Critical feedback on website needed!

Hi everyone out there. I am reviewing this website Gallipoli, The first day, a 3D documentary site about the WW1 ANZAC landing at Gallipoli, on 25 April 1915 for a major journal and would like to ask for your input. The site recently won an Australian digital screen innovation award and is visually impressive.

I am interested in reporting on a few specific things. If it is innovative, why? I would like to think about this from the perspective of design, usability, content, interactivity, suitability for mobile media platforms, etc. If indeed it is not so innovative in some ways, or there are things that could be improved, then it would be great to get your feedback. I am thinking of following the ‘commend, recommend, commend’ format. In other words I want to start by identifying its strongest features, go on to make some recommendations/observations on areas for improvement, and then recap on the good points!

I am also interested in an international response to this Australian project. Do international users/viewers find the content accessible, for example? Is it framed well enough to appeal to the general audience it is aimed at, or conversely, is the message simplified too much? The most important thing I want to ask is whether this represents an emerging genre, a continuation of an existing genre or set of established formats, or indeed, whether we don’t yet have a frame for understanding and evaluating such online resources.

How should I evaluate the success or otherwise of this project, and on what terms? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, here on the blog or by email at pwlarthur@gmail.com .

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One Response to Critical feedback on website needed!

  1. Jim says:

    Thanks for introducing this to me Paul. This is fascinating stuff. Perhaps due to me being Australian and having visited the Gallipoli beaches it is an emotional subject.

    I think the fly-through graphics are very effective. But that is basically where any powerful interactive game-aesthetic ends. The only choice available in user reading-paths is to open and close the film windows. In these windows standard narrative film segments (with sets created using Flash 10 software) are shown. It suggests a mix between YouTube and the demo for an architecture project. The diorama feel to the scenes reminds me of visiting the National War Museum in Canberra in the 1980s.

    That said, it is, of course, an engaging story and the film techniques (black screens with audio, shifting POV, shadows and lighting) are effective. Returning to the reading paths, a strength is the movement around the various relevant 3D-cartographic sites as each of the videos are streamed in chronological order. One gets a ‘Gods-eye’ feeling to whole thing.

    I would like to see links embedded in the topological features (I am not sure if this is possible with Flash), opening to reproductions of materials from the time (film, photos, maps as well as the accounts of survivors – which are included in the site but are not linked to the main geo-spatial feature). I like the attention payed to the Turkish forces, but why can’t the site be bilingual and include Turkish langauge in the narrative? Other languages could also be included, considering the number of nations involved in WWI.

    I can see why it won a Digital Screen Award as it is an impressive narrative work (the Campaign Overview page is magnificent). But I question the site’s overall level of innovation, based on how the user is granted very limited agency in navigating it and is not permitted to compose the events of 25th April 1915 themselves. I feel interaction to be a hallmark of digital media, and it seems a loss not to have it as a major component in the narrative progression of the work.

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