CAM Web Comps : Round 1

posted by Tony Brock on October 6, 2006 | comments: 6 | post a comment

From the Desk of Denise

General Notes

The words "contemporary art museum" should not be used as an identifier. Reference can be made in text as needed, but we want to disassociate the word CAM from "the acronym formerly known as CAM."

Therefore, cam looks wimpier than CAM, to my eye.

All of the explorations feel a little boxed in, though the containing bars work well to structure the space. Consider "floating" nav bars so that the descriptive/editorial images and ground feel as though they cannot be contained.

The cube is looking more like a kinderblock the way it's used in these iterations. In its original conception the strength of that mark was its mutability. That said, I would rather not employ the cube at this juncture. Not only is it politically charged, the cube PLUS the word sometimes reads as "CAM CAM." Should we decide to revisit the idea we can retrieve it from the archives.


(Randomly stated reactions to what struck me in the order it please pardon my leaps from this to that.)

I appreciate what appears to be the flexibility of #4, and how it favors the pictorial. One thing to think about with this sort of approach: what is the overarching attitude of the photography (important to sustaining a consistent feel and communicating a position) AND where would these images come from on a regular basis? The same is true for #3 and #2.

I can't tell by the sketches in #4 if the intention is to change typefaces as one navigates through the site, an idea I think appropriate and potentially sophisticated. There are so many well-designed, broad in scope OpenType families now. Then again, a set of compatible but different faces could work too, but the choices would need to communicate worldly diversity (over 'spunky' cuteness) while creating enough consistency to hold the site together. If the designer is simply trying out typefaces to discover our (the client's) preferences, then more searching is in order. What faces would the designer recommend as good fits for the site's aims?

Overall #5 offers lots of ideas I find compelling. I don't think black works as an anchoring color, though. Great for playing around with hierarchies, but could become a mess quickly in less skilled hands. Speaking of hands, I adore the bitmap ones (they would need to be designed specifically for CAM though)...very familiar to most people, friendly but digital. I also adore the blurred (I assume mutating in some way) cam logotype. Sadly, I realize I adore it because I also adore the Tate Modern logotype.

#5b & c are either employing moveable boxes or the sketches are suggesting movement? I'll choose my first interpretation, and say I like the thought that electrifying surprises await the curious and adventurous visitor! I appreciate the potential integration of any and all programs, events, discussions, &tc. at a given moment. Feels very active and interactive. The idea would benefit from more deliberate and dramatic scale shifts, and perhaps fewer simultaneous options. Also, I can't tell but it looks like this idea could also utilize transparency to aid the cause. Could be really cool.

#5a is very beautiful, but off the mark I'm afraid. Feels as though it can't decide between 'mawkishly motivational' or 'forebodingly futuristic.' To my mind neither would be a good fit with CAM's mission.

#3 navigation: The universal nav in proximity to the "learn/teach/create" works well, especially with the latter being more prominent in scale with less contrast than the main nav. The overlapping words are fun, unthreateningly provocative and suggest interrelated portals. Good! The system could be more "modular," could be really cool and smart (not that it's dumb now).

I also appreciate the dramatic contrast of the drop-down menus in #3 and #6b. Not so fond of the "vernacular" feeling menu in #2d though: a bit too mechanical and doesn't communicate distinction from the ordinary, which I think will be important to CAM's presence.

#4 also suggests that the visitor moves from one large space, through a window, to another large space (a similar idea is explored in #1). Nice notion, but the structure needs to be stronger: what are the criteria for where and how levels of info are placed? I see beginnings of a strong system that also feels open in this one.

Some things not yet explored, respectfully offered in the interrogative.

Why is the nav bar text always stretched across the total or near total space?
Can a nav bar exist on the right side of a page? In a block?
Similarly, is there some sort of magnet on the left side of the page?
Is the upper quadrant the only place for the logotype?
Can gradations be constructed by something other than airbrush?
Perhaps this question is premature, but have you considered newer types from independent digital type foundries, such as Underware and Process?
What about lots of thumbnail imagery?
Does a calendar have to look like a wall calendar?
Would a prominent search box educate about and invite navigation by searching?

That's all I have for now. Looking forward to seeing the next round.

Posted by Denise on October 10, 2006 09:55 PM

From Frank Webb: I find it hard to react to the screens in the static mode. Not my skill. I like some bits and not others. Overall I preferred the directions that #3 and #5 are going in. I like the 'neon' cam in #5.

As for CAM versus cam: CAM is more formal, more distant, more authoratative. cam is friendlier, more open, more playful, perhaps more inviting. The choice of font can make such a difference and with the right font, we might make cam acquire some of the characteristics of CAM but I'm not sure you could so easily make CAM seem playful and friendly. I think the lower case cam may fit better with the cam mission

Posted by Frank Webb on October 10, 2006 10:16 PM

Frank makes a good point about CAM vs. cam, however I think we should let the typeface decide. Caps can look very friendly and playful in the right typeface, just as lowercase can look formal if set in others.

