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  1. #1
    FK Catwoman Aria's Avatar
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    ive been thinking recently following a presentation at work about our role as designers :

    How do you feel by all the limitations that surround you : ie low bandwith, old browsers, slow CPUs etc.... do these frustrate you and make you feel that they compromise your creative work OR do you see them as tools, challenges that will help you streamline your work and message.

    Its only now that this presentation came in that i actually sat donw and reflected on both my work and my role as a designer : what is it that we do ?

    I think the core of what we do is to communicate , in clear and simple ways, rather than getting carried away with the latest and trendiest techniques and tricks out there. Its so easy to get attached and passionate with what a certain app can produce that we get to a point where we think that the client wont be impressed without these.
    Has anyone been in a situation like this ?

    Id really like to hear some views here from other designers
    A

  2. #2
    Moderator CNO's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Aria
    How do you feel by all the limitations that surround you : ie low bandwith, old browsers, slow CPUs etc.... do these frustrate you and make you feel that they compromise your creative work OR do you see them as tools, challenges that will help you streamline your work and message.
    Interesting discussion thread, Aria.

    I personally don't think that the medium matters so much as the message - most of the great painters didn't complain about the limitations of paint, instead they created new techniques. So how come so many artists today complain about bandwidth limitations?

    I think that it is quite possible to work within limitations, and so many of the great flash aimators/designers out there now are pushing those boundaries so much further than what the developers of the program imagined its role would be. Certainly I too am frustrated in catering to the lowest common denominator when it comes to designing for a browser. But as artists, don't we depend on an appreciative audience to see our work? Especially in the field of interactive multimedia, where the goal is to develop a unique user experience. When developing for a magazine, your user interaction is limited to whether or not the viewer opens to your design. With multimedia, however, you have to design something that evolves with the user - it's a totally different design aestethic.

    Instead of looking at the glass half-empty (or pouring out at 56 drops per second, or however you want to interpret the analogy), if more people saw the potential available, even more amazing work could be done. One of the great things about Flash that I constantly re-iterate is that even non-technical people are now writing programs, programmers are making animations - it really does work in a friendly way to make the technology accessible.

    I do a lot of animation work (design is my day job, a passion as well, but not my main focus), and am constantly encouraging people to learn the specifics of the program and embrace them. I have seen people deliver stunning short-length animations that would look just as well on television streaming over a 56k modem without pause or a preloader, and in the same respect spent just as long waiting for a preloader only to see a few seconds of poor animation. But to blame the bandwith is just as foolish as blaming your pencils for not being able to draw. Optimization is a skill that should be learned as readily as shading or cross-hatching if one wants to do work for the web. Even high-bandwith connections often have trouble playing back processor-intensive animations.

    I guess the most important thing to keep in mind is that as the bandwidth increases, the demands on it will only increase as well. What then, will we all be waiting for a neuro-uplink to get rid of the delays on our 50gig animations?

  3. #3
    I once heard someone say that 'The picture frame shouldn't detract the viewer from seeing the real picture and appreciating it, instead, the frame should enhance the picture' That was in terms of a painting and it's frame in which it is set.
    To directly correlate that to our medium, the inet...well...I would say that essentially, all these other things (browsers, bandwidth etc) shouldn't detract/distract the viewer from seeing what you actually have to display.
    Whether it be in the form of something really abstract that only the select few understand and appreciate it, balanced asymmetrically to give that 'dynanic' effect, or aestheticaly beautiful to each person, it doesn't matter. Our talents should be enhanced by these obsticles. Though that may seem hard at the time, people such as The Digital Dude (XDude), have worked together witht the inet to enhance what he has to show. In his first teaser, he didn't make a preloader, rather he made his text preload his content. What we have, the talents, and what we're working with (for most of 'us' designers, it's probably your feehand drawings imported into the computer and so on) should shine through by the tools of the trade that we use.
    These limitations surely aren't set in concrete, and we should endeavour to try to overcome these challenges. Sure it annoys me plenty when what you design looks excellent, almost perfect on one platform, browser, machine, only to find out that it looks appaling, revolting even on the competetive other.

    As CNO has said, and it is so true: '...to blame the bandwith is just as foolish as blaming your pencils for not being able to draw.'

    We need to find out as best as possible, the best way to present our work. And we always need to practice and hone our skills.

