Final Evaluation

So the deadline for the final site is today! I’m really pleased with the whole process, and I’m really pleased with how I’ve managed to explain the science whilst still making it quite light.

The site isn’t finished – I got a rather nasty stomach bug (you don’t need the details) this week, which has pushed things back a bit, so it’s not ready to be viewed by the general public yet, but it is live at http://www.parallel-stories.co.uk. The main problem has been that each page spawns three more, so the number of pages increases exponentially (literally). This means that the final site, even with quite short stories, will be over 80 pages big. To have the stories to the length and complexity I’d eventually like, I think I will be looking at close to 200 pages (maybe even 300). This is pretty unrealistic for the 8 week course – I have 30 pages, but I have run out of time! The problem with my site is that when it is unfinished, there are dead ends – which is why the site is not ready for general consumption! However, I do have examples of the ‘Show Me’ function here (click on the ‘Show me’ button to see it).

I general, I do know that I have some little things to fix, and it’s certainly not perfect, but I’ve really enjoyed making it, and I will certainly fix the wobbles over the summer (that’s when my job eases off, as the children go on school holiday). It’s also inspired me to think about doing a bit more design – I now own my own name as a domain name, so over the summer, I’ll probably do something with that!

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Feedback from Class

We had a class presentation on Tuesday, where we presented our concept and current site to everyone, and had the chance to get some feedback on it. It was really productive, and brilliant to get the chance to see what everyone else has done. I have serious website envy from some of them!

Anyway, The main point of feedback was that I need to be really careful that it is clear what the user needs to do. I have gone back and edited some story pages from the beginning to make it clear at the start that you have to make choices to get through the story. I have also explained the ‘Show Me’ device idea right at the start, so that people don’t miss the extra info. Hopefully it will be clear – I don’t envisage people starting the story half way through to be honest, as I don’t think people will share the story at any point other than the beginning!

Final Site

So I’ve got the site up and working. Pippa suggested that instead of having white text on blue, I have a rollover to dark text on light – so now when you rollover the bubbles, they change to a kind of rainbow sheen with black text. It makes things easier to read, and it does look pretty! If I had more time, I would definitely add more to this: one thing I’m seriously considering doing is adding a note to the bottom, which explains that this is set in a quantum universe, but that all of this is possible on a smaller scale. I think this would keep the science in people’s minds, and I think I can easily add this in html and css without redoing all of my photoshop work. It’s a shame that because the piece is so highly dependent on graphics, I’ve had to do it mainly in html and photoshop. I probably could have made more use of css, but it didn’t seem like I needed to – even if it is more elegant theoretically, I felt like it was unnecessarily overcomplicating things. At least if I use photoshop, I know things will look exactly like I want them (sort of!), especially with text changes etc. Certainly the way I have done things works for me, and gives me the functionality I want the site to have, which is the most important thing as far as I’m concerned!.

Design attempt

This is the first attempt at the layout – I like the idea of being able to choose which ‘bubble’ universe to enter, from the main bubble – the current universe. I made it from scratch in photoshop, and I quite like the ‘glowy’ effect.

My only problem with it is that I would have to use white/light text on a dark background – which I normally don’t like. I’ll have to see if I can find a way around this…

Handy notepad

Here is a handy tool for if I want users to have to remember anything. The notepad automatically saves the information to the user’s hard drive, so that if the site crashes, they still have the information. At early points in the story, the user could be given codes etc., which they can save in the notepad for later use. I really like this idea, and all the HTML code is put there for me!

Design thoughts

I quite like the idea of the story starting off in a regular, boring universe, and then stepping through a crack, or tear, in space-time into a parallel universe where all the quantum strangeness happens. This idea may have been pinched from xkcd. However, I think the idea of the background being ‘ripped’, with normal walls at the edge, and the ‘quantum universe’ in the middle might work.

However, I currently can’t decide whether this should be the way into the story, or whether the user should get ‘shrunk’. If this were the start, the ripped world wouldn’t be relevant (unless the ‘rips’ in spacetime are only visible to the very small person), so I need to think of a good image for the quantum universe.

There are a lot of representations of parallel universes as ‘bubble universes’, with multiple universes ‘bubbling off’ the old ones, so perhaps I could use this motif.

Bubbles!

Since it’s also about spacetime, perhaps the stereotypical ‘grid-curvature’ idea could work into this somehow – white bubbles on black backgrounds?

Curvy space

One thing I want to think about is the best layout for different screen sizes. I’m not sure how to do this – a liquid layout seems best.