The site that I’ve chosen to evaluate is The Refugee Project. This site was built by two parties: a design studio known as Hyperakt that focuses on storytelling ranging from the expository to the hopeful as well as Ekene Ijeoma, the founder and director of Poetic Justice at MIT Media Lab, and an artist himself. The intended audience of the page seems to be essentially anyone who finds it. It could be for those who are already interested in the global refugee crisis, or it could serve to inform those who are completely unaware about the refugee population in specific countries or the world as a whole. This site provides information over time (with a data point each year) about how many refugees have fled from a country as well as how many refugees have taken asylum in that country. It also provides background information contextualizing the data for each year for both the conflict and asylum countries, and sometimes a reel of news stories for that year in that country.
Personally, I think the site is well designed. The interactive map serves as the primary focus of the page, emphasizing its importance, while the information and data are still clearly readable on the side, but avoid obscuring the map. I also found both the map and the sidebar to be relatively easy to use and intuitive. However, I am only one user perspective, and it could be that for other user groups, such as those who haven’t grown up surrounded by technology, it is a very different and unintuitive experience (for example, they may not know that you can click and drag to move the map).
In general, I would say that the site follows Robin Williams’ principles of design. Contrast is overall well utilized, making the site engaging, appealing, and organized (my only issue is with the similarity of the country border color to the country fill color). Repetition is present in the font types, colors, sizes, and more. All text and elements on the main map page are left-aligned, furthering the unification and organization already existing on the page, and while center-alignment is used on the landing page, I think it is used well and it has the desired impact on the reader. Finally, related elements are proximate to each other, still strengthening the organization apparent on the page. The site also seems to fit another two of Williams’ less obvious principles: there is plenty of well-placed white space, and the designers weren’t afraid to be bold and take risks.
To improve the design of the site, I would likely make the borders between countries more obvious. They are slightly off-color from the inside fill of the countries themselves, which is not very helpful when trying to locate a particular country, especially for those computer users like myself who don’t always have their display brightness on its highest setting, and it doesn’t follow Williams’ principle of contrast very well. However, I understand not wanting to emphasize something relatively unimportant compared to the information the site provides, so I can see why the designers would make the choice to avoid incredibly strong contrast there.
I would like to incorporate similar levels of interactivity found in this site into our own site. We could do this by having clickable quotes that play audio from our interviewees, or by hyperlinking the sites of things like the organizations they mention in the transcriptions. Furthermore, I think the slideshow of articles is innovative and provides interesting and pertinent information, and I might like to incorporate that into our site as well. If I were to guess how we might do that now, I would say we could potentially dedicate an entire page to providing a background on current affairs in Syria and embed a slideshow of linked articles there. Finally, I like that they provide contextualization, often in the form of short, expandable notes about the events surrounding the current state of affairs, and I think we could include something similar by having expandable boxes next to related snippets of dialogue that either elaborate on or provide context for something the interviewee said.