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  1. #1
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    Here is an old chestnut that I want to know opinions about.

    As Web Designers our bread & butter is being able to present a client in the best light, but is that focused mainly on the eye-catching and mood setting visual aspects of a site, or on the way the content is displayed?

    I know the mantra is "Content is King" but as the world becomes more and more visually oriented does that still hold true?
    As advertising, games, and other factors shorten attention spans and make the public less patient with what it views, can a site risk being purely functional?

    In Education particularly there is a lot of content to impart and it must be carefully organised not to overwhelm the viewer and still hold the attention.

    Yet, will a populace that has grown up with bright iPhone colours and gaming graphics not give even the best content based-site only cursory attention before switching to Facebook or a gaming site with lots of entertaining graphics?
    (I know one student in my course last year who's attention was impossible to focus on anything not visually "explosive", which was nothing course related).

    As such is the future swinging to "Visuals is king"?

    What do you think?

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  3. #2
    WDF Staff Wired's Avatar
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    Content is always king. Pretty colors will only get you so far, and if it pulls in more people than the content, then your content's crap and/or the visitors are idiots.

    OTOH there's a lot of idiots out there, so that can certainly be a valid group to target on a website.
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  4. #3
    Senior Member Webzarus's Avatar
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    No matter what the " thinkers " are trying to convey, content is always more relevant.

    Certain " groups " have always been more visually focused, and that should always be part of your design strategy. But there is always a small percentage or every group that is more visually intrigued than the group as a whole.

    Here's the problem with designing for a visual audience and ignoring the " content is king mantra ", search engines are " content oriented ", if you have little or no content, then search engines will not index it properly. If search engines don't index it properly, then the people will not find it.

    Every design strategy, should ALWAYS include aspects for the human and non human visitors of the site. If you try to ignore either, the site will be impacted negatively.

  5. #4
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    Presentation aka how you deliver your content has always been as important as the content itself in Education.

    I'm sure you recall teachers you loved, who connected with the students and helped them learn by making the classes entertaining?

    That's good presentation of the content. You can do the same in web education. Straight text and pictures will bore students to death and be ineffective, no matter how good the content itself is. Introduction of rich content (videos) and a dynamic UI will increase the user experience and delivery of the content so as to make the Education better.

    I've done a lot of research on this. I did a series of videos for a local university's online education program. About 50 hours worth of video.

  6. #5
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    Good answers, but what about the trend towards the visual?
    Even if content remains king and non-human users require data content, are sites still having to increase their visual aspects to maintain viewer interest?
    I agree that a visual/content balance is the best policy but isn't the bar still shifting toward a need for snappy visuals, just to get the human user to bother investing their attention? :nerd:

  7. #6
    Senior Member Webzarus's Avatar
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    You have to look at your target market, there's a big difference between let's say a site about a musician and a site about theoretical metallurgy.

    One would lean toward more of a visual aspect, the other would lean more to a simplistic intuitive aspect, because there is a vast difference in the target markets expectations and what they deem as a usable site.

    There may be some markets that there will be some moderate convergence in perceptions, but I personally don't think there is or will be in the near future, an overall push to make everything visually appealing.

    Take books for example, 5 years ago, there were studies and tons of things that would indicate that the future of books was limited. Although there has been a big surge in eBooks and readers, book sales have not declined at the same pace that eBooks have jumped. In actuality, the eBook market has supplemented the overall book industry, with just another outlet for a particular market.

  8. #7
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    Webz, I've done A LOT of research into this. There are vastly polar types of learning behaviors. For example, auditory learners have a LOT of trouble absorbing and interpreting written words, and do better with narration (e.g. video with sound). Visual learners do better with graphics that explain concepts in better visual detail. Only verbal+visual learners can absorb written words innately.

    People with a preference for non-sequential information (global learning style) do better with interactive educational tools, e.g. powerpoint type presentations that have both a sequential and non-sequential navigation to them.

    And on and on... there's a lot of science behind learning behavior. You can't simplify decades of science into a one-liner answer of what's best. It's really dependent on the student, and so what's best has to address all students' needs.

  9. #8
    Senior Member Webzarus's Avatar
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    The OP was about a lot of differing types of sites, also how I was referring to it.

    The educational aspect is another "genere" of web presentation, and I agree 100% with your analysis of the differing types of learners. I see the same things on a daily basis.

  10. #9
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    Learning behavior is used a lot in the web, and every other information medium. In the web, the application of learning behavior to content pervades the fields of Usability, Content Writing, Information Architecture, and UI Design.

  11. #10
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    Hi all, one of Ruarri's fellow students here. Thanks for the input so far guys.

    I definately do not think that it is swinging towards "Visuals is king", no matter how pretty your webpage or graphics are you still want great content that you showcase and enhance with visuals.

    As mentioned above by Smoseley there are different styles of learners with different needs, I just covered this in my E-Learning Design documentation.
    I went with the VAK (Visual learners, Auditory learners, Kinesthetic learners) model, and hopefully used enough variety in the e-learning tutorial to give the three main learning styles of the target audience something to tweak their intertest.
    Also as mentioned above it will depend on your target audience. If you know your target audience are *oooh shiney* idiots then yes your bells and whistles will amuse them, so you would go more visual heavy. Still you will need content to deliver!

    Take Facebook as an example it is very plain, but the social network and content/contact it provides keep millions going back (some seem to never leave lol). Hell can you imagine the uproar if they suddenly made it all graphic everywhere, one thing a lot of FB users don't seem to like is change :furious:

    My personal opinion is that I really do love a good looking easy to read site, but the content must be something that holds my interest or I wander else where.


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