Category Archives: Wordy posts

Aand that’s a wrap.

So I’ve completed another cont.ed. class and once again have time on my hands, and, bewilderingly, a blog. I think that I will try to keep it up for now and see how it goes, but the problem (and irony) of this blog is that keeping it up would cut into my time doing the things that I record on the blog.

So. We’ll see.


Week seven: ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Despite my complete lack of experience in website design/content creation/putting things up on the internets that isn’t on Facebook, I jumped in with both feet when it came to actually making this yere design blog.

Which, as I keep going with it, is clearly not the way to go. I’ve been keeping a word doc with thoughts from each week of class [all the wordy posts with week X in the title; posts are getting created & uploaded as I have time for them] but didn’t give too many thoughts to practical stuff like how it will look on a website, or what kind of layout I would like, or even if the layout that I like on the WordPress menu is going to actually work for me.

Fortunately we were partnered for review, so that one of my classmates looked at my first few posts and could offer suggestions for improvement, particularly in navigation. With his feedback, I chose a different layout that offered the things I liked but also (hopefully) made it easier to navigate.

And even with a better/different layout, I still find things to tweak. I’ve edited most of my posts once or twice, thought hard about whether or not another layout might suit better, but will have to just let it go and leave it….and send the link off to the professor to complete the course.

Week six: wireframes ummm what?

I don’t even want to get into how long it took me to realize what a wireframe was. Suffice to say that I did indeed figure it out in time to do the assignment, which was find examples of three different types of navigational layouts and then create a wireframe of one of them.

For anyone who is ignorant like me, a wireframe is a sketch of a website’s layout. Wireframe is a specialized technical word for web design, which sends me down another trip down memory lane back to undergrad linguistics. Specialized technical language helps create communities of expertise and helps people in the same field identify one another and keep non-experts at arms’ length.*

At any rate, I chose a couple of faves: Smitten Kitchen for vertical and Knitty for horizontal. What really struck me was that many websites now have multiple ways of navigation. Which can be useful as it offers the user multiple ways of exploring the site; however, having too many choices can be confusing and ultimately as frustrating as having too few. One more for keep it simple.

In terms of finding an experimental navigational website, I had to turn to my old friend Google because all of my favourite websites are pretty standard navigation.

I then used Gliffy to create a very, very basic wireframe of Smitten Kitchen that I will not add here; suffice to say that I would much rather have the logo guru’s little Moleskin journal to sketch in. And also it’s kind of interesting that you always have to start from a sketch. No one can just produce something fully formed without a rough draft (bar Zeus/Athena). No matter how well-developed it may be in the mind’s eye, there are always multiple attempts and do-overs before it’s just right.

*My definition may be somewhat coloured by my experience of the sociolinguistics class, which may or may not have involved dozing off in the back row/gossiping with a friend.

What’s in a logo?

One of the assignments for class was to dissect a logo using the various principles of design as laid out in the text. The logo that I used, Weleda, gave me plenty to work with, with contour bias, anthropomorphic form, biophilia effect, and proportional density.


For contour bias, the lines used in the logo are gently curved, and thus more attractive and appealing than if they were sharp.

Anthropomorphic form: the outside lines suggest two people bending towards one another; at the top, one can either imagine hands holding or foreheads leaning towards one another.

Biophilia effect: this is less the logo and more on the packaging, which emphasizes the natural ingredients of the products, using pictures of the herbs and flowers that are used.

Proportional density: There are, to me, definitely enough propositions to be interesting. In the shape of the outside lines we have people, and, taken together, an oval or egg, a very natural and attractive form. The suggestion of hand holding/heads bending together evokes togetherness and trust. Inside the oval there is a design that evokes the rod of Asclepius, which in turn generates a sense of trust for the quality and benefits of the product, leaning as it does on centuries of medicine and knowledge.

I found it fascinating to really break down a little design that I see every day and don’t generally pay any attention to, and consider how much work went into creating it. I’ve resolved to be a little more mindful and take time to notice things like this to appreciate the time and effort that someone, somewhere put in.

Week four: To be content with content

Now that the course has forced my hand and I am blogging, I also need to have content for said blog. Tempting as it may be to stuff it full of links to other people’s content, that’s not really going to get me that far.

The creative brief exercise was surprisingly effortful. The clever thing to do would have been to create a blog that I could use professionally, adding it to my LinkedIn profile (rarely used) and my resume (ditto). But what on earth do I have to talk about?

I’ve seen library blogs and non-profit snarks, and they’re great, but I don’t think it’s in me to do one.

I don’t feel authoritative enough to have a tips and tricks site on, well, anything.

I don’t have some grand journey that needs to be shared.

Everything that I do is fairly small-scale. My hobbies are modest. I never get into anything enough to get all the gear. I’m a dabbler. And so there will be my blog: my dabbles, my fun, by me for me (and perhaps a select few family and friends to whom I will confess the existence of this blog).

And now for the links to websites that have content I love:

Week three: Girls just wanna have fun

Have fun designing, that is. Design is supposed to be fun – it is a creative endeavour that allows you to really push your boundaries and be playful. Like the design guru in the video that Amos shared – Aaron Draplin is clearly doing what he loves. He is having fun and doing work at the same time.

I am not good at letting go and having fun when it comes to work. I want things to be right. I am not sure when fun drained away and being “correct” became all-powerful, but here we are and here I am in a course where messing around and trying different styles/colours/fonts/whatever is encouraged.

On one hand this is exciting – no wrong answers! This is a work in progress! I can foozle around until it feels right!

And on the other hand it is terrifying – of course there are wrong answers! Think of the user experience, dummy! Good design means you get it right and have a consistent product that people can recognize and appreciate!

At any rate, so far with this website I have changed the layout three times and edited all my posts on average of twice. So it’s a good thing that at this point it’s just for me.

Principles of Design: breakin’ the rules

A co-worker sent me a link for a interesting new tool being used in Boston Children’s Hospital:

It is like a combination¬†of the Teddy Ruxpin dolls and Baymax from Big Hero 6, and I almost don’t know where to start with it, besides to say that I think therapy dogs are a much cheaper option for distracting and comforting children.

But, of course, because of this course, my mind gradually turned towards the various principles of design as covered in the text.

First off I thought of the hunter-nurturer fixation. The robot is a nice plushy teddy bear in gentle colours, and the children are encouraged to interact and play with the teddy I would imagine quite gently, given how costly a bear it is. Which, per the principle, is more for girls than boys, but presumably the doctors would like Huggable to appeal to all patients. Perhaps they could have a second version of Huggable that is just the robot for the boys?

Then, watching the video, I thought of the uncanny valley. Because it is a teddy bear it shouldn’t be on the scale, but because it is an animatronic teddy bear it definitely fell on the scale for me, with its jerky movements and darting eyes.

It is certainly an interesting idea, and I’m all for anything that will make a child’s experience at a hospital that much easier…but still, as I said, therapy dogs (like Moxie) ¬†FTW!