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Week 6 Discussion Topic (Please title all your posts as “Date_YourName_Topic”) by Mind Map: Week 6 Discussion Topic (Please title all your posts as “Date_YourName_Topic”)
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Week 6 Discussion Topic (Please title all your posts as “Date_YourName_Topic”)

You have learned all the three principles of working with visuals. Here are your discussion topics for this week: (a) Evaluate the design of the homepage of National Geographic ( using the three principles. Do you think the page presents information effectively? Do you think the page as a whole uses visuals effectively? Why or why not? If you were the designer, will you design the page differently? How? (b) Please find another website that you think is well designed or poorly designed, and explain why you think so.


I find it difficult to take the leap from critiquing a single illustration to critiquing a website's homepage. There are things that you come to expect from a website in terms of layout where as illustrations are much more open-ended. I like the organization of the NatGeo site in terms of how things are grouped together in sections with thin dividing lines. The lines are thick enough to divide the content without being overbearing or distracting. The yellow squares next to each section heading is good use of repetition in my opinion. They help you visually identify each section header quickly. Alignment is done properly as you can scroll down to the next section header and see that it's directly in line with the previous one on the vertical plane. It helps you quickly recognize how the content is organized thus reducing the mental energy spent trying to organize the information yourself. I like the rollover effect on the main navigation bar, how the background changes color on the main and sub-headings so you know they are grouped together under that category. I did notice that the rollover effect is missing from the "VIDEO" heading, maybe it's just an oversight. One suggestion for improvement that I might have is increasing the contrast of the text next to the NatGeo logo at the top of the page. The gray font against the black background requires more effort to read.   Here's my example for a poorly designed website: Did you immediately squint as soon as the page loaded? What's even worse is this a web designer's self-promotion site. Notice any typos? How about the sweet graphic logo? Nothing says "Super Design Studio" better than clip art of a guy sitting at a computer. How about all of the underlined text that leads you to believe it's a link but it's not? What's the relevancy of the chain links near the bottom of the page? I could go on and on but that would leave you guys nothing to bash on... have at it!


Good catch on the rollover.  It didn't even catch my eye at all.  Not sure if I didn't roll over it in the first place, or it just didn't sink in.

02.12.11_Walla Response 2

Todd - Wow, that site is TERRIBLE! LOL Yes, I squinted to read the sidebars... Who really that thought the light yellow letters would look good in that shade of gray, and that pattern! I hope that company doesn't get a ton of business... hehe


I put a red dot on this one because that sample website could be used as a textbook in bad design. That person's artistic license should be revoked. What is worse is they went to the trouble of Trade marking the name. The black text with a blue background…bad. The repeating text around the page is a distraction along with the rotating dollar gif. I find nothing good about this page. Since their reference is for MSIE 4.0 I would say that this is a page someone created and forgot about. I hope I can forget it too.


I agree with you. The Nat Geo site is just too busy and the ads are really annoying. You would think that NatGeo could have done better.


I really like the homepage of National Geographic. First impressions mean a lot when visiting a webpage. The horizontal menu bar contains clear subjects that are easy to navigate. The selection of the contrasting yellow text on a black background, really makes it stand out. Plus the colors aren’t too harsh on the eyes. I also really like how they’ve made the link to their shop in red, really making it stand out from the other menu items that are in white or yellow. I like the five rotating pictures in the slideshow. They change just fast enough to draw my eyes in, wanting to click on them. The visuals are VERY effective on this webpage. Overall, I think the organization of the National Geographic webpage is every effective. Everything I want is right at the top. I don’t consider anything below the fold (aka a scroll down), counts as being on the homepage. All of the important things should be at the top, well organized. The integration of the photo slideshow is a great way to show what National Geographic is all about. I also really like the Photo of the Day and the Featured Video on the right side at the top. A+ on integrating multimedia into the website! If I were in charge of designing this webpage, I don’t think I’d change anything about the design. I’d just want to make sure that I change the images in the slideshow regularly to keep visitors interested. I’m sure they update the photo of the day everyday… and the featured video. Here’s a website that I think handles their slideshow wrong because the images in the slideshow don’t change regularly, and I’ve stopped looking at them. If they updated the images regularly, I might be more inclined to spend time looking. So now, I’ve stopped looking all together. You’ve guessed it; it’s the Ohio University homepage! We are supposed to be a very media oriented university, and I think we could do a lot better with our homepage.  


