Appearances aren’t everything, but…

January 28, 2007

This week’s reading were both general (XHTML and CSS basics) and specific (how website appearance aids in functionality and establishing credibility).  I think I am going to like the Wyke-Smith book and working with CSS – I have a certain amount of programming experience but one thing that I haven’t figured out yet is how to get to the editing environment.  When I was doing BASIC, FORTRAN and APL (yes, I am that old), I wrote code in the old DOS environment, the file extension would identify it as a program and the computer or compiler would recognize it and run it as such.  Where does one “go” to write XHTML?  I asked Josh this question last semester and didn’t have a chance to put his answer into practice.  There were certain parts of the answer i didn’t understand anyway.  Here is his answer:

Basically, HTML / CSS /  Javascript doesn’t require any compiling at all; the *browser*  handles the rendering when it’s fed the raw code (usually downloaded via HTTP from a server). If you wanted, you could just click “save  as” to save the raw HTML of a page, put it up on your own server, and view it in a browser – the page is the code itself, nothing more. To  change the coding of a page (say, for example to add a heading  wrapped in <h1> tags), you’d just add the appropriate text to  the .html file.

I think I’m missing something – I don’t know what to save the raw code as, or how to put it on my own server.  But I guess knowing the question is halfway toward working out the answer.

I had some trouble with the link to Donald Norman’s article, so I Googled the whole title and found and article of his with the same name but at a different address.  It started with a comparison of 3 teapots.  I was interested in the premis, so I read on.  the conclusion I came to after skimming the article was not that attractive things work better, but that people work better with attractive – or otherwise appealling – things.  In the Fogg article, I found the conclusions about judging credibility based on a site’s visual design to be somewhat predictable.  The large sample in the Stanford survey should be expected to focus on the superficial aspects of a site, while the smaller, focused sample of the Sliced Bread Design study should be expected to rate content as more important.  The Stanford survey results are not as useful as they would be if they featured demographic data on the respondants.

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4 Responses to “Appearances aren’t everything, but…”


  1. John, on my old blog page on Blogger, the text box had a tab on top that you could switch to .html. I used it only slightly, because I am a real Newbie in coding and processing. And yes, I want a definitive “separate” page to work on coding. Too old school, I guess. I’m an equipment junkie. My husband buys the software, I play with the box! Best of luck.
    Misha
    new blog http://propagandaredux.typepad.com/propaganda_redux/

  2. jennyreeder Says:

    John–I still think you have a leg up on others who have absolutely no programming experience… I guess we’ll all learn together and help each other out with what we do know…

  3. Mark Stevens Says:

    John,
    I agree that the Wyke-Smith book is quite useful. It has helped me build a working knowledge of the target languages from ground zero. I knew basically nothing about this, and following examples in that book has helped me begin to develop some abilities.

    You asked where does one go to write XHTML. Dr. Petrik’s suggestion of Dreamweaver is an excellent one. I have been using it, and the ability to do the tag commands through various editors helps us neophytes. I think thet would be useful to a programer n o matter their proficiency level.

    Mark S.

  4. karinhill Says:

    I think you summed up my thoughts on the reading too…that people work better with attractive sites. I also agree that perception of you site can be unpredicatable. I started to wonder how many people had to “pass” your site on its visual elements before it could be considered a good site asthetically (I’m sure I just murdered the spelling on that one.)


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