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View Full Version : Information vs Design



brothercake
03-09-2003, 06:58 AM
There's an apparent conflict between information and design - information is concerned with what data *is* and doesn't care about what it *looks like*; design is concerned with what data *looks like* and doesn't care about what it *is*.

(This is all too neatly exemplified in the [ongoing...] HTML vs Flash debate.)

But information is incomprehensible without design; and design is meaningless without information. Their forces are mutually supportive - how can we apply *design* to our *information* in such a way as to make it more *accessible*.

KevinG
03-09-2003, 12:32 PM
There is so much choice out there. If people come to your site it because they want something.

Simplicity rules. Content is king.

I always try to keep the nav clear, the pages quick and incorporate no more than then three main colours into the overall design.

Here is an example - http://www.cardriver.co.uk/

(speedcameras.com has been put on hold)

krycek
03-09-2003, 05:44 PM
I always think that the design should be dictated by the content, not the other way around. Having a lovely design is great - but if it is made without any thought to the content, then it will most likely end up a disaster and have to constantly be fixed.

If the needs of the content are drawn up first, the design can flow around it.

Check out my site www.soapi.com - I try to make sure that the content is king, and even if you view it without CSS (hence no design) it degrades nicely and the content is still accessible.

There are, however, many approaches that work, and none is particulary right or wrong, so long as you use a method that does not sacrifice the content for the sake of design, or vice versa. :)

::] krycek [::

Catman
03-09-2003, 06:56 PM
I wouldn't say no CSS is the same as no design -- but rather no CSS is minimal design. The use of semantic tags, headings, and the like provide structure which helps the user work through the content -- that's why good HTML markup still provides adequate access to content.

Good CSS enhances the rhetorical effect of good HTML markup -- and while it can rescue content from the effects of bad HTML markup for those using CSS aware browsers, it can cannot make the content in such cases universally accessible.

brothercake
03-09-2003, 07:08 PM
Originally posted by Catman
I wouldn't say no CSS is the same as no design -- but rather no CSS is minimal design. The use of semantic tags, headings, and the like provide structure which helps the user work through the content -- that's why good HTML markup still provides adequate access to content.

Absolutely :) So design is not just a visual thing, it's a "how can we structure and present this" thing.

mouse
03-09-2003, 08:11 PM
I love design. I love oddities such as the overage4design site I posted in this thread (http://codingforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=15329). I don't think sites must be easily navigable, why should thay be? I think website's are an opportunity for some people to express themselves. I appreciate a difficult but artistically built site as much as an easily navigable and readable one.

We have the ability to use animation and interactivity in the presentation of information. So why are people still building website's like we write books? A block of text on a page is sometimes all you need, but when I'm reading up on how something actually works, the use of flash can be a godsend, see HowStuffWorks.com (http://howstuffworks.com) as a perfect example.

krycek
03-09-2003, 10:01 PM
Originally posted by Catman
I wouldn't say no CSS is the same as no design -- but rather no CSS is minimal design. The use of semantic tags, headings, and the like provide structure which helps the user work through the content -- that's why good HTML markup still provides adequate access to content.

Good CSS enhances the rhetorical effect of good HTML markup -- and while it can rescue content from the effects of bad HTML markup for those using CSS aware browsers, it can cannot make the content in such cases universally accessible.

I was referring specifically to the site I mentioned, which if you look, uses CSS and nothing else, for formatting.

My point was, if viewed without CSS, and hence no [implementation of the *visual* part of the] design (in the case of that site) it is still accessible and readable.

I think that it is a good point :) Sorry that I did not make it more clear first time round.

Design is more than just visual implementation however I was talking in context of the visual stuff, as that is what I thought brothercake was on about etc.

::] krycek [::

PS - I disagree with you - no CSS is not necessarily minimal design. There are plenty of sites that use no CSS at all, yet they have good designs. ;)

brothercake
03-09-2003, 11:55 PM
Originally posted by mouse
I love design. I love oddities such as the overage4design site I posted in this thread (http://codingforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=15329). I don't think sites must be easily navigable, why should thay be? I think website's are an opportunity for some people to express themselves.

Yeah I enjoy deliberate obfuscation too; it's good fun ;)

I guess it depends on context - text is the meat and drink of the web, but "content" doesn't equal "text"; for some users text is the most difficult kind of content to absorb.

By the same token, I think the word "accessibility" has a certain cultural baggage that brings to mind anti-design sentiment, or a belief that text is the only kind of content which is important.

