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Authoring and Design for the WWW


The Visual Perception Course site

Visual Perception home page
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.
two frames

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.

Communicative animation

animation example
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.
frame showing Shockwave animation

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.
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