Social Psychology of Web Architecture

Cyberspace:  The Final Frontier




Table of Contents:

Instruction to this report
What You'll Find in this Report
What the Earlier Generations had to Say
Web Designer Principle as I see It
Psychological Aspects to Web Design:
What is it Like to Become a Web Designer:
Annotated Index to Web Design:

 



What You'll Find in this Report

Hello! Welcome to my first official report:the Social Psychology of Web Architecture. I didn't know much about web design prior to this course; all I know about WebPages are that they are cool to look at, and usually they have cool links for me to click on. So what was my initial reaction when I started making my homepage?? Let's just say that there were words that I said that I wouldn't be able to post on my page so that millions and millions of users can read.  But here's the good news, my current attitude towards web design is that I LOVE IT! A web architect is like an artist, except we use codes and pixels to create our art.  Face it, the internet IS the FUTURE, and the future is NOW.
 

 In this report, you won't find me talking with cyberspace jargons about web architecture because frankly, I am as computer literate as my pet dog B.B. (King).  What you'll find is my honest to goodness opinion about web architecture, from my meager beginnings to my current progress.  You will also read some of the previous generations' take on web architecture, some tips about the do's and don'ts of web design from a proclaimed specialist (Mr. Glover), and finally, our wise professor James's opinion on the Social psychology of web design.  Here's the disclaimer, this is strictly a novice's approach on web design, so I'll try my best to be honest and informative! Now, sit back, grab a nice cool drink (but, don't put it on the computer, even I know that's a no no!), a light snack, and I hope you'll enjoy my report!

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 What the Earlier Generations had to Say

 

A wise friend of mines once said to me," Monica, in order to build a sturdy building, one must build a sturdy foundation."  I'm sure he was not the first person have been so philosophical.  Yet that idea does relate to this class.  As I am doing this report, I realized that whatever I contribute on my report site, it will be a part of the generational curriculum; students in the future will learn from my site, just as I have learned from the previous generation's' homesite.  In this section, I will tell you which generation's site on this topic really stood out for me and assisted me in building my own.

And the Generationers are......

It took me a while, and I mean a LONG while to look through all the Social psychology reports.  I have to honestly say, most of them were similar to each other content wise.  However, it is hard to do something completely original if you have to follow a certain form.  So what I looked for was style;  humor was what drew me in mostly, I like to read reports from writers who's got a sense of humor. 

Dan Tanioka's report was not only informative, but informative in a lighthearted way.  The design for this page was simple, but what really stood out in his report is his guided tour with words through Glover's Suckky to Savvy page.  You can tell he really took his time looking through the site and his comments were funny.  Phrases such as, "This is pretty cool stuff. It takes long to download, but how the hell does he make his guy point to the different parts?" were not serious, but at the same time, it was a bit informative. I also liked his style of writing; he wrote it as if he was speaking the words.  It made the report seem a bit less intimidating to read.  He was also very honest about his opinions.  He contributed both the good and the bad side of web design.  All in all, a funny report!

Leslie Francis's report was not as humorous as Dan's, but what caught my attention to her report was the information.  Ok, I said that most of them as similar in content, but keep in mind that I said MOST.  In Leslie's report, she also put in information about another sites that deals with web design in Web Designer as I see It.  From all the reports that I have read, I think she was one of the few that incorporated more than just Jeff Glover's website in that section of the report.  In was additional info, and it was very helpful. I also liked her opinions on Dr. James page on Social Psychology of web design.  Not only did she try to summarize a bit of her favorite parts, she also incorporated her own ideas and opinions into this section

Here's an example:

HOW DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO VIEW YOUR PRESENTED INFORMATION? In other words, how YOU want to be viewed. As Jeffrey Glover indicated in his "Savvy Things" section, we must "Be Unique." However, being unique may involve a little soul searching, and what makes up our self-concept is "all the ideas, thoughts, and information we have about ourselves..."*, both the good and the bad. However, most web pages are designed by analyzing our self-schema ("...what we believe to be true about ourselves."*) or by looking for possible selves ("Selves we would like to attain..."*). This is one of the reasons why having many screen names and RPG's -- role playing games -- are so popular.

May Rose Isnec's report was one of my favorite ones.  Although content wise she provided the same info as every other report, she also did it with a flare (and with a couple of cute icons).   I know that Dr. James said that we should try and keep icons as minimal as possible in our reports, but May Rose used her happy and sad face icons effectively.  She, like Dan, also used humor to try and get her points across.  I especially liked the section What It's Like to Become a Web Designer: Blood, Sweat, and Tears .  Not only did she told her experience as a web designer, she did it in great detail.  I liked how she uses her personal experiences to relate to the topics in her report. 

