Highly local

GDES-315 spring 2016 · American University Design
Instructor: David Ramos (ramos@american.edu)

In this project, you’ll explore ways of structuring information for a mobile-friendly, multi-device site, and you’ll learn to apply user-centered design methods to a web project. You’ll also write the HTML/CSS for the site, building on your existing front-end development skills.

“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 guides.) 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.

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 12–15 locations; see your instructor if you would like to include more. 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.

Create a responsive website that works well on desktops, tablets, and smartphones. You might design a site that works better for some screen sizes and contexts than for others, if your audiences and idea require it.