Langston Hughes at 100

The Langston Hughes exhibition is curated in the Beinecke Library and is hosted through Yale University. The exhibition’s intended audience is anyone who wants to experience the collection through a multimedia format and see the files within the library. Langston Hughes gifted his papers, letters, manuscripts, and many more assortments of media to the library over the years which culminated into this collection.

While the general design is actually pretty great, the execution is a bit lackluster and is in desperate need of an update. For starters, the exhibit only works if you have Flash which is a fairly dated program.

The player has a Navigating category which explains how to use the exhibition which defies the entire concept of “Don’t Make Me Think!” A good online exhibition: 1) should not need a section to teach people how to use it, it should be intuitive 2) even it did, it should be clearly bulleted and not in the form of a paragraph.

Immediately after an intro video sequence (that can be skipped), it takes you to this screen that showcases all the media which, for some reason, cannot be clicked on. You must click Poet, Observer, or Artist (the differentiation is never explained) in order to click on the different pictures.

Clicking on a picture will open a small box that showcases a picture, some information, and occasionally some audio to describe the piece. This feature is great. It clearly states what the subject is, gives a brief overview, and provides relevant information. My only criticism is that it should move over to the side and be bigger. The entire player should be stretched-to-fit and not use Flash, but overall, the site isn’t bad. 

Aside from a complete structural overhaul, the idea of creating a multimedia, clickable timeline is great. There are a few tabs which displays important content, but no giant walls of text. For a Flash player designed in 2002 (from what I could tell from the Calendar tab), the site is pretty well designed.

I’d like my project to more or less be a more minimal version of this site. Obviously, it would not use Flash. I like the concept of having a few tabs of information for concepts and contact, but overall having it be very interactive and intuitive. Perhaps people could see men’s contemporary fashion and information about its major changes over the years through pictures, music media, and snippets of different articles.