This week was focused on creating my final intermediate project, my “Design” page. For this page, I wanted to go with a entirely new style and organization, breaking from the earlier projects and trying out ideas for how to design and organize my final project. Since I want my final project to be focused on primary sources, I used a photo of a post journal for my background image. Overtop of this was my main content, using a color scheme of various blues that were inspired by the Army uniforms of the day.
I used a couple of fonts (traveling typewriter and vanilla whale) that I felt were connected to my period and topic for the header and the nav menu, but decided that I would stick with a standard font-family for the main body of the page for readability. The page is relatively simple, as my skills with web design, while miles ahead of where they were at the beginning of the semester, are still fairly rudimentary. I did include float over footnotes, and inserted a cropped and underlined photo of the primary source. For my final project I am also considering including a clickable option for the footnotes that would take the user to a full size photo on a new page.
Interactivity is the heart of what the web has to offer, both in general and for digital historians. This, however, is not without its difficulties, as illustrated by the Lost Museum website and Josh Brown’s article. I’d seen the website before in CLIO I, and thought it a bit clunky and dated (it first went live in 2000. Yet Brown brings up an even more important issues than the somewhat AOL-like feel…in trying to create an interactive historical mystery, the creators of the Lost Museum had actually limited, rather than broadened user’s options. By limiting users to the options within the website, a lot of historical context was removed. The end result was somewhat like exposing a user to the woodcut’s from Leslie’s Illustrated while not allowing them access to the text…or for that matter any other of the contextual sources that abound for the period.
This is an serious concern, one which hadn’t really occurred to me when I first viewed the Lost Museum website, or, to be honest when I first thought about interactivity and digital history. My main concern originally, as a historian, was how I could demonstrate my argument in an interactive format, where a user could pick and choose where to go, and in what order. The idea that interactivity was actually shaping (limiting?) users had not seemed that big an issue.
Yet clearly it is. The web’s main attraction for historians is that it opens up the ability to do stuff on a scale not possible in the non-digital world…if instead of opening up accessibility and data we are instead limiting a user’s options we’re kind of missing the point.
Comment’s on Eric’s Post: Interactivity
This week’s readings bring to the forefront something we, or at least I, have not dealt with yet in our web design. This issue is pretty well summed up in the title of Joe Clark’s article, “How do Disabled People Use the Computer?” From the readings, it is pretty clear there are two main components of this. First, and this is the main focus (aside from his diatribe against political correctness) of Joe Clark’s article, is the set of tools and techniques that disable persons use to access the web, and computers in general. Generally caught under the term of “adaptive devices,” these allow disable persons to bypass some of the structural obstacles to computer use and include such hardware and software as screen readers and alternative keyboards and mouse devices.
More importantly for us as CLIO II students, and the main focus of both Jared Smith and Mark Pilgrim’s articles, is the steps we as web designers can take to make our sites more accessible. I have to admit, for someone such as myself, whose code is not quite fully accessible (or at least understandable) to himself, this is a bit intimidating. I’m still trying to figure out the difference between a class and a div, and now they want me to write my webpage for people who look at it completely differently than I do (I’m still working on that skill when it comes to Mac users, let alone disabled people) using devices such as screen readers that I’ve never even been exposed to.
Luckily, people such as Jared and Mark have put together super useful and helpful guides to how to do so in an accessible (ha!) and un-intimidating (well, mostly) how to. Finally, I though Mark’s use of hypothetical disable users was particularly poignent in illustrating why going through these extra-steps is so important, even after I spent eight hours just trying to get the website to look decent to people without any additional obstacles.
Comment on Jordan’s Post: “Accessibility and the Web”