Franca Garzotto , Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Davide Bolchini , University of Italian Switzerland, Switzerland
Session: 4.2 Structured Design of Complex Museum Sites
Until few years ago, developers of hypermedia applications (either on line or off-line) paid scarce attention to design. Today this approach is less acceptable, due to the increasing complexity and size of new applications: the effectiveness of the development process and the quality of the resulting products are largely affected by the quality of design. Planning and specifying, in a systematic and precise way, the various aspects of an application - data structures, dynamic behaviour, lay-out, navigation patterns, operational services - at conceptual level, before actually implementing the application, has become a crucial issue. Systematic design forces a team of developers to focus on the rationale of the application to be developed, and to take decisions at the proper level of abstraction, abstracting as much as possible from implementation requirements. Most of the "conceptual" (i.e., technology-independent) problems and inconsistencies can be potentially detected and resolved at design level, before actually implementing the application. As a consequence, precise and coherent design may reduce implementation mistakes, and, in principle, the better the design the higher the quality of the final application, in terms of coherency and consistency with respect to its requirements.
The course will addresses the problem of how to systematically design on-line and off-line multimedia cultural applications. In addition, some crucial issues concerning the multimedia application development process, will be discussed. The proposed design approach is model-based, since we will use a reference hypermedia model (W2000, the latest version of the Hypermedia Design Model HDM ) to identify the various phases in the design process and to provide the primitives for specifying the design output. The attendant will "learn by examples": all the concepts introduced in the course will be exemplified by discussing a number of case studies (CD-ROMS and Web Sites) in the museum domain.
At the end of this course, participants will learn how to approach more systematically the process of application design and to discuss more precisely their requirements or their design choices. Moreover, they will be able to look more critically at existing products, to rationalize the good (or bad) aspects of design choices, and to formulate potential improvements in a precise vocabulary.