Blatantly that isn't the case. Accessibility is about making your content "more easy to access". (which might include "access to an entertainingly confusing experience" :))

allida77
03-10-2003, 12:59 AM
how can we apply *design* to our *information* in such a way as to make it more *accessible*.

For programmers to realize that they are not designers and designers realize that they are not programmers.

Like other posts I think simplicity is very important. Mouse tails, fading menus, overdone rollovers, textured or dark backgrounds,animated .gifs, multiple flashing elements, Click Here, font-size:impossible to read,rainbow lines,marquee are not needed.

Design to apply to information: White space, font-sizes that are readable in all resolutions, text split up in paragraphs, spacing and alignment, appropiate headers or titles,good contrast in color(that do not take away from content), one focal point on page.


These are just my opinions...

Cam
03-10-2003, 01:17 AM
I'd like to throw another layer in here, by redefining something in BC's original post.

I'd say information is data once meaning has been assigned to it. Based on that meaning you either act (the toughest goal for information), ignore it, retain it or use it to modify pre-existing information.

Design, or at least good design, directs the assignment of meaning to data. This can be very context specific or reader specific based on the readers past experience, beliefs, viewpoints etc. etc. Something that may seem very confusing to me (which is often the case :D) can be readily apparent to someone who is thinking in a different context or from a different base of knowledge.

The challenge to good design is to produce a data delivery mechanism that provides information to as diverse an audience as possible. Or not, if you don't want to worry about your information exceeding a certain context. That all depends on what you want to do....

Okay, time for more coffee, I'm starting to ramble... (or I'm about to stop...)

Cam

krycek
03-10-2003, 02:48 AM
Originally posted by allida77
For programmers to realize that they are not designers and designers realize that they are not programmers.

Like other posts I think simplicity is very important. Mouse tails, fading menus, overdone rollovers, textured or dark backgrounds,animated .gifs, multiple flashing elements, Click Here, font-size:impossible to read,rainbow lines,marquee are not needed.

Design to apply to information: White space, font-sizes that are readable in all resolutions, text split up in paragraphs, spacing and alignment, appropiate headers or titles,good contrast in color(that do not take away from content), one focal point on page.


These are just my opinions...

I am a programmer, and a designer ;)

I agree with all the rest, though

::] krycek [::

krycek
03-10-2003, 02:49 AM
Originally posted by brothercake
Yeah I enjoy deliberate obfuscation too; it's good fun ;)

I guess it depends on context - text is the meat and drink of the web, but "content" doesn't equal "text"; for some users text is the most difficult kind of content to absorb.

By the same token, I think the word "accessibility" has a certain cultural baggage that brings to mind anti-design sentiment, or a belief that text is the only kind of content which is important.

Blatantly that isn't the case. Accessibility is about making your content "more easy to access". (which might include "access to an entertainingly confusing experience" :))

Agreed :D

::] krycek [::

redhead
03-10-2003, 04:35 PM
i find it hard to draw a line whether websites should be focused more on design or content... but i'll share my thoughts anways :)

ok... if i'm going to a business or information site i would expect the information to be easy to get to, and for it to be presented in a way that is easy on the ol' brain.

if i were going to a personal site i would be expecting more expression, and as you dont go to personal sites to get information i wouldnt mind having a bit more of a challenge finding my way 'round ;)

most of us make designs on a regular basis... and i for certain love going to a well designed site... not some shabbily designed one. but the question is... *what* design??? some in-your-face designs can look fantastic... and others can just look awful. and the opposite applies, some designers can make plain designs that look awesome, and others look like there is nothing there. you can tell in seconds whether there was thought put into the design or wether the designer said "the contents all that matters, it doesnt matter if i put on a pure blue background and have everything in pink italics at 20pt" (which im sure some of the poeple here could make *work*;))

but on the other hand, there is a whole new set of fingers. apart from that if there is absolutely no content or point to a website then you've wasted that awesome design!... which could be being put to good use on a content full site... maybe not everyone agrees with my opinion. you're allowed to have your opinions, even if they are wrong ;)

brothercake
03-10-2003, 05:08 PM
Originally posted by redhead
i find it hard to draw a line whether websites should be focused more on design or content...

I don't think you need to. The whole thrust of my post was that both are equally important

redhead
03-10-2003, 05:14 PM
Originally posted by brothercake
I don't think you need to. The whole thrust of my post was that both are equally important ah... ok cool

Spudhead
03-11-2003, 03:57 PM
how can we apply *design* to our *information* in such a way as to make it more *accessible*.

... and this is the study of information architecture.

Quiet Storm
03-11-2003, 08:03 PM
I usually just build for 'Design'... I'm not interesting enough to have actual content. :D



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