GDES-315 spring 2018 (David Ramos American University Design)
ramos@american.edu · office hours · interaction design resources

A watershed is an area of land where rainfall flows to a particular stream, or to some larger body of water–a part of the world where every patch of ground contributes to a common future. In this project, you’ll explore ways of presenting information that speaks to space and place, making a website that expresses your own kind of watershed, whether literal or figurative. You’ll also write the HTML/CSS for the site, building on your existing front-end development skills and working with interactive mapping tools.

“Globalization works better with objects than with information. Despite that the Internet is potentially global, it tends to be highly local.” (Ethan Zuckerman)

The guidebook, historically, makes unfamiliar worlds tractable, enabling travelers to move without fear and locals to uncover new places. The Internet provides a wealth of freely-accessible travel resources, from crowd-contributed efforts like Yelp reviews and WikiTravel, to collections of travel stories from major newspapers.

This project proposes that there is equal need for highly opinionated guidebooks, ones that reflect one person’s opinion. (Consider, for instance, On the Grid, AirBnB guides, and ProPublica’s environment series.) You will create a guidebook of your own, about the topic and place of your choice. Your scope might vary from a single city block to the entire region. Choose locations within the DC area—somewhere you could visit with a few hours’ travel. Focus your guide on some topic or concept. Any topic could be worth exploring, so long as places matter.

Decide what audiences you would like to reach, and perform user research to understand their interests, expectations, and needs. Then, organize and compile content for the site. Aim to cover about 4–12 locations. You may create your own material or borrow freely-licensed material from elsewhere. (If you must use rights-restricted images, discuss with the instructor.) Take care to cite the sources.

Build a website that hosts your guide. Include an interactive map.


Anacostia River sources

If you’re following the Anacostia as a theme: