on night before sortie
This page discusses issues in the design of the Kamikaze Images
web site. I examined several other web sites that present academic topics in
history, literature, and anthropology in order to identify effective design
characteristics for this site .
My first large web site (Friendship
Dolls) contained some design errors, such as inconsistent menus, fonts,
and page layouts. Based on this experience, I spent much time planning the
design of this site to ensure I did not repeat these mistakes.
Organization - This site uses a strict hierarchical structure to
organize its contents. This assists readers to find information classified
under specified topics. During site development, I changed the organization
several times to better fit the topics addressed by individual pages.
My goal is to add information to this site well beyond December 2004, the
deadline for submission of this final project required for my MA in Liberal
Studies degree at Wesleyan University. Therefore, I tried to construct a
hierarchy that will allow new pages to fit into existing web site categories.
For example, one of the six categories under the various forms used to create kamikaze images
is labeled "Other Forms." This category allows me to find a place for
new information not considered when developing the original site.
Hypertext - Hypertext is the presentation of information as a
collection of pages with links between them. Readers can move between pages in a
non-linear fashion based on available links, which provide multiple options for
exploration within a network of numerous pages and links. Many people experience
disorientation when reading hypertext. Conklin (1987, 38) describes this disorientation
problem, "Along with the power of being able to organize information
much more complexly comes the problem of having to know (1) where you are in the
network and (2) how to get to some other place that you know (or think) exists
in the network."
No perfect solution exists for this disorientation problem, but I
included several design features in this site to lessen confusion. Each web page
has the same header and left-hand menu system, so someone arriving at any page
will recognize the Kamikaze Images logo at the top left and be able to click on
it at any time to go to the home page. The top and bottom of each page have a
bar to show the page location in relation to the home page. This bar includes
links to any higher-level page in the hierarchical path to the home page.
Search engine results or links from other web pages allow readers to start at
any page on the web site. As a result, I tried to write the site content in such
a way that readers can get necessary information from the first page visited.
For example, for a person who wants to read a review on a particular book or
film, I tried to write the review page in such a way that the person does not
need to read any other pages on the site. This leads to some repetition of
background information not required in a standard linear essay.
The creation of hypertext allows the identification and analysis of
relationships between different information. Landow (1997, 125-6) explains its
One of the presuppositions in hypertext, particularly when applied to
education, is that linking materials encourages habits of relational thinking
in the reader. Such intrinsic hypermedia emphasis upon interconnectedness (or
connectivity) provides a powerful means of teaching sophisticated critical
thinking, particularly that which builds upon multicausal analyses and relates
different kinds of data.
At the beginning of my research, I found it difficult to make connections due
to the complexity of the history of Japan's kamikaze operations. As I learned
more about the history and about different types of images people have
about kamikaze, I started to identify many relationships between information
provided by books, films, museums, letters, web sites, and personal interviews.
Navigation - Although the left-hand expanding menu and the bar
at the top and bottom of each page provide some navigation capabilities, this
site includes several other features to assist in finding information. The top
right of each page has a Google search box that allows searches of the site based on key
words. The Site Map lists in hierarchical
order all pages on the site. In addition, there are additional
categorizations of web pages in individual sections such as Books
and Museums. The page on Recent
Changes allows previous visitors to go directly to new web pages they have
not yet viewed.
Layout - Many web sites today use a page layout with a standard
header, menu on left-hand side, and page content in the remaining space. This
layout has several advantages, including standardization of the menu and header
for all pages on the site. Most sites with this type of layout have a small logo and name at the top left
with a link to the home page, so I adopted the same convention for this site.
Many sites use narrow columns for page content, but I decided to use most
of the available space on the page to allow photos to fit comfortably with a normal size
Colors and Graphics - When considering the color scheme for this
web site, I recognized immediately the need to stay away from any shade
of red in order to avoid association with blood or the Japanese flag. I
tried to select neutral colors that would not influence visitors' opinions
about kamikaze. This site's color scheme of white and shades of blue comes
from an internal web site at my company, but I have found several large
commercial and educational web sites with a very similar color scheme.
The placement of graphics generally follows a consistent pattern
throughout the web site. Most pages start with a graphic at the top right of
the main contents area. Multiple graphics on a single page generally alternate
from right to left as the text goes down the page. Other than the site
logo at the top left of each page, I have avoided use of custom graphics.
Instead, I try to give an objective presentation of images related to
kamikaze, primarily historical photos, current photos of places and items
related to kamikaze, and copies of works being reviewed such as book and
1. I reviewed the following five academic
web sites in January and February 2004 in order to determine effective design characteristics for this web site on Kamikaze Images.
- The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War -
digital archive of primary sources that document the lives of people in
Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania, during the era
of the American Civil War <http://valley.vcdh.virginia.edu/choosepart.html>
- Spanish-American War in United States Media Culture -
one of four projects on "Hypertext Scholarship in American
Studies" published by American Quarterly in June 1999 <http://chnm.gmu.edu/aq/war/index.html>
Conklin, E. Jeffrey. 1987. Hypertext: An Introduction and
Survey. IEEE Computer 20: 17-41.
Landow, George P. 1997. Hypertext 2.0: The
Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology. Baltimore:
The Johns Hopkins University Press.