Kiki’s Report on the Websites “BBC 10 WWI Inventions” and “BBC Facial Reconstruction”

For my website reconnaissance, I was given the task of reviewing two World War I websites–  or more specifically, one BBC article and one BBC interactive guide on World War 1.

The first site was “BBC 10 WWI Inventions,” consisting of a list-article by Stephen Evans. The article goes over various inventions that emerged during or around the war period, and how the war promoted their success. This includes but is not limited to the wristwatch, tea bags, stainless steel, and Daylight Savings Time. Overall, the article clearly delivers it’s points, and does so with a hint of humor that keeps the reader more engaged than the average textbook would. It is interesting to see what inventions came about because the war demanded it, or were simply a side effect of the war on the rest of the world. For example, wristwatches came into prominence because pocket watches were inconvenient to pull out in battle. If I had to determine any kind of weakness in the article site, it would be in its simplicity. No matter how entertaining it is to read, you can’t get past the fact it’s just a list, and the information presented is pretty short. I think it could have benefited from more in-depth information, with more examples of war-influenced progress. Additionally, the web page itself is sparse – white space and black text- and there are few photos of the actual inventions presented. The article mostly uses pictures of their modern counterparts, and couple that with the lack of design, it all appears lazy.  

The second site I was presented with was “BBC Facial Reconstruction.” The guide goes on to describe how, during WWI, it was not uncommon for men to be disfigured by flying shrapnel. With help from a doctor named Harold Guiles, facial reconstruction became a vital part of healing after the war for soldiers, even if the method took some time to perfect. The information provided is clear, concise, and honest, as history should be. It doesn’t just note the successes, but also the failures– just because a man’s face was fixed didn’t mean there weren’t psychological scars. At the same time, the setup of the website is done extremely well– there are tabs at the top of the page that allow readers to easily skip to certain parts of the guide, making for easier navigation. Additionally, each part is accompanied with a supplemental video that provides more information for the reader should they desire it. And unlike the previous article, there are helpful images provided– photos of men whose faces were damaged, and while graphic in nature, they do accentuate the text. To top it all off, the bottom of the page provides additional links to related guides and articles, such as how the war drove the field of plastic surgery. The website is inclusive, easy to explore, and provides multiple methods of acquiring information. The only visible weakness is that aside for the video links, there are no warnings about the graphic images used. While they are an excellent addition to their sections, there are individuals who would find them distressing. A visitor to the site should have better forewarning going in.

In conclusion, these two sites are decent sources of specific WWI information with relatively minor weaknesses. They are suited for those interested in these topics.

Word Count: 554
I pledge: Kiaran Pethokoukis

Meaghan’s Report on the website ‘First World War: Explore our Stories.’

    With an eye capturing, easy to navigate home page, the IWM’s website ‘First World War: Explore our Stories’ is both informative and audience friendly. With a surplus of information associated with various topics, this website is an excellent tool for people doing research on WW1. There are ways the website could be improved, which will be discussed later on in the review, but overall it is a strong source. 

     The material on this website allows for a multifaceted approach to research. With information presented as written posts, videos, and photos, it creates an eviornment that allows individual users to access information in a way that is most beneficial to them. The information ranges from social issues that were occuring at the time, propaganda, gender roles in war, fighting techniques, and more. This allows users to gain a broad spectrum understanding of the war, which is beneficial as a form of introduction but leads to a disadvantage for anyone trying to develop a substantially deeper understanding.

     In a stacked layout, from the moment they access the website, users are met with the most crucial of information. First there is the search bar in plain sight, which enables viewers to immediately search for the material they are seeking. Essentially right below are some of the feature posts: with photos above the text, this section of the home page draws the eyes of users almost instantaneously. Along with glimpses into these three posts, there is a button that says “Discover more” and leads to a page of material that will be discussed later on. After that, there is another search section for “collections” that exist on the website. The finally part of the stacked layout is the information about the IWM organization: the placement of this material was smart because it is easily accessible, but not overwhelming or prominent. Viewers are given the opportunity to first observe the historical material on the website, and then if they choose to, they can obtain the material about IWM.  

