Having gone to the lengths we did to determine the best material for use, it was important to the team that it be presented in a clear and accessible way. We were also keen to make the process of selection and digitisation as transparent as possible, and in doing so hopefully provide a guide, if not a complete template, for other bodies involved in similar work.
With this in mind, the two over-arching questions we faced were:
a) What information should we provide? and;
b) How should we provide it?
We wanted the website to be clear and unambiguous from the moment the user enters. Much of this was achieved through a continuation of the ‘box’ format already employed by the BUFVC website. We added, however, such things as the thumbnail grids found on the text and film landing pages. Initially, links to text and films were presented as part of an overall list. In the case of films, this was in the form of thumbnails to the left, synopsis and production information to the right. It was felt, however, that this had a somewhat cluttered appearance, and also suggested the presence of a hierarchy, an unwanted side effect.
Perhaps the most demanding of page designs was the player. We knew from the outset we wanted to provide not only information about the film itself, but also about the digitisation process. The question here was how to display a significant amount of information while allowing the film to remain the focus. A ‘full screen’ option would naturally eliminate any distractions, but when increased in size makes artifacts more prominent, so how to compromise?
Our first decision was that the page on which films were displayed should be as dark as possible, allowing the film to draw the eye. We then set about considering ways of displaying the text. The forerunner of our consideration was the use of drop-downs. These would allow us to potentially include many pages worth of information without overwhelming the user. Core information such as directors, producers and production companies could remain on display at all times, but credits for editors, sound etc. could be hidden unless required by the user.
The continued employment of icons, denoting such things as additional credits and technical information, also helps to maintain a clear and uncluttered appearance.
When it came to the presentation of text we were keen, where possible, to provide both on-screen versions and downloads. The on-screen versions would serve as a permanent reference, always accessible, and a necessity for users not in possession of the necessary PDF readers, while the downloads would provide the ability to access these offline, as well as making them available as hand-outs in the teaching environment.
In terms of on-screen presentation, we have tried to remain as true to the original document’s formatting as possible. Users will notice, however, that the web pages do not necessarily match those of the originals, and that footnotes appear in alternative places (some, for instance, may previously have been endnotes). The reason for this is that we have tried to limit the amount of text on each page. Some of these documents are of considerable length, and as such might prove discouraging were they presented simply as reams of text. It was decided, then, that separating them would make them more manageable.
As this site is provided as an academic resource, the use and provision of citations was of great importance. Each page of text, and indeed those hosting films, display a pre-formatted citation. These have also been included within all downloadable documents.
Digital Transfer Manager, Learning on Screen