    As all these chanllenges disipate, people will require and expect more from us.
    'To the one much has been gien, much will be required. '

  4. #4
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    yes, indeed, a very interesting question you've got there..

    it is more interesting because there is no right or wrong, there's no wrong approach to this - there are just different ideas, different opinions that hereby are presented to think about.

    while i am most certain that my experience in this field (as a designer), might not be the most impressive as far as time or art goes. i try my best now to obtain not as much the financial compensation for the hours i put in learning new things, but more the respect from other designers. and at that point, when this recognition is present, i will be able to consider myself more than just a wanna-be, maybe even an artist of this new medium.

    this introduction was neccesary in order for you to understand my point of view, my opinions as such. i was thinking the other day about how fast everything evolves. this industry is growing faster as we speak, sometimes i feel like there's no time for sleep, no time for anything else, but this. and this is an amazing feeling, i wake up thinking of what happened while i was asleep, what new amazing things were invented as far as technology or pure technique goes.

    i agree, bandwith is just another challenge, just like any other challenge faced till this point. it will not destroy us, hence make us stronger, so to speak. the best project sites, the best art works in flash i've seen so far, are amazingly bandwith friendly, considering their possiblity of opening new horizons, new approaches (i'm speaking here about sites such as deconcept.com, natzke.com, praystation.com).

    i do not feel intimidated by this problem, this barrier, i am more afriad of what will happen when this won't be there anymore. just like chewman2k said, "To the one much has been given, much will be required". i am afraid of not beeing able to stand up to the challenges that come after the present ones have been lifted. i am afraid of reaching my limitations, so to speak. at this point, i still have to learn, and am learning something new everyday. but how far can i, as a designer, go to meet the expectations? i guess that's more of a personal / rethorical question.

    i am sure that we, as artists of this new medium, will evolve faster than any of us can imagine, given the expectations. but on a personal level, it is a bit scary..

  5. #5
    <img src="/graphics/junk/swirl.gif"><BR>Bodypaintin' Freak<BR>I ate my post count again
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    Of course bandwidth does make the decisions for many designers. As CNO said, optamizing is a skill which brings us to Arias point that bandwidth limitations make us stive to work harder to create something that everyone can see.

    We design to communicate. We do everything to communicate and if we cant get our "message" so to speak out to everyone arent we failing to communicate?

    I believe it depends on what youre trying to do, sure somethings will look better than others once optamized , but where do we draw the line?

    Where do we stop making things of lower standards to make people stuck on or chosing to use lower standard equipment to see what we are delivering?

    From personal experience and my nit picking ways, , I find it hard to do my site for lowbandwidth users. I am a low bandwidth user only because its not available in my area yet. (I live in the freakin woods...lol) Does MY content deserve to not be delivered at the quality it deserves?

    Yes optamizing is a skill that everyone needs to learn and try to grasp as best as possible.

    Its also hard to communicate when the "listeners" arent meeting you half way.


    D

    great thread A.


  6. #6
    caithness massiv
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    most definitely an excellent thread :)

    ok... here's my take

    firstly, you have to keep in mind one thing: who is the end user?

    if it is the broadband, seasoned internet user, then design for their standards (min 1024x768 & good quality pics)

    however, if you're designing for the masses... you must think about what is NECESSARY and what is EXTRANEOUS

    as aria points out -- I think the core of what we do is to communicate , in clear and simple ways, rather than getting carried away with the latest and trendiest techniques and tricks out there.

    K.I.S.S.

    keep it simple, stupid

    that's part of the equation... but if you're asked to go above and beyond the norm (and prove/reinforce an identity, etc) then you must go beyond the norm and include some of these 'techniques and tricks'

    however, as designers, we must remember that we can't get carried away with anything...

    in my opinion, moderation is key to life... and that includes design ----- meaning that there's a line you draw where you know that if you cross it, you will loose many *common* viewers because 1) they don't get it 2) they don't like it 3) it's too much to handle

    a great point that CNO makes is: "it is quite possible to work within limitations" --- in fact, it's what we are SUPPOSED to do

    if bandwidth disappeared all together, and everyone in the world had a 5gig cpu and 5gigs of RAM, it wouldn't change how we design... it would only change the rate at which we could transmit our message

    but the message itself would still have to be consise... to the point... and engaguing/entertaining

    otherwise, we lose the audience...

    many people realize that, in today's society, we are all about HERE... NOW... FAST... NEW... BETTER...

    we are a consumer-driven society, and as such, things need to be simple and direct... otherwise, the audience is not interested in the slightest

    i guarantee that, if you directed the average internet user to something like designgraphik or gmunk or submethod or praystation... 90% would leave within the first 2 minutes....

    because it does not apply to them, and moreso because it does not speak directly to them... instead, it forces them to think... and unfortunately, in today's society, forcing people to think usually doesn't make you money (unless you're in the film and/or musical industry)

    we are advertisers

    plain and simple... we concieve an idea, and spread it to the masses through this medium of the internet... and we can call ourselves artists because we know that our medium can include art

    but when it comes down to it, we advertise somebody else's message... nothing more... nothing less

    so to answer your question, aria, "what is it that we do" --- i have to say that we are simply the voice of the client... we *try to* do exactly what the client wants... and usually, that's a simple conveyance of a simple message ... buy my product... come to my store... remember me when you need to... think of me first... etc

    we are not here to show off even though we try our hardest to bring out the best in flash... sometimes, it's just not necessary... and many times, it's hurtful to the end-user's experience

    ..............................

