twinIsles.dev >> Photography on the Web
This report, produced for the final project of the Master of Science in Interactive Multimedia course at the University of Westminster, provides a critical review of contemporary web (particularly e-commerce) development principles, tools and techniques. It culminates with the description of the development of a prototype photographic website offering a searchable stock library and other resources for photographers and image users. The prototype provides a practical demonstration of the application of many of the issues identified during the research component of the project.
Among those issues considered are the origins, evolution and implications
of e-commerce, designing for usability, and the problems associated with
the cataloguing and retrieval of non-textual material such as photographs.
An attempt is made to predict the most likely future trends in the development of the web.
The advantages of, and challenges faced by, e-commerce are considered. Businesses and customers alike benefit from having access to a truly global marketplace. However, problems such as information overload inhibit the ability of users to efficiently locate the resources they require, while doubts over security continue to deter numerous potential participants.
Leading search engine Google currently claims to index in excess of 1.3 billion web pages. A substantial proportion of these are commercial. The sheer volume and growth rate of the Web implies that there are few sites offering unique products, and even where such sites exist they are unlikely to remain unique for long due to the low entry barriers for e-businesses.
Furthermore the web provides market conditions approaching those of perfect competition. This means that differences in price will be quickly eradicated, since customers can easily identify the cheapest supplier for similar products. For these reasons successful web sites need to provide some form of added value to their core purpose in order to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Existing online stock image libraries are examined to identify how this added value is currently being provided in addition to identifying their other strengths and deficiencies.
Online surveys of both photographers and image users have been carried out to discover the desirable features of a site such as that proposed.
The ease with which anyone may publish a web page has resulted in a proliferation of poorly designed sites. Confusing navigation, long download times, distracting backgrounds and poor colour choice are among the many problems to be found on the web. Contemporary web design principles are reviewed with particular regard to usability and what makes for a successful user experience with e-commerce sites.
In the beginning web pages were authored in HTML and offered a passive viewing experience to the user. Since then a whole range of tools have been developed to allow interactivity and enhance the user experience. The range of tools available to the web developer is reviewed with particular regard to their ability to contribute to the effectiveness of the web site in fulfilling its aims.
The range of tools considered includes:
Given the sheer volume of material available on the web one of the greatest problems facing users is finding the precise information they require. The ways in which non-textual media, such as photography, may be indexed so as to facilitate efficient retrieval will be examined.
Indexing images poses a number of problems e.g. a picture of a golden Labrador may be of interest to someone searching for pictures of Labradors, dogs, pets, mammals, animals The vocabulary mismatch problem is also addressed, this describes the fact that different people may use different language for the same thing e.g. a particular vehicle may be called a lorry, a truck or a juggernaut.
1.4 Practical Work
N.B. The stock library is intended to provide a model for a commercially viable e-commerce business. The other features are intended to provide added value both to attract visitors who may become either paying customers or contributing photographers, and to differentiate this site from its competitors. Linked-to sites will be invited to provide reciprocal links to this one.
During the development of the prototype particular attention was paid to the mechanism by which images were catalogued, stored and retrieved, and also to the usability of the site. The report makes detailed suggestions for the future development of the cataloguing/retrieval mechanism.
twinIsles.dev >> Photography on the Web
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