« July 2007 | Main | September 2007 »

August 22, 2007

The strength of symbolism

The use of symbols and icons on websites (and other interfaces) is widespread. The use of broader symbolism, however, is not very common these days. That symbols can be very powerful is a historical fact and they can be found in the groundplans and shapes of buildings, in flags and shields and even whole city plans.

A symbol done right, can make it iconic. An example of symbolic buildings in the making are the CCTV and the Television Cultural Center towers in Beijing. Although a lot of symbolism is already associated with this building, it being called by its designers 'a canopy that embraces the entire population', I noticed a resemblance with the Chinese character for 'central':

Learn Chinese Characters-1
and the buildings when they are aligned:



China is actually called Zhongguo in Mandarin Chinese. The first character zhōng (中) meaning "central" or "middle," while guó (国 or 國) means "state". The term can be literally translated into English as "Central Country or Central Kingdom, the less accurate translations are "Middle Country" and "Middle Kingdom" (from 'Names of China' on Wikipedia).

Posted by Almar at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2007

Thinking out of the [screensize] box

Although the prospect of 3D visualisation is still dim, we unnecessarily limit ourselves too much to the two dimensions of the computer screen. On the one hand the use of perspective could be greatly improved; for some reason most websites are still hieroglyph-style. On the other hand animation could be used to enhance not so much the navigation but the actual perception of a sites content.

I therefore propose to use previews like in Coverflow (as known from Apple's iTunes):

flipbook.swf (application/x-shockwave-flash Object)
Check out this coverflow demo in flash.

Not only can you present to contents from multiple pages (in this case covers), but also browsing is improved and you can lure people to places, where they might not go directly (see the question mark).

[update: now a demo for the VIRVIE-website]

Another example is actually more 'thinking inside a box'; see the desktop prototype Bumptop. I find the use of 'walls' especially interesting. I wonder if this actually makes you think lateral...

Posted by Almar at 04:53 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2007

Dress to impress (your corporate website that is)

The role of the corporate website is changing. Some say it has even become irrelevant.

I think it's role should become to impress instead of to coerce; showcase 'what your made of' instead of 'what you make'. In terms of target audiences you should compare it to who sees(!) your corporate headquarters and who gets invited in (and gets to see what!).

The approaches can be different. You can fill your headquarters with art, or make the headquarters and art object in itself, like these real life examples:

3547_4_38deBrugRoosAldershoff.jpg (JPEG Image, 135x102 pixels) Gasunie-Groningen-1.jpg (JPEG Image, 200x150 pixels) Google Image resultaat voor http://www.amsterdamtourist.nl/upload/afbeeldingen/consumentensite/architectuur/INGhousegr.jpg

Posted by Almar at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2007

A website as an art object

Artworks can be a lot of things; from beautiful to provokingly ugly. Most websites don't strive to be artworks, but at least have the intention to look nice. Some are not. In those cases it's usually due to lack of skills or effort: not provocation. In the case of the Saatchi Online website I'm not sure. They use an automatic translation module that - at least in Dutch - produces very 'artistic' expressions:

Posted by Almar at 09:40 AM | Comments (1)

August 14, 2007

Taking pictures of the web

I expressed my wishes for taking pictures of the web before. Doing this literally was already possible in a sense, but through a new tool called 'Skitch' the experience got a whole lot better. Skitch allows you to 'snap' a screen and immediately post it to the web. It doesn't automatically provide a link to the source/subject of the picture yet (like Google Notebook), so we're not 'web-tagging' (as opposed to geo-tagging) yet.

You're basically collecting screenshots or screendumps. But then again a postcard (or literally translating from the German and Dutch 'Ansichtka(a)rt(e)' which means 'viewcard') is in essence a 'scenery shot'.

In addition, through microblogs like Twitter (and especially the links/tinyurls that are posted), you get a real feel of the current webtraffic (at least within a certain group) and you can literally follow the crowd to the 'scenic viewpoints'.

And for an example of a 'web picture'; something starring myself in a semi-interesting situation (like most family-album photos):

Almar's need to know's (629)

Posted by Almar at 04:50 PM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2007

Travelling a virreal (revisited)

In an earlier post I mentioned the possibility for traveling a virreal. The possibilities have increased tremendously since. First, you can browse photo-sites and find the spot where the photo was taken instantly (and even vice versa). Second, through the uprise of microblogging you can easily join a friend in their real and virtual/online occupations. Third, the service StumbleUpon let's you roam the Internet like a through adventurer.

However, the sites you come across are still more like travel 'tools' than travel 'destinations'. I tried to envision my idea for virreal travel in the following picture; the actual site should be a reward in itself.

iA_WebTrends_2007_2.pdf (1 page)
(Thanks to the great IA webtrends map by Information Architects Japan)

Posted by Almar at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)