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.

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