Perception is to become aware of something through the senses. Our brains are constantly collecting data in order to interpret the world around us, thus implying an intuitiveness to awareness. Blacknegative is a web interface that capitalizes on our two most prominent senses, sight and sound, in order to create an intuitive and unique user experience. The website exudes elegance and manipulates emotion through both of these senses, however, its abstract approach to perceivability creates some problems in relaying information to its users. According to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), in order to accommodate as many users as possible, websites should be perceivable through a variety of modes; content must be adaptable and distinguishable, as well as provide alternatives to text and time-based media.
Right off the bat, Blacknegative struggles to balance its mission of creating an emotion-driven experience with accessibility. The home page is visually interesting, but the text is too small to read and doesn’t offer clear instructions of how to operate the site. On the other hand, what the site does offer is sound that relays more information than the minimal text. This background music is ambient and conveys a sense of elegance and fascination, inviting the user to indulge in curiosity and explore the site further.
While it doesn’t necessarily come up to code with the WCAG, Blacknegative isn’t advertising as an interface that would require the user to understand what is on the page; the site is selling an emotional experience. Whether the user is blind or deaf, Blacknegative is still able to convey a message through its visuals and audio.
As you scroll through the interface, you come across various projects that combine graphics with complimentary audio and videos. One example is a project involving Bose Evolve headphones, in which the following audio is accompanied by a short video that conveys the essence of the product without words.
The audio corresponds images displayed on the screen, such as headphone jacks and cords, and evokes the electronic sounds that one would imagine these objects represent. Both the video and audio display Bose headphones as “hip” and cool, which would appeal to a younger audience.
In terms of accessibility, Blacknegative’s interface is lacking. The site is confusing to navigate, even for a person with normal sight and hearing. For a blind user, there is no way to easily scroll through each page without being told to do so. However, the interface is audibly perceivable in that the sounds associated with each page evoke specific emotions. For a deaf user, the images also do a good job of conveying emotion, despite a lack of text. One change I would make to the site is the ability to turn off or pause sound and videos. The user’s sense are constantly bombarded and sometimes make hard to interpret the information presented. Unfortunately, the beauty of Blacknegative’s interface can only truly be appreciated with the audio and visuals in conjunction.