Here's an example:

I was searching for another job this semester and found an advertisement in the newspaper. A company was hiring a Computer Technician. They were searching for individuals who had knowledge of different programs in both PCs and Mac, the Internet and web designing, and many other duties. I sent in my resume which included my knowledge of web-construction and computer experience. Out of 60 applicants, they asked 7 for an interview, and guess who was on that list? Not me!
Hee hee...just kidding. I was very lucky to get picked. The interview went well smiley.gif (93 bytes). Needless to say, I didn't get hired.drunk.gif (141 bytes) Alright, who was that computer geek who took my dream (Ha!) job? Poo on you! My point is: learning this stuff, however difficult, is a big plus! Though I did not get the job, it shows that the knowledge learned in this class can help aid in future employment and can be used in the real world. That's more than I can say about Organic Chemistry or a Statistics class.
Bleh!

didn't I tell you those icons were cute and effective??

Skye Nakayama's report was, like May's and Dan's, humorous.  What made Skye's report a little different was his/her (just to be politically correct because Skye can be a he or a she) straight out dislike for Jeff Glover's site.  He/she basically just didn't like Jeff's page and he/she was straightforward about it.

Here's an example:

A. In beginning to explore glover.com, I found myself already annoyed at the long loading time due to too many pictures. It seemed to me that this guy thought of himself as a self proclaimed web genius and I was turned off by that. In my opinion, anyone who writes about setting standards on the web either is truly an expert on the subject, or is more likely an egotistical hotshot. His "Welcome" was an annoyance as well. Though neat that he gets his words to morph, it is just a fancy blink to me. Personally, I can see where every home page would have a lot to do with the designer, but I just can't stand it when they make it like you're invited into their
living room and show you their life's story photo album!

B. The purpose of the site as I see it is to allow this guy Glover to voice his opinions on what makes a good web page and what doesn't. Along the way, he adds his own little Disney trip in there because I guess he had fun there and thought we would too...WRONG!!! If I wanted to waste my time looking at silly pictures of a trip I wasn't even on, I would ask my neighbor if I could come inside and sit for a while. At least they would have milk and cookies for me to munch on. However, no matter how turned off I am about this site, glover.com, does have some good things to look at in the glover.com/suckysavvy link. Closely related to this fairly interesting link is the glover.com/sucky link that gives a top ten worst things to do in your home page list.

I like that type of honesty.  I did find his/her report to be a little short, but it was short and to the point!

So now you have my own personal opinions about the other generationers' report.  No we can get down to the nitty gritty:  the HEART of my report!

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Web Designer Principle As I See It:

The Do's and Don'ts!

So you want to build your own homepage that everyone in the virtual world can see in all its glory but you don't know where to begin and what the etiquette are.  Well, technically, there are none.  But if you want to have a site that is both pleasing to the eyes and informative in your own rights, then I suggest you go and check out Sucky to Savvy by Jeff Glover. When I first started looking through his pages, I said to myself, hey what makes this guy the authority on Web Design, and who's this guy that's bold enough to tell us what is "Sucky" to "Savvy"?  But as I read on, I realized that this man does not proclaim himself as the master of all web design, but instead as he puts it, "While we cannot all agree on what's ultimately sucky or not, "Sucky to Savvy" tries to be fair in its assessments. As attitudes change so will this site."

Mr. Glover has definitely done HIS homework.  In his site, he has an extensive amount of what's sucky, and what's savvy.   What I thought was really cute was his sucky and savvy indicator.  Mr. Glover devotes a whole link on certain things that he or the general public find to be "sucky" or "savvy," and in each link, has an indicator showing how sucky or savvy it is.   At the end of each links, he gives suggestions on how one can either avoid making a "sucky" mistake, or improve on their "savvy" work.  Mr. Glover's site is extremely extensive, and it took me a looooong time to click through them.  I didn't understand everything that he was talking about, but I got more than enough info to share with you so that you can get the jest of my long journey through his site.

"Principle's I Understand"

I thought I make my own Sucky and Savvy list from Mr.Glover's list.  I think this will help you guide through Mr. Glover's site just in case you're one of those impatient few:

MONICA's SUCKY LIST:

Blink
Let me show you something and tell me if this doesn't annoy you: If you haven't noticed, this text is blinking and it's way annoying. Isn't it? Imagine trying to read a whole screen full of text with a couple of blinking word within your visual sight.  It is not affective and basically, not worth your time to even try!

