Apps vs. web

On the bus to class today, the topic of web content for our students came up: what would students use in their courses, apps or websites?

My students, most of whom are non-traditional, older students who have recently returned to school and claim that they are not “comfortable” with technology, all carry phones and most carry the newest, shiniest, bells-and-whistles iPhones. They may not have computers, iPads, or printers, but they do have phones. They may not care about “pretty” sites, but access to phone apps do appeal to them. (See  this graphic at; it seems that most students, traditional or non-traditional, use apps, not websites.)

So I was excited about reviewing a phone app for my homework assignment, the phone app, Timeline Art Museum. Bad, sad and very irritating. It has the worst aspects of Corbis (you pay for high quality images, even if they are in the public domain), unclear functionality (until you click on the short biography, you don’t know that images by the artist are included in the app), and it focuses on those aspects of art that my students cling to like a lifeboat: biographical details and the canned analysis of the thumbprint description. The image is too small to encourage real analysis by the students, the descriptions encourage shallow understanding, and the argument of the app’s design, as Kimon Keramidas’s presentation pushed us to consider, is the wrong argument. And, as Lauren  Kilroy-Ewbank asked, if this isn’t for students, for whom is it designed?

I don’t know. Not for the audiences that I see at the Art Institute of Chicago; it is much too naive and uninformative. It certainly wouldn’t engage those who aren’t interested in art to become interested in art. And, as I said above, it ain’t for my students.

It does highlight the question of argument for a page and how visual elements contribute to the argument of the page. i want to talk more about this as I discuss the various tools to which we were introduced today. But tomorrow is another day.

The big takeaway, however, from today’s class for me: I need to dress up my WordPress site. It looks shabby, neglected, and woefully skeletal compared with my esteemed colleagues. Let me play some more.




Source: Apps vs. web