Monday, October 19, 2009

EPJ: Multimedia Critique 1

Washington Post - Sen. Kennedy's Life and Career, 1932 - 2009


The project I have chosen for the multimedia critique is the Washington Post’s tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy at his death in September 2009. Overall, the background color of the project is kept dark, in shades of black and grey only. This enhances the mood of the story being told as it’s a commemoration of Kennedy’s life and a sense of mourning is evident in the project’s design and also the fact that the images are in black and white. The design follows the simplicity trend evident in all Washington Post’s multimedia projects. The project, done in Flash, is simple, clear and can be easily navigated. Since the story is for general news readers, the use of Flash makes sense as it gives a visitor the power to choose what he or she wishes to see and what to skip. Most newspapers’ multimedia projects are designed keeping in mind their user-friendliness. And making elaborate Flash designs work more for creative or art projects as they have more time to be created. News items need to be put up immediately so simple Flash designs, like the one this project uses, works best.

The project begins with the loading bar and there are buttons to either go to the gallery and see each image with a caption individually or go through the audio slideshow. The buttons are plenty which gives enough options to the viewer to control the project. The buttons options, fonts, color and layout is consistent throughout the multimedia section of the Washington Post’s website. The use of shades of black, few and consistent fonts and navigation buttons in one place, (placed in a row under the images) makes navigation easy as a viewer does not have to go from one place to another to search for buttons. The navigation buttons include view thumbs, credit, play slideshow, previous, next, and timeline bars. All work, except the audio bar or the audio icon next to it. The project has been up for quite some time now so the audio bar should be fixed as viewers notice if the website updates its content and check for errors or not. This builds credibility. All links and buttons are in blue font and when a viewer hovers over any one of the buttons, the color of the button change to white, which makes it easier for the viewer to know where he or she is at. Only three colors have been used for the font. This makes the content balanced and nothing is highlighted which helps in keeping the focus on the images, which are the main content. The images are proportionally sized and their placement is also proportional to the layout. The gallery has two pages as the number of images is high. Placing them all on one page would make the layout look too unnecessarily busy.

The introduction of the project has a prominent heading, but the paragraph is written in a very small font, which can be ignored by a viewer. A bigger font would add to the whole theme of the project as that one line is an introduction to the project.

The only audio used is the voice over in which the project creator narrates the life story of Kennedy. This works well as the project is basically the life history and there is no better audio for such project than this. Some mellow music in the background would have helped in creating an ambiance which would have added to the overall theme of the project and enhanced the content.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

EPJ: Photographer's Website Critique(2)

Critiquing Steve McCurry's Website


Steve McCurry is a highly reputed photojournalist who has covered numerous international conflicts. His website provides a glimpse into the diverse world we live in, through his magnificent photography. His website is simple and inviting. The URL of the website is logical as the photographer's name can be easily searched on the Internet and one is immediately directed to his website. The website takes a few seconds to load, but the wait does not seem too long as the theme and color of the website appears immediately, giving the visitor a taste of things to come.

The home page of the site opens with a dark maroon background color, and there is a menu column in the same color on the right side of the page. It has the content of the menu centered on it. On the left hand, the best work of the photographer cascades in a slideshow, practically taking the entire page and drawing the visitor's attention to the maximum. The maroon color gives a regal touch to the website, enhancing the work of the photographer as most of his images are from the culturally rich parts of the world like the subcontinent.

Since the home page seems full and appears in one screen, it makes the page simple for a visitor to view in one go. The different shades of maroon separate the content, without overwhelming it, and provide a balance and professional look to the page.

The first link in the list is 'home page', which has a simple title, and when it opens, the only thing that changes is the news and infomation under the menu bar. The slideshow keeps going on, which becomes a bit boring as a visitor expects something new and exciting. The biography of the photographer is way down, which is a negative point as visitors would like to know about the photographer before they get to see his work.

The website has made interesting use of crops of themes in the picture galleries. Since they are so many, they have been divided into nine themes per page. Each theme is marked as thumbnails, making navigation easy. As you click, you get to see the image in a theme and the arrows, when clicked, takes the viewer to the next page. A similar trend should have followed when clicking each photograph as well. The pictures are not used as thumbnails – most visitors won't want to scroll back and forth or click the arrows which are away from the image, to see if they've missed any photograph.

In the menu box, by mousing over each section, a different page does not appear which makes the site boring. If a new page appears when mousing over each section, this can be a very inviting way to take the visitor further into the site. It would make for an interesting navigation system -- it shows creativity and piques the viewer's interest.

The website has made creative use of thumbnails to introduce the great photographer’s work; it has each picture 'framed' with a one pixel border to set it apart from the background, added links along one side to use for navigation, have a page each that introduces the photographer and his work and the upcoming workshops. It has one photograph per page, with a little information about each picture on the bottom and on the right side. The caption below is just a two word introduction to the image – the place and date. This makes the image very powerful that does not need any text for explanation. The right side shows the caption for the theme. That caption is an interesting quote or poem, which is a very artistic way of showing one’s work. Font is kept consistent throughout. A blog and comment section is missing. This would have made the website interactive. Overall the website design is simple, has an impact on the viewer and enhances the work of Steve McCurry.