Andie, I would have to agree with your critique of the NatGeo homepage. I have found that color scheme is crucial in website design. It is most certainly the first thing that hits me. The NatGeo site does have an attractive scheme. As far as the OU site goes, I'm not too sure how many people are there to watch the slideshow. I'm always just "passing by" on my way to another page. Just my two cents!

02-10-11_Copp Response

I agree that as students, we don't look at the O.U. Website, but I think a lot of prospective students do. It seems like we could do a better job of updating pictures and really focusing on the positive aspects of a unique university. Instead it is really pretty generic. Nothing really engaging. Nothing to make you stay on the page or explore another page. The National Geographic Website is the exact opposite. It is engaging and makes the reader want to explore. I completely agree that it is great example of a well designed Website.

2.12.11 _Walla Response 1

Thanks for the comments! Todd- What website has the most effective color pairs that you've come across? Personally I LOVE the yellow text on black. Amanda - You hit the nail on the head with perspective students, they are the ones who are looking the most... we (actual students) just use blackboard and registering for classes...


  I don’t agree with you about the NATGEO site (see my comment). I was actually disappointed with the site. I thought the images were great, but the design is cluttered and boring or at least the main page. I thought the internal pages are much better. As far as the OU site, I think you might be a little close to the subject to look at it objectively. I don’t look at it that often and I don’t find the issues that you did. You may not be the intended user of the site. I know I would get tired of my companies site if they had the same stuff every day. We actually have an internal and external website. Our web browsers are automatically set with the intranet site as our homepage and the page is also a major source of information for employees. The OU site is probably not set-up for people who work in the communications department.  


I wrote my critique before I read any posts on purpose.  I don't want to play on anyone's ideas when I'm looking at a website and drawing conclusions.  So, it's nice to compare my findings with what everyone else thinks.  We are on the same page with National Geographic.  I think they do a nice job with the black and yellow.  Because those two colors can be poorly used together, for example this Add Note dialogue box is killing my eyes!!  The contrast is so extreme that I'm squinting to write.  Anyway... Andie, I knew you were going to use OU's homepage. I heard you expressing your dislike for the changes at the beginning of the quarter.  But the funny thing is, I can't really remember what it looked like before the changes.  I guess I didn't really use it that much other than to order undergrad transcripts.  But I'm trusting that the changes weren't for the better.


The colors used at the top of the web page really grab your attention, especially the "SHOP" in red.  However, when you scroll down, you loose that attention grabbing tool.  I am not sure if that was the designer's intention or not.  If you are looking at the bar across the top and that was what the designer wanted you to focus more on rather than the sub-headings below, then they succeeded. That being said, the way the sub-headings below are organized is very nicely done.  The groupings make it easy for a person to tell what each area is about and can delve deeper into that area if that is what they are looking for. I believe the site has some good points and bad points.  At the top the web page does fine with the coloring to hold your attention, but it doesn't reach out and grab you.  Lower in the site, the light blue color of the words make my eyes tired trying to see them.  Everything seemed to be that same color scheme and it was very bland.  While I understand they need to have the advertising on the page to help pay for things, these are more colorful, and sometimes larger, than the news stories and tend to draw your eye.  But they are put to the right or at the very bottom, which in the Western culture is where we tend to look last.

2.12.11_Walla Response 3

Barb - You've got that right about the word "SHOP" being red. They are totally encouraging consumerism! :-)


Barb, I agree that the accuweather site was put together well. The site has pleasing visuals and graphics with easy access to additional content. They kept the garbage off to the right side. I don’t care for the Flash advertising banner at the top, but I understand the need to make money. The forecast window is interactive and allows you to find the weather for whatever city you want dig deeper into the forecast. Selection +, Organization +, integration? Does integration really count in commercial endeavors?


