Saturday, March 24, 2012


Chapter 12 of White Space is Not Your Enemy covers storyboarding, as well as going over how to create different types of shots and other photo/video aspects in detail. If you've ever looked at extras or behind the scenes from movies, you've probably seen storyboards. You can also think of them as a comic/graphic novel version of your project (in condensed form, of course).

Storyboarding is the equivalent of an outline you'd do for an academic paper, report, short story, or novel. It gets all your main points and thoughts out in a logical, organized order. Storyboarding also includes visuals - at early stages, this can be quick sketches or notes, and at later stages this will be draft images or final copies if you have them. It should also include brief notes so you remember where you're going with the project, don't forget important details, and can clearly communicate your ideas with your client.

For a personal storyboard form doesn't really matter as long as you can utilize it as a production tool, much like a writer's outline. Everyone forms ideas and works differently. However, a professional storyboard that you will use with a group and show to a boss or client should be formatted appropriately - nothing huge, just ensure that all necessary information is there and looks professional, such as your name and the company name, the client name, the project/purpose, your/your company's logo and contact information etc.

Storyboards are especially helpful for those of us who think visually. Sometimes it's a lot easier to draw something out than to explain it. It's also often easier to communicate ideas with group members visually, so you know you're all on the same page.

Images and Infographics

Most people are highly visual in nature, probably due to our highly visible (and lazy) culture. While you need to make your written content top-notch, don't skimp out on the images. These can keep the reader an extra few seconds by being interesting, and maybe get them to read your content. They can also help explain, back up, or elaborate on your content.

Infographics are awesome tools for giving a big chunk of info in a small, visually-appealing section. They are made so that you can get the general gist at a glance, and understand a concept, process, or idea with minimal reading. You can check out some sweet inforgraphics here, here, and here.

White Space is Not Your Enemy has great information about images and infographics in chapters 10 and 11. I'll try not to restate them and instead share some additional information.

The biggest mistakes I see on the web regarding images are:

  • Theft of images
  • Throwing all the bells and whistles of whatever program used into the image
  • Using too low quality images, or too small of images (or blowing up a small image huge resulting in severe pixelation)
  • Promoting Instagram'd, Picnik'd, etc. images like they're awesome professional stuff
  • Images that have nothing to do with content
  • Including non-professional snapshot-type images just because they pertain to your text
Images are your eye-catchers. They are what the viewer will notice first on your website, so they need to be high quality, professional, and enhance your content. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Wedding blog post

 Mark's blog post about the wedding:

Slightly Off the Mark: A Quick "I Do" ... and the Real Wedding

I'll make my own blog post about it, later, when my to-do list isn't a mile long. H is is probably wittier than mine would be, anyway - he does get paid for his columns, after all. For now... I'll be writing a term paper and working on the wedding registry (I don't know what's more draining: scholarly research or comparing appliances)!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Engaging Viewers in Corporate Web Content

Chapter 6 of Kilian's Writing for the Web talks about writing web content for corporate websites. While a bit dry, this chapter is useful because if you get hired to write web content, it's probably going to be for a business. Most businesses, especially small or single-persona ones (like an author/artist/crafter), will require less rigidity than corporate websites, but the principles are the same.

Kilian's main point is that you can't just throw ad copy at website viewers and expect them to get anything out of it, come back to the website, or care. People don't like to be harassed with ads online any more than they like it in person, and if the website only tries to sell the product, it's just a big ad. You need content that engages the reader, anticipates and answers questions, and gives material that the reader seeks or finds interesting - and to provide enough information for people to buy the product or use the company.

Here's pretty good example: The company site for Pierce, a fire apparatus company. They don't just have a list of trucks you can buy - they have behind-the-scenes webisodes about how the trucks are constructed, community information, social media integration, etc. The website is well organized and easily interacted with. I don't really like the surprise fire truck, but it's definitely interesting.

I've found, in my ridiculous amount of time spent browsing the web for no apparent reason, that the biggest mistake people make with corporate/business websites is assuming that all their viewers are morons. "I'll just make it so they can't see anything else until they watch the infomercial. Then they'll definitely want to buy our Widgets!" Or, they'll laugh and close the window after 10 seconds, and assume your company is a hack job desperate to make sales.

A good way to make corporate or business websites not fall flat is to make them interactive. You can easily integrate sharing with AddThis (which adds a button for just about everywhere you can share content), add comment forms so readers can share their opinions, allow reviews of products, feature users of your product, add a search bar so users can easily find what they're looking for, add contests or giveaways, etc. Many websites are integrating frequent user perks and rankings. For example, JINX, a gamer clothing company, lets users 'level up' by interacting on the website and earn 'gold' they can use for discounts on products.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Chapter 8 of White Space is Not Your Enemy deals with type. We've talked about different fonts quite a bit, but this chapter goes more in depth. It explains glyphs, the parts of a font, types and characteristics, and when to use which type of font. To go deeper, it even gets into kerning, leading, tracking, swash alternatives, ligatures, and typesetting. If you've ever been formatting some text for a project and realized it was almost but not quite right, those are things you need to learn to make the tweaks to your copy that will perfect it. You'd be surprised how much additional spacing between letters, a few alternates, and better leading can improve readability in layouts and papers.

Another good bit of advice is to avoid overly used fonts. Just as you don't want the same design or content as everyone else, you don't want the same font for your headers or logos that everyone else is using. (This doesn't imply to invisible fonts for copy, such as Arial.) For example, this font is everywhere. (No, really.)

If you're in need of some more good fonts, I suggest It has tons of fonts that can easily be sorted, searched and downloaded, and includes the licensing information. If you want to sell your work some day, pay attention to those licenses. Some font makers license their work only for private/personal use, some don't care what you use it for, some only want credit, and some want a payment if you use the font for a commercial purpose. It's usually pretty cheap... and if you're going to make your buck using their work, they deserve the $10 for the work they put in the obviously good font.