We’ll first address the overall functionality of the website Interactive Nolli Map and the map feature. The project is focused on preserving, and enhancing Tulli’s map of Rome from the eighteenth century. As such, the interactive map itself plays a crucial role. Ironically, the map is harder to find than it probably should be. On the main page, the link to the interactive map is settled on the far right side of the page, smaller than other sections, with no real ‘eye catching’ qualities. At first glance, a user might assume this is an ad, or some other less important form of information. We suggest that the website would be entirely more functional if they build their main page around a more centrally located and emphasized link to the interactive map. The website tries to act in a supporting role to the map, giving the user a place to learn more regarding the map’s history, vocabulary, and major themes. These are good attempts, but are presented in a way that is perhaps antithetical to the overall goal of an immersive map experience. The map would be much more effective if it included (within the interactive features), a way to access the vocabulary/themes that pertain to a certain part of the site. For example, let’s say I zoom into the map and discover a place called “Campo Vaccino”. As it stands, I would need to then turn my attention away from the map back to the site in order to discover the meaning of these words and this place, along with any other pertinent information. This is more disorienting than it should be. In the long run, it would be useful to allow me to access this information when I click on, or drag over the particular place.
The content of the site is divided into four themes: Natural Features, Architecture, Social Factors, and Cartography. The four “themes” however provide little information. Three of the four themes only provide one article for further research. There’s no distinction between the “featured” articles, and the the ones available in “browse all” link. In addition to the few articles provided, the link for the actual map could be more centralized, larger, and visible. The map is the main purpose of the project so its location and size should be relative to its central importance in the overall project. Furthermore, the site should be kept more up to date. For example, the maps for sale section has been out of stock but claims to be available by December 8, 2014. The maps for sale section itself is questionable as it may lessen the quality of the site since there is a motive for the site beyond providing educational information to the public.
The map, which is the main focus of the project, enables the user to experience many levels and facets of Rome’s layout simultaneously, or focus on one at a time. The images are high quality and the technology allows users to zoom in and out of different parts of the map. The site is successful in taking Nolli’s original map and giving the user the ability to directly compare this to current satellite images of Rome. This overlap of past and present allows the user to easily view what has changed and what has remained the same in Rome. However, it would be nice to have the ability to fill the map to the screen size. Despite an enormous amount of detail, the map remains somewhat inaccessible because of the small size of the actual map.
Another aspect of the technology of the site is the search engine. The site provides three ways of searching for information, which is helpful, but once the site is located, there is little information provided. For example, the Noli Number way of searching allows you to find the number of a location on the map and to then refer to search engine’s data, or to refer to search engine first and then use link to find the particular spot on the map. Both ways are covered, but neither method provides the user with specific content.
In conclusion, the website is organized, but seems like it would mainly appeal to someone who already has in depth knowledge of Rome and knows what they are looking for on the map. New users and curious users might be isolated through the site’s heavy reliance on assumed Roman knowledge.
Categories to be scored on a scale of 1-5 (1 most successful and 5 least successful):
Ability for users to access information within an established framework
Ability for users to go back and forth between different parts of the site
Logical and efficient layout
Amount of background knowledge required
Samantha Donohue and Jackson Graves