In an effort to keep from going cross eyed I thought it would be a good use of my time to take a break from dreamweaver to write my blog for the week. Here is my website:
I'm someone who likes to have a road map or process for getting to where I need to be on a project. So a lot of my time and effort has been dedicated to thinking through the layout of my site, what I want to say, and how I want to say it. Originally I anticipated making a site for sarcophagi in general but after working on my road map for this I realized this topic was way too broad and decided to narrow this down specifically to Dionysian Sarcophagi (after all only 1/3 of the remaining sarcophagi are Dionysian...phew!)
My website is divided into 6 sections, the intro, history, theology, funerary practice, sarcophagi, and author. My intent is keep this somewhat interactive for the viewer. Ideally the viewer will go to my site, gain the foundational knowledge he/she needs about Dionysian sarcophagi and then turn to my sarcophagi page to view various friezes and make his/her own interpretations. This will then spark some "eureka" moment for him/her to possibly continue this study and contact me (if they so desire) for more information. There are also links to the museum's I've visited where I acquired these images for further research. (Then I will hit it big/make millions on my extensive knowledge of funerary art...mwuaahahahhaha/apologies, I've been staring too long at a computer).
I've decided on one layout for my pages, the heading is a frieze I spent many hours photoshopping with the company of Beth Shook, and the backdrop is cropped and lightened from one of my pictures that Dr. Petrik suggested at the beginning of the year. One thing I'm worried about is being "too neutral." I know that from last class Dr. Petrik reminded us that neutral doesn't go out of style on the web but I'm a little worried something is falling flat. I have not added my images but the majority of these will be white/cream (except for the theology page where I will put images from the Villa of Mysteries...bright red!) At times I think the brick and cream works and at times I am reminded of pepto bismol so any advice is welcome. The block quote on the beginning of the page isn't really working for me either. I would like to start my project with this quote but I'm finding it difficult to place and do not want the viewer to be put off by too much writing.
Things I plan to do
Most...ok none of my images are in place as of yet. I was having a hard time placing these within the text and ran out of patience and moved on to the next task and most likely will not be able to put these in by class tomorrow but I do have a specific list of images that I plan to use for each site. I'm planning on cropping specific themes and characters to place next to their description on the sarcophagi page as well as include a slide show with brief descriptions. I'm struggling right now with how to display my images, that is if it's better to keep them big or off to the side by my text. Perhaps I'll try to put a couple in for tomorrow to get more feedback.
Any thoughts/comments/suggestions are appreciated!
I was very impressed with Richard's site. He followed CARP throughout his site. His consistency is evident through his selective choice of two fonts that he used throughout his site. His alignment was clear throughout the site, each section fit neatly in place. His repition cam out again through his selective fonts, and his proximity was on par. The different sections neither appeared smushed or too far apart.
In addition to CARP there were other aspects of Richard's site that I appreciated. His choice of images in the header highlite the various aspects of the series he is discussing. I liked the way he placed his font below the images, I felt this highlited both the images and the font in the heading. He was also very aware of selecting images that faced into the body of the site which made his website pleasant and interesting. (Although I would go back through and make sure this is done for every image, I think you missed a couple!)
My suggestions of few and reflect my personal preference so please take a leave what you wish.
Starting from the top down, the quote at the end of the first paragraph is fantasic, it emphasis the controversy behind the subject you are writing about. I'd make this a pull quote it will immediately grab the viewer's attention. It also takes care of a slight layout issue where the last line is running into your caption. (Great use of captions by the way!)
As I mentioned before, I'm a fan of your fonts. Saying that, I think the header and sidebar font looked best as big simple headlines. When used with a lot of text they can be hard to read so I'd replace your "about the author" section and copyright to your body font.
I would switch your two sections in the body so you begin your page introducing the site and describing it's purpose then add some transitional text that leads the reader into your main topic.
Finally, there is some white space that should be taken out at the very bottom of the body.
Great job Richard!
