Century of the Child: Growing by Design

In 1900, Swedish design reformer and social theorist Ellen Key predicted that the next 100 years would be “the century of the child.” A time in which modern design and modern childhood collide. Century of the Child: Growing by Design explores the past 100 years of this dynamic, interconnected relationship through interactive, multimedia storytelling.

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Upon first entering this kaleidoscope of graphics, the user is bit disoriented with no sign telling them were to start. There is no text (aside from a title) and no apparent order to the visual elements, but there is a clear division of sections, made obvious by the use of color.

As soon as the user’s mouse starts moving, they realize that what’s before them is a chronology of history, and with a few clicks they pick up on its organization. User navigation isn’t simple from that point on, it requires some attention, but that aspect contributes to the user’s engagement in the site and its content. It feels like a journey. An exploration.

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The use of photo, graphics, and text tell a story. The use of motion links these elements together, creating a timeline. The user must click arrows to move forward and backward on the timeline. Having the additional option of scrolling would add to the site’s ease of use. Contrastively, the user likely does not think to scroll down to find an explanation of the site and further information on its topic, but that is precisely what is required. Eliminating the need for this action would contribute to a more successful layout.

In exploring the site, the user begins to understand the relationship between modern design and modern childhood as predicted by Key. And in putting the site’s pieces together, the user will likely agree that yes, the 20th century was indeed the “Century of the Child.”

By Lauren Rundquist

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One thought on “Century of the Child: Growing by Design

  1. First of all, I liked that you used an example of web design that wasn’t from a news site. I think news organizations can look for examples outside of the industry to enhance design elements. As a concept, I really like the idea of a site that explores a unique kind of history. The MoMA can also present that history in a unique way. That being said, the navigation on this site was really disorienting to me. You mentioned in your post that the site was hard to figure out at first, and I agree. While I do agree that moving through the site feels like a journey (Maybe this feel was intended to convey a feeling of childhood), this is not a site I would personally stick with for long. The navigation is simply not intuitive enough for me, and I don’t care enough about the material to continue reading the information. The site would benefit from some sort of navigation bar or overview that explains in what order or how to navigate the page. This may just be my sleepy side talking, but this one makes me a little dizzy.

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