In 2014, the New York Times created a series to document the variety of sports in the Sochi Olympic games. The main focus of the series was to show the craftsmanship of each athlete and to show the techniques used by a variety of athletes in the sports. For example, one section of the story focused on ski jumping while others focused on giant slalom, figure skating, and many others. Each section explained the techniques of specific athletes in the sport, and each section showed a visual representation of how the athletes accomplished their speed and agility.
Videos and graphics were the main methods of storytelling in this series. Text was used in small amounts, and usually the text was used in a list-format. At first, I was surprised that text was not a significant aspect of the series, but as I continued through the story, I realized that this was a smart move for the publication. By utilizing video and graphics, the viewer gained a higher appreciation of the sport. The visuals showed close-up shots of athletes in action, and I was able to see Olympic athletes in a way that I had never witnessed. This would not have been possible with text, and the sense of appreciation that I gained through the visual aspects of the story would not have been realized.
Within each story, the viewer went through the story by scrolling. I could scroll through videos, photographs, graphics and text. For the user experience, I felt the site was easy to navigate. The only navigation problem I occurred during my time with the series was when the scrolling aspect of the story would lock-up. If I didn’t scroll down enough to the next element, I would be caught between the previous element and the next element. This caused some technical difficulties and confusion for the series, and oftentimes, it was difficult to know how much I needed to scroll down to load the next element completely. This screenshot below is one example of the story locking-up and being stuck between two elements.
The story mainly combined graphics into its videos, which I found to be extremely effective. It was an innovative use of visual technology and design, and it offered two perspectives of the same shot within an instant.
The main backbone of the story consisted of text followed by a visual. This was the main combination of media for each story in the series. The text served as an introduction, and the paragraphs were usually a few sentences in length. The visual would then add details to the text and re-emphasize the contents of the text. With this method, the journalists and designers could show viewers different aspects of the story and provide complete coverage of the topic.
The series is listed under the New York Times’ “Sochi 2014” series, and this particular series is under the Interactive Stories section. If viewers were to have overlooked the text and title, they could realize the topic of the site with the introductory photographs and text on the site. Topic titles were bolded and were made to stand out to viewers, and each introductory photograph included the name of the sport the story covered.
The main page of the series was set on a white background, and this was an interesting and creative color choice. It was fitting for the subject matter, as the series is covering the winter sports. Once the viewer entered into a particular story, the color of the text altered between black and white, and the text was formatted to fit the image. The designers wanted the main attention to be on the visual aspects of the story, and the stunning visuals often took up the entire span of the webpage. This made me feel as though I was there with the athletes, and this technique provided a powerful experience. The scrolling design was also very effective, especially for sports that involve going down hills and slopes.
Also, many videos included graphics, and this was very interesting for the story. I would see the actual athlete performing a sport, and then the video would change to a graphical representation of the athlete. This allowed the viewer to gain a complete understanding of the techniques and artistry required for these sports, and I feel that this use of design added an interesting dimension to the story.
The design elements were simplistic, and I think this was intentional. With the simple design, the content can speak for itself. If the design were too complicated and flashy, the visuals would get lost in a sort of design overload. Finally, the simple design allowed the focus of the series and of individual stories to be clear and understandable.
The graphics are not too complicated and are easy to navigate, and the use of graphics provided a more in-depth description of the athletes’ techniques. Graphics and interactive graphics were used for figure skating, slalom and other sports similar in nature. The graphics also offered additional information about the top athletes in each sport and data about these athletes’ performances. This provided more details in the story and gave the viewer information about technique, accolades, and the main stakeholders in certain sports.
As someone who is not a sports enthusiast, I found this blog to be very informative. I scrolled through each story in the interactive series, and I found each to be visually breathtaking. I didn’t watch any of the Sochi 2014 Olympics when it aired, but I found myself being fascinated by the athletes’ uses of technique and their passion for their sports. The use of visuals made the story stand-out, and it provided a new dimension of storytelling when concerning the Olympics.
Link to original site: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/02/11/sports/sochi-2014-interactive-stories.html
January 26, 2015