[aprssig] Re: ARRL Web Site Propagating Out-Of-Data APRS

KC2MMI (Jared) kc2mmi at verizon.net
Sat Apr 1 21:32:45 CST 2006

<<Ouch, that sounded like you were slamming beauticians ;-) >>
 Touché! <G>

<My point was that paying for a graphic artist to improve
the page might not be necessary, and may even be detrimental.>
 That certainly might be true, but equally not true.

<<Did you read the article I refer to? >>
No. I accepted what you said of the premise. Yes, if something is too slick
people may think it came from a marketing department instead of the engineers.
But a good graphic artist, who is familiar with the medium and the audience,
will taylor the product (web page, brochure, railroad ticket, whatever it is) so
that first off it *works* with the kind of elegance that is invisible. Very much
like Arthur Clarke's comment that sufficiently advanced technology may be
indistinguishable from magic.

<<What would a graphic
artist do for a factual web site? >>

Case in point: Many web sites, like the Winlink.org web site, have a long list
of links. In this case, you can't see all the links without scrolling down. But,
with a little professional redesign, those links would all be visible on the
home screen--no scrolling needed. That's the kind of little touch that affects
function, almost invisibly, while not having any effect on the "perceived
slickness" and glitz factor. Offhand...the links could be placed closer (tighter
spacing) or made smaller, or fancier coding that used fly-outs or something else
could be used. One of the hallmarks of professional web design is that you never
have to scroll or page around unless you really NEED to. Content is purposed to
fit "per screen" with the majority screen mode (i.e. 1024 resolution last I
checked) as the criteria.

<<For example, what would one change
about the obsolete APRS VM site?>>
 First off, get the banner off the top, where it pushes down the whole screen
and forces scrolling again. It could be stacked on the right side of the screen
in the default Google style with no loss of advertising visibility. No change to
the overall screen--except, better use of the layout so the user had to scroll
less. That one change would bring everything except the last "List of links"
onto one page. Killing the self-evident and therefore useless title "Table of
Contents" would then bring almost everything onto one page. Added glitz? None.
Just a professional tweak that stops the nuisance factor (scrolling) without
adding any dancing bears.<G>

 Similarly, I'd suspect Kenwood styled the D7 faceplate by hiring someone's
16-year-old niece. Tiny pastel labels in low contrast against the
background...UGH. But, anyone can hang a shingle, call themselves a designer,
and often convince someone else that their work is pretty. Like you mention
about the ten fonts--that's called "The Ransom Note School of Design". Honest!
Gotta use every crayon in the box...and someone likes it that way.

 Coming back to "good design" and APRS, most of the APRS plotting software has
lousy design. It usually shows a GPS location as a pinprick of the smallest most
precise type possible. And that's just wrong, any trained designed will tell you
that if the position is within, say, a 50' circle? Then you plot it with a dot
that covers 50 feet, not a pinprick. Maybe a dark spot in the center that
lightens out, indicating a higher confidence in the center and a literally
'hazy' location. But all these pinpricks and thumbtacks? God save us, software
is too cheap.

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