I work as an Interactive Producer right now, and I have to admit that I’m getting used to the weird feelings that happen at the beginning of the project when the client is like, “Go, go, go!” and we’re more like “Plan, plan, plan!” At a certain point the planning needs to come together into something more solid and real and begin to be put into action.
I did up a whole project plan laying out everything that was necessary and made it fit into neat little boxes, but the reality has been difficult to arrange to match. Naturally. 😉
What I need to do next
I need to just jump in with both feet, arrange some time to focus on the project and get the content written or outlined, get the sitemap drafted, and get a feel for the overall design. Once I have that, it will inform how I need to flesh out the content a bit better by showing me what I have vs. need. Then it will also help me revise my designs, too.
One date that I want to adhere to strongly is Columbus Day for the day that coding begins. It means I have to have my planning stage done by then, and be full on into execution. ‘
Seeing what’s out there
What I’m building is called an Interactive Narrative. There’s a great website that I’ve been using to find other examples of Interactive Narratives, and I’ve been using the old Designer trick of surfing the competition and identifying items that work well, that I like, and which suggest ways of working with my subject material.
For example, there’s Hope & Living with HIV in Jamaica. It uses a couple of nice features. I like the idea of using photos as the background elements around the Flash interface, as well as using a bottom-nav element with fluid sizing. The site really did a nice job with putting in audio files and pairing them with snapshots of the person speaking. Rolling over the photo brightens it, and cues the audio file to play. Moving the mouse over all the photos with a little speed cues a slight babble or chorus of voices.
I see using it in my project by having a section called “In Their Own Words” which shows each of the four faces of Mount Rushmore. Mouseover will cue the voiceover audio that I’ll record with my friends to provide presidential-sounding voices. They’ll read the historical quotes that each of the four presidents said or wrote about Native Americans as the text appears in a box.
I’ve got a couple more ideas too coming from other Interactive Narratives, but I’ll save them for the actual work. It’s just nice to remember that the first step for design includes research as well. Seeing what’s out there and what works or doesn’t work is a valuable place to begin, hopefully saving time and effort in the long run.
And, ultimately, that’s what such excessive planning for interactive projects is all about.