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.