bar. So, the navigation bar should be well designed and should be easy to find and read. However, the navigation bar should not take away from the content that is on the page.

The article also goes into detail on how to create navigation that is easy to use. Labels should clearly state where links are being directed. Creative names, even though catchy, may make it harder for users to determine which link they should be using. There should also be a hierarchy of links in the navigation bar. Primary links should be most prominent and should be distinguishable from secondary links. Also, drop down menus should be clearly labeled. A visitor to your site should never be surprised by drop down menus.

The current trend of horizontal navigation versus vertical navigation doesn't seem as though it will shift anytime soon. However, no matter what the trend is, one thing is clear. Navigation should be well designed, clear, and to the point.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hand Drawn Typography

Working with typography has always been one of the best parts of designing. The typography on a project can make or break the project. Pair the greatest photography, or illustration, ever with bad typography and finished product is nothing more than average in the end. There are so many possibilities with typography that there is no reason for this to ever happen. If you can't find a font that suits your needs, create your own. I have done this before, and although a little time consuming, it always ends up giving your work it's own unique style. You can honestly say that no one will have that exact font and no ones work look like your work.

I am a fan of creating hand drawn fonts. Not only do they add that something extra to your work, but they can also be a source of inspiration. Smashing Magazine recently posted an article about hand drawn typography. It is a short article explaining hand drawn typography, and how it can inspire designers. They article also suggests altering existing fonts for a hand drawn look. The article features 40 different works that used hand drawn typography. Each piece also has a link. I have looked through all of them yet, but most of them take you to another page where you can see how the font was used. In one instance the poster that was shown in the Smashing Magazine article was a part of a larger marketing campaign that included signage, posters, stationery, envelopes, etc.

I really liked this article because I get very inspired by these hand crafted elements. The typography inspires not only the type for something I may be working on, but the entire direction that the piece moves in. The positive and negative forms of the hand drawn type can inspire. There are many different aspects of this kind of typography that can be looked at. Everything from the hand-crafted look, the positive and negative shapes, the flourishes, all of these things create a beautiful typeface, and also inspire the designers that see it.