Online Musings of a Public Historian

As I’m sure you all remember, I’m not the most adept when it comes to handling technology. Now more than halfway through the semester, this History and New Media experience continues to excite, surprise, and confuse me.  Thanks to the readings, class discussions, and skills building assignments completed so far, my once “pre-beginner” level digital skills have certainly improved.  At times, however, I still find myself helplessly confused about the task at hand and how to maneuver my way through this new digital world.

That’s why I’m glad that Dan M. Brown’s Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning came along for this week’s reading.

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Cover art for Dan M. Brown’s Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning.

For someone as deeply technologically illiterate as myself, Communicating Design is a welcome – if slightly dry – read.  Focusing on the ins and outs of project-planning and teamwork in the digital realm, Communicating Design proves an insightful introductory text to recognizing and using new media research tools.

Brown is most successful in connecting with entry-level readers through his emphasis on the basic.  Split into two parts,  “Design Diagrams” and “Design Deliverables,” Communicating Design aims to acquaint readers with the key elements of the web design process.  Discussing various concepts and models, such as that of the “persona” (a project’s target audience), Brown highlights the importance of documentation in web design, citing “consistency of vision,” “insight,” and “traceability and accountability” as some of the advantages such documentation brings to a project. Additionally, Brown draws attention to the value of communication and collaboration within a team project. Following the general guidelines laid out by Brown, clear communication between team members along with a solid design outline allow for better quality “deliverables” — essentially a project’s final, public product.

As stated by Brown in the book’s introduction, Communicating Design aims to provide

“starting points and guidelines, ready for you to shape them with your own needs, your own circumstances, and your own experiences.”

Does his emphasis on the basic and focus on the importance of team communication and collaborate succeed in conveying this point? How can we as historians apply the ideas of Communicating Design to our own projects?

Comments on: "Communication, Documentation, and Collaboration" (2)

  1. You hit on the main points here — the use of design diagrams and deliverables to enhance communication and collaboration in order to produce an end product. Nice post!

  2. I think Brown’s best recommendations are when he promotes the use of concept maps and wireframes. To answer your question, I think folks can use this on almost any web project. Having a clear big idea, and a plan of action for showing the idea, is smart. Who doesn’t want to surf an organized web site? Sometimes I feel like even the AU website could use a tweaking here and there.

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