The Guardian piece “Firestorm” is a multimedia project that takes readers on a journey to Tasmania, Australia, in which a bushfire almost devastated the community. The story is well-written; and its mix of pictures of motion, radios, videos and an interactive graphic makes it an enjoyable and engaging reading experience.
The website overall is user-friendly and well-organized. In the bottom of each page, the phrase “scroll down to continue” gives readers a clear instruction. On the right side of the website, a list of the titles of all chapters of the story can be found, giving readers a clear sense about the structure of the story. And when you hover over the titles, you could see the specific components of each chapter. Moreover, right in front of the components, icons indicating different forms of storytelling can help the readers better find their own interests and have a general idea about this multimedia project. When you click on the titles, they will directly lead you to the content you wish to read. In addition, there are no advertisements distracting reader’s attention.
However, the typography of the project makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable as the strokes are too thin in white. Another problem is that as the phrase “scroll down to continue” always remains on the bottom of the page, it overlaps with the story texts from time to time, making it hard to read. In addition, the website is too sensitive that readers may find it hard to control the scrolling thus unintentionally skip some contents.
The website uses all kinds of storytelling tools, and perfectly combines them to reflect the topic. From the very beginning, readers will know exactly what the website is about. Photos of scared children, moving photos of rising smokes and sounds of hovering helicopter all give the readers a tense atmosphere, which perfectly fits the story which is about life and death. In most of the chapters, videos, photos of motion, radios, and infographics assist the texts. The videos provide the points of view from witnesses and vivid scenes that attract the readers. It is also worth to mention that the videos are no longer than two minutes, which is good, as the readers always better focus on short videos.
In addition, this website successfully builds a contrast between scenes before the fire and during the fire. By using the photos of flowers that swinging in the wind and sounds of twitters, the project indicates the peacefulness of Tasmania, arousing readers’ interests to read more and see more about the fire. The project also uses an infographic to analyze the statistics of bushfire in that area, giving readers more background information. Overall, the use of media is diverse and balanced.
As I mentioned before, the topic of this website is very clear. From the very beginning, readers can easily understand this project’s theme. The videos, radios and photos all work together to make the whole story complete and alive. The design of the website is clean and appropriate. There are no fancy calligraphies or colors, as this project, in general, is a serious story about life and death. Yet the photos and videos are in high quality with beauty, which bring a better reading experience.