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Thread: Beyond Usability and Design: the Narrative Web

  1. #1
    War is futile: just drink beer phooka's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Freedom for Catalonia

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    Beyond Usability and Design: the Narrative Web

    A few days ago I read an article at http://www.alistapart.com called “The Narrative Web”, by Mark Bernstein. The most interesting thing about the whole writing was that it completely obviated the (artificial?) duality between design and usability. Bernstein refered to a “third force” called narrative: according to him, “the reader’s jouney through our site is a narrative experience. Our job is to make the narrative satisfying”.

    This point of view could improve both design and usability approaches.

    1. It argues that the “granularity of user control” proposed by usab gurus could be replaced by a more “controlled” experience, where the designer limits the user’s freedom on purpose, so that narrative is enhanced.

    2. It adds a new dimension to design: time. Now that intros are considered so 1999, it seems that most portfolios are non-time dependant: just like architecture or painting. Narrative makes sites more like music: time is necessary in order to develop the experience to its fullest.

    What do you ppl think? I just thought it was a very cool article!


  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    At university, the point of a narrative was drumed into us.
    I agree with what Bernstein is saying although, phooka, i couldn't find the article.
    The idea of time dependancy is one i like although perhaps this restricts the user. Agreed it could develop the experience to the fullest, just like music, but in a way forces or demands your attention until the end. I am not sure if that is such a good thing, but then who am I, I havent read the article, so i might appear a trifle ignorant.

    Phooka, if you could help me find that link i would like to reald the artivle.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    that article

    if you go to the site Phooka indicated, go to "previous", then go to #106, it's there. I was just trying to parse the link in here and it got messed up for some reason, but anyway, there it is. It is a very interesting read.

  4. #4
    Here's the link:

    Yesterday on the Lounge board I advised an aspiring designer to figure out what type of stories he wanted to tell, and plan how he was going to excel - be unique - at telling them.

    If the story comes first, it shouldn't be hard to tell where to use Flash, where not to use it, when to rely on the browser controls and when they are insufficient.

    Because of my interests, I was disappointed that the article dealt mainly with company web sites.

    Yet, now that I think of it, my experience with ebatts.com the other day leaves me happy with my new a/c adapter, but still having no personal connection to ebatts. They should have slipped a little narrative onto their pages.


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