This week’s readings for class dealt with the advantages and pitfalls of digitizing and preservation of historical collections. My first impression is that there is much to think about when digitizing historical collections for preservation, more so for digital preservation, as well as its own set of distinct problems. However, the readings also caused me to think about web design as a historian, something I’ve never thought of before.
When I think of elements that make a website attractive and functional, I think of a website that has its sections clearly outlined and well organized. The website for the Tate Gallery’s Art Terms thesaurus springs to mind. I can find what term I need and click on it fairly easily to get to the individual sections that are all alphabetically organized. Another element of a website is one that will work and look virtually the same across all operating systems or even devices, such as what Rosenzweig and Cohen wrote. For me that means a website that works for both a desktop computer and on a mobile phone browser. A website that bridges the transition well was the website for Mount Holyoke, which despite some speed bumps, had well organized sections and looked well and functioned well on both a desktop, a mobile device, and multiple operating systems.
Another element I believe makes a good website is a design that has complimentary colors, and a nice balance between text and images. For example, the website that has Cohen and Rosenzweig’s book has a color scheme that is not garish or clashing. The balance between text and image is off, obviously, yet the size and spacing of the font makes the long paragraphs easier to read and digest.
Yet another element of a good and functional website encompasses Cohen and Rosenzweig’s section on accessibility. Unfortunately, what accessibility looks like may be different depending on the person. Those with visual impairments may need a website to function with software that enhances text readability while not detracting from the site design. Website accessibility must be one of the many priorities that a historian must take into account when looking into preserving history via digitization.