ENGL 323: Writing for the Web
Hypertext, textual data that is "linked" across multiple documents or locations, is becoming increasingly popular within the Web. This usage of links can help further knowledge about the document, but could also allow the reader to have a unique and interactive experience. This is what I found with the website that I will be looking at, “24 hours with someone you know” (http://www.glasswings.com.au/modern/24hours/). I will take a closer look at this site to better understand how hypertext is used within it.
When first stumbling across this site, I was completely unaware of what it was. The opening screen is very simple. It consists of the title, “24 hours with someone you know”, and a black and white photo of a building-lined street. There are no further explanations as to what this site could even be about. The only reason I had a bit of a heads-up was because I found it under a listing of examples of hypertext. But I could imagine someone surfing the Web randomly would be a bit confused as to what this site even was.
I believe this could work either for or against the site. One may be immediately put off, not knowing what to expect, and pass it by. This may be avoided if the designer of the site had put a subtitle somewhere on the opening page, perhaps saying something along the lines of, “A unique interactive journey”. But I myself, and others I would presume, found this bit of mystery to be intriguing, and made me want to press further.
The way to begin hyper textual document is to click the photo on the page. I suppose that perhaps a link that stated more explicitly “Begin here” may be helpful to some, although I found it to be non-problematic due to the fact that the page was not cluttered with any other links or photos.
Once clicking on the photo, you are launched into a story. This places you on a city street. I found the usage of the second-person point of view to be very interesting and unique. It really made you feel as though this character in the story was indeed, you, and you were going through the motions that they were. The first page only contains one possible link, which is “You turn and knock on the door.”
Clicking on this link, you begin to understand what this site is all about—it is a story that contains different links at the end of each page, which is a choice for the reader to make. Depending on what link you choose, it takes you in a different direction and through a different outcome. I remember reading a book like this when I was a child, where you got to choose your own ending depending on what chapter you read. This is very similar, yet works much better on the Web, being that it can include a multitude of links. This is a great example of how hypertext cannot only be informative, but entertaining too.
The design of this site is important. All the pages I visited contain the same simple design: one black and white photo at the top, uncomplicated black font with a plain white background. I think any other design elements, such as bright colors or complicated photos and fonts, would have taken away from the point of the site, which is the story itself. One of the few complaints I had, however, was the link back to the homepage. There is a very small picture of a clock in the left-hand corner. I barely noticed it until I was a couple pages into the story. Once I did, I rolled my mouse over it to see if a pop-up would explain what it linked to. There was no explanation, so I clicked on it. I was a bit annoyed that it took me right back to the splash page, and I had to go back through the links all over again. I think a small pop-up once you roll over it with your mouse would help this not to occur.
The story itself is a bit confusing. The end, at least came as a disappointment to me. There seemed to be no real answer, only a photo of a man packing his car. I was, however, impressed with the creativity of this site. I enjoyed clicking around, and even went through the story twice to see if there were any different possible outcomes. It is very unique, and the simple design elements are very engaging. It is just one of the many examples of what can be done with hypertext today.