11 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2016
  2. techwritingf16.robinwharton.net techwritingf16.robinwharton.net
    1. Use visuals (photos or illustrations) when it is necessary to show- what something looks like or to depict a perceptual quality such as color, texture, pattern, shape, relative size, spatial location, orientation, arrangement, or appearance

      Something that is important to remember when using images is that they can be used to explain what is being described in the text. However, if the image is being used for that purpose, it must be good quality.

      If the body copy is explaining the complexities of the inside of a Lilly and how it grows, the image should be clear enough to convey that information. Also when we are using images in our future content creation, I believe that we must test their quality before we officially post them to our future websites. The image could appear pixilated and therefore confusing or even useless. Images appear differently on different quality screens so when we are testing our work we should trying testing the image quality on a lower end device as well as a higher end one to maintain consistency.

    2. Isolation Surround important elements with lots of white space. Elements surrounded by generouswww. mintocommercial, com/home. htm),white space are thought to be accorded greater attention. As a result, isolating an element in a dis­play implies that it is more important (Goldsmith

      This quote is another aspect of design that seems so simple that it could easily be forgotten. Personally this is something I've probably noticed thousands of times but have never stopped to think about why a title for example, was surrounded by white space.

      By surrounding elements that require greater attention with white space as the quote implies, we are assigning that element value. In separating a title from the rest of the body copy in an article, we have created value without having to add any other design elements. Without a fancy font or added font thickness, a piece of text just separate and surrounded by white space is easily understood to be worth remembering.

      An example of this could be found when reading an article whether on line or in a magazine when the author takes a quote from their own article and creates white space around it surrounded by body copy. This creates points of emphasis while also breaking up the copy into smaller pieces as well. While they may use a different font or boldness, the separation implies this particular quote is important in regards to the rest of the article.

    3. Good design reveals structure when it visually mimics the logical relationships that exist among elements in a display. The human visual system attempts to find the structure of information—whether in a scene, on a page, or on a screen—very early in its efforts to process it, and it does so by looking for visual patterns.

      To me, this quote is explaining the psychology of good design.

      Humans need structure. Within a structure they are free to improvise, but that structure is what creates a template of understanding. The jazz guitarist can play millions of notes that don't seem to make sense, but he may be actually stringing together multiple scales and arpeggios that to a casual listener sound disjointed, but are actuality a framework for which his seemingly improvised notes are connected.

      This type of thinking can be applied to our designs and layouts as well. While we may all want to be totally unique and innovative, we may want to think about how far we stray from conventional designs and templates. Many of these design conventions may exist due to how they are able to easily guide humans through a website for example. As the quote mentions, the "human visual system" is looking for "visual patterns". We are exploiting that by arranging our content in a way that makes the most sense by using fonts and spacing that can create hierarchies which can guide the reader through our writing even easier.

    4. A number of assumptions are commonly made about the efficacy of icons in graphical user interfaces. They include the notion that icons, because they are pictorial, are almost invariably easy to interpret. A corollary' is that they' are universally interpretable because the key to meaning con­veyed pictorially is not bound to any one language. These assumptions, which are largely incorrect, stem in part from a confusion between the notions of “identification” and “interpretation." While it may well be true that, at least for concrete things and ideas, pictures facilitate rapid, and sometimes universal, identification, it is certainly not al­ways true that they efficiently or unambiguously convey what we intend an object to mean (Salomon 1979; Sebeok 1994; Williams 1996

      This quote is so interesting because it was published back in 2000 and the use of icons or in our futuristic world, emoji's, has only increased.

      One aspect that Salomon, Sebok and Williams all point out in this excerpt is that not all icons are universally understood. One icon in one culture may have another meaning in another. While a smiley face may be universal, a thumbs up may not be. Today we have a wide array of icons or emojis that are used in online publication but also personal communication. However, if one is not totally caught up on pop culture, the meaning of these icons may be lost. While we may think that a picture is worth a thousand words, we as technical writers need to understand that those words may not translate well in a thousand different languages.

      An interesting study would be to find out which emoji's or icons are the most popular in other languages such as French, Chinese, Swahili or Russian for example. In these languages, icons may not even play a significant role in everyday communication as much as they seem to in Western and specifically English speaking cultures.

    5. While ''thematic” pictures may be acceptable when their relationship to the site and its contents can be easily in­ferred, pictures chosen only to decorate a site often con­fuse. At best such pictures provide no assistance to the viewer in acquiring information being conveyed by a site.

      Something that we have touched on all semester is the use of as many modes as possible when we are trying to communicate to as many audiences as possible. One mode we should always think about using is pictures.

      Since we are all somewhat young technical writers in training, we need to be training ourselves to communicate as much as possible as succinctly as possible. In regards to this reading and specific quote, that also means making sure that the images we use are actually useful for the overall content we are creating. As Williams mentions, there will be times when we need a decorative image. But most of the time we will be using images to help convey information as clearly as possible. As we have discussed in class, images can help reach more audiences but also enhance the content by adding a visual element which will enhance the effectiveness of the information we are trying to display.