Background Music

Hey, don't get me wrong here.  I love music, but when you can't seem to control what you want to hear, now that can be quite annoying.  I love Mr. Glover's explanation as to why background music could be oh' so annoying: Because a huge percentage of users are professionals trying to stealthily browse from work. Often times in cubicles or open air offices. And almost always, as quietly as they can. This includes me.  So these professionals aren't workaholics after all, they're just a bunch of infectious web surfers!

Loud Backgrounds

Check this students page out, it is not extremely hard to read the text, but imagine how much easier it would be to read her report if the background was oh, say white with light purple etchings.  If you are doing a research site (like the one shown here), it's better that you tone down does urges to use bright neon green backgrounds...

Frames

Ok, ok, I use frames.  So it seems pretty hypocritical of me to talk about how sucky frames are.  Well, let's put it this way, kid's don't try it at home (unless you know how it works!)!  I took me many long waking hours to figure out how to use frames correctly. Basically, if you don't need it, don't use it! 

Construction Signs
I hate it when I go to a site and it's under construction.  I remember there was a site that I use to like, but they would be under construction for months on end.  It really bothered me because everyday I would log on to that site and there would be a big animated sign with "under construction" on it.  They should have gone to Mr. Glover's site about this and listen to his suggestion:  "If your page really is under construction then go ahead and put up a temporary notice that says it is. Be sure to give us an idea when it will be done and when it is done, remove the notice!"

MONICA's SAVVY LIST:

Flexible Window Widths

Here is something that I cannot stress more to all you new web designers out there: make sure your WebPages are flexible sizewise for all viewers!  Here's Mr. Glover's stat taken from somewhere else: According to GVU's Sixth WWW User Survey in October 1996 almost half the users on the internet have a 15" screen or less and approximately 20% of all users are at 640x480 resolution. (Ironically, GVU's WWW User Survey's charts are 960 pixels wide?!?!).  From my experience, I didn't realize this until I was halfway through with constructing my site.  I was surfing the net with a 17" monitor, so I didn't realize that my page was going to look different from monitor to monitor (and server also!).  So, be aware, and don't make the same mistake as I did!   

ALT Tags

If you do have a lot of images to download, both Mr. Glover and I suggest that you include the ALT tag in your IMG SRC tags.   ALT Tags are extra tags that you can put in your IMG SRC Tags that will give alternate descriptions of your images for your visitors that do not have images loaded or are browsing using text-based browsers (like Lynx). Sometimes, people are not interested in the images because it just takes too long to download, so if your site gives your viewers the choice to see or not to see, it would make you all the more conscious web designer!

Contact Info

The heading itself is pretty much self explanatory.  Make sure you have your contact info on your site!  You build a site in the World Wide Web so that millions and soon billions of people will be able to view it, so don't be afraid to put a contact info on it!  Sometimes they will want to respond to your site for many purposes.  Don't forget that!

Be Unique!

As Mr. Glover would say, DUH!  With everything that's out there on the internet, the only way you are going to get
people to visit your pages is to create something unique and interesting for them to view.  
No one will want to see something that they have already seen again and again.  When Mr. Glover says to be unique, it doesn't mean that you need to create something with shock value, but instead create a page with an idea that YOU find interesting and that you can create it with a flare. 



EXTRA TIPS:

Speed vs. Design This page is basically telling you the web designers out there that there is a balance between high quality design and quick loading pages.   How you create your page is determined by who your audiences are. From there, you can create a viewer conscious website that can be both pleasing to the eye and informative for the mind!

JPGs vs. GIFs

I know for me, I didn't know the differences between a .JIF image from .GIF image.  But in this section, Mr. glover breaks it down for us people who can't ever seem to figure them out.  The JPEG format is best used for Photos and Continuous Tone Images. The GIF format is best used for line art drawings, most logos, and screen dumpsAny questions?

GIF Animations

I'll admit it, I love animated icons and animation in general when it comes to WebPages.  But sometimes too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing.  In this section Mr. Glover tries to give us some pointers as to how we should use animation and where it would best fit.  Take a look at this site, it really has some good points!

Planning your Site

This is pretty self explanatory.   Sometimes, it's good to just fly by the seats of your pants and live life moment to moment, but there are other times where planning is absolutely mandatory.  If you want a good site, you need to plan, plan, plan!  Do an outline, know your limitations, and educate yourself on HTML. 