    ..............................

    ok... i've probably gone on too long...

    /...

    i'm looking forward to the rest of this thread... it should be a good one

    -steve

  7. #7
    Moderator CNO's Avatar
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    To address another issue that I sort of glazed over in my last post - one of the interesting Catch 22 situations is that people will not upgrade to high-bandwidth connections unless there is content to justify it, and many designers will not design high-bandwith presentations because they are afraid not enough people have the connections to view them. So, what's the solution?

    As Hoss Gifford (h69.net) so eloquently urged at the recent Flash Forward, "Make huge f*in' files!".

    If the recent proliferation of Napster has demonstrated anything (apart from the fact that we're a society of latent thieves), it's the fact that people are willing to wait for hours on painfully slow connections if it means that the payoff will be something they want. So I suppose the next question would be - what do people want?

    I still think that the designer has to take responsibility for all aspects of their work - I've seen good streaming and bad streaming, and it has nothing to do with the limitations of the medium, rather a reluctance to learn how to properly use it. But, think about it - Flash has made programming vogue again! Flash has brought curved edges to the web (well, OK, maybe that happened before Flash, and Flash is also responsible for bringing a lot of ugly gradients to the web...), but the point is that we're just barely scratching the surface.

    I think that designers (who are no longer just designers, but are now programmers/designers/animators/etc. - a virtual "swiss army developer") will bear a lot of the brunt when it comes to forcing people to accept new ways of thinking - Moving web design away from "skipintro->index->subnav->links" and into something a lot more exciting.

  8. #8
    Moderator CNO's Avatar
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    Oh, BTW, you should check out the new "issue" of Flashmagazine, with some interesting articles about the limitations of the Flash player, and particularly the article called "Flash in the Pan" which interviews Greg Rewis of Macromedia and addresses the issue of how broadband will affect Flash design.

  9. #9
    Old dog learning new tricks

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    I agree, the web designer is in fact a "swiss army developer" as CNO said. And I believe slow CPUs and low bandwidths have not much to do with design itself. So the interesting point is the transformation of a graphic designer to a programmer. I'm an old fashioned graphic designer, working in the printing field for 10 years now. Web and its abilities is a really refreshing occupation for me. I've learned using 10 extra programmes but each day I find it more and more harder to keep up with the speed of evolution in the net. Maybe I'm just a dying dinosaur...
    And that's the only limitation that really matters, myself. Cause I'll have to form my own way of communication that fits to my talent, my limits and my personallity. And that's design. If I manage to communicate successfully it will be good design.

  10. #10
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    This is an interesting dilemma. Do we design from point A to B desiring the most compact and effective solution or do we stretch the boundaries of creation and try to make the limits more expansive. I think its always dependant on the client. You do what the client wants.

  11. #11
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    I think that
    Moving web design away from "skipintro->index->subnav->links" and into something a lot more exciting.
    is a line to remember.

    The concept of that is sweet. It's too much to take in, almost.

    One day, when web development has Renaissance Man of web developing, who is a genius in all media and programming aspects, not just one, but a breed of mini-de Vinci's, and "Dial-Up" is going to be forgotten like chatting in DOS . . .

    Man, I love to think about that.

  12. #12
    caithness massiv
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    Originally posted by xeon
    This is an interesting dilemma. Do we design from point A to B desiring the most compact and effective solution or do we stretch the boundaries of creation and try to make the limits more expansive. I think its always dependant on the client. You do what the client wants.
    and you do it in the timeframe they want as well... many aren't willing to wait (much less pay) for the mindblowing site when they know that a nice simple, effective site will achieve everything they desire

    CNO -- the concept of a better nav than the index.subnav.link is an interesting one... sometimes, depending on the client, you can really create an environment where the user feels like he/she can begin to truly explore things... and they don't really feel like they're on a 'normal' website... but are rather engagued in experience ...

  13. #13
    Moderator CNO's Avatar
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    Well, yes, naturally we all need money to get by.
    And in most cases, I stick to straight HTML where appropriate - I believe strongly that content makes a site.

    What I am proposing (and granted, it is an idealist philosophy) is that by changing the way we imagine, present, and execute work, amazing sites will become the standard, not the exception. Clients will no longer allow themselves to settle for "cheap and simple" because they will be phased out by and get lost in a sea of more exciting ideas.

