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.

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