Bartleby & I decided to join the Interactive Design Foundation.
We thought it could help us make the site more user friendly, and I thought maybe I could become a UX designer. At any rate, combining it with web development seemed like a good first step towards moving into tech.
But so far we are struggling.
See below for our answer to one of the early questions in the Web Communication course.
[note that they’d praised a University of Phoenix landing page that linked to articles about the usefulness of their site (central route processing), and that also showed pictures of attractive smiling people dressed in blue (peripheral route processing).]
From Interactive Design Foundation’s course on Web Communication:
“Exercise in targeting values
Take a moment to consider your audience and your message. How can you put your message in terms that will appeal to your audience? In other words, how can you frame your message in your target audience’s values?
Be sure to consider both verbal and nonverbal cues. Isolate values and address each individually. Consider: language used, colors used, images used, font and font size. Be sure to provide both strong cognitive/argumentation cues (for central route processing), and strong peripheral cues (for peripheral route processing).
Please share a quarter to half a page of your text, and describe how you would use colors, images etc. to provide nonverbal cues. (5 points)”
BW & AW answer:
The first thing we must admit to ourselves is that undermining all this mass manipulation is much more important than the success or failure of any given business venture.
Stop tricking people!!!! Stop it!!!
That’s the first step to decent design. Stop tricking people into wasting their time on your product. Be straight with them! Do they really want to go to the University of Phoenix? It is expensive and clearly loves money more than Truth. And what is lower than trying to fool people into thinking that they should spend all their savings and then some on your school because you’ve managed to work some pictures of good-looking smiling people in blue onto your splash page?
How to change design so that it stops jerking people around? That should be our first question. Instead of lulling users deeper and deeper into the “hush, hush, don’t think, just swallow”, every media experience should be designed to bring awareness, clarity, and honest reflection to the forefront of the user’s conscious experience. With our page “Pure Love For Sale???” https://www.from-bartleby.com/?page_id=1775 we point out to readers how shabbily advertising treats us all, and we suggest a possible counterrevolution: use each advertisement as a challenge: “what are they trying to convince me I need? what is the spoken and unspoken reasoning? what do I really need? how does their product really relate to shared joy and the Light that alone knows that and how life matters?” But no one will bother to go to that page. And even if they do, who will read it to the end? Perhaps we could get The University of Phoenix to alter their splash page so that whenever you scroll over, for example, a smiling attractive person, a little blurb could pop up asking you to reflect on why you think they put a good looking person there, and asking you how much completing their program was likely to change your looks. This needn’t be completely contrary to their aims: they could note that with more money and leisure, aging often goes better, or at least can be fought against better. Of course, with a little discussion and consideration, I’m sure that their leadership will quickly agree that how many students they enroll is not the greatest good they need to consider–to some degree altering their aims. If UoP doesn’t take the responsibility upon themselves, perhaps our site could play around with such rollover pictures. Maybe winding them into our hilarious admonishment / advertisement.
The way our site is currently set up, it is a WordPress site with a fixed nav at the top, a giant shot of the book’s cover, and then a page or post, with a sidebar that repeats the nav links and that also has little ads for the cat totes and baby onesies. The landing page is “About This Project”, which then lists what is available on the site: 1) The book we’re about to finish any day now, as well as others planned or in the works; 2) our physical products, which are mere novelties, but which we explain are actually physical embodiments of charm, a metaphysical good; 3) The aforementioned “Pure Love For Sale” essay/ad; and 4) a quick intro to the page organizing all the blog posts, which are sketches mostly not particularly relating to the book.
Who will wade through all this? Would pictures of people reading the book and then becoming much more beautiful, smiling, and blue-wearing help? Perhaps such images would make the page both more visually interesting and more helpful for the common wheel as it tries to roll itself out of this fantastic bind (the constant, soul-misdirecting knavery of media manipulation). There’s currently no way to sign up for the mailing list (Mailchimp is telling me I need a PO box, if I don’t want to tell the world where to find me).
Below is the beginning of the text on the landing page. The style is a little flippant, pretty affable, very casual. If our readership values art and wholesome, mind- and heart-expanding fun, what imagery will call to them? If I’m going to decorate a website, I usually just steal famous art. But I’m not sure decorating this page would be a good idea. It is already perhaps too long and self-indulgent for people to scroll through. The problem we’re having here is that we only kind of want people to read the site. We also kind of feel ridiculous about the entire endeavor, worried that the primary product is not worth mentioning, rebellious against the fawning way business approaches you as it slips the long nozzle of its vacuum machine into your pockets, disheartened by the way we’re clearly mixed up in some fantastic infinite error, and just generally defeated by the inner give-up. Perhaps the best we can do is to border the writings with some comics that admit our misgivings to our readership, and that pray to God for forgiveness. This way the whimsy would be complimented by some softly beautiful imagery (we’ll steal from the French impressionists, I guess) and simultaneously complimented and counternuanced with our whimsically but also fretfully confessing captions.
The fundamental ethical dilemma of advertisers is that to get people predisposed to their message, they need to give the people what they want, but people don’t want what is good for them. They want the tip of the iceberg of goodness which is then co-opted to support their vainglorious desires to live selfishly, self-indulgently, half-assedly-while-feeling-and-looking-like-the-real-thing. And yet, no, they don’t really want that. What they want is the real thing. And, by a mixture of self-unmasking advertising and mournful flippancy, we will sit with them and together ask: “but what are we really doing here? isn’t aware clear-eyed kind-joy the only hope for any of us? and if this is so, how should we organize our lives?”
Did we answer the central route processing part of this question? Well, the text tells you what you’re getting, and it tries to be engaging.
Answers filled out by Andy Watson and Bartleby Willard
[here’s the snippet from the site’s landing page they handed in with their answers]
Welcome to our project.
On this site, you can purchase Volume 1 of “Love at a Reasonable Price” (Buy the Books), authored by the lonesome Bartleby Willard of the distant Wandering Albatross Press.
We also thinking of releasing more books and exerting ourselves in other ways, so please consider getting on our mailing list (????When will we figure out how to do this??? For now, you can reach us at: Bartleby@WanderingAlbatrossPress.com)
See below for info on WAP ebooks, novelty gifts, and Pure Love advertisements/gimmicks/scams/gimmes/larks; as well as intros to the poetry and what-not that Bartleby Willard–as isolated and mournful as a blue whale quietly circling the sevenseas–tossed up onto this site during the six years he was supposed to be staying on task.
I. The Ebooks
1. “Love at a Reasonable Price”. Stories about manufacturing, marketing, and selling Pure Love (an eternal good). And also a few stories of the mythic origins of Wandering Albatross Press. Many of these stories first arose way back when by a Bartleby Willard in many respects younger than the Bartleby Willard who now and again digs back into the linty pockets of his patched-up storytime jeans, pulls a tale out, and works it over. Available here (maybe like Spring or Summer of 2018): Buy the Books.
2. We hope for more ebooks. Sign up for the possibility of hearing more here: ???? You can write: Bartleby@WanderingAlbatrossPress.com (As of 12/30/17, you could still be the first to write!!!!)
3. Oh, there’s also “Diary of An Adament Seducer”, an account of the more recent goings-on at WAP. This project was once begun and then abandoned. Right now only the intro and the first entry is posted [Here]. Maybe we can return to it in the year 2018 or the one immediately after.