Testing out Drupal

Recently, I had my first experience with Drupal CMS for a web class. I can’t say it was all I was hoping for. The interface was not intuitively designed. It seemed like it was designed by programers for programers, which makes it difficult for the rest of us.

Here is what I needed to accomplish:

 

  • Enable a new theme
  • Add some custom CSS rules to the theme
  • Add a contact form and add to menu
  • Enable at least three additional modules
  • Create at least 3 more navigation items

I did not expect these tasks to be too difficult. But, I was wrong, I ran into an issue with almost every task, other than enabling a new theme. The fact that Drupal decided to develop their own vocabulary instead of using existing vocab, makes it very difficult for new users.

I found many items I needed were hard to find due to the strange names and many options were buried in menus. Even after completing the assignment, when I went to help other students, it was hard to find menu items again.

While Drupal may be a powerful tool, it needs a facelift.

 

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Sagres – Preta Chocolate

Recently, a Portugees beer brand, Sagres, launched a chocolate beer, Somo Gulosos. They decided to go a completely different way with their marketing strategy by building their site out of chocolate. They even hired a master chocolate sculptor to make the site.

Each of the buttons are made of pieces of chocolate and when you mouse over them, they crack and break, like a piece of chocolate. I find that aspect extremely creative.

There is also a beautifully edited video that shows the creation of the website, if you click “Baking of.”

I wonder how the marketing strategy paid off for for the company. The site is completely built in Flash, did that deter users using iPads and iPhones?

Personally, I love the site and hope I can think of creative ideas like this in the future!


Words from the pros

Recently, in my interactive media strategies class, a professional user experience researcher Skyped in with the class. She had many helpful insights on user experience, and as a designer, I need to constantly think about UX. The speaker was a researcher who conducted usability testing in the healthcare field. She said that based on our experience we could all be usability researchers if we so chose.

While I am still interested in design, I feel that user experience is extremely important to producing interfaces. She discussed the difference between and interaction designer and a visual designer. An interaction designer works with information architecture. They examine how a user interacts with a system.

While this interests me, I am more drawn towards being a visual designer. A visual designer conveys the information in a visually pleasing way. She mentioned that one of the biggest challenges in the healthcare field is figuring out a way to display a lot of data in an understandable way and not to overload the user.

The speaker reassured us that when looking for a job, to remember that it was okay if we don’t know everything. We should let potential employers know we are open to learning.

 


Adobe Edge

Adobe is developing a new product in the Labs called Edge.

Adobe writes:

“Adobe Edge is a new web motion and interaction design tool that allows designers to bring animated content to websites, using web standards like HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS3.

Edge will be updated regularly to add new functionality, stay ahead of evolving web standards, and incorporate user feedback to provide the best functionality and experience possible.”

This sounds like a great product that may make our lives easier in the future. Will it someday take the place of Flash? If Edge makes HTML5 and JavaScript easier to use, it will take the technology to whole new level.

Since Edge is in beta, you can download a trial of the product for free here.

 


Flash mobile player is dead

Recently, Adobe announced they would not longer be developing for the Flash mobile player. There were many Tweets and blogs post written about this. Some believe it is the end of Flash. If you read Flash Developer, Mike Chambers reaction to the Flash mobile player, you will find that is simply not the case.

I think that this will open a lot of new doors to HTML 5. It has so much potential, standards just need to be developed. Adobe’s move might help move that along. While I have not had much experience with HTML 5 yet, I do look forward to learning more about it in the future. The canvas feature sounds amazing. It would be great if Adobe could find a way to easily integrate HTML 5 into its products.

I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Flash and HTML 5.


Industry Musings

A few weeks ago I visited Newfangled Web Design in Carrboro, NC. I met with Mark and Chris, both are very active in the interactive world, who shared their insights on the interactive world with me. They told me to make sure I have a strong understand of SEO, social media and lead generation. Those skills will be valuable when job searching. Mark and Chris provided me with a few books on web design that I am looking forward to reading.

Last week Josh Janick from McKinney visited iMedia students. He spoke about the different jobs available for our skill sets. The job that stood out to me is an interactive designer. As an interactive designer, I would design websites, app interfaces, etc. and add basic coding. It is important that I understand code and know the limitations of different technology. Josh also invited us to visit the McKinney offices, I am looking forward to that in the near future.

Another gem of wisdom Josh shared was that Flash is still very much in use at McKinney. Designers use it often to create banner ads for clients. Mark and Chris were not as big on Flash, so I suppose the usage lies somewhere in the middle. I am glad to have knowledge of Flash and see what the program will evolve into.

 


Operation: Covert Font

In my production class, we have been working on Flash games. I am not a huge game person, so this is proving challenging to me. I first decided what subject my game would be a typeface game. I love fonts, so it seemed an obvious choice.

I examined other games for inspiration. Some of my favorite are: Kern Type, Cheese or Font?, and Kern in Space. The last game is a Flash game. I have spent many hours trying to beat Kern in Space, but it is rather hard. Check them all out.

My game is different than the other games though, there is a word, which spells a font name, you must figure out what typeface the word is written in. It is a bit tricky when it reads Arial but is really Garamond.

I need to finish writing my ActionScript and then the game will be ready to play. Good luck!