Exercise » Gallery (Create Multiple Voices)


Similar to a system of headings, parts of a text need to feel different from each other to the reader, yet work together in a system. Unlike a system of headings, parts of a text do not need a strong sense of hierarchy. In fact, trying to create too much hierarchy between elements on the page can make it difficult to read the text.

Common Elements in a Text

Identifying the elements in the text you are working with is part of the design process. These are some common elements to look for:

*      An introduction by the author or editor

*      Captions for images or diagrams

*      An aside or sidebar to introduce the reader to related information

*      The body text itself, which may be expository or instructional

*      Lists of items or steps within the text

*    The navigation

Multiple Voices Help Define Elements

Theoretically, all the elements in a text could be set exactly the same way in a single column. But this approach would force readers to work to find the elements they are most interested in.

When each element has its own voice, readers can quickly see what to read if they want to learn more about the image, what to ignore if they aren’t interested, and where to click if they want to move around within a site (Figure 11.8).


Figure 11.8 Left: Even at this very small size, we can “read” a logo, a navigation bar, text, captions, and pullquotes. Design by Meighan Tague (Fall, 2009). Right: Without unique voices, the content all “reads” the same.

Voice Is Also about the Feeling of the Site

The elements in a text can work together to evoke an overall feeling. If the site should feel more elegant, classic, or traditional (or clean, geometric, contemporary), then work toward that goal with every element. Revisit Chapter 2 (“Aesthetics and Emotions”) for a refresher on how case, style, and fonts can create a feeling. If you are looking for inspiration, try jumping ahead to Chapters 16 (“The Traditional Page”) and 17 (“The Modernist Page”).

Creating Multiple Voices

To summarize, create a system of voices that:

*   Are different enough to help readers identify different elements on the page.

*   Are similar enough to allow elements to work together as a whole.

*   Create an overall feeling. (What should the site convey in support of the text?)

*   Maintain legibility.