Spilka 4 & 5

I found it interesting the way Spilka brought up how Internet or computer based websites and documents are usually presented in a similar format, and without realizing it, we as users learn to expect a certain presentation when working with sources on the web. Spilka also goes on to explain that if a website or e-mail does not follow this common format “code,” we may not take it as seriously or even disregard it all together. The lack of expected format may also hinder the user’s ability to access and utilize the site for what it is meant for, causing the user to instead choose a different site to collect their information. I know personally at the workplace when I receive memos or reports from my coworkers I expect them to be in a certain format, and if they lack the format I am used to, I tend to question them rather than read and utilize their instructions or information. The same goes for websites. When I choose a site to collect information from, I tend to be drawn to the sites that keep the familiar format of starting with a home page, then from there direct the user via a list of links pertaining to each different topic the website covers. I never realized how important the format of a source could be, as well as how the format used links to my understanding and utilization of the material.

Posted on October 24, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I have designed many websites and unless they are only one page, which just doesn’t happen anymore, there is indeed a basic format that is followed.

    If you remember the first websites published at the beginning of the Internet; however, you will recall the following:

    -noisy backgrounds
    -pages that scroll down forever
    -too many graphics
    -background sound

    Thank goodness this type of Internet presence has faded a bit. But just like many other things, music, art, fashion, etc. there will always be fads. I do not see, on the other hand, the basic hierarchical structure going away.

    ***I am responding on my iPad and would love to use the WordPress app. Only problem is that it only allows me to see my own posts.

  2. Okay, I’m beginning to think WordPress hates me…this is my 3rd time writing this comment..

    Rachel, I thought you made some really good points about how important format is. One example that came to mind is the whole IKEA typestyle change back in 2009. IKEA switched from their standard Futura typeface to Verdana and it caused HUGE backlash within the design industry.

    In fact, a petition was created that gained over 2,700 signatures in protest of this new change! I would have never thought in a million years that a font change would cause such an uproar! It just shows how much people pay attention, which I think is a good thing because it hold companies accountable to deliver what their customers want.

    Here’s a link to the story: http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/2009-08-30-ikea-typeface-backlash_N.htm

  3. Rachel—

    I hate it when a Web site doesn’t have a familiar format. We’re used to having links at the top of a Web page and links on the left side of a Web page. This has become a standard, and when I visit a Web site that goes against this standard, I get frustrated and I leave the site. I do think documents have a standard, too. Take a press release for example. When I write a press release, I have to make sure that the format matches the company’s standard because the people that I send press releases to are used to seeing them in only one format. If I change formats, there’s a great possibility that the people that publish my press release will make a mistake that gets published.

  4. What Spilka is talking about is what we refer to as “mental models.” When designing websites, you need to be especially careful not to break the user’s mental model. The user expects navigation to be on the left or the top. They expect the less important links to be on the right. And so on. One mental model that commonly gets broken is links matching page titles. For example, if you have a link on your site called “About Us,” the user is expecting to see a heading on the next page called “About Us” not “Our Philosophy” or some other title that describes that page’s content.

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