There are many more pointers which Mr.Glover points out, but these are the ones that I thought were important enough to share.  Remember, these are only opinions of one person, Mr. Glover himself.  Don't take every single one of his "sucky" and "savvy" ideas into heart because, let me repeat again, it is only the opinions of ONE person.   Go through his site, and take in what you think are good points and forget the bad ones (like I did).  Just remember, experience is the best learning tool!

 

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Psychological Aspects to Web Design

After reading Dr. James Paper on Social Psychological Principles of Home Page Architecture, I've filed three main ideas that was particularly fascinating to me into my memory bank.  Now, I thought I'd share what those ideas are and what MY opinions are about his ideas on Web design:

Birth of Cyberspace: In this section, Dr James writes about his two "homes":

"You see, I have two homes, my regular house and my Home Page. My regular house requires upkeep, naturally, and we clean and tend the plants......My Home Page is my other house. It sits in cyberspace. I had a difficult time explaining why I call a bunch of computer files on my drive by the name of "my house" or "my home." He had a bunch of folders and files on his computer and he didn't see why he should call this his house."    

Before taking this course, I had the same mentality as Dr. James skeptical friend.  I didn't understand the relation between a WebPages that I made and my home.  I thought, how can you call your site your "home" when it is not something substantial?  Sure you can change the fonts, the background, or your images, but can you sleep in your virtual home?  The more I thought about it, I started to redefine my definition of home.  I can understand where Dr. James is coming from, because since I've started building my own homepage, I began to treat it like it is my home.  I am constantly trying to "straighten" it out, trying to upkeep my site so that millions and millions of user will visit and say, "wow,this person has put a lot of effort into her site!"

I've come to realize that with the birth of cyberspace, we have inevitably create two worlds for ourselves, the real world, and the virtual world.  To those who are in touch with both, it all seems logical to have a home in both worlds.  We can try and rationalize (like Dr. James pal) that these are just a bunch of folders and files that are connected to the internet, and it is just near propostuous to relate that to your own home that you reside in.  Yet, at the same time, can't we rationalize that our "real" home is just a bunch of wood planks, concrete and nails that are use to put together an enclose space for us to call home?

What makes our cyber homes different from our "real" home is that we can't touch it; what we CAN do in cyberspace is experience the cyber world through our eyes.  We are constantly visually stimulated with images and pretty little animated icons, and it is the style and the info that makes a site enticing enough for us to stay and visit.  This leads me to the next section of Dr. James paper, Informational Content of Home Pages.  In this section, Dr. James writes,

"In general, we try to achieve two important results with a Home Page. One is that it should be clear
(unconfusing), informative and useful. The other is that it should be beautiful, with a creative and entertaining style......"

Being a product of this generation, I will honestly say that I have an extremely short attention span.   Anything that just visually doesn't stimulate me I would just not even try to remember.  So when it comes to surfing the net, I stay at sites that I can "see" it to be a visual phenomenon.  It needs to have order also; just because it looks good doesn't mean I will be a good site.  keep it simple and yet exciting; it was really hard for me to do that with my page because I found so many images and ideas that I wanted to put on my site, but when it comes down to it, not only are you building your "homepage" for yourself, but for the millions of users that will be visiting your site.  That doesn't mean that you can't be your own creative self; it just means that you need to be conscious of not only you, but your site visitors.

Creativity in the cyberworld unfortunately involves technicality.  Unlike your "real" home, you can't prevent anyone from visiting your virtual home.  Thus it means that your site needs to be an "audience conscious" site.  In Dr. James section on Stylistic Features of a Homepage, he talks about WebPages layout and how we, the web designers, should be aware of.  In this section he writes,

"Above all, be sure that visitors don't end up waiting impatiently for your Page to load."

That sentence basically summed up this section of his report and about being a conscious web designer.  Just because you see an image or a background that you think will look great on your site doesn't mean that it will suit it.  A prime example is all the generational students' sites.  We are research sites, thus we can't be messing around with blinking words, or an excessive amount of animated icons.  If we have an elaborate background, it would only distract the readers instead of making the page look good.  And here's another reason; like I have mentioned before, majority of us hate to wait for anything.  Do you ever find yourself getting impatient waiting for the microwave to heat your food up even if it is just for a minute?  Well, imagine trying to load a site and the images and icons that take minutes to load not because your computer is slow, but because they are just too big and too intricate! 

