Luke Wrobleweski from Yahoo! presented on Web Application Page Hierarchy. He focused on the use of design elements to provide visual hierarchy in a web page. Making use of the usual graphic tools of size, color, contrast and placement, he showed numerous examples of simple page tweaks to visually prioritize important content.
Luke discussed emergent networks of loosely coupled content replacing strongly hierarchical web page structures. Closely mimicking content relationships to the relationships found in crowds and friendships. Content as incidental networks, or a more organic structure. This leaves content to reign over the hierarchical demands (e.g., site structure navigation…) a site’s structure often imposes. How often on a site have you found the content hard to find amongst the mass of navigational tools?
Luke used measuremap as a sample of decent attention and contrast in the content items. Another good sample is the evolving patientslikeme site. Aerobahn traffic display is also a good information sharing tool. It was very nice to see the evolution in each sample that he shared and how truly identifying the focus and then actually using this to drive the design created a much more effective tool.
I see his talk as kind of reminding you to stick to what’s important and keep it simple. Remember that the page is there for a reason, don’t lose the focus during the journey. He also talked about the little things like the rampant “sign-up” buttons. Luke dislikes the primary action option being to “sign-up” as this isn’t what you really want to do. In the physical world the registration forms get recycled. Let me in, let me play with it, then I want to join and register so I can keep using it.
There was also a nice sample of a simple table clean-up. Luke showed the progression of a basic enough data table that displayed information before, but after some rearranging it displayed information in a much more effective manner.
May 8: Updated my incoherent note taking into something that is hopefully more helpful.