Monday, July 11, 2011

Web 2.0 and Design

    I had a bit more than a brief comment about What is Web 2.0? from for our “What are Internet Learning “Resources?” post, so I’ll talk about it here. They make a statement that a lot of the technology for Web 2.0 has been around for a long time and that perhaps a lot of the hype about the “new” Web 2.0 is unfounded because there is nothing new about a lot of the technology itself. This brings me to think that it’s not what the technology can do, but what you can do with the technology.

    As for web design (I am not a web designer but like to tinker), I occasionally check up on a few things to find out what is current and what are good practices just so I know a little more and it has helped me in my own criteria for deciding what are good websites and resources or not.

    Every one in a while I visit Jakob Neilson’s Alertbox, dedicated to promoting good usability in web design. There are some very good pointers in there for evaluating websites. Another I go to for fun is Stu Nichols CSSPlay, having examples of the latest in good CSS design, tips, tricks and mostly sharable code. He does some amazing things with pure CSS without any Javascript.

    I’m part designer inside of me and when designing a database in MS-Access, I start with the forms first, thinking about what information the user wants and how they will interact with it. Then I create the database tables and queries to populate the forms and reports. I’ve never been trained in database or user interface design but building this way just seemed right to me.

    Thus, I was was happy to find this from Bret Victor at Worrydream a very good read on web graphic design among other things. In the article Magic Ink, he shows much improved examples of how data and information can be presented in a different graphical style that makes information much easier to see and understand. He also starts his projects from a graphical design point of view, thinking about what is really important that the user to wants to know and should be able to find easily and intuitively. Scroll down the page of Magic Ink and find the section “Demonstration: Arraigning the Data” about how to reformat a typical movie listing section on a web site. His example of the BART subway timetable app is excellent too.

    Web 2.0 will not be only about the advanced tools we have to make it, but more importantly, it will be about how we use the tools we have to create excellence. Good Internet learning resources of any type in the future will have to be designed well in order to be most effective and useful.

    An example of what I think is a well designed and excellent learning resource is for learning ABCs, 123s, colors and shapes. The only gripe I have about it is that the activities open in a new window and the 3-6 year old target audience gets confused when they want to go back and try a different activity. Otherwise it is designed purely for learning. There are no quizzes or puzzles or stupid games or any other distractions. It is a 100% success website. There is nothing you can do wrong. Just learn. My other favorite for the same audience is Poisson Rouge, which I mentioned in my bio page for CEDO 520.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post! I checked out many of the links and have since book marked them.
    I think one of the most importuning things you said is about how we use the tools. There are seemingly a bazillion tools developed everyday on the internet. I also think a lot of times we get enamored with the newer, flashier tool and tend to want to use that when in reality we already have several tools in our teaching arsenal that would do just fine.

    It reminds me of a conversation I had with a former principal.
    My principal said, "Do we want our kids to learn the knowledge an inch deep and a mile wide OR an inch wide and a mile deep." I think that's sage advice for the Web 2.0 tools that are out there.