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Authoring and Design for the WWW
DESIGN CASE STUDIES
The Visual Perception Course site
To learn about Visual Perception through text, or even
photographs and diagrams, is not ideal. The learner often needs to see ideas
presented dynamically, for example to show change over time, or to reveal
unperceived aspects of an optical illusion. This site embeds small but effective
animations and interactive demonstrations in informational text, and also shows
the possibility of providing a simple construction environment where learners
can make their own contribution.
Words or icons?
Some interface designers have become obsessed with
devising icons to represent functions of software systems, frequently producing
something which is perplexing and perhaps not even easy to remember (so
undermining one of the major claimed advantages of icons). If the material on
the site is only being provided in a single language, there is also little benefit to
be had from the supposed international comprehension of visual symbols. For
the control panel of this site the simplicity of text labelled buttons was preferred.
The top-right frame is used to provide a range of functions including a search facility,
bibliography, glossary, e-mail facility for
contacting fellow learners and staff, and links to other sites. Searching routines and
other extended functions can be found as
shareware on Web sites around the world.
Animations are ideally suited to illustrating concepts like
the one shown, where a puzzling image is made comprehensible by movement.
The cluster of dots is immediately perceived as belonging to a human form once
it begins to move. In case learners are still not clear what they are looking at, the
moving cluster is replaced after a few seconds by a matching animation
sequence of a moving human.
Animations, whether linear or interactive, may be worth
both the trouble of their construction and the extra time to download when as
here they are genuinely the most effective form of information.
Several of the things which were difficult to do when these
projects were created between November 1995 and June 1996 are now easy.
Keeping up with what is possible, and the best methods available for achieving a
particular objective, seems likely to remain part of the Web designer's remit for
the foreseeable future.
Virtual Environments Visualisation