Code Questions

This week started our first foray into reading about and practicing code. I asked you to bring questions in about the readings, and in what follows I’m going to answer some of the questions that many of you had.

  1. Many of you had a variation of the same question: when do I use certain HTML elements? Well, whenever you want to. The beauty of HTML5 is that there were a number of elements introduced that helps you structure the content of your pages. Those element names make some logical sense so that <figure> and related <figcaption> are as they say used for figures (things like diagrams, charts, illustrations, etc.). You wouldn’t use <figure> for a motivational image. There you would <img>. Many of the decisions about how to structure and style your pages is completely up to you, which is why I say that code can be as unique as your handwriting and why it’s important to comment your code (which we talked about in class).
  2. There were a couple of questions around browser support. You can find a number of resources on the web that will help you understand what CSS elements are supported by the different browsers. Generally, the browser referenced is the latest version, and this is why we have multiple browsers installed in the lab.
  3. Several of you had questions about the need for certain mark-ups. That is why couldn’t the browsers just figure things out. The answer to that is the browser needs to be told what to figure out and without the code (HTML elements and CSS) the browser has no idea what to put on the page. It’s the same reason you write anything. People can’t read your mind. IN this case, the browser can’t know what you want it to do unless you tell it. Closely related to this is the difference between elements that seem to be doing the same thing and/or elements that authors may tell you not to use. Again, writing code is a rhetorical act. You get to pick and choose how to structure it based on your own knowledge and your purpose and audience. Some people never get there head around the semantic nature of HTML5 and this always use <div> while others understand it and will use <section> appropriately. Will your page still work if you overuse a <div>?  Most likely, yes. (See the readings for 9-13 for two articles about the difference between a <div> and <section>.)
  4. I’m surprised that so many of you asked questions about metadata and SEO. In some ways, this is the least important information in the readings this week so someone need to explain to me why so many of you thought it was important. But, the question many of you asked was if this information was necessary and whose responsibility is it? yes, you should include it and generally, it’s the responsibility of someone on the project team who is creating or redesigning the site. It’s a great role for the writer on the team.

We also read some stuff about personas and several of you had questions about them. As we discussed in class, personas are simply one tool that you can use to assist you (and your team) with doing deep audience analysis. As sites get more complex and more organizations are putting information online (both internally and externally) the need for deep audience analysis is paramount to ensure that what your designing will meet the audience’s needs. Personas can help you do that because they are relatively inexpensive and with some dedication can be done rather quickly to get a project going and to keep a project on track.

Lots of questions about whether they are used and how people go about creating them. Yes, they are used, and mot of your questions will be answered next week when you finalize your personas for the Web New Project.

HTML exercise no computer needed

I want to thank y’all for your hard work on your old school web page design exercise. Playing with colored paper and thinking in concrete terms for the first time is not an easy task, and y’all rose to the occasion. From your lo-fidelity prototypes, it seems you have a good start of understanding the how HTML5 elements can structure a page. That was the goal of the exercise. As Lois so smartly pointed out, it was a useful exercise to start actually writing the elements as a way to hopefully understand how they are used.

Following are a couple of examples. We will revisit these in a couple of weeks because you’ll revise them to include CSS. These four examples show what we talked about in class and as I decribed above, that the same exercise can produce vastly different results based on your own individual way of approaching HTML elements. All the examples are *.pdf files and I have no idea where the copier didn’t pick up all the color on example 3.





Finally, my only critique is that y’all have to talk more. I do understand that it can be difficult for some students, and I do understand that it can be scary to ask a question when you may not know what you’re trying to ask. But, the three hours works so much better when you participate a bit more. On my side, I’ll work some different creative exercises to get you going so I can see where you may need help, but it’s a two way street.


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