Monday, December 20, 2010

A theory of design

This site will eventually be part of my electronic portfolio in the Media, Art, & Text program at Virginia Commonwealth University. We have to demonstrate a basic competence in multimedia techniques, such as writing, Web presentation, audio and video production, and animation.

I designed my site using two basic criteria: function and professionalism (with a little humor). The overall format is typical of a blog, with a header, content pane, navigation pane, and footer. It is a typical format used by many journalists such as myself. In my case, I moved the navigation pane to the right side of the page, in keeping with newsroom discussions—in my professional Web design days—that many "readers" preferred right-hand navigation. (When I began my Web career, most of us put the navigation controls on the left.) I have added local navigation controls to the header section, using cascading style sheets (CSS) to control positioning of the link references.

The look and feel was taken from a photograph I took on the island of Mainland, in Orkney, Scotland. It is of a portion of the Ring of Brodgar. In addition to being a journalist, I am a physical geographer by training, and draw a significant amount of inspiration from natural landscapes. This landscape, in particular, is stark, beautiful, and haunting—haunted by the "ghosts" of those who erected the stones that make up the ring nearly 5,000 years ago, as well as by those who have lived there since.

Original color scheme

I began this experiment when designing a template for my site on the social network Bebo. Using an earlier version of the photo, I used reds and browns from the image for backgrounds, and the mustard colors on the stones for text. In my initial design for this site, I used the same scheme, but some commented that there was insufficient contrast between the color of the type and the background.

Final color scheme

Recently, I reworked the original photo—using better color correction than I had previously. I tested several color combinations from the reworked photo to produce what you now see. I think the contrast is much better in this case. In addition, the link-related colors are also drawn from the photo—they were not in the original scheme. I realize that some people prefer dark type on a light background, but for me I prefer light type on a dark background. Light type on a dark field also creates more of gallery feel to me.

For the sections of the site, I have divided it into The Front Page, Pulp Nonfiction, Noises & Signals, Static Images, Moving Images, Flashimation, and the Usual Suspect. The titles combine elements of description with my sense of humor.

  • The Front Page is analogous to a print publication's front page, or in this case, the site's home page.
  • Pulp Nonfiction is the home for display of the writing and presentation projects I have worked on in my classes. I may include samples of other relevant written work here, too.
  • Noises & Signals is the location where audio projects I work on will be displayed.
  • Static Images is where I plan to display photographic projects I work on while in the program. At this point, I have a sample from one shooting excursion in September. I have copied HTML structures I have designed and used in an ongoing project of mine, which uses tables for formatting and javascript code for navigation. While I intend to keep the javascript navigation code, I would like to move away from tables to CSS to control positioning of elements. I have not had time to devise the CSS controls, however.
  • Moving Images is for display of movies I create in the MATX program.
  • Flashimation is a somewhat whimsical term I coined for the page where I will diplay Flash and other animation and interactive projects.
  • The Usual Suspect page is the home of my biographical information.

In the footer you will note my promotion of adherence to HTML and CSS standards. I will periodically test my pages to ensure compliance with World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Yet another fine mess...

In August I began a new phase of my rather bizarre career, this time as a Ph.D. student in the Media, Art, & Text program at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Part of our goal is to explore the new media landscape created by the confluence of text, sound, image, and moving image on what is increasingly improperly known as the new media—the Internet and its offshoots.

One of the classes I am taking in my first semester in the program is an interdisciplinary lab where we experiment with ways to share ideas, images, and text on the World Wide Web. Some of our experiments include:

More experiments will be forthcoming.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Check out my LibraryThing catalog