The book Interactive Visualisation: Insight through Inquiry by Bill Ferster inspired the steps taken to build this project. Ferster (2013, p.20) defines information visualisation as, “The use of computer supported, interactive, visual representations, of abstract data to amplify cognition.” This definition implies the way information is visually presented can effect and increase an individual’s understanding. Therefore one of the most important aspects of designing the interface was recognising the theoretical issues that surround audience reception and understanding, including how they engage with information and communicate online.
Firstly I addressed the issue of engagement, attempting to establish the best solution to encourage users to join and take part. Pawan Vora (2009, p.50) states that as a designer we should, “delay registration for as long as possible and allow users to explore the application so that they fully understand the benefits of setting up an account.” In doing so users are able to recognise whether the site adheres to their needs. This view is supported by Topix.net who found an increase in posts after the removal of the registration process from their forums (Blake, 2006). I decided to incorporate this into my project by allowing users to explore the interface and therefore recognise the benefits of joining but denying them the ability to join in and share their opinions. In doing so, user’s were still encouraged to sign up so they could partake in the social interaction.
Secondly, I addressed the concerns surrounding the best way to represent the information visually. Stone et al (2005, p.171) highlight the importance of a clear interface stating the,
“Designer should employ actions, icons, words and user interface controls that are natural to the users. Complex tasks should be broken down into simpler subtasks, to keep the behaviour and the user interface appearance as natural as possible.”
To create as natural an interface as possible, I kept the film categories as designated by the BFI in order to maintain consistency for users who were already familiar with the festival. Furthermore to prevent information overload I limited the film content to the most significant information as chosen by users during testing. When asked what information on a film played the most important role in decision making 39 out of 60 respondents said a movie trailer, 35 said actors and 34 said film synopsis. I therefore only incorporated the information that users deemed most valuable in helping them decide on a film to watch.