I agree with you that websites should be designed with how we read in mind. The bottom or right hand side is a very ineffective place to put somehting when people are reading left to right.


I like the National Geographic Website. Visually it is appealing and the yellow really pops. I think it is a little busy with scrolling photos and so many departments and categories. I think if I were to design the site I would have made the first page much more simple  I was also frustrated because I wanted the places to travel map to be interactive and I had to actually go into the site to get to an interactive map. The pop ups and ads were annoying . However, Natl Geographic has beautiful photographs, and visually does a great job with the articles that they do. I just wish it were a little less busy. As a viewer, I wasn't enticed to explore the site and even though it was visually appealing there was nothing there to draw me in. Interactivity on the main page would be an improvement.  

02.12.11_Walla Response 4

Amanda - Thanks for pointing out the interactive maps... I'm going to have to revisit the Nat Geo website now! :-)


  I agree with your assessment of the NATGEO site. I did find some interaction on the first page, it was a ploy to get the user to log-in to the site. It was interesting enough to get me to try it J  


For my final project I'm thinking about designing a set of instructional visuals that will teach some basic concepts of computing and networking. I'd like to use analogies to make them as understandable as possible. For example, likening computer IP addressing to the way mail is delivered to your house. Also maybe something like an anatomical (human) model with a CPU for the brain, motherboard for the heart, etc. Any ideas for a third concept illustration?  


Todd,  that is a tough one. I tried to think about what else you could do for an image. I keep thinking of I/O devices and human anatomy. You have the senses that could be speakers, camera, and microphone? What about the keyboard, mouse and monitor?  


My idea was kind of similar but not reallly to this.  I thought I could design a set of visuals for teachers to use.  Not ones that they could teach students with but ones that could act as little reminders or even instruction on something like gee I don't know... vusuals?


  I am at a complete loss as what to do for my final project. I can't use projects from work since everything I am working on currently is proprietary. I am not sure what to do my final inquiry project on. I am from the old school photography and you don’t take a picture unless you know what is in the frame and you don’t need Photoshop. I am trying to come up with another idea or project to work on.  


In the same boat Dean


Well, I decided that I would do diagrams of different soccer formations. I wil probably do 4-4-2, 3-4-3, and 3-4-3.  I will include the basic positioning and a general overview along with the strength and weaknesses of each fomration.


I liked the NATGEO site but it is a little busy for me.  It is almost overwhemling when you log onto it.  You eyes are drawn to many different aspects of the site.  I do not like that there is so much on the webpage you have to scroll down so much to get to the bottom of it.  The could have broken it up a little better. Here is the bad wbsite I found; when you come onto it hurts your eyes and the black background is aweful.  The art is not my type and it is put together poorly.


  Jason - the other Whited, I agree with your assessment of the NATGEO site. I had the same reaction especially about the scrolling part. I think a little better organization would be better. Plus I think some of the scrolling was controlled by advertising ads.  Sometimes you can lose control of your site when you have the auto build features set.   As far as your bad site I would agree with you about the overall design, but the artwork I like and reminds me of Ralph Steadman's work. ("Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas")  I even looked at the Ralph Steadman's site  and found some similarities in the design of the home pages. I think the Ralph Steadman site is much easier to look at.  The off white background is a little easier to take and the background is not busy and does not compete with the other content like the head trauma site.  


I really dislike websites where you have to scroll way down to get to what you are looking for. It seems like well designed links would be much more effective.


PROS: I thought the National Geographic site was well organized, to me it was pleasing. I liked how the site utilized their trademark colors of yellow/gold and black.   Lot's of eye-candy (pictures)   CONS: However. I thought there was a lot of information there.  I am an impatient browser and rarely make it far down the page; but the National Geographic site lots of things going on as you scrolled down. Too much going on.

