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Authoring and Design for the WWW


The Archaeology Adventure site

This site aims to offer the user two modes of use the conventional enquiry-based approach of Web reference documents, and a narrative approach slightly more akin to television. The low density of information in the main frame is complemented by a wealth of background detail available through the surrounding areas.

Permanent and topical information

The frame structure of the page allows information which forms the core of each issue' to be presented centre-screen, and to be altered independently of the supporting information around, much of which remains the same, for example glossaries of terms and guidance on how to use the site.

Random access and guided tours

The difficulty of getting value out of hypertexts has often been remarked on and is caused partly by the absence of any guidance as to where users should go next. It is a clear problem of some kinds of resource-based learning materials. This site offers a possible solution in providing a ready-built guided tour of the material which the user can abandon at any time, reverting to the more usual enquiry-based clicking, using the control panel bottom-right.

Appropriate multimedia

Although the backbone of the site is HTML text, most of its pages also contain other elements. In the screen illustrated, an animated GIF is used to show an archaeological find from several angles in its discoverer's hands, while other screens use similar techniques to demonstrate a computer graphic reconstruction of a ruined building. These elements provide entertainment value, and are also genuinely better at demonstrating a point than text or a still graphic.

Voice, language and tense

Once again, the issue of language is important: in this case a chatty informal style was adopted in the present tense to give a feeling that the user was observing contemporaneous events rather than a record of accomplished fact. The use of time and place information augments this feeling of process rather than stasis, which is difficult to achieve in the largely inert environment of the Web page, where generally nothing happens until the user clicks something.
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