Thanks to smart phones( touch screen, in particular) , smaller screen sizes, interactive displays, and growing global users, the visual language of websites is also changing.
There are ( thankfully) not many websites that solely exist on the web domain. In order to maintain consistency across platforms ( web, tablets and mobiles, and soon wearable), companies are now trying to achieve consistency across websites.
On reading the article- Designing for the scent of information, I felt that the article brought out an interesting point of designing webpages keeping content central and not structure. However, other than this, I feel that the article has become outdated. A quick look across popular websites shows a dramatic shift towards more visual elements like icons, buttons, continuous vertical never ending scrolls, etc. The disappearance of blue links and the emergence of buttons instead is attributed to user’s mental models developed from using smart phones/tablets.
For instance- Screenshot of poplar online magazine website- Clipboard, encourages users to choose information they would like to access from a set of images rather than textual links.
Also, websites like Udacity, are keeping information short, more like a snack for users to sniff, rather than spend longer time, thus ensuring information diversity is present for a user to see at a glance. Use of icons has increasingly substituted texts, giving important visual cues to users of what lies beneath.
In continuation, of analyzing websites keeping “user-centric content” as central, I also observed Piazza, a website I often use and get confused by the strict structure.Some of my frustrations are-
Other than the fact that it does not have vertical scroll, Piazza also suffers from blind navigational menu. Adding to that is the many menu buttons, that I seldom use on a daily basis. I have tried to highlight certain activity zones, however, despite visiting the website every single day for the past month, I still end up missing posts, mainly because by default it shows me posts from 1 folder, hiding views from other. Unlike other websites, where a user can afford to run to better pastures, using and starving at Piazza is very frustrating! As a user, one of the main things that I would like from Piazza would be to be able to see an overview of all my classes, so that I can organize my work better, without missing on posts and updates in each class. Thus, I drew some quick sketches, keeping in mind the concepts of ‘information scent’.
These are rough concept sketches loosely inspired from the article of ‘Information Scent’ making Piazza more content orientated for user ( student), such that they can take better control of their class material.