Monday, August 31, 2009

Transparency and Reflectivity on Gaming Websites

I am a freelance designer of game websites so user interface is of particular importance to me. I tend to make Final Fantasy forums, which are oddly enough a good example of transparency and reflectivity. As most people know a forum is (a conversation) divided in admins and users. Admins are designers because they have to make sure every function that a user touches (say for example a topic in an individual forum) works perfectly and is not broken or requiring HTML code make it more user friendly. If this happens not only is user interface interrupted, but design flaws in the coding can cause users trouble and make them want to migrate to a different forum which is easier to use. (An unfortunate example of a breech in transparency occurred when a user tried to paste a topic in a language other than English and it showed up as nonsensical code instead). This breech ended up with me painstaking teaching my users how to use HTML code to input language. This turned into a mess (essentially because every character required a different HTML code) and caused me to use another forum language all together with was a serious design flaw. As a designer/admin, I am not only responsible for making sure a task or application doesn't make the user focus on it rather than enjoy the posted conversation. Although I didn't code the forum software myself, (I rather got it for free), I am in a unique position because I am both the user and designer. (Using the analogy of transparency as looking though a window from the text, I can see both sides clearly as I am always both.

Reflectivity is the other component of digital design that is tied with transparency as it is the artistic imagery on a website that well either attract users or not. Admins with experience will usually change forum images or colors to keep users coming back, addition of different music or simply making interface connect more to the user and their surroundings to keep them coming back.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

WSU's Views of Multimedia authoring

In my experience at WSU, I've observed that while teachers may use powerpoint in their teaching, they generally shy away from requiring anything remotely "technology" in their assignments. For example, I only learned how to use powerpoint because that was all I ever needed to be able to use. Some people may argue that Multimedia doesn't need to be in any class beyond the DTC major and perhaps some computer science courses. However, this may be related to the fact that few teachers know how to grade "Multimedia projects" because they are graded on the end product and unless there is a rigid grading scale, everyone can get an A if they have flashy text or use more "technology" than content. Unfortunately, this happens in more classes than I'd like it to. As for technology in the rhetorical writing major, it has by no means given enough attention to. This may be related to the fact that digital rhetoric is a relatively new field and needs to earn more ethos.

In any case, WSU teachers and admins need to come to terms with the fact that technology will always exist in some form of another and that people can either ignore it completely (which is highly unlikely) or become its slave (as so many people that can't stop text messaging appear to be.) Probably the best solution is hybrid teaching of Visual/Digital Rhetoric and Verbal Rhetoric (which is what we usually think of when English is mentioned) that Kress and Stroupe advocate.