From “Design Challenged” To “A Challenge To Design”

I am design challenged.

From the way I decorate my apartment to the way I take pictures and think about layout out of my blog with colors and widgets I really have a long way to go.  I would like to think that I am communicating a message and engaging my audience.  I truly hope that I am.

After reading Understanding Visual Hierarchy in Web Design by Brandon Jones I realized that there are so many elements to the way we read online that I had never thought of before.  People see our designs in terms of relationships and that is how they make sense of the information.  Are we designing our site to communicate the message we want to give? There are so many aspects to design such as color, size, contrast, alignment, repetition, proximity and whitespace.  I had thought about some of these things but I don’t know that I am putting them into practice.

The same goes for the way I design my classroom.  Am I using large enough fonts for bulletin boards? Am I using the right amount of white space for kids to view what is important.  We as learners do what our students do when they learn.  We view things that are important.  We scroll down on a webpage until we find the information we want.  We are great at filtering what we don’t need and finding what we need.  But are we making that information available to our students ? Am I making that information for my parents on the class blog?

I am in the process of trying to make a domain for my professional thoughts and blogging outside of Coetail.  I am also trying to redesign my blog and the blog I share with students and parents through our school hosted site. I have been playing around with layouts and themes and just can’t seem to get it right.  I am also indecisive so that makes it even more challenging as I change it too frequently which would make any audience confused and less likely to engage in the material.

With our school hosted blog I am also trying to navigate the purpose of our blogging platform.  Many teachers use the blog in the elementary as a class website.  Posts are informational only and a repeat of notices, forms, homework assignments and repetitive information that parents can view in a multitude of other ways.  I want my class blog to be dynamic, flexible and a showcase of the learning happening in the classroom rather than another form that goes home and is repeated on a blog.  I find this style boring and not engaging.  I want my site to be a place where the world can see and share with us and that parents get excited about showing families in far away places. I want my students to engage in the material as well.

I have played around with a couple of things and will share below the before and after.  I would love comments and ideas.

This is the link to my classroom blog.

Before:Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 4.15.31 PM

After:Screen Shot 2013-09-08 at 7.36.13 PM

I am realizing the power of white space and less “mess”.  Not much has changed as I am afraid to change anything drastic.  I love my widgets and I don’t want to get rid of them.  I guess I need to ask: What is the purpose of them in the first place?

Lots to evaluate and think about….

Now onto my Coetail site and …..

How have you improved your site? What have  you changed?


2 thoughts on “From “Design Challenged” To “A Challenge To Design”

  • I think this a great update to your class website. It maintains the format of the old one (nothing drastic, like you said), but it has a cleaner and even more professional appearance. The earlier one did too, but this has a nice freshness to it.
    Just like corporations feel the need to update their logos–often with great fanfare–I think it’s important to change-up class websites as they are an extension of our classroom. And it keeps things from feeling stale!

  • Like Alisa I too like the update. First thing that stood out to me was the menu bar..which is a good thing..the different color pulled my eyes there.

    Agreed that most teachers use their blog like a website when it could be so much more. How do you post things on your class blog that students could respond to for homework? Or even just because? Mike Jessee (COETAIL Grad) is one of the best I have seen at this. The new school year is just getting started but he had his students interacting on their class blog all the time. Watching videos and responding or looking at someones work from today and talking about it. It’s a great classroom blog:

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