Wednesday, April 29, 2009

the texture of digital

During my first attempt at designing the I Feel Earth website, I made the sorts of errors that I imagine lots of amateur digital designers make. One class of error was the over-engineering of roll-over states.

In my inexperience and keenness to make the page feel alive, I overdid the rollovers. The result was a very tacky collective experience, everything glowing or jumping off the page under the cursor. Thankfully that particular experience will never see the light of day.

I was thinking about this the other weekend. I was at the Sunday Upmarket, passing a stall with little hand-made bags and accessories. The mixtures of fabrics and surfaces triggered something in me - and like everyone else passing - I reached out and stroked my fingers across the surface of the nearest bag. Like we do.

Our desire to touch things is instinctive. It's a primal exploration our eyes are incapable of performing.

So I started to think about the texture of websites - or rather digital stuff as a whole.

I sometimes find myself waving the cursor across the page in a zigzag, much like I did with that bag in the market - to get a quick sense of the texture of that page. Is that weird?

If someone did the same thing to my early design attempt it would probably have felt a bit like this:

I wonder how many people think about the collective texture of the site/app they're designing. Or rather how consciously they do it. While designers clearly think (constantly) about our eyes' journey across a page, do they think similarly towards the 'low relief' we sense when we roll across it?

Is this kind of thing going to become more relevant as touch-screen experiences become the norm?

I also wish I had some good examples to share. But my new blogging philosophy is to write things down quickly before I get bored of them.

Any thoughts or examples? I'm spent.


Blogger Wal said...

Great thought. I do that zigzag thing as well, thinking about it makes sense. First thing in my mind with touch technology and texture is a simple one:

1:28 pm  
Blogger Andy Whitlock said...

I think I've also read about technologies being tested that actually raise a touch screen to form low-relief details such as keys. Maybe I dreamed it though.

2:05 pm  
Anonymous Michael Maurillo said...

love how this translates to touch screen. i think ur right in that we will see much more attention paid to 'texture'. do u think this is similar to adding a "scrubber" to a scroll bar? i have a feeling its much more than that....

2:55 pm  

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