Spaces that Speak: Exploring Creative Opportunities in the Communication Design of Conversational Spaces
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionVisible Language. 2018, 52 (3), 184-207.
In this article, I argue that designers can benefit from understanding social media spaces from a cultural and communicative perspective. This approach to designing interfaces can expand creative potential and guide the process of shaping innovative and engaging interfaces. Such an approach may also help the designer understand how visual design influences meaning in interfaces and how the meaning is socially situated and dependent on context. I argue that the design can shape online conversations by communicating intended values of the conversational space through designed features. I demonstrate this through deconstructing, analyzing, and juxtaposing existing interfaces in terms of their visual language, intertextual references, and connotations. I discuss two design components of the interface – typography and layout – examples of tools the designer can use to shape meaning. I provide personal reflections, creative suggestions, and visualizations based on my practice as a graphic designer, in addition to metaphors that enable ways of thinking about the potential of such interfaces. The context is online magazines that promote conversation and dialogue – in particular, the interface of Medium.com, a hybrid of a magazine and a blog-publishing platform. The analysis is conducted through a social semiotic framework and a designer’s way of looking – a complementing perspective in an emerging field of social media design research that often emphasizes functional perspectives and use quality. I found that there is creative potential in both what and how designers prioritize to communicate, that may influence the conversational space.Spaces that Speak: Exploring Creative Opportunities in the Communication Design of Conversational Spaces