 

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">What is it Like to Become a Web Designer: My Humble Beginnings

Since you have patiently scrolled through my report, reading every single minute details about my opinions about web design, I will reward you by sharing, in detail, MY biography of web design....

 My Shaky beginnings

My first experience with web architecture was actually during my sophomore year at the University.  I took ICS 101 because I thought that it was about time for me to catch up with the time.  I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.  Aside from all the weekly homework that we had to do, there were also projects.  One of them of course, was to build our own WebPages.  In the beginning, I welcomed the challenge, but by the time the project was due, I had taught myself to hate web architecture. So it was quite a shock for anyone who knew me to find out that I am now taking a course about cyberpsychology and web design.  Well, to be quite honest, this class was not my first choice.  To be really honest, it was actually my last choice.  But I can confidently say that I am a reformed woman!  I see the art of web design in a whole new light, and I hope it can only get better...

In the beginning of this class, I was struggling.  It appeared that I have forgotten practically everything I have learned about web design from my previous computer class.  I was in the same boat as most of my fellow classmates. I had to start from square one.  The endless typing and researching just on the codes alone to make a table, or frames were frustrating.  Yet, at the same time I found it exhilarating to see my accomplishments (when I got it right).  To think, there will be millions and millions of users that will eventually stumble into my site and see my oh-so-glorious masterpiece! As I progressed, tasks got easier, I found myself sitting in front of the computer for hours on end.  Time became irrelevant.  And now, I have a new found respect for all the web masters out there.  This class has taught be not only the social and psychological influences that the Internet has on us, but it has also taught me the technological aspect of web design.  I'm pretty sure that I know twice (if not three times) more about web design now than I ever did before.

the future and beyond

So where do I go from here?  I don't know for sure, but I am a lot less intimidated by the vastness of the Internet and I am taking on a different approach to web design.  At least I know that if I want to create another web page, I have the knowledge to create one, and I owe it all to this class!

wise words for You future web designers

Here's some valuable advice from me, the now somewhat experienced web "artiste."

Advice number one: start your work early, let me emphasize the word EARLY, before you find yourself with four projects to do and two days to finish them (I speak from experience!).  I'm sure you future generation of web designers have figured this out by now, but sometimes you will forget how much work you have to put in to create a masterpiece.

Advice number two: treat your website like a living entity;  there's always room for improvement, and you need to keep it up and nurture it.

Advice number three: experiment!  Don't be afraid to try something new on your site, but also be aware of who your audiences are.  It never hurts to try something new, but it also never hurts to be conscious of who will be looking at your site.

Advice number four: Don't be afraid to ask for help!  That's how you can speed up your progress.  In the beginning, I was afraid to ask my fellow classmates on how to do things, but when I did, I found myself finishing my jobs much faster.  I am still shy about asking questions, but trust me, if you want to get anywhere in this class, JUST ASK!

My final advice: Have fun!  Don't treat your website as an assignment.  I did in the beginning, and every time I had to work on my site, it felt like a chore.  But as soon as I started treating these assignments as a learning experience and started having fun in creating and recreating my site, it became fun!

My advice are purely from my experiences, and I hope you will digest this, set it in your memory bank, and have fun!
 

My humble advice to dr. James

Most of our knowledge comes from our own experiences and stories of other people's experiences.  Online generational community classroom is a reflection of generating knowledge through experiences.  I think Dr. James is on the right track when he started the generational classrooms.  Being able to have access to prior generation's work and reading their advice to future generations really helped me with my progress in this class.  Let me repeat these wise words again, in order to build a solid building, one needs to build a solid foundation.  Present generations need to understand what the prior generations has done and also be actively participating with their fellow generationers.  So my humble advice to Dr. James is: KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

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  Annotated Index to Web Design:

 
  Here are some sites that you can check out about the psychological forces behind web design and navigation.  I searched these through Yahoo and Altavista.  I hope you will enjoy them!

Psychology of Web Page Design This site is a report written by George Watson Hall Smith about basically, the psychological effects that the World Wide Web has on us as a society.  It is an interesting article, so I urge you to check it out (it's not very long either!)

HTML Help by The Web Design Group This site is sort of like Mr. Glover's site.  It is a bit more informative about different tools and styles of web design.  It is a great site if you need to learn HTML.

UCLA College Library Instruction: Thinking Critically about WWW Resources Here's   another site that will help you along with Web Design. It shows some points that one should consider when one is building a web site.

 

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If you have any questions, or you just want to drop me a note,blmail.gif (6115 bytes) e-mail me!

 

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