Audibly Aesthetic? Not really.

Visual Direction: navigation is directed through a series of visual cues

Visual Direction:
navigation is directed through a series of visual cues

 

Good Guessing? It is difficult to infer the content of each video from the music accompaniment

Good Guessing?
It is difficult to infer the content of each video from the music accompaniment.

**Black Negative: http://blacknegative.com/#!/loader/

 


Black negative, a cinematography company, claims they “try to make the web a better place”. If this were true, they would finally offer a refreshing new approach to web data, and make it easily accessible and perceivable to all users. However, it seems as though this better place was designed to solely accommodate visual users.

 

The Web Content Accessibility Guild lines have been put in place in order to help web developers achieve a more perceivable web, for users of all kinds. Black negative directly violates these, which urge for the percievability of content to all users; perception of the website content is impossible for visually impaired users. There is supporting sound in the videos and graphics, though alone they say nothing about what is being portrayed – that is, the scenes and purpose of the video cannot be extrapolated through the sounds alone. This of course the assumes the blind user is even able to access and play these videos, due to the design of the website interface. Even for the seeing user, the website presents challenges for usability. Navigation through the site is dependent on a series of clicks, drags, and slides… for which the user receives instructions through purely visual media.

 

However, the lack of universal perceivability and accessibility be remedied through the integration of a system that would allow a user to experience the site audibly, through descriptions of each featured media that the user could listen to. This would preserve the visually pleasing design, while serving to a wider spread audience.

The way the website sits, the highly aesthetic and visually focused design has come at the complete compromise of accessibility and perceivability to the blind user. However, it does have potential to be changed.

12 comments

  • Abinay John

    I couldn’t agree more that Black Negative needs to make a new website that everyone can understand. To me, it seems as though they made the website thinking solely about people who are already using their services. Personally, I don’t believe they even made an effort to accommodate visual users well either. Of course, visual users can see all of the cool graphics and videos, but the purpose of the company or its website was never conveyed properly due to the immense lack of substance (in both their text and their videos). If Black Negative wants to make itself better known in its target market, the company needs to use their creativity in a different manner so that pertinent details are not compromised. Once they solve this problem it will become easier from them to make themselves more accessible to impaired users.

    • Nina Ghosn

      This is exactly what they seemed to have done. However, I would argue that the content that they do have (the meaningful content being really only visual) at least showcases the creativity and aestheticism that the company has to offer. I do agree that it is hard to know what exactly these services are with out hitting up a quick google search; but like any company’s website, those who access it are likely to know what it is they do already. They seem to take advantage of this and compromise meaningful content. However, this definitely does not excuse the lack of perceivability to all users – even those without any kind of impairment, like you mentioned.

      • Cameron Coffey

        I agree that the company’s main focus is on aestheticism and creativity, but functionality has to come first. Even if you knew what the company was about, you would have to dissect each section of the website to find all of the hidden features offered. While making these features better known may take away from the presentation and the aesthetic appeal, there has to be a way that they could incorporate the icons that lead to the videos and other features in a way that makes them known but not overpowering.

      • Thomas Cummins

        I agree with most of your points about how the website is purely focused on showcasing visual design and aesthetics, though I really hope companies don’t use this kind of design in their websites. It just simply isn’t functional enough for real use. It may have some place in marketing, but even then it would only be marketing to the users who can use the website. I imagine a good amount of people would find even the auto-play background music annoying-not good for marketing.

      • Marcus Wilder

        I agree that functionality should preside over appearance. Therefore, I believe blacknegative needs to incorporate all WCAG guidelines in a redesign of the website, particularly with alt text for pages, and distinguishability for the different sections. On the other hand, if the company does not wish to depart entirely from their image, they could incorporate a user option that would help map the site with audio (differentiating blips, sound bites from a video to show its location upon scrolling over it, an earcon/spearcon to denote an audio transcript, etc.).

      • Raven Dean

        I see the creativity and aestheticism, however, I would be doubly impressed if they took better advantage of auditory engagement. In conjunction with the background music, an informative speaker track could be played as well that thoroughly explains what is happening on the screen and why it is important. That element could add to the creativity and aestheticism of the cite in its own way, especially since the aesthetics on the website are abstract. This would benefit those who know what they were looking for while also benefitting visually impaired users by giving context and explanation in an artful manner.

    • Ji Young Park

      With what you’ve mentioned, black negative clearly does not entail the percievability rule. This is a disadvantage for users with impaired vision as they wouldn’t be able to sense the main theme. To improve, background music should be specialized or distinguished when the arrow hovers around certain parts of the menu. In addition, the multimedia content should be more speech-based communication, specifically the videos. There should be more visuals, not just text and music. This website should consider a web interface that emphasizes the importance of speech-based to target users of impaired vision. With more speech-based media incorporated into the website, there will be less discontinuity between text and speech information.

      • Alexis Copeland

        The website does not cater to all users. I agree with your suggestions that the website can use to improve and to broaden their user base. I think that the addition of better instructions on how to navigate the page, as well as the ability to turn off background music is important. Also, making the content more speech based in comparison to the abundance of videos would help people to experience the website fully.

    • Anum Ul-Haque

      I definitely agree and believe that the main audience of this company is for people who are already affiliated and know of this company. I would never have guessed that this website was a cinematography company. When I initially viewed this website, I thought that it would have something to do with some sort of French-related business that didn’t really have a sole purpose, but focused on a variety of fields. No information about the company was conveyed anywhere on the website, and the only audio present was the background music that remained the same over the different slides. It was hard to understand the theme and navigation for a visual user, so I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for a visually impaired user.

  • Ethan Bills

    I agree with your statement that Blacknegative’s so called goal to “try to make the web a better place” does not seem to correlate at all with their website. They do not appear to be making their website accessible nor perceivable. On the other hand when they say, “try to make the web a better place” I believe they mean they are trying to make the web a better place for sharing and reporting on exciting new technologies. In this case, they are doing a good job on that. They are presenting new, cool information such as the world’s smallest glucose monitor in a fun way that makes users more interested in what the website has to say. In the end, Blacknegative may not be accessible to all users, but they are undoubtedly trying to spread good information and promote change through use of the Internet.

  • Michael Bick

    I agree that the website effectively displays the advantages web offers as a communication medium, but it borders on being unusable. When using the site, I was first challenged by the complicated and unconventional site navigation. Moreover, while using the site I was often disoriented and distracted by the ubiquitous animations. Much of the site’s content was hidden behind buttons, and even then, it was confusing which elements were clickable.

    And so, while Blacknegative may do a satisfying job showcasing the possibilities of web, I do not think it showcases an effective use of the web as a communication medium.

  • Charles Boyter

    It seems as though the website has focused so much on the visual aesthetic, that they have neglected accessibility. Navigation through the site is done purely through visuals. Different images, and text can be uncovered by scrolling the mouse over them, but if the user cannot see where the mouse is, then they have no way of knowing if they are accessing information, or what that information is. Also the website relies heavily on visuals. This does wonders for the visual appeal of the site because pictures are naturally more appealing than text, but for blind users, text can be much more easily understood when put into audio. To put text into audio, all one has to do is have a recording of the text being read, but for visuals, designers could give context, or try to describe the image, but they will never convey the entire purpose that the image conveyed. Like you said the website was often disorientating to people without visual impairment. Navigation of the site without sight would e nearly impossible.

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