Review of the Cultural Atlas Of Australia Website

On its website, The Cultural Atlas of Australia describes itself as an “interactive digital map that displays the places and locations that appear in iconic Australian films, novels, and plays.” While it’s not the most up-to-date website, there are aspects of this website that qualify as timeless. There are aspects of the website that show the site is trying to stay technologically relevant.

Cultural Atlas of Australia Home Page

The website’s home page is visually outdated, using graphics that don’t age well. Fortunately, the website leaves links to a Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr account. It also links to a map and has a slideshow showcasing some of the Australian media discussed and presented on the website. At the top of the homepage is a menu that connects to a Map page, a Showcase page, a FAQ page, an About page, a Contact page, and an App page. On each page, the background is a picture of the Australian Outback. Each page also looks like a page from an old book. It matches the website’s theme and purpose perfectly. There are also links to pages containing the site’s privacy policy and copyright policy at the bottom of each page.

The Map page leads the user to an interactive map of Australia. The map operates very similarly to Google Earth/Google Maps, allowing you to zoom in or out and giving the user access to a street view. The map has color-coded pins, each relating to a specific area where a film, book, or play took place. On the side of the map is a filter bar. It dramatically enhances the user experience. It allows the user to narrow down the narrative and location type. It also allows the user to narrow down the state and the publishing year. Underneath the map is a results bar based on the user’s input. There is also a search bar that allows users to put in keywords to narrow down and specify the search results. All of this makes the map page easy for users to interact with.

When clicking on one of the results, the user is sent to a page that gives them further information on the piece of media they clicked on, such as the creators and year it was made. It provides a synopsis of the work and a more in-depth map. The one problem with these pages is that the cover photo for the work provided is small, and can be hard to see. This relates to the short information about the piece of media as well. Clicking on the photo makes the picture bigger, but not much bigger. On the side of the page are separate boxes. One box is an index that allows the user to be led to a specific part of the page. The next box links to pages with information about any related texts. The final box leaves links to print out the page, print out the map, and contribute information to the specific work the page is about. The final box leaves links to print out the page, print out the map, and contribute information to the specific work the page is about.

The Showcase Page is incredibly similar to the Map page while having some distinct differences. The page is presented as a case study that “maps ecological concerns and locates scientific issues in the landscapes of Australian narratives that foreground ecocultural themes or are set in sensitive areas.” It presents links to information about media on the site involved in improper ecological care. It also has another map that operates very similarly to the one on the map page except it leads the user to “narrative extracts, photographs, video, and scientific research related to ecologically significant regions, issues, and stories.” This may help the site garner support from users who are interested in environmental issues.

The next page is the Frequently Asked Questions page or the FAQ page. It is concise but somewhat challenging to read because of the uniform font color. The page gives answers to specific questions users may be asking. It answers questions like how to correct inaccurate information on the site. This enhances the website’s credibility. It also presents information on how the user can contribute to the website themself. It also presents a link that allows the user to contribute information to the site and a more specific link that allows users to contribute information to a particular piece of media. 

The next page is the About page. It provides more in-depth information on what the website is. It also says the website “serves students, scholars, and travelers with interest in Australian geography and culture.” It also provides disclaimers regarding the types of works the website presents. It mentions that the website is funded by the Australian government and that the website is helped by public contributions. Because of this, it could be argued that the website is biased. This page contains the same link for contributions as the FAQ page.

The next page is the Contact page. The contact page contains the same link to contribute information as the other pages. The contact page leaves the names of the project leaders. When clicking on these names, the user is sent to a draft of an email to the specific leader they clicked on. The page also leaves a brief description of the project leader’s occupation. This helps enhance the websites credibility, as each leader is a professor of some type of media in Australia.

The next page is the App page. It describes an app for the website called CultureMap. The page mentions that the website contains the map and the showcase from the Showcase page. The most interesting thing the page mentions is the fact that the app is co-funded by the Australian government. It also leaves links to download the app from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. This opens up room for more debate about the site’s bias. It could also be argued that this page is an advertisement that is not properly labeled because of its promotional nature. Some users may feel deceptively advertised. The app page does indicate that the website is trying to keep up technologically, and also offers convenience to users.

In terms of accessibility, some aspects of this site make it inaccessible to some people. Many of the images on the site have no alternative text, which restricts some user accessibility. Alternative text is the text that an image contains that can be read to people with sight impairment. The site also has a lot of redundant alternative text. One other issue that may affect accessibility is clicking on a link. When a user clicks on a link, it is no longer highlighted when they return to the original page. This problem persists throughout the site on a majority of the important pages. Overall, the accessibility of the site is lacking. If you are sight impaired, you will most likely struggle using this website. Another issue this site has is that the social media accounts it links to seem to be outdated or inactive. This may affect the credibility of the website.

Although it has some issues regarding accessibility, the website has good user experience for most users and is relatively easy to navigate. The site is informative and serves as a good catalog for Australian media. I found the site extremely useful, engaging and interesting.

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