I'm a researcher at the University of Victoria working on a huge
archive of Orca (Killer Whale) song, called the Orchive
I've come up with a website, but it desperately needs interaction
design help. Any suggestions for how we could make this free archive
more useful for researchers would be very welcome.
I took a fast look at the site, not bad I'd say, although it's "on
While looking around, I was just wondering what those lines stands
for... I finally think it's only a decorative motif, but it
sometimes seems like the "loading-up" phase of a soundtrack. I
expected to hear something coming from my players, but nothing did.
Should you like to keep them to mark separation between paragraphs,
I'd break them or use just the significant edge to decorate the
I believe the "worst part" would be organizing the archive. I tried
to download and listen to the file from orca-live.net, but it didn't
work... Probably classifying sounds and giving a very short (say
1min) "preview" of what they would listen could be a good way to
help users downloading what they need.
Do you have an idea of "who" will be the people visiting your
website? and "what" they will look for?
These are the main starting point for any design project.
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Posted from the new ixda.org
I think the work you're doing with the Orchive is really cool.
I'll give you my 2¢.
I decided I wanted to listen to, or at least, browse the collection
of Orca song.
I posted a screenshot of what I saw here:
http://skitch.com/acox/bf47b/orchive along with a description of how
I behaved on the page.
Ultimately, I had a hard time finding the collection of songs. The
graph on http://orchive.cs.uvic.ca/orchive is interesting, but is it
worth the added difficulty to finding the songs?
Ditto to Alan's comments. The graph and the green- and yellow-
highlighted statistics draw the eye and overwhelm the navigation
elements. Work on increasing the contrast of the nav text and
otherwise making it more prominent.
Cool site, regardless. Seems pretty clean and functional.
Thank you Maria and Alan, those are great suggestions.
A bit more about our project, I see there being two main user gropus
right now. One is members of the public that are interested in
whales and want to hear some whale song. Another group are
scientists from around the world who want to analyze and download
data from the archive.
We're making web-based tools to help the scientists analyze this
data online (Flash applications that let them zoom in, listen to, tag
and analyze data).
Another target community for the future is members of the public who
we want to recruit to help us tag different parts of the audio. For
example, the most challenging thing right now is that only small
parts of each recording actually have orca song. Orcalab starts
recording as soon as the whales are around so they don't miss
anything, but for big parts of the recording, there aren't any
vocalizations. We want to try to recruit the public help us find the
whale song on these recordings.
Maria, that's a great point of giving people a little sample of the
audio before having to download it. We're thinking of having a
"Tour" link where you can listen to pre-selected bits of audio that
have good quality vocalizations on them. Maybe that would help?
Those lines are just decorative, but I can see what you mean, they
are confusing. I'll take them out.
Alan, the graph is definitely confusing, and hides the actual data.
We'll move that to the Tour page as well.
That's a good point that the secondary nav bar is easily missed, I
think I'll just remove it and just put the recordings front and
Thanks for these thoughts, and I welcome any more comments or
suggestions. We have all this great audio and data, and want to make
it useful to everyone who is interested.
What kind of task users will perform? Sharing the sound files is a
good idea if other researchers help out treat the data and share
Is it possible to categorize the sound files in other parameters, for
example geographic location? Could we group sound files, for example
sessions of 45 minutes in same day?
have they compared willy's dna with his song?