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User Involved Design - Do web visitors want to interact?

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#1 cre8pc


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Posted 02 September 2004 - 11:09 AM

A great article sparks interesting debate on whether or not the design should encourge or consider visitor involvement or action -

Forging a partnership between designer and user

For the Web to fulfill its promise of universal access, users must shoulder more responsibility for their environment.

The comments on her article seem to be critical and claim she's theorizing. I think she raises great points. She offers support for designers who are concerned and struggling to meet user oriented goals.

She talks about the fixed vs liquid width issue, adjusting font sizes, and other common concerns.

Any thoughts?

#2 mugshot


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Posted 02 September 2004 - 12:31 PM

In regards to liquid width, isn't that regarded as more usable that fixed?

#3 Ruud


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Posted 02 September 2004 - 05:24 PM

Customizing is fun. On most sites I wouldn't use it though. Before the days of RSS I used it on news sites to customize the headlines I wanted to see, stories I wanted to track. But on this, and any other board, I leave the skin at what it was when I registered. Never play around with it. No need to.

We fix some design elements in place? We put the cursor here or there? We underline or not? You bet! You can do an old media vs. new medium thing here but in the end I'm trying to state something beyond the content of my site. The way the site looks and feels is at least just as important as what it says. Too broad a statement? You bet, lol. Not every site deals with the same type of information and user interaction.

Buttah... let's take a couple of blogs... The way they look is important. Their feel is just as much expressive of the blog as are its entries. A List Apart on a white, non formatted design would read a lot less convincing.

I think the things a user wants to customize good CSS/XHTML sites already let them customize. Font color and size. Background. Underlined links or not. That's it. Most sites aren't at liberty to let users do away with the ads on a page, one element ad blocking software shows the users wants to have control over. And if we want to let them do away with it we mean to do so after they clicked the "premium" button :-)

Skinning - ok. Some level of user control - ok. Total user customization - nuhuh.


#4 taphilo


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Posted 10 September 2004 - 06:08 PM

Form follows function.

This old adage is true in 90%+ of the cases.

When it is more advantageous for the user to change things based on their needs when using the site then the designer should design that into the site.

Think of Dreamweaver dev software. Each designer works differently so they (eventually) learned how to give the devloper the ability to change the arrangement so that the developer works according to their style and not a fixed format.

An example on web is fonts size used on a page. People complain too small, people complain too big. When that happens you create multipe CSSs and let people choose their CSS sheet interactively on site or tell them how to override your default settings using their own browser.

Presentation problems are easily overcome using CSS.

Fixed vs variable really depends on what and in many cases how the owner WANTS to present it to people. Most online zines want long narrow collums - so ads can be seen on either side and get people to click on them. Flexible design here would help the reader by not scrolling but the owner would lose money from ads not being seen. Here fixed is better for THEM while only a minor annoyance for users making them scroll to see the whole article (or go to a new page.)

Function of news site to earn money off adds, fixed form allows that.

Most web visitors are looking for information - not a way to play online with the data they are seeking.

Some sites do work well when customers pick and choose what they want to see on a page like news portals as mentioned. Some work like the Harry Potter official site where the goal is to make it like you are at Hogwarts. But two different goals and two totally different ways to achieve them.

Form follows funtion.

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