My reading of fellow classmates' blogs as well as my own experience with The Lost Museum has led me to question the significance of all the bells and whistles involved in designing a website, particularly a history website. On the one hand, there is an overwhelming need to make the website look as professional and scholarly as possible. For one, your work is on display for the entire world to see, while it may be confusing for some, the complexity and skill involved in creating such a page is not lost on any audience. This makes me think that there are two underlying motives involved when designing such a site.
1.) To effectively relay historic information in an entertaining way for the general public as well as a targeted audience.
2.) To display the complexity and skill required to build such a site from scratch.
My question after reading the previously mentioned blogs and visiting this website is, is it possible to do both at the same time?
After a few weeks into this class I found myself looking at non-intuitive websites admiring the complexity behind all of the bells and whistles that were included however irrelevant they were. Wheras other websites I've breezed through I almost found myself dissapointed by their simplicity.
A question we must all ask ourselves before even beginning to design a website is "What are we doing this for? What message to we want to convey to the general public?" For some it will be the most important to display everything they know about CSS and photoshop afterall our final will be an excellent portfolio for future employers. For others, the emphasis might be on how appealing you can make your subject to the general public. I believe we are each doing a little bit of both.
This week I found Luke Wroblewski's Visible Narratives quite useful when thinking about my final project. As I've stated in the past, one of my main preoccupations is making this website appeal to the general public. Wroblewski's article provides some very useful technical guidelines not only about design but also about the structure and layout of a page to ensure that the reader is maintaining interest in the website and finding it easy to navigate.
Specifically, Wroblewski examines the importance of "visual communication" (that is the combination of personality and visual organization) to a website. He states that the relationship between the personality of one's site and the visual organization allows the viewer to distinguish objects within a webpage while giving them meaning.
I'd like to apply this theory to Claire's great images that she posted on her blog. Claire provided some amazing interactive images on her blog this week that got me to thinking about the positive effects of editing images to gain the general viewer's attention. While I've been consistently on the "no edits are good edits" side of this semester long argument, it is difficult for me to debate the appeal to these images and the positive effects it has on the viewer's content knowledge. If these images make a webpage more appealing to the general public and contribute to the general argument/information/mission that the webpage is trying to convey, how is it defective? I'm not sure it is. Thoughts?
David had a couple of great suggestions for tools to use in his blog. This included Instapaper which he suggested for savings articles that you would like to read but don't have time for at the moment, as well as Library of Congress Map Collections. I'll make a point to check out LoC's Map Collection and explore ways that I can use this for my final project if I choose to display where the sarcophagi workshops were located and how to might have effected the subject matter on specific friezes.
Tool's that I've found the most useful come from out week on images and color. Specifically, I relied heavily on W3C HTML Color Names. This site not only gives you the specific color names (which I found quite useful working with dreamweaver as you will notice many of these colors are not available on the standard color bar) but it also shows you how various colors will look against the one you have chosen. Color Schemer was another favorite of mine. It provides a handy reference for various color names and their associated number. Clagnut provided a list of great references with a quick explanation of what each site did, sadly it appears that this site has been taken down but I do remember commenting on this in a previous blog and found a preference for color schemer.
After receiving feedback from my type assignment to switch up my colors from maroon and green , I used these tools to fine tune my type assignment. I was amazed to discover that these programs were right (what do you know?!) and there is something to be said for a program that can tell you specifically what color schemes will work well together and which ones wont. If anyone has additional comments/suggestions I welcome them!
Working with photoshop has been a smoother ride than I anticipated (smoother for me than working with fonts in dreamweaver at least!) Is it just me or is photoshop extremely similar to Macintosh's dinosaur kid program "kid pix." (I've yet to find someone who gets this reference so if you do please comment!) Regardless, I'm finding the best practice to be pulling my sleeves up and learning through experience. For example, I could have someone explain to me the concept of layers a thousand times but until I made the quick mistake of not saving a layer I could not wrap my head around their importance.
Here are my brags and bemoans: I still, as hard as I truly try, cannot convince myself that editing these photos do the works of art justice. Now, I also believe that this means that MY edits do not do the works justice but I'm working on that aspect. And, as I'm learning, I am becoming more inventive with the WAY I edit to enhance the message. For example, when cropping and resizing an image of a Dionysian sarcophagus I attempted to include the entire frieze. Once I put it next to the original it looked like a mediocre photograph from a text book as opposed to an ornate professional image from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's website. This left me somewhat disheartened until I realized, eureka! Why don't I just crop one scene from the sarcophagus, IE Dionysus on his panther. This helped and it added to the dynamic of the image and my message so I do plan on using this tool in my final project.
I also appreciate the ability to restore a photo. I took a horrible image of a fantastic sarcophagus at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples a few years ago and after playing around with this in photoshop I was able to bring out the figural definitions and sharpen the edges so that the image appeared much clearer.
I've also been playing around with coloring. Now, coloring has NEVER been a strong suit of mine but I'm working on exercising control and muscle in my fingers to perfect this because I think it will be extremely useful for my final project. The image I used was intricate and I could have made this easier on myself but I figured why not dive into the deep end. Now this is something I do NOT have a problem with as it serves as an example for what the sarcophagi looked like after production. I'd like to make the colors more vibrant, but I find when I do this it takes away from the shape of the figures and quality of the monument.
So in conclusion, I am working with a subject near and dear to my heart which could be my achilles heal. Every time I make a change I think to myself "that dosn't look at good as the original." BUT, this also deepends on the image I am working with. I do believe photoshop will serve me quite well in restoring MY photographs of sarcophagi (of which are the majority) but when working with a professional museum image it is hard to compete.
As I commented on Jeri's Blog, I have found Robin Williams' and John Tollett's The Non-Designer's Photoshop Book to be the most useful in finding my way around photoshop. I confess that due to lack of time this past week, I have not been able to roll up my sleeves and get my hands as dirty with photoshop as I'd like, but I'm working on it and The Non-Designer's Photoshop Book has given me a lot to think about and apply to my website. For example, on my portfolio homepage I have an image of a sarcophagus with quite a lot of shadows. This is something I like about the image but it will be interesting to play around with removing these shadows to see if it gives the viewer a clearer idea of the context of this work. As we discussed in class, this is something that will NOT take away from the frieze's content (if anything it might bring more to light).
I would also like to play around with text in photoshop. There was a neat example on page 44 that demonstrated how to place an image inside text. The use of the Egyptian Sphinx inside the word "art" got me to thinking about filling "sarcophagus" with on of my friezes. It's hard to say if this will work or not, perhaps it will be better to use a smaller word (ie "antique" or something). Something I noticed immediately about this example is the positioning of the sphinx. It is facing right, leading our eyes to the rest of the word "art" which makes it very appealing to the eye. The contrast of a black background also works well with this example.
As for the status of my portfolio, I would like to update my homepage with a different color scheme and add jazz up my font on my type page while adding a caption to the bottom of my image. I have not thought much about the image I will use for my image assignment. It could be the image on my homepage or I may choose one of my less proud photographs of a sarcophagus to "fix up" in a sense. I am really onto this idea of filling text with an image so I might also play around with that. Any suggestions?
I spent a majority of my weekend reworking my type page within my portfolio. I found Color Schemer (suggested through our internet visit: clagnut) very useful. While I tend to think of myself as having minor color coordinating capabilities there's an entirely different level of skill required when designing a website. I tried colors that I wouldn't normally jump to and I have to admit these colors work a whole lot better than my previous maroon and green theme.. I still need to work on inputting captions underneath my image. I think that photoshop could help with this, I liked the way David's photos looked on his blog. My main concern was locking down a solid layout and color scheme, both of which I'm satisfied with at the moment however I would still like to fine tune my fonts and play around with images.
I share similar concerns that Beth expressed in her blog. While I'm excited about working with photoshop I'm also hesitant about the amount of editing I'll need to do to appeal to web viewers and if this editing will interfere with the authenticity of the images that my website will ultimately be about. Anyone have thoughts around this predicament?