A major portion of today’s class involved the importance of working together as a team to establish an interactive, navigable design. Brandon and Sarah from the Scholars’ Lab at UVA walked us through a brainstorming activity in which we examined poorly designed websites and discussed their faults. The websites we viewed have a common fault- they are difficult to navigate and extract information from, which causes confusion for the audience. We each pointed out several problems with the websites such as jumbled color schemes, too many boxes, and fonts that detract from the argument. Brandon and Sarah then suggested that we turn the negative aspects of the websites into positive criteria to emulate in our own websites. We decided that a website must be readable, consider an audience, and incorporate a design that reflects the priorities of the website. Brandon offered up his original website design for our criticism. We applied our established criteria to Brandon’s design, and he agreed with our corrections. He then displayed his updated website, and we noticed that he applied a similar brainstorming process to his revision.
Brandon’s presentation of his personal website provided a liaison into our class discussion about revising our team websites. As a class, we came up with the necessary steps for redesigning a website. The process involves thinking about how you want the user to experience the site, physically drawing out your individual ideas, surveying the field to find examples of good websites, and breaking down large goals into smaller components. Ultimately, we want a museum not a shed when it comes to design. Brandon and Sarah then pointed us to helpful websites to learn about website design. Finally, they showed us their Prism site, including the revisions it underwent throughout their work. The current Prism website looks very updated and crisp. Sarah and Brandon emphasized its playful childlike interaction with its audience, similar to a game. The site welcomes, rather than confuses.
At this point in our web design, we are focused on pooling our individual skills into collaborative project goals in order to create a readable website. We have a name, a logo, and a series of pictures that scan across the top of the welcome page. Today’s discussion helped us narrow our focus and work through the details of exactly how we want our audience to interact with the information that we display. Each of us sketched out different ideas, and we are working through a way to balance text and images. After lab today, we digitized a large portion of our information, so we now have material to work with and further refine through a lens of our ultimate goals. In order to accurately articulate the events of 1985 at Washington and Lee, we need to frequently revisit the principles of goal setting and web design and work with one another during every step of the process. Thanks to Brandon and Sarah, we have a better understanding of where we are and where we need to go in order to create a successful project.