The first website I reviewed was http://www2.vcdh.virginia.edu/gos/ . The first thing I noticed was that the homepage graphic was very small and only took up a small fraction of the page. Although this may seem like a minor issue, it only holds small amounts of information in the homepage. Overlooking this will find that in the links provided on the unattractive homepage it leads you to many different ways to research the runaway slaves and servants of the 18th-19th century you will see advertisements, documents, essays, and resources. Each link differs in what it offers. For example, the advertisement link takes you to yet another ill graphically designed and boring looking page; however, this page does allow you to do a detailed search, browse the ads, full-text search, and access to maps and timelines. This sees as though this website could use a cosmetic makeover, and it is a great gateway to find the research you need, but there is not as much of a plethora of information as other websites I have used. I could go into more detail about each tab and its pros and cons, but after researching through this website for at least an hour or more, my findings were true for all tools offered on this website. A cool feature to this website is that it offers feedback submissions to the website owner, this also could just be a way for them to put on a good face to its readers to make them feel as if they are giving feedback that is going to be heard and listened to. In conclusion if you were specifically researching advertisements of Slaves, runaways, or captured persons in the 18th-19th century this would be a helpful tool in your research, but it does lack the potential professionalism that other websites exemplify.
The second page I reviewed was https://freedomonthemove.org/. Although we covered this as a class in Monday’s lecture I decided to dig a bit deeper into the website. At first glance it is obvious that this website was very well designed. The home page is detailed with an explanation to what each tab has to offer, which makes finding your information a lot less time consuming. As mentioned in the class discussion the website is well organized, provides many visuals, and is easy to navigate. This website also offers hundreds of historical documents and sources to research upon. Some cons that I found were that some of the information given was presented in a way that may be hard to understand for some viewers. If I were totally new to slavery and it’s history I would not be able to comprehend some of the information they provide. Although the home page reads in a bright yellow highlighted box “k-12”, I would find it hard to believe that a kindergartener would be able to decipher the information presented. Another interesting feature is that it allows you to download information that you are searching for, which provides crucial time saving efforts if you were on a tight timeline for researching. It was difficult to find things I didn’t think were efficient ways of presenting information to readers other than a few minor inconveniences. Lastly, I would say after everything I learned so far in this class, and my knowledge from the two classes this week regarding good versus bad websites I would definitely have to say this is a suburb website to use to research historical information regarding slavery.
One thought on “Week 4”
These are great observations and critiques about both websites, and I appreciate the amount of detail you added! I completely agree with your evaluations. Both websites detail a database of slave and runaway advertisements, but the delivery could not be more different. The first website “nests” all of the information within itself, which is impressive from an organization standpoint, but it is not user-friendly as viewers have to click on a chain of links to finally be able to view the text and images of the ads. I’m glad you pointed out the feedback feature–it is so important for websites to stay up to date with the latest information. With that said however, it’s easy to let a “completed” project just sit there unchanged.
As for the second website, I agree that it is much more immersive for the user. Your concern about context and accessibility is important, however, as this website might not be able to “reach” broader audiences in the way it intends. Context and audience matters. I agree though that these critiques are relatively minor and do not take away from the overall significance of the website and the wealth of sources it presents!