Bad example

02.13.11_Copp_poor design/good design website

I found a website that was very poor done visually. The site is It is site for purchasiing items from Hawaii and there are little photographs and small text all over the site. It is is really busy and cognitive overload is a manoyr problem with it. The products are interesting and could really lend themselves to visual representation but it seems to be a problem with a lot websites that they feel like they have to cram everything all on one page. I wish that designers would learn that if readers can't find what they want on your  first page because it is so cluttered,  it is just as bad if not worse than them having to click on a link to get to what they are looking for. As far as a website that I liked, I enjoyed It is simple, interactive and not cluttered with a lot of information. Very visually appealing.    


I thought the corkbin was a great site, loved the scrolling images in the cell phone

02-13-11_Copp_final project

For my final project, I think I am going to book covers In my job as an editor, it is one of the most frustrating, rewarding, exciting, nerve-wracking experiences I have ever had. So much depends on what a cover looks like. If it is bad, you will have people that won't even give the book a second glance. Should be a fun project.


What kind of book covers are you thinking about?  Text, children's, etc.??  Maybe do each one for a different genre??  Good idea.  I'm still trying to think of what I want to do for my project.


  Part a) Looking at National Geographic’s website from the three visual literacy principles: -Selection: The homepage uses sound figure/ground compatibility. The black background with white text is easy to read and reflective of the magazine’s iconic cover theme. Font sizes vary for the headings’ importance or purpose. The subcategory area and font changes color to reflect which category has been selected. -Organization: The homepage also reads left to right and top to bottom, if necessary. The categories and subcategories are not organized to be used in order from left to right with the exception that the “HOME” category is appropriately placed on the far left, at the beginning of the list. -Integration: The homepage, while inviting, does reflect closure, continuity, similarity, proximity, and experience to a degree. As the user scrolls down, the page flows from top to bottom. The links look alike and the page organizes similar items together, such as these links and thumbnails. The users should be able to identify arrows, slide numbers, and other symbols to direct them to the next visual in designated sections. The homepage ends at the bottom with the categories, subcategories, and additional user administrative links displayed. Along with these links is the Copy Right information, which is usually the last thing written at the bottom of a webpage. Using these three principles, National Geographic’s homepage does present the information effectively. Visuals are used effectively, starting with the highlighted topics in slide form. Other visuals are organized into smaller thumbnails as the user scrolls down through the page. Featured topics and advertisements are along the right side of the page, as well on the top and bottom in banner form. There are two major details I would change if I were the site’s designer. First I would keep the social networking area, however I would place it to the side below the donation banner, and I would also remove or reduce the number of profile pictures of the ‘friends’. They take up space for a quite lengthy homepage. The second thing I would do is resize the subscription banner at the top. Being a website, that is an item that needs to be at the right side, up top. Its current location takes up too much viewing space on a monitor. Part b) The website I picked to evaluate was Discovery Channel ( Looking at the three principles, the websites homepage is designed relatively well. In Selection the figure/ground compatibility is sound with colors that contrast but yet are not harsh to the viewer. The text size for the categories and subcategories is ample and doesn’t take up much space. The homepage is organized right to left, top to bottom. The categories/subcategories are at the top, with the network listings on the top of the website title banner. Everything is readable, spaced nicely, and the videos are in thumbnail form to save on additional space. The Discovery Channel homepage also uses the five Integration categories nicely. There is a nice flow with closure at the bottom, similar topics, links and sites are kept closely together. The site also uses symbols and still shots from their shows to play on users’ experiences.  

2.13.11_Cooper_Final Project

So, I think I finally came up with an idea...  inspired by my house mate and the fact that I tell him things about the house, for example:  what can and can not go in the recycling.  Therefore, I'm going to create visuals either for three things around the house, or for just the recycling.  The paper provided by the waste management company is heavily loaded with type, and my house mate doesn't bother to read the fine print.  I think I'm going to like this project...hehehe.