What's behind your design?

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An interesting point from this chapter on organizing website content is the concept of "exformation."  I really thought of this as the web equivalent to what I always knew as an "inside joke," just some kind of amusing story or phrase shared between a group of friends.  But although I was familiar with the basic concept, its application to the web and its impact on web readers was something completely unforeseen.  Kilian says, "Terms like these, once understood, become extremely effective.  They seem to pack an emotional punch." And it makes sense I think.  If you understand a piece of "exformation" you are, in my terms, on the "inside" of that joke.  And who doesn't get a little confidence booster, or a web "jolt," from feeling like they're part of the group?

In a broader sense, this chapter seemed to reinforce some ideas I presented in my blog essay, The other English Language.  To briefly summarize, I argued in this essay that the shorthand and emoticons of internet and electronic communication have come to constitute an entirely unique form of language, separate from that of traditionally spoken or written English.  So if shorthand and emoticons are the words of this "new" language, could the way we design websites be the syntax of this language?  I formed this idea from some of the unique characteristics of website readers that Kilian pointed to in explaining his design principles.  For example, he suggests using subheadings as a type of "landmark" because readers on the wet "tend to scan website text rather than read from line to line."  Similarly, he says using bulleted lists will help readers avoid "plodding through long paragraphs."  And perhaps if website design really is a type of "syntax" for the language of the internet, perhaps that is why "exformation" is so effective; after all, as Kilian explains, it is a type of "short-hand communication."  So there are clearly some rules for designing effective websites, the question I’m trying to raise is if these rules are at all related to a unique “language” of the web.



 

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2 Comments

Daniella Choynowski said:

Exformation can be fun. I've even inserted it into cartoons, articles, and horoscopes for the Setonian-always relevant! The first panel of my laester cartoon is a shout-out. I would not, however, use exformation in a research paper. That is a type of writing that has only two audience members: you and the professor. Exformation belongs in writing meant to be read by a broader audience.

Scanning large blocks of text tires your eyes out after a while-the monotony can cause you to glide over important informatio embedded in the text. Sub-heading give you a break. Imagine how hard it would be to go and find a quote from a book if you couldn't reference the subject in the index or consult the list of chapters.

Jackie Johns said:

Dani, you make a good point about the use of exformation in research papers. As with many other tools that are so effective on the web, exformation requires appropriate application. Just like shorthand and emoticons, using exformation has a proper time and place - which usually isn't in academic work.

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