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2000 Travel Pictures

marred by navigation problems

This is a review of 2000 Travel Pictures by Patrick Chatelier, original comments: Galeries-photos de paysages de Libye, Bolivie, Chine, Népal, Inde, Birmanie, Sumatra, Portugal, Maroc, Algérie, Italie, Espagne, Afrique du sud, France, Etats-Unis, Jersey, Hong-Kong. Panoramiques, N&B, couleur. Dessins et paysages virtuels.
Reviewed by: Bennie C. Taylor
 
Although I did not count them, I do not doubt there are 2000 photos featured on this site. And many of them are spectacular. Visitors could spend days enjoying them for the variety of subjects is amazing. Photographer Patrick Chatelier provides scenes from the west coast of the US to New York with a side trip to Bolivia, as well as photos shot across Europe and Africa and on through Asia.
      The photos are generally grouped by geographical area or by subject with pages and pages of thumbnails provided to help us decide which specific scenes we most want to see. Some people may even want to take the time to see them all. While the thumbnails load in a reasonable amount of time (at 52KB), I did find the large views very slow to emerge. A visitor will need much free time or a very fast connection to get the most of out this site.
      The focus needs to be on the photos, of course. But I believe a paragraph or two of text on each page of thumbnails might be useful. I dislike frames as a rule since they further slow things down, but frames at the top of each section of thumbnails might be useful if they included some facts about the area photographed, the circumstances, season, type of camera used, etc. This would provide material to read while the large views are opening and might be of interest to anyone who is viewing the site for information. There could also be some aids to navigation here.
Start Page:
Although not currently popular with some critics, the black background seems to me to set off colorful photos to best advantage. I found the start page basically very appealing. I felt something interesting would follow, and I was not disappointed. Nobody likes to see "click here to enter"- but can we assume all visitors know to click the main photo to start the journey through the site? Perhaps a link from here to a main index or to the various subjects would start us off in the right direction.
      Chatelier needs to omit the "best resolution notice" and to shorten his copyright statement. "All rights reserved" is sufficient information. I almost never look at the browser's status bar, but when I made screen captures of some of these pages I realized the copyright information was sometimes repeated there. Clearly the photos are valuable. But it is obvious their creator wants the world to see them. Perhaps he could offer a few samples for free download stipulating that they be kept for personal use and that he be given credit for them. To safeguard the remainder of the collection he should perhaps use watermarks.
Page Two and Navigation:
I had difficulty trying to figure out the various types of navigation used on this site: each has its own pecularities. While the search engine might be useful to a speaker of French, it is probably not worth the space it requires. Page two sports a very sophisticated navigational aid in the left frame. It is clever and interesting but not very user friendly, in my opinion, because it is so very complex.
      First, I discovered that four of its upper menu buttons took me to four areas of the world. But there was also a globe image which set me off on another path to the same material. And to complicate matters even further there are links in the right frame of this same page which produce other sets of photos.
      There is no indication that the buttons on the lower part of the menu lead to ecards, the sale of photo CD's, contact information, and so on. I missed finding these the first few times around.
      When I clicked on the Libyan text link in the right frame of page two I landed on the first of four pages of thumbnails. This was a bit daunting so I decided to go back to page two and make another selection. Unfortunately, the only return button sent me to the home page. There was no direct link to page two, and the browser's back button was not accessible from here. Frustrating.
Improved Navigation
This web site is a marvelous visual experience. The advertising is handled discretely. In fact, the casual surfer might not see it at all. There is much material that the visitor might overlook entirely because it takes so long to check out each link. It would be much easier to enjoy the site in its entirety if there were one simple, comprehensive menu outlining all the various destinations.
      A drop down menu would solve the navigation problems technically, but I would really prefer a table of contents and maybe some instruction. It might be better to save the tricky navigational aid for use on a site where it is the only navigation and where the menu is less complex. Although it is quite intriguing the navigation draws much attention to itself at the risk of becoming serious competition for the photos themselves.
 
Posted: 02/01/2003

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