Stop the clutter! End the madness!

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"The Web is now in a stage comparable to 1950s television advertising and 1980s computer design. ... People produced cluttered, ugly documents with several fonts per page...Website creators are still doing awful things with graphics and audio, partly because they can and partly because they don't yet know they shouldn't" -- Writing for the Web 3.0, ch. 2

Even without knowing the perils advertising experts fell into in the 1950s, I've had some vague notion of the abounding sensory "clutter" on the web.  I feel like it's everywhere you turn; flashing graphics, icons, clipart, and pictures overpopulate almost any site, no longer reserved for commercial sites trying to push products (which, in any case, Kilian also points out renders their online communication nothing more than an electronic version of traditional, one-way communication).  Even the sites I frequent on a daily basis for trivial reasons, like foodnetwork.com (for recipes) and the weatherchannel.com (for the forecast), are bordered on either side with ads from their sponsors and partners.  I feel like enough is enough already, its just the same type of advertising clutter present in traditional mediums (TV commercials, ad sections of newspapers) dressed up in a new fancy, electronic outfit.

Thus the set of clear-cut guidelines for structuring a site presented in ch.2 seem especially helpful.  Kilian offers some much needed reasoning for organizing text in general (chunking vs. scrolling) and organizing a website.  At the beginning of the chapter he drives home what all his subcategories and tips elaborate on later in the chapter, saying:

 "As a website author, you should be mentally organizing your material; your readers need not be aware of any structure or organization, but if you visualize some kind of pattern for your material, it will at least make your own writing easier.  If you understand reader behavior and the built-in problems of navigation, you can minimize the effects of these problems."

Sound advice for novice and expert webwriters/webdesigners alike.

 

2 Comments

Maddie Gillespie said:

Structure is good in most everything, every way. Unless of course, you're trying to have fun and totally relax for a day without planning minute by minute! But I digress. We're essentially looking for something easier to do and by adding a bit of order, we can set things up that way. Both you and Kilian make a great point at that. The information about advertising kinda threw me as well. Even thought we may dislike/hate those flashing ads off to the side of our favorite screens, we have to put up with them if we want continued access to said sites. It all comes down to money and profit. Websites need funding to stay on and pay the electric bills and update their sites while advertisers want to reach the people traveling to those sites. It's a vicious circle indeed.

Jackie Johns said:

You're right, money is the backbone of those pesky ads. Although they might be getting on my nerves, they serve their purpose to the organizations who post them on their sites. But a little moderation would be nice.

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