Posted by denise on October 11, 2006 07:04 AM

In general. I say lose the CAM cube thing...does not work for me. CAM or cam. Need consistency. I think that caps look cleaner, more straightforward. Worried l.c. could be cute...also get lost in text, but agree w/Denise that the font will define. Also agree other fonts should be considered. Felt disappointment in the type in many cases. Also do headings have to be so small? Always consider readability. In general, we need a system that works in several variations. Hip, cool (I know that dates me but can't see "gangsta" as suitable here) Need some play, some surprise; diversity w/in system but an overall consistency and very INTENTIONAL effects. Large white areas seem to simply drop out of design. But pastel or transparent colors juxtaposed to black, strong color and white are very pleasing. Easier to read on soft color than white if large area. Liked the quotes abt. imagination or creativity that showed up more than once. Could see those changing out on some time frame. Overall,lots of good stuff going on here!

More specifically:
1.Like use of line drawings above nav bar and at bottom, but would be more intentional w/the coverage.
2.Like 2a and 2c photoimage ideas...but would push & unite conceptof Zoom movement from cosmos (a) to Urban cityscape (change(c)) to face (d) could even include art work (b) but keep all the photos related more closely in style like a and c are. Also bottom third too diverse: Diff. colors, fonts AND sizes; better in Blk/wht but more relationship between fonts would help unify. (Maybe even just LEARN TEACH CREATE in serifed font like other 2).
3.Strong initial impact. Use of color images appealing. Use of pastels and strong colors combined with the controlled use of black and white makes this function well. Like the idea of Learn Teach Create presentation...Color use impt. for this font.
4. Like organization of info, especially the look of teach.learn.create at bottom left but the separate pages don't hold together strongly. Perhaps develop stronger bkgnd. photo idea to unite. Like "notebook " idea, but need a font that simulates writing, vs. actual writing, I think, for clarity.
5. Strong initial impact. I love the use of the face but think it might be tweaked. I Like cam logo,intriguing, but a little less fuzzed?? Like the dark bkgnd. but think the dark blue type is too hard to read, while other colors seem to pop as they should. Don't think this is too dark philosophically(though I have great respect for Denise's opinion & that may be why I suggest tweaking first page) but I think could be strengthened by adding some lighter elements.The patterned blk/wht image with the matching bar above works well, for instance on b and c. I like the idea of the hands, but should mean something (?) Acid green bkdrop for copy is strong.
6. I like the eye illustration, but if iris slightly lidded would look less startled (&startling?)- could see this image used in diff ways (segments/zooms/etc.) Like Chagall's quote. Think we can play with this concept.

Overall, I think the general concepts for 3. and 5. are the strongest. But good things to pull from all the rest.

Posted by Kaola Phoenix on October 11, 2006 12:59 PM

I also have a hard time responding to these skins vs. an interactive web site. I thought it best to try to organize my thoughts by your numbering system, but I may also jump around a bit. Keep in mind I am in the middle of a big fundraising event for CAM so I may not be as articulate about my ideas as I would like to be… AND I hope to post more comments later on this weekend.

I like what is happening in the 2 series with the alternative entry points along the bottom and really like that my eye goes to them before the universal nav… although I think there could be better text choices and imagery. The large image area is nice but I am not sure that the images you have chosen relate well to CAM at this stage? If right now CAM is a concept what does that look like? You seem to be touching on this a little but I think you could push it more.

I like the navigation system along the bottom of 3a but I wish I could see how the “learn, teach, create” look without the drop down block…. Which could actually be problematic? I am wondering how the roll overs would work? I would suggest staying away from using artwork as imagery for right now…

I really liked the glowing textural quality of the 4 series… it made me want to look “into” the page rather than just “at it”… I think this is something that could be played with more. The navigation system is somewhat predictable… a little static. I LOVE the idea of a huge image area… What imagery would be there for the launch of the site?

I am not crazy about the black in series 5 (especially in combination with the fuzzy cam logo) because it gives the site a kind of sinister look. Just my opinion. There is so much going on in 5b and c that I feel like I missing out on the strength of the content you are pushing. I like the little hand icons paired with the learn, teach, create… could these be moving/interacting with the user?

I will give more thought to this and post again before Tuesday! Thank you all so much for your efforts.

PS I also noticed that the links to College of Design and the Contemporary Art Foundation were not visible on any of the skins?

Posted by Nicole Welch on October 12, 2006 04:49 PM

I keep coming back to this site... Not only is the design/site architecture engaging but the imagery is so PERFECT. It is clear (at least to me) from glancing at the site that the is an idea... that the "it" is being developed. How can the images used in CAM's site at its inital launch in January work this way to support our first round of content?

Posted by Nicole Welch on October 23, 2006 11:43 AM