     After the homepage, the next main section worthy of review, is the aforementioned page that users are redirected to when they press the “Discover more”. The aesthetic of this page is not as strong as the homepage view, but it is a useful page in terms of content. One unique, and positive, feature I noticed right away about this page was the filter option it provided. With general options such as “First World War”, “Women in War,”, “Home front”, and the list goes on. The accessibility of these filters provides an easy process for members to follow in order to be able to quickly narrow down their options.

     The same search filter that was talked about above, also serves as a double edged sword for the website. While it helps in terms of narrowing down the content, from an aesthetic standpoint it is not appealing and how it is laid out results in a lot of white space at the top of this webpage. While a comment on appeal should not outweigh the type of content on a website, appeal plays a role in influencing readers whether they was to continue using the website or if they should get off it, Also, while the filters alleviate some of the clutter, the amount of content on this page borders on overwhelming.

     I feel like this website is a good tool to develop a basis of understanding on World War One. Because it offers various topics, from aspects of the homefront, to the trenches, to propaganda, etc., it enables users to quickly find information about the war on multiple levels. It does a good job at presenting an overarching analysis of the environment created by the war, but the sheer number of posts on it limits the depth of the material. For anyone interested in taking a closer link to the website, check out the link below!

I pledge, Meaghan McIntyre

Rachel’s Report on the website “The Great War UK National Archives”

At first sight this website looks pretty sketchy. There is no scrolling down like normal webpages and there is a decent amount of empty space; however, this website is jam packed with information on WWI. It is built with students, teachers, and school projects in mind. This website has information on every basic question about WWI from start to finish and provides background information and numerous resources. This website is a fantastic resource with several functions. It could be used by teachers to guide lesson plans and give ample information about WWI, it could be used by students without the instruction of a teacher to learn about WWI, or it could be used as a goldmine for primary and secondary sources.
This website’s strengths are:

  • This website contains numerous useful sources for projects and papers.
  • There are clear and concise blurbs for every new page of the website.
  • It is easy to understand language wise.
  • It is easy to navigate the website.
  • It has prompts and critical questions for every aspect of The Great War that it has information about.
  • This website gives “how to use this source” information and questions with every source.
  • It has detailed background information.
  • It has extensive and detailed information about the soldiers’ experiences.
  • The website never overwhelms viewer with words on a page or too many options.
  • This website contains printable worksheets to help understand and critically think about WWI.
  • This site never speculates or shares opinions, but prompts viewers to come up with their own opinions.
  •  Fun facts are displayed on the home page and a new one appears every time you return to the home page.

This website’s weaknesses are:

  • This website contains links to other websites about how WWI is remembered today that are out of date.
  • The language used leads me to believe that this website may be in need of an update.
  • I would not say this website is inviting appearance wise at first glance.
  • Some primary and secondary resources can be difficult to read due to faint ink or photocopying.
  • Sometimes new pages on the website load very slowly (this may just be school wifi).
  • There is not much information on public perspective or any perspective other than the soldiers, commanders, and a minimal amount on the political point of view, which is mostly in the background information.

Overall, this website is best suited for those just starting to learn about The Great War. It can be used to construct lesson plans or be used as the lesson plans themselves. It can be a useful source for primary and secondary resources in a research paper, group project, or essay. There is so much information on this website, as long as there is no need for multiple perspectives in your essay or paper, this is the only resource you would need since it contains so much information and so many primary sources. I do not think this website is the most helpful for our class specifically, because it is more of an overall lesson on the events and causes of The Great War when our class focuses more on specific books. I do think it is a good resource for those who can not for the life of them remember anything about WWI from their history class or who want more detailed information on specifics like trenches.
I pledge,

Rachel Franklin