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Authoring and Design for the WWW


The Hai-Rise Urban Haiku Site

Hai-Rise main page

The site is intended to facilitate the exchange of ideas within a small special interest group for urban haiku poetry and act as an attractive publishing medium where users are invited to respond, and perhaps themselves become contributors.

The creators of this site felt that the existing Web-based poetry sites were unable to rival printed books in terms of attractiveness, and that the potential of electronic media was not being fully exploited. They also wanted to offer the possibility of graphical and interactive haiku in addition to the conventional form.

The main frame

The main frame displays the primary content the poems which have been commissioned or submitted. Web pages make a good location for time-varying content. This publication allows any or all of the content to be replaced or extended. New contributions can be seamlessly incorporated into the main body.

The 'nav bar'

The use of a navigation bar is now commonplace in Web documents, and frames lend themselves to this usage. However, there is a contrary trend in the design of much interactive multimedia (for example on CD-ROM) to do away with these clusters of buttons and instead to provide triggers to additional information within the substance of the screen. As Web documents become more able to incorporate interactive elements at predetermined positions on the page, it is likely that a similar trend will take place in Web design.

Graphical text

As with the Death Resource above some text is prepared in a graphics package. The creators of this site felt strongly that they wanted the text to be presented in the best possible way, with the maximum of control, and so gave themselves the task of laying out each poem in a graphics package. Clearly this is only realistic for haiku, and not for epic poetry which might extend over scores of screens! This re-emphasises the importance of considering maintenance in the initial design of a site.
Hai-Rise site, showing frames, tables and scrolling text

Automated formatting

It is important to avoid writing HTML code unnecessarily. Here the formatting of users' submitted comments is semi-automatic. Comments received as e-mail are broken down into their three component parts (in this case by a HyperCard program) and output with all the necessary HTML codes to be correctly appended as a new table to the end of the scrolling page. In this prototype, a human editor has to operate the program which does the conversion, but this process itself could be automated. However full automation would raise obvious issues of editorial control, since any comment submitted would appear instantly in the site, without the opportunity for editorial intervention.

Colour coding and confusion

In the navigation bar, two items are highlighted in the visited link colour of the standard Netscape interface. In this context this may well cause confusion, since a highlight is often used on such a row of buttons to indicate which of the sections denoted is visible now. Here instead, as more sections are visited more of the buttons will acquire highlights. At the time of writing, it would take a certain amount of extra trouble to produce a highlighting system of the conventional kind which really did show which was the current view. This is the sort of problem which will be increasingly easy to solve using plug-in' modules such as Shockwave or Java for standard browsers.
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