Web Site Reviews

Of the websites we looked at in class, two that I found particularly interesting and appealing were Street With a View (www.streetwithaview.com) and The Story of Stuff (www.storyofstuff.com). Although several of the others appealed to me on a more strictly aesthetic level, each of these sites, to me, mixed form and functionality and, particularly in the case of The Story of Stuff, was more oriented to the type of website I would be interested in working on—an issue-oriented one which organizes and conveys information clearly and concisely but still in an attractive way.

Street With a View is a website that utilizes an existing technology, Google Maps Street View images, as a forum for artistic creation through the staging of events to coincide with the filming of the images. To begin with, I find this idea really great—these kind of creative uses of existing structures and resources are exactly the kinds of things I think more organizations and individuals should be thinking in terms of. Not only do I think the possibilities for artistic expression through such means is great, but I think great potential also exists to get out broader messages—social, political, etc. The intersection between political and social movements and art has yielded many powerful results and to incorporate both of these into new and unexpected forums would surely yield some interesting results, some probably more effective than others. On an aesthetic level, I found the site’s simple layout very user-friendly and attractive. I really liked the bar at the top which put the subheadings into the form of streets on a map, reflecting the content of the site right off the bat. The site wasn’t incredibly extensive, but what was there was very easy to access and very clearly laid out. It incorporated choice bits of information and imagery and provided links to more information and images for those interested in going further. In this case, I thought the simplicity was both attractive and functional.

The Story of Stuff website centers around the presentation of a 20 minute film/presentation about human patterns of production and consumption and their effects on the environment. As with Street With a View, the site is clearly laid out and very functional, while still keeping enough visual interest to keep the viewer engaged. Navigating from the main page, one can access a number of resources to get more information on the project, read what others have written about it, tell others about it, or support the organization. Each of these categories is illustrated with a small, simple line drawing, adding an element of whimsy and fun to the over all appearance of the website, as well as continuity, since the style of all the illustrations mimics the style in which the video itself is drawn. The site manages to provide a number of different resources without overwhelming the eye or boring the viewer. There is a visual continuity and an ease of navigation between pages on the site which not only allows viewers to access the information they seek, but invites and encourages them to delve deeper .

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