Website Review

The site I decided to review was yahadmap.org. Overall, I came to the conclusion that the site was very accessible and user friendly. When I arrived on yahadmap.org, I was greeted with a map of Central Europe. World War II and specifically the Holocaust was one of the deadliest events this world has ever seen. The interesting part about the Holocaust is that to this day, there is still new evidence and information being uncovered. The amount of lives lost is unmatched and is the reason why the Holocaust is still an ‘ongoing investigation.’ As a fan of history, wouldn’t one want to know when new execution sites are discovered? Thankfully, yahadmap.org offers this to its users. Complete with an interactive map, search bar, and profiles for each execution site that offer an in depth look into the findings.

   To begin, the map that is the main focal piece of the site, is also the most effective. Not only is it loaded with the blue and red dots that mark the execution sites of Jewish victims, but it also allows the user to zoom in and analyze the exact location. This feature helps user realize the proximity of the sites from each other and the surrounding area in which these events took place. This interactive map also allows users to enter into ‘Satellite view’ which visualizes the terrain around these locations. When hovering the mouse over these dots, the name of the village/town its associated with appears. This helps the user who only wants to view the names of the locations without clicking on the dot to read the entire story. The size of the dots also signifies the amount of victims at the respected location; smaller meaning less and bigger meaning large amounts. The red dots are locations that have been identified and complete with a profile while the blue dots are confirmed locations with little to no historical information yet to be discovered. For a user that is not particularly concerned with the interactive map, there is a small icon below ‘Satellite mode’. This icon will take you to the website’s ‘media wall’, this transforms the interactive map into a wall of pictures and videos that are pulled from each execution site. When the user hovers their mouse over the picture/video, they are greeted with a caption of the pictured location or name of the person in the image. This feature could also be accessed as a shortcut for the users. Instead of browsing through all of the red dots on the map trying to find an interesting site, they could easily direct themselves to the media wall and base their search off of the media that interests them on the ‘Media wall’. Although there is no social media integration on this website, the developers created a hot link in the top right of the page that takes the user to the host site. After further research, it’s been found that this organization focuses solely on the Holocaust and the execution sites. The organization’s main goal is to uncover the silence that has taken over the topic of the Holocaust. They aim to gather eyewitness information and continue to gather evidence of more execution sites. Overall, Yahad- In Unum hopes to eradicate the chance of another tragic event like the Holocaust to occur again by investigating, educating, and engaging.

After clicking on one of the markers, the user is brought another page with in depth information on the execution site. The packages of information for every marker are extremely multimodal, including videos, pictures, and in-dept texting including quotes. The pictures are accompanied with captions to help briefly explain who the person is in the photo, or the significance of the location photographed. The facts included in the information page is what the execution site was before, if it includes memorials, how long it was an execution site, and the number of victims. On top of that, every site includes an interview from a witness in both text and video form. An interesting addition to these pages are the archives from Germany, Poland, and Russia. These archives are pulled straight from many trials against the Germans for crimes against humanity. To help the user put the history into perspective, the website also includes a historical note and a summary of events taking place around that area.

This website not only includes an interactive map, but is also an archive as well. The users accessibility to the map enhances their experience while also making it easier to navigate. It allows the user to free roam around eastern Europe finding a location, and it also includes a search for those know what execution site they’re looking for or what country it’s in. After clicking on a dot representing an execution site, the user is flooded with loads of information about that site, what took place there, and how long it was in use. For the user that enjoys or even require primary sources, the information includes eye witness interviews and archives straight from the trials against Germany. The photos and videos also included enhance the experience by allowing the user to visualize and listen to survivors about their experience. As a newcomer to the site, one would quickly realize this site would be considered user-friendly and fun to navigate. 

After surfing around the different locations and tabs in the drop down menu, I concluded that this website makes a depressing history lesson fun by the experience it provides with the interactive map, various modes of media, and the influx of information provided. While this site would be beneficial for use by many different types of users, the one group that would not enjoy the same experience would be blind people. The interactive map would be difficult to navigate as there are almost 1500 locations throughout eastern Europe, many of which are spread out. Unless the user knows the country or name of the site he/she are looking for, the map is useless. The search bar allows these blind users to at least find their location, depending on if they know the name of it or not. Once they reach the profile, the videos and images would not be beneficial but they could engage in the text below with a text reader. Blind users miss out on the multimodality of the site along with the interactive map, but can still enjoy basic use of the site by learning the information associated with the different locations that have been identified. 

The creators of the site used the medium perfectly. The interactive map engages users by allowing them to look at where the site