On Web Design
I  N  T  E  R  A  C  T  I  V  E    D  E  S  I  G  N    F  O  R  U  M 
Issue 9   |   March 2000   |   updated 3-17-00 


Val Casey, whose website is reviewed at right, is Senior Designer at vivid studios, San Francisco, CA
Her website illustrates the principles outlined in her tutorial.



Designing for interactive media
If you have an appetite for web design, Val Casey's Online tutorial for designing websites makes a delicious appetizer. There's plenty of information to chew on and a gourmet selection of links to sample.
If you're hoping for more substantial fare, you may be left hungry.

But I'd suggest you dig right in anyway. The emphasis is on web-related issues, yet most of the information applies equally to any computer-based experience, whether delivered via the web, CD-ROM, or dedicated kiosk.

As an overview, an illustrated outline, or a refresher course, you'll find a wealth of good information. Each major topic (visual design, interaction, design, color, web graphics, typography, production) has its own section which includes links to examples and further resources, many of which I've added to my own bookmark list.

The "Interaction Design" section illustrates how Casey's approach works best. You read a brief explanation, then go to three or four websites to see the ideas in use. The websites run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous (ever wonder what it would feel like to do a repetitive job all day long? Try some interactive burger-building).

Casey's writing and design are spare: phrases and lists scattered across the screen, with lots of white space. It's a designer's response to the issue of scannability, defined by Jakob Nielsen as

[how] users scan text and pick out keywords, sentences, and paragraphs of interest while skipping over those parts of the text they care less about. (Designing Web Usability p. 104)

In fact, the layout looks like a page of text with the less interesting parts whited out, leaving significant phrases here and there. More important ideas are grouped into lists or the occasional paragraph. Very web-savvy, but perhaps too sketchy for someone starting from scratch.

Given that caution, my only complaints are links that didn't work (not Casey's fault, but the curse of web designers everywhere), and her comment with each link, sometimes so brief that I wasn't sure what point she was trying to illustrate.

Spend some time exploring the rest of her site, too, which illustrates ideas detailed in her article "Add emotional appeal to your site."