So after a lot of work I’ve arrived at the second major update for my Major Studio Two project which tells the story of my brother Mike’s thru-hike on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail through an interactive web media experience.
Major milestones include:
1. Debugging a Leaflet map interaction where the animated marker (representing my brother’s position) triggers popups to open on the stationary markers.
2. Improving the interaction between scrolling and the animated marker start and stop using the JQuery Waypoint library. Now when the user scrolls, then animated marker will only start and stop when the user passes the correct chapter chronologically. I found that users tend to scroll up and down through the site fairly quickly to get an idea of long it is. Previously this would have caused the animated marker interaction to be buggy.
3. I’ve also managed to do some user testing for the site today which has proven to be super helpful. I will admit that all the folks that have helped me out have been DT students so I will also test the site with some people outside of my program for a different perspective. Here’s some feedback I’ve received so far:
1. The title bar doesn’t stand out enough and blends in with the rest of the site too much. The url of the site would also help with the title (no url as of yet…)
2. The Alan Watts quote on the opening slide is hard to read; try masking the area behind it with a transparent fill. (fixed)
3. Initially the user has no idea who the main character is. It would be helpful to add some background about Mike and the PCT in general prior to the start of his story.
4. The map transition from overview to the start of the trail should be slightly smoother and more seamless.
5. It’s somewhat confusing where the marker is going in relation to the content. Some suggestions to improve this are to break up each chapter’s path so that the marker will travel shorter distances. Then have photos or other text blocks trigger the marker to move. This would also help connect the particulars of the content with the map. Text blocks could even be highlighted so that when the user hovers or clicks on them their location is displayed in the map. Another suggestion was to repeat each chapter title over the top of the map so that the user is aware of the connection between the area being traveled and the map chapter.
6. When the marker is moving the map tends to shake. I’m not sure if this is something I have a lot of control over but will definitely think about.
7. Add a locator map to show the regional overview (ie: the current state or entire trail) so that the user has an idea of where on the whole trail Mike is.
8. Use Lazy Loading JQuery library to load the images as the user scrolls. This will help cut down on overall loading time and improve performance of the site.
9. Possibly consider adding menu options to the title bar so that the user can jump to certain chapters. This will be somewhat tricky to implement but may be necessary. Also adding forwards and backwards arrows could be helpful with navigating chapters. Worth testing though.
Positive feedback I recieved was that the site is very readable and would make a good narrative template overall. The first image is liked by everyone I’ve tested and serves as a good introductory slide.
Looks like some more updates and then another round of user testing will be needed. Looking forward to completing this project and submitting it to the student mapping competition for NACIS this year in Pittsburg, PA.