The readings and work from this week really centered on design. I think for many historians that’s not always a strong point (I know I’ve struggled with creating good designs). Design becomes extremely important, especially when using Photoshop. I’ve found that the amount of alterations that can be made to an image can be overwhelming. For these reasons I really enjoyed reading chapter 5 in Robin Williams’ The Non-Designer’s Design Book that dealt with contrast. The proper use of contrast on a web page is an excellent technique when it comes to the overall design. Without being too crazy, contrast offers a basic way to draw the viewer’s attention to the site and keep it there. Simplicity is key and it’s something that I try to keep in mind as I continue working on my project.
However, this is not to say that contrast should be totally subdued. As Williams’ states several times, if you’re going to use contrast “don’t be a wimp.” Contrast relies on things being different, so if you’re using images, colors, texts, etc. that are somewhat similar then you’re not going to get the desired result. The images Williams’ uses in the book provide solid examples of how contrast can change a document, whether it’s in print or on the web. These illustrations helped me realize the issues I’ve been having with my own site’s design. Besides my lack of proximity (which I hope has been rectified) I’ve struggled with directing the viewer’s eye through my page. My typography page was too simple and didn’t really have a starting point for the viewer. I realize now that contrast could solve that issue. I plan on spending some time working on the color contrasts as well as font size contrasts to see if I can jazz up my web page a bit.
I plan on incorporating what I’ve learned from Photoshop to enhance the design of my site. I haven’t posted it yet, but I made a change to the top part of my typography page. Rather than just a title that wasn’t very clear, I now have an image with the title “Murder in the Capitol” that I created in Photoshop. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
Personally, I think it’s pretty cool. However, I know that personal opinions shouldn’t determine what goes up on a site that will be viewed by more than just me. For now, I’m just happy that I was able to create something in Photoshop while successfully attaching it to my html page. It’s certainly progress!
Having just watched a 3 hour tutorial on Lynda.com (here’s the link) I’m confident that I’ll be able to continue to improve my Photoshop skills. Lynda provides such in-depth analysis of how to do specific things in Photoshop that it can be difficult to retain all of that information. It always helps me to watch the video and then start messing around in Photoshop to see what I remember and what I can figure out.