For my final blog post of the semester, I just wanted to post random musings from my class experience. First off, Flash provided some of the most frustrating and rewarding experiences of the semester. Moments of sheer joy…and moments of utter terror. I think the most beneficial facet of this class was the introduction to the fundamentals of a programming language. Incorporating concepts of functions, arrays, equations, algorithms, etc. helped lay the ground work for understanding the fundamentals of computer programming. I’m not quite sure where I will end up after this program, but I’ve been very drawn to the development side and could see myself working as a developer. Secondly, I liked the challenges presented in the class and the expectation of greatness. Our professor set the bar high and forced us to rise to the occasion, and we are all the better for it. Although Flash might not be the most efficient way to design for the web, I don’t think it will ever go away, and it’s still the best at certain things (infographics, banner ads, etc.). Whether I end up with a career implementing Flash, I can safely say it completely opened my eyes to the opportunities (and limitations) provided with designing for the web.
It seems like for the last ten years every time you read an article with the words apple and adobe, it comes back to the idea of the death of Flash. It is obvious that the web has been clamoring for an open-source platform (HTML5?) with the capabilities provided by Flash for years, but it won’t come as a clean break. Even in the age of modern technology, a platform like Flash isn’t something that can be flipped off with a switch. In my opinion Flash will be around for a long time thanks to how deeply entrenched it is into the web. With the recent news of Adobe cancelling plans for mobile Flash, it appears it will be a bumpy road. Evolve or become the next AOL. In all reality, I think Flash needs to focus on what it does well and improve on that. If they can accept their role as a way to enhance the web experience, they can continue to have an integral role in the interactivity of the web. If not? Well, let’s just not talk about that.
My latest experience in Flash was to create a prototype alarm clock application for the iPhone. The application needed to include a feature for a radio, an alarm clock, and a calendar. I used flash to make the application somewhat functional. The unique thing about this Flash project was that it was primarily a design assignment, but I designed it entirely in Flash. We had the option to design it in Photoshop or Illustrator, but I wanted to take advantage of the design elements in Flash. During this process, I found Flash to have a great deal of design potential. Depending on the task, some things are significantly easier to design in Flash, but that comes with its own set of limitations. I was happy with the overall design of the application, based on UNC athletics. From a functionality standpoint, I only had the time to make the four icons in the navigation active. They simply navigated to each corresponding page. In due time, I would like to add more interactivity and design it in better detail. When it comes to designing in Flash, it definitely has potential to handle most simple elements; however, complex design projects are best suited for Photoshop or Illustrator.
We were tasked with creating an interactive version of our research paper. Mine was concerning the potential of augmented reality games in the field of formal education. I designed it to be simple and easy to navigate as I got tired of reading so many research papers. I wanted it to be easy to locate a specific topic within my paper. Check it out:
For our visual aesthetic class, we were tasked with designing a functional infographic concerning war. Because it was for a design class, design was emphasized; however, we did a significant amount of actionscript. We decided to focus on the different ships in the US Navy. Our layout was two rows of four buttons shaped like portholes. The top row was to select your ship and the bottom row was to select a feature of the ship i.e. speed, armament, size, etc. This meant that there were dozens of combinations of buttons pressed. The idea was to be able to compare one or all of the ships at the same time depending on the selected feature. We had issues with the parent/child relationship. We could’ve tried to manipulate the movie clips using the .visible feature, but even then we most likely would’ve run into difficulties with the if/else statement. Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t figure out the code necessary to deal with the combinations. Since it was for a design class, this didn’t affect our grade, but I would like to reexamine after the semester to try to solve the issue.
For this week’s blog post, I watched I watched the documentary Journalism in the Age of Data, concerning the infographic. An infographic (not an actual word) is a method of presenting data or information using graphics and visuals. That is a broad definition but so are infographics. They range in everything from an interactive bar chart to a 3D globe, charting the number of Twitter users at any given time. It is this flexibility and potential that makes them so appealing. Infographics are an important tool for the future of communication.
The idea of presenting information in a stimulating way using visuals is not a new concept; however, the potential has risen with the modern day tools we have available. With computers and applications, we are able to process massive amounts of data and present them in an interesting and interactive way. Instead of having a reader look at a series of charts, they can interact with the information. The purpose of an effective infographic is to tell a story. If this can successfully be done, then the information will have a bigger impact on the user. This awesome potential also has a dark side. As promising as infographics can be, they can also be detrimental to convey information. If someone creates a visually stunning graphic but the information isn’t logical, then it has done more harm than good. They would’ve been better off with a bar chart. Infographics walk a fine line.
Another aspect of infographics is to use the information visual to show something that could only be done with that specific infographic. If the information could be conveyed in a simple bar chart, then you are only making it more difficult for the user to digest the information. You might have just created a beautiful waste of time. One great way to do this is user testing. If you can have a sample of potential users try out the infographic and give you feedback, then you drastically improve your chances of producing something significant. Lastly, I found the idea of the Felton Report fascinating. A designer created an infographic about his previous years through meticulous data collection. He shows the power of an infographic because the information is compelling. I have no idea who Felton is, but I’m thoroughly interested in his previous year. The beauty of the infographic.
Here is a cool augmented reality demo I created. It was designed as a sphere and will display on a blank piece of paper held at the right angle. I think this will begin to be utilized more and more in the future…for better or worse so get your iPhones ready.