After the Asylum

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I am choosing to critique the site aftertheasylum.com for this week’s blog post. The site, created by two Irish journalists and an Irish designer, documents the lives of three people with psychiatric problems who must live in the community after their asylum closes. This website is an example of great multimedia storytelling.

First of all, the user experience is remarkably simple; the site is extremely easy to navigate.

The structure of the site contains three elements: the Home page, which includes a rolling graphic that tells us what the site is about; the tabs, located on the bottom of the screen; and the pages of each individual patient who now live in the community after the closure of their asylum. To view more information about the patient, one simply has to scroll down the page instead of clicking on numerous tags or links.

Also, the site is engaging. One of the main ways the website’s designers capture the attention of users is by posting intense, captivating photos of the three patients. Immediately, I wanted to know more about the people of this story because their photos are so intriguing.

The site engages users via its home page, as well. When we click through the rolling graphic, we are presented with a question: “How are people with psychiatric problems coping in the community?” The website aims to answer this question, and I felt eager to explore the website to try to find the answer.

The text pieces about each patient are engaging, as well. Each article leads with an attention-grabbing opening sentence. For example, Mags’ text piece begins with, “Mags Kelly, 38, feels like a woman pulled from a burning building: still not quite able to believe she’s safe.” Automatically, I want to know learn more about Mags Kelly and to continue reading the article.

The website utilizes text, video and photography to tell its story. When reading the text pieces, the users are introduced to the individual patient and learn a bit about the patient’s background. In addition, the users can click on a link to The Irish Times if they want to read the entire article.

Each of the patient’s pages consists of video, as well. The video documents an interview with the specific patient, which allows us to hear his or her voice and better connect with the individual.

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Finally, each patient has his or her own slideshow that contains at least 10 photos. These photos capture the patients enjoying every-day tasks such as painting or applying makeup. They provide users with the sense that even though these people have psychiatric problems, they still have a lot in common with those who do not. The slideshow allows users to better understand and connect with the patients and discourages them from ostracizing the individuals just because they used to be patients in an asylum. My only complaint about the slideshow is that users are unable to close out of the slideshow and must exit by clicking a tab instead.

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The Home page does a great job of clearly explaining what the site is about without giving away too much information. The page encourages us to delve deeper into the site to answer that one question posed on the home page: “How are people with psychiatric problems coping in the community?”

Finally, the website has somewhat of a darker tone to it; the Home page has a deep gray background and includes fading in its rolling graphic. This gives the site somewhat of an eery feel, which may relate to the site’s content – many people find asylums somewhat spooky. The Home page also includes a photo of each patient featured in the story, so we know right away whom the site is about.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed the aftertheasylum.com. The Home page drew me in right away, and immediately I knew whom the story centered around. In addition, I was able to recognize the topic almost as soon as I entered the site. This is why I believe this website is a great form of multimedia journalism.

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One response to “After the Asylum

  1. I like your critique to this website. I think the whole site let me feel the user experience is simple and friendly, the content is clearly structured. I believe you learned a lot through doing this critique.

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