While the internet is flooding with comemorative posts about the sudden death of Nintendo’s CEO, Satoru Iwata, I felt like even though I would hardly be able to do it justice: to whatever audience that I have, I’d like to show my respects. The games Iwata helped to create have been such important pillars in my childhood, and even my life today. The hours I have spent enjoying his work, from the day I was born, I wouldn’t trade for much else. While I’m sure I cannot call myself his biggest fan, and while I know very little about the man himself, it seems wrong not to recognise how important Iwata’s work was, not only in my life, but in the lives of many millions that enjoyed his games, and for being such a heavy influence on the game industry as a whole. A nod of respect tonight, to Satoru Iwata.
Today was the hottest day of the year so far, and I’d almost forgotten what real heat felt like until today. I spent most of my lunch break sat in the sun almost paralyzed with how hot it was, but closed my eyes and tried to relax into the heat and create a memory of the moment – we may not have another day like this for a while, with rain and cloudy days forcast for the coming weeks. In the winter I often think to find it hard to remember how it feels stepping outside into the heat rather than into the cold, especially after the long winter we had this year.
Sunny days also bring with them oppurtunities for nice photos. Before I walked to work I thought I’d give my new phone’s camera a swing in the garden. Not too bad!
As we advance through this age of technology, every year we find ourselves with two things that have entirely shaped web-design since the inception of the internet: higher screen resolutions, better internet speed. Visually, things that we take for granted today simply weren’t possible in the early days of the internet – images were few on a webpage, and those that were there had to be highly compressed. And while today screen you can get 4K screen resolutions on your phone (almost twice the number of pixels you have on your HD TV), when your target audience had 800×600 PC screens, you had barely any space to work with, let alone a widescreen.
Today? We have huge screen space (even if it is sized down on your phone) and the internet speed to instantly download high-quality images in seconds. The result is an era of web design that places imagery above content and user friendliness – and what’s aesthetics if it isn’t matched with functionality? I remember when Facebook first released their ‘cover photos’ and thinking it seemed bizzare that we now had to scroll further down to see the content we wanted for the sake of a nice, pretty picture. Today, it seems so standard we hardly notice it. Google’s own social network, the infamous Google+, release it’s own version of a cover photo in 2013 that literally took up the entire screen before you could access any content. A hilarious failure when users rarely even had access to photos with the resolution they were asking (2120 pixels, in comparison to Facebook’s 851 pixels), it resulted in an annoying and hardly-utilized feature that was abandoned by the end of the year. Even now though, in their current design that has been kept for almost two years now – as nice as the picture of me making a cup of tea is, does it really need to take up as much screen space as it does:
It makes me smile how ‘Basic Information’ is perfectly cut off too; first glances are important, folks.
“But Louis, your website has a giant picture of a blurrly lucky cat at the top” you might say, and that’s exactly my point. My website is guiltier of this crime than I would like. It feels more like a modern house that has hardly enough furniture in it rather than a cozy home, and that’s how I want my website to feel when you visit it: cozy. But my knowledge of CSS coding is too limited to really get my blog looking how I’d like. And when these are the options for themes on the WordPress website, it feels like I have hardly any choice other than to have a glaringly large image as the first thing the user sees:
Perhaps it’s more appropriate for a business or a photographer, but here, where most of my users are returning, it makes sense to make it as usable and friendly as possible. For those who remember my old website, I had a small banner at the top with a drawing of a field and a sky. I kind of miss that element, where the website is something more than a website, but is designed to appear like something else almost. For my Professional Practice module at Uni, I designed my digital portfolio to look like a silver birch forest, which I think worked really well while still feeling functional.
In a world where web design now all looks the same, it’s nice to do what’s different. I should be embracing that more.