      We must also remember that some readers may get what they need from our content just by looking at the pictures and the headlines. That is ok. This is an audience we should be planning for. Users are looking for content and want to digest that content quickly. Adding visual elements will help them accomplish that.

    6. Finally, it’s important to acknowledge in the design of information to be displayed on a screen that screens differ from pages in some very fundamental ways. Screens, for example, may be smaller than pages, at least in the sense that they often display fewer lines of type than a typical paper page. Screens are also customarily oriented differ­ently than paper—they are typically wider than they are tall. The images displayed on screens are also often more crude than those printed on paper, and, unlike paper, screens transmit light rather than reflect it. Issues of screen resolution and luminance are addressed in a later section on typography. Screen size and orientation, though, affect the designer’s decisions about the arrangement of visual elements on a screen and so are considered in the context of our discussion of design.

      This is a great quote because it is instructing us to be knowledgeable about how the user will interact with the products and content we create.

      We don't know exactly how the end user will view our content. They could be using a smart phone, desktop, I-pad or 1999 Gateway computer and will need to be able to access the information just as easy across all of these the devices. In the case of the gateway computer, this may not be possible, but as we learned with universal design, this should be something we aspire to as we try include as many audiences as we can.

      During my undergrad last decade, I was a film minor and was privileged enough to land an actual film production class. Something that has always stuck with me is how we were instructed to edit our sound in our films for the speakers we would be presenting on. In our case it was a basement projector set up in GCB (Langdale Hall). We actually spent the night in the building editing on the large projector screen to make sure our sound was as crisp as possible per the speakers that were attached to the projector. Since many others edited their sound in high end head phones, their sound was actually worse when played to lesser quality speakers. To make a long story end, we need to be thinking of audience in our design, but also how exactly the content we create will be viewed and plan for that specifically if possible for the best possible results.

    7. As Tullis notes, “Visual groupings have a significant effect on the semantic interpretations that users assign to the information” (1988, p. 390). Elements that are visually grouped (see Figure 4) will likely be perceived as “associ­ated” with one another. Similarly, elements on a screen that share the same color or texture or orientation, even if spatially separated, are interpreted as being related in some meaningful way. Unrelated elements, of course, should be visually different or spatially separated from one another.

      This quote is interesting since this was a part of our lecture last week. The most intriguing aspect of this quote goes back to how good design can also use elements of psychology.

      Tullis explaines, "Visual groupings have a significant effect on the semantic interpretations that users assign to the information". Tullis, as well as Williams, is writing about how we as humans can be pre-wired in a sense to take in information in a certain way easier than others. By grouping information into "chunks" we perceive multiple elements to be related to each other since they have been grouped together. We assume that because something is next to something else, they must be connected without really even really thinking about it.

      So if we apply this concept to our own designs, we can group certain text, images or data together without explicitly explaining how they are connected and many people will believe them connected just by their proximity to the other. This is handy when trying to create content that needs to be read quickly. By grouping content and information in this way can say more with less.

    8. "Backgrounds, consequently, should be, as far as possible, devoid of pattern or, if esthetic considerations demand that they be patterned, be very subtle or muted." (pg. 2, Lynch and Horton 1999)

      The above quote points to something so simple that it can easily be overlooked. A background should be simple, that's why it is the background. Think of it as a band with a talented lead singer. The lead singer (the content) is the main attraction. The back up vocalists (the background) are there to support the lead singer (the content). They must know their roles for the entire show to be a success. It was never Smokey Robinson and Jeff, Carl and Glenn. It was Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. There must be order.

      When we add different patterns and bold colors that contrast with the beautiful content we've just created we are doing ourselves and possibly our employers a disservice since the content will not be as useful or in some cases even hard to look at for long periods of time. While thinking about design, everything must work in concert for us to achieve the best results. We may not always get there, but we need be to striving towards that goal.

    9. "In general, elements that contrast greatly with their backgrounds (black on white - or white on black - shows the most contrast) are relatively easy to see even when they are very small." (pg. 1)

      I think by adhering to this quote we can easily achieve content that is easier to understand. Users will be accessing this information quickly, so by creating a clear and easy to comprehend layout using these simple color combinations, we can achieve more effective writing.

      We may want to add more colors to a website, but we must being thinking about how someone will be able to read it if they are on their computer or on their mobile device of choice especially. If our writing is somewhat legible on a large screen, it may be nearly impossible to read on a smaller screen. The good news is that this aspect of design can be easily applied by committing to product testing. But we must also understand that we may at times become too close to the work and having another person not ourselves to test our work will also improve our chances of creating easy to understand content.

    10. Simply, elements that are logically coordinate ought to be treated graphically in the same way. Subordinate elements ought to appear less prominent than superordinate elements, and elements that are closely tied to one another logically ought either to be grouped spatially or share some other perceptual attribute such as color.


    11. "White backgrounds provide the greatest contrast and, unlike colored backgrounds, are not susceptible to browser or monitor-induced change." (pg. 2)

      Just a good point.