Interactive design by firstchoice707


									As Internet connections have gotten faster, Multimedia and Interactive Content00:04have become an
increasingly important part of websites.00:07Consequently, interactive design has become one of the
largest and fastest00:12growing fields in web design.00:14Interactive design is a huge field and we
certainly won't have time here to00:17discuss everything involved in the production and design of
interactive content.00:22But if you were to take a broad look at it, you could define it as the
creation00:25and publishing of feature rich interfaces, video, and blended media.00:31Looking at it in a
bit more detail, most interactive content is delivered00:35through either Ajax powered interfaces,
focused JavaScript interactions, Flash00:40based content and video or alternate plug-ins like Microsoft's
Silverlight and Apple's QuickTime.00:46As you can imagine, each of these approaches requires a
different skill set, so00:51most designers will either focus on a single approach or move into
other00:54delivery methods gradually.00:57The diverse skill sets required by interactive designers
makes it one of the most01:00difficult disciplines to master.01:02So diverse is this field, in fact, that
many people specialize in one specific area.01:07One person might consider themselves as an Ajax
developer and could even01:10specialize in many of the popular JavaScript frameworks like Prototype
or jQuery.01:16Another designer might focus on Flash Design, Flash Application Development
or01:20dedicate themselves to creating and delivering video content. No matter what01:24the area of
focus might be, having great visual design skills is only one part of the equation.01:30Almost all
interactive design requires varying degrees of programming and01:34scripting skills as well.01:35If you
are creating Ajax driven sites, you'll need to be proficient in HTML,01:39CSS, JavaScript, and
XML.01:42Delivering content through Flash will require you to know ActionScript, at a01:46minimum,
and XML and a smattering of JavaScript as well.01:51At some point, you'll probably need to work with
web developers,01:55as many interactive applications tie-in with larger application frameworks,
so01:59knowing how PHP, .Net, ColdFusion, or other server-side software works is an02:04important
skill for interactive designers.02:07If you consider yourself more of a visual designer, don't let all
this02:10programming talk scare you off.02:12Many programs, like Adobe's Dreamweaver and
Microsoft's Expression, have02:16built-in features that allow you to generate interactive content
without02:19any scripting at all.02:20There are also a large number of online templates available that
can give you a02:24head start in adding interactive content to the page.02:27So using these approaches
to jump start your interactive content as you learn is02:31a great way to start.02:33Regardless of the
approach you take, it's important to keep a few basic design02:37principles in place when considering
interactive content for your site.02:41First, don't just do it because you can.02:44Interactive content
works best when it complements your site's goals and02:48assist the user in achieving it. 'Just because
you can' is a horrible reason to do anything.02:52I have seen many sites lose focus and effectiveness
because they spent too much02:56time on multimedia and interactive widgets and too little time on
meeting the03:01user's expectations and needs.03:03Also, be sure that the interactive content is
appropriate for your audience.03:08Some target audiences will respond well to, or even expect, a high
degree of interactivity.03:13Others might find the content a bit overwhelming or even distracting from
the03:16information on the site.03:18As a designer, it's your job to decide when the content is
appropriate and to03:23make sure that it is enhancing the site's purpose rather than distracting from
it.03:27Finally, you need to keep in mind that browsers aren't the only clients03:31accessing your
content.03:33Some user agents might not support JavaScript. Others might not have the
proper03:37plug-in to view your content.03:39Because of this, you'll want to familiarize yourself with
the concept known as03:42Progressive Enhancement,03:44something we'll discuss in greater detail a
little bit later.03:47Simply put, progressive enhancement is the practice of providing
alternate03:51content or user experiences for clients that can't display your rich media
or03:55interactive interfaces.03:57It's a good practice and it ensures that no matter how your site is
being04:00viewed, your content is still coming through loud and clear.

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