    I'm also very much interested in the idea of the concept of the global always-on network - thinking about new ways to present your work outside of a "17" 800x600 Sony Trinitron Screen" - think about it - for every leap in bandwidth we make, someone comes out with a device embedded in a PDA, moblie phone, toaster or t-shirt which will not accept more than a 10kb file - bandwidth increasing will only free up one aspect of design, but good design will always be good design...

  14. #14
    Super Dominator killabry's Avatar
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    Flash design has always been shaky in my mind, it's animated, and it makes sites look nice, but sometiems things get big and they aren't compatible with the majority.

    I design for usabilty, I like to use Flash to experiment with and attempt to make games with, but our job as designers basically still Jpgs and gifs.

    I design with content on my mind. Sure, i know people who can make Great amazing websites in flash, but i won't stay just to see some neat intro.

    Most of the time, i find myself not liking sites made in flash. I close em out. I'm a high bandwidth user, but i just like the way HTML is. Do you like looking for information, let's say on google, and you go to the website and you see "Loading...", i know i don't.

    flash just isn't ready yet. I'm a big fan of it, but we're just scratching the surface. and as CNO said before, "Good design will always be good design...".

  15. #15
    FK Catwoman Aria's Avatar
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    Originally posted by CNO
    ...bandwidth increasing will only free up one aspect of design, but good design will always be good design...
    Agree !!

    I like the concept as well of the web developer as 'virtual swiss army ' ''its spot on !

    Those disciplines (computer science and graphic design) have eyed each other suspiciously at times. Its really fantastic that this new hybrid is emerging at the moment - designers/programmers who use the latest tools and explore new ways of communicating their message, only thing im worried about is that this (and there many examples out there) can lead to situations where the creator of a site is more concerned with showcasing his/her flash skills than building a successful solution that meets their clients needs .

    With sites that feature every latest Flash trick just becase web designers want the world to know that they re up to date with the latest developments. If we go down that road this can lead to a the problem of 'Aesthetics driven by technology' and everything starts to look the same (2advanced would be a good example to support this argument i guess)

    What i see at the moment is trends being set and dictated by Adobe and Macromedia and other software development companies and not by designers who seek to find inovative solutions to communicate their messages

    A
    [Edited by Aria on 07-28-2001 at 08:27 AM]

  16. #16
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    Just because you have a bigger canvas and expensive brushes doesn't mean you'll paint a better picture. Just a larger one.

  17. #17
    <img src="/graphics/junk/swirl.gif"><BR>Bodypaintin' Freak<BR>I ate my post count again
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    Thats spot on Ugo.



    But Picture this, A Large Canvas with a small picture painted on it.





    metaphores, gotta love them.




    I think agent has it. If its a personal site, sure, go all out, its your time. But keep it simple in the obvious places so the user can decide whether to go to your more advanced stuff.

    I just did a site check where it was almost impossible to get to the content.

    Designers reply was "Its very tricky at first but once the user gets it it will be easier when they come back"

    (thats a loose quote but its the gist of what he said)

    My reply to that is if the first experience is tricky, would they come back? Probably not.

    You can blow people away on your presonal sites but let them choose to be blown away not have it thrown in their faces where they dont have a clue where to go or do.


    But with a clients site, bleh, clients. Gotta do what is asked of ya.

    Still a good topic A.

    D

  18. #18
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    i basicly think that design and programming are two worlds.
    what i see from me is that i mostly skip intros cause they are boring, they make me waiting (although i'm on broadband),i have to wait for content.

    it's like in the real world also: i'm living in a normal house: but i don't want to live in modern house cause it's unpractical...

  19. #19
    Ugly with a capitol F Ekostudios's Avatar
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    i don't think a good designer need sto worry much about bandwidth. Of course, flash normally uses more bandwidth than static pages that use only images and html. But a good designer optimized as he builds to create a solution thats not to heavy on the modem. For example, look at all of the footers. You see animations, interactivity, and each one is under 15k.

    For me, bandwidth is not problem.

    There is only one exception to this statement, and that's images. FLash isn't the best at handling images and they end up using an enormous amount of space. this is the only problem i ever run into for creating low-bandwidth solutions. And because of this, I stay away from images as much as I can and use vector graphics.

    The broadband revolution won't really change flash. Bandwith is not the problem. The only thing broadband will bring about is more pictures in flash. Which isn't really what flash is meant for. Another look at this is that the broadband revolution could kill flash, replacing it with the bulkier yet more powerful shockwave.

    If flash will be changed by a revolution, that revolution will be computer speed. the Processing of advanced dynamic animations in my personal biggest drawback when animating with flash. Faster computers will up framerates making flash look nicer.

    Processing speed is the Flash bottleneck, not bandwidth

    -Eko-

  20. #20
    Ugly with a capitol F Ekostudios's Avatar
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    We are the trendsetters, yet some of us are considered nerds, who suposudly can't follow trends, how ironic.

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