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Evolving the Glass House Conversations Online

Derek Chan, part of the Glass House team, recently stopped to talk with us about the team’s progress on the Glass House Conversations:

With the team going through the information architecture phase of the project, the revised direction we went with, which took elements from both earlier conceptual directions, “The Exchange” and “The Table”, became the students’ focus for a few weeks. As we delved more deeply in the architecture, we ensured throughout our process that the concept of the site remained easily recognizable, while also providing key structural elements that could help support it for returning and new visitors.The team explored multiple rounds of wireframe designs and discussion. As the site evolved through this phase, we were also thinking of how the site would function on a day-to-day basis. We debated questions such as, how users would interact with our conversation model, what role past participants at the Glass House would have, and how technology would drive all of our proposed functionality in a scalable way. All of these questions and concerns were eventually rectified as we pointed at the essence of the site – what is a conversation, and what does it mean to have one? Ultimately, a lot of the complications faded as we thought about this some more, because as great as a lot of our ideas were, many seemed to have gotten in the way of just having a simple conversation.Originally, we had taken “The Table” direction’s idea of hosting three conversations at once, each on a different timer. The big change was that we ended up simplifying things by just hosting one conversation at a time, (which was similar to “the Exchange’s” conversation model). The one question a week became our new core component to the website, and soon after, the design of all other pages fell into place to support it.We explored different ways to experience a conversation. The simplicity of the one-conversation-a-week model afforded us to experiment with new methods of displaying that conversation. We ended up with three models: the free-form conversation, the debate model, and the video conversation. Each of these models had their own unique visual metaphor and functional elements, but with enough consistency amongst each other to remain true to the website concept.The production of all subsequent sub-pages happened over the course of the next week after the decision was made to go with the one-conversation-a-week model. The team is in the Design phase, creating visual compositions of the Glass House Conversations site.

Wireframe sketch for a Glass House Conversation homepage, demonstrating an active and past conversations.

Wireframe sketch for a Glass House Conversation homepage, demonstrating an active and past conversations.

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