At this stage, you will assemble digital media story elements into a website with user-friendly navigation and an attractive visual style. To tell a great story, it is important to evaluate digital media on the dimensions of structure, clarity and aesthetic appeal.
The term "multimedia" implies a variety of discrete story elements combined into a unified final product. A good way to create and distribute a multimedia project is via the web.
If you go with web distribution you'll want to organize your story components into an attractive, coherent website with an effective overall design.
Fortunately there are many easy-to-use website builders out there. For this class, we will use Weebly.
You'll need to apply some basic design principles to make your site both attractive and functional.
There are two key design issues to consider:
To achieve a unified, coherent website, you'll want to pick a page design and color scheme that will carry through to every page on your site. Weebly, and similar products, come with a variety of design templates, or "skins" that you can apply to your site. Once you pick a design theme, stick with it throughout your site to maintain a consistent visual style that makes it look like all your pages belong together.
Keep your pages simple. Remember, most people will breeze right by a website if it looks dense and cluttered. You need to reward their attention with a layout that's bright, straightforward and attractive.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published a comprehensive guide to the best web design practices that was written for people who design and build government web pages. Check it out at <http://www.usability.gov/guidelines/index.html> It's comprehensive and based on state-of-the art web useability principles.
Most website have more than one page. "Navigation" refers to the paths you create so visitors can move between pages in your site.
The paths are displayed on navigation menus, which can appear as a bar across the top of your webpages, or as a column running up and down on the left- or right-hand side. Menu bars across the top are favored because they are the most efficient use of precious screen space.
Menu bars should be absolutely identical across all pages of your site. Once users have figured out the navigation scheme, they shouldn't have to re-learn it as they move from page to page.
Creating icons and labels for navigation menus is a demanding task. The best way to make sure your icons and labels make sense is to test them on paper with users before you implement them on your site.
Start by sketching a design template on paper. The template determines the arrangement of elements that are common to all pages of your site. Typically this would be: header/banner, footer, navigation bar and content grid. As an alternative you can find a pre-packaged theme online or embedded in your web authoring tool.
The design template for this site would look something like this:
Each page or group of pages on your site represents a content category. Sort your content into categories that you think will make sense to users of your website. Label the content categories and create icons that communicate the categories visually. Then test your categories, icons and labels by showing them on paper to potential users, to make sure they actually make sense to the people who will be visiting your site. This testing phase is absolutely critical -- categories, icons and labels that make sense to you won't necessarily be meaningful to site users. Once you've tested and refined your navigation scheme you should incorporate it into every page of your website.
Don't forget to test your site on a variety of browsers and devices. Tablets and smart phones are increasingly popular tools for web viewing. Make sure your site looks good on a small screen as well as on a desktop!