Change and the Web

I was reading through clients from hell, a comical site about designer’s clients with ridiculous demands, when I came across this one:  http://clientsfromhell.net/post/401213076/change-isnt-constant

The developer of a client site I was working on was adamant that the 5 year old design that channelled 1999 methodologies didn’t need changing. The developer insisted that the users would get angry.

Developer: “There’s a Chinese proverb that says a woman born with a limp will refuse a good leg since she’s used to her situation.”

Me: “You’d rather limp?”

As true as it is that websites need to keep up with changing technologies – new designs to fit the image, using technologies to make the user interaction easier, or just updating the site so that it better organises the information. However, in my experience with some larger sites such as facebook and gaia online, when they change their layouts it is responded to with a massive amount of anger! Tons of people complaining that the old layout is better and threatening to leave the site unless it is changed back. I have some of these feelings too, I don’t like having to search for a page I used to navigate to easily or get used to a new interface, but as a designer / developer I understand the need for the changes and usually can see why they decided to change.

So why all the hatred, can’t other people see the benefits too? Well, not at first – but in time everyone gets accustomed to the new layout and do find ways it makes their experience better or easier, or whatever the layout sets out to do. So then another design pops up and they defend the current last design. What is comical is that if you remember sites from their former forms, people remember how great and easy it was – but the sites were never as good as people remember (for the most part!)

So how do you make the transition between website designs easier?

  • Try to keep designs similar. When facebook did their latest layout change they completely changed the navigation which threw a lot of people off, and while having it constantly at the side has grown on many, it takes a while to get used to the new system.
  • Make sure pages that are visted frequently are easy to get to, especially if they are going to be taken off the main navigation.
  • Make sure everything works properly when launched, if people find messed up links it will just add to the hatred of the new layout
  • When you make a significant change, make sure there is a reason. Don’t just make an entirely new navigation because it is something fun to do, have it to make the user find pages easier, or organise the content. If the site that is being changed is fairly popular, let the users know what the change is and why it was done, if they understand why then they’ll be more open to it.

Even if you are super considerate of the user they may still hate the new layout, especially if it’s a site they spend a lot of time on such as forums and social networking. So take the criticism with a grain of salt, you can’t make everyone happy!

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How to get a Wig

Today I checked my comments on gaia and saw a question asking:  “how to get a wig of Marluxia and Vexen from Kingdom Hearts?” I responded with a somewhat lengthy PM about where to get wigs so I figured I would share it here:

Deciding on a wig:

Look for a wig that is as close as possible to the style you are looking for, marluxia and vexen shouldn’t be too hard to find something close but you should expect to do some styling. Marluxia may need some hairspray and cutting to get the jaggedy look, and vexen may need hair glue or just some good hairspray to hold it up in the front.

If you don’t want to do any styling yourself then you can look for one that is pre-styled or have one commissioned. This is usually more expensive for costs and shipping but it makes your life a lot easier since you won’t have to do it yourself, and it may save you a lot of time and money in experimenting.

Where to buy:

If you decide to do it yourself then there are tons of online wig stores. Ebay is actually pretty good but you’ll have to be careful of quality vs. price. I’ve bought from yankenshop and got a very nice wig from them and recommend them 🙂 Moving away from ebay, cosworx.com (also bought from them) has a great selection and are usually high quality since they target cosplayers. Amphigory has many good reviews as well. I’ve also bought from peri-wig.com but their selection is limited. If you look up the “commissioner review thread” on cosplay.com there should be some wig seller reviews.

If you are looking for a pre-styled wig then cosplay.com has a marketplace where people can sell their old stuff or their commissioning services. I think that would be the best place to check. Ebay also offers custom wigs but you may not find them for the characters you are making, you’ll have to check. I also believe some cosplay stores, such as cosplay magic, sell pre-styled wigs.


Hot glue and Cosplay

I read through this article that was posted on cosplay.com:  http://www.glueguncrafts.com/2006/06/the_costume_designers_secret_w.cfm

It discusses costume designers ditching sewing kits and going for hot glue as an alternative. I decided to go overs the pros and cons of hot glue for cosplay, because it is a useful tool but you shouldn’t ditch the sewing tools yet 😉

Pros:
– Saves time (especially when in a pinch)
– Quick
– Good for a non-sewer (no skill required)
– Cheap (I got 100 glue sticks for under $5 and my best glue gun was $1)

Cons:
– Cannot be washed (Hot water might melt it, cold water will weaken it)
– Sacrifices Quality
– Not Very Durable
– Doesn’t adhere to some fabrics!
– Possible burns

Overview: Why you shouldn’t Ditch the Sewing Kits
While hot glue can be a time saver, it’s quick and it’s easy … there are a lot of downsides to consider too. You can make some nice costumes with hot glue, they may hold together for the convention but it is likely to split open since it is not as strong as sewing. It also cannot be washed, for hot water will melt the glue or warp it and cold water loosens it’s grip, especially on fabrics that expand in water.

What Hot Glue is Good For
– Quick Fixes: When buttons fall off at a convention, you can hot glue them on until you have a chance to sew them, same with ripped seams. A glue gun is a great addition to any convention fix kit.

– Armor / Props : Raised designs on armor can be done with hot glue, and depending on what you are making it out of you can use hot glue to hold the armor together as well. Props are usually made from stuff that can be held together with hot glue, especially cardboard.

– Areas you can’t sew: If it’s something you can’t sew because it is far to thick for your sewing machine, or whatever other reason then hot glue is a good secondary option. I’ve used hot glue on some of my hats to attach pieces of sculpty or keep the fabric attached to the base.

– Things you don’t plan to wash: Wings, bootcovers, hats … you aren’t likely to throw these in the washing machine, and sometimes sewing is just not an option, so hot glue is great for these


Coming Soon

So I have my idea for revamping the Darkelements.ca layout, it’s going to look much better and definately be far more organised! I just need to find time to do it between all these projects x__x

I finished the design for my portfolio though, you can check it out here: http://www.caracciolo.ca

More cosplay tips? Coming in time. I’m writing up a contact lens FAQ but it’s only half done right now 😀