Archive for the ‘ Not my assignments ’ Category

Fourteenth – but not exactly

This week’s readings included an article by Debra Levin Gelman: Designing Web Registration Processes for Kids. Because I am planning to build a site for kids, I had great expectations. And especially because I was going to have a login part, which I did not include in my designs since I was not sure about how to code it, but this is marginal now. I was starting to read this article with the awe that it is really tailored to my interests, but soon I was disillusioned. Exactly when the author got to the second line. She opens with describing why it is difficult to create a login for kids six to eight-year-old. Here is the first argument: “You’re trying to create a digital experience for people who lack the cognitive capacity to understand abstraction.” She is just wrong. Children are capable of understanding abstraction. This is why in day school the teacher can teach them about how to spend money “wisely” by using beans instead of coins. Of course, they understand not every level of abstraction, which makes them not really different form any other age group. As adults have different cognitive levels, children’s vary as well.

The author uses the word abstraction several more times, and the more she uses it, the less I believe that she and I use this word for the same purposes. For example, she believes, that kids would unlikely register if one gives them abstract notions as arguments in favor of registering. “Since kids in this age group find it hard to understand and visualize abstract ideas, it’s important to communicate tangible benefits at the outset of the registration process.” Her argument is that if a Barbie figure or a Lego minifigure “tells” the kid user the benefits of registering, and shows them, how a stored game score, as an example of such benefits,  in the site looks, kids will be more likely to register. I think, also this way, storing game scores remains the same abstract notion, if it was at the beginning, which I doubt. However, the minifigure talking is much more gamy, friendly, and part of the game experience, hence it is more appealing than to look at a rectangle that asks for username and password. So, yes, Gelman is right that such visualisation helps bridging over hardships of understanding, but not abstraction. And there could be many other reasons why the seven-year-old in her example did not want to register and just play than the lack of understanding of the dubious benefit of storing game scores. One of them could have been that he just wanted to play a game.

At a certain point, we also learn that kids are more likely to remember passwords that they make up than those that are web site-generated. Her approach to the permissibility of kids “obvious” choices of usernames like “poopyhead” must come for a very unfortunate experience with a very special sort of kids. I do not intend to design my website having these kinds of kids in my mind…

But the generalizations – I consider them necessary to conceptualize audiences – do not stop there. According to the author, “Kids are pretty smart when it comes to web terminology.” Yet the example of a girl shows that she understands the word submit only if connected to homework and not when it appears on the screen. Another example tells about a boy who at the age of seven could not think that secret code might refer to password. At the same time, they ” don’t like being patronized or talked down to. For example, referring to other players or users as “friends” is presumptuous and a little demeaning.” So neither the “adult” web-words nor the infantile terms work. It is good to have a table that offers a good “vocabulary” to be used on kids sites. However, after reading these examples, I do not really see the point of it. After all, Gelman writes about kids six to eight-year-old as a group lacking the cognitive capacity to understand abstraction. To develop a vocabulary that meets that intellectual level instead of visually supporting the “adult” web vocabulary like being able to recognize the function of the submit button, apparently is not demeaning, at all. Such websites will keep their six to eight-year-old users at the same “fun” and limited cognitive level. More articles like Gelman’s can be written about how to design web sites for this type of audience.

Most importantly, however,”kids in this age group are still slightly egocentric, meaning they have trouble seeing things from other perspectives. As a result, words like “me,” “my,” and “mine” are confusing.” I think this is an unfortunate word choice, even if it is in Latin. And the illustration to this is the case of a six-year-old, who did not understand that he was supposed to fill in his name into the window where it said “my name.” In my mind it has nothing to do with egocentrism. Not with either much or little of it. It has to do with the parent, who allowed the kid to go online without any guidance and whom the author describes as people with “deep-seated fear of sharing personal information.” Maybe such parent would also learn to which websites his or her child visits and limit the web usage from the computer that the child uses.

I guess, it is a waste of bytes to further detail my disagreement with how kids are described here. Also, I had my non-expert common sense to look at web sites designed for kids when I started to think about mine. And it is unnecessary to say, I continue to look at them. The ideas Gelman lists here are great, interesting, useful. But I got them without reading her article, I could just go to these sites and study them. Nevertheless,  articles like this are important and helpful especially for someone who is about to design his or her first web site ever, and even if they provoke me to write posts that are not part of my assignments.

 

 

Fourth: about colors – little comment

For the coming class I read about color usage on the web. A whole technical apparatus supports the different shades that can be boiled down to the basic colors of red, yellow, and blue. From there we go to the secondary and tertiary colors and the different softwares that help to design not only the color of the pictures one uses but the color the viewer sees.

How familiar the topic and how disturbing the variance for somebody who until now was familiar with only the color theory of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The color theory of the German poet-scientist also aimed at correcting Newton’s claims on light and optics. Goethe not only impressed the protagonists of my dissertation but also one of my favorite author of children’s book: Eric Carle.

I have already played with ideas of how to color my website, so that it will remain colorful without turning it into a color chaos, i. e. a misinterpretation of children’s esthetics.

Second – but not

Last time I wrote exactly hundred words because I understood that each assignment-entry is limited to hundred words. This time, I know I can go beyond. At least in the word number.

As I mentioned earlier, most entries in this blog are short records of each of the steps I make toward becoming a web designer. Others would call them home work. They would be perfectly right, since I write this blog as part of my assignments. Each week I have two classes, which means two entries are posted weekly. In fact three, because from next week, I have an additional entry to make in which I visit and comment on the blog by one of my class mates. I am not sure if I would ever venture to write a blog on my own. But this is irrelevant now, and somehow paradoxical, as this entry does not answer the questions of the next assignment. The reason is because I am not able to acquire the necessary technical background. However, it does allow me to create categories in my blog!  Hence, this entry will not make into the regular category of entries.

My second assignment is to compare three designs of a web site as time passed by and evaluate how it transformed. But when I am trying to view a site I receive a  message arguing that because robots.txt is unable to enter the site, I cannot view the page that I requested. After having received this message so many times, I gave up and checked what robots.txt document is. And it turns out that is so much relevant to my project, so I decided to write about it. Now I know, what every sci-fi fan knows: there are good and bad robots. I also learned that by using robots.txt I can not really stop bad robots entering my site, but I can try. Once getting to my final project, I will.

I hope I can write the next entry about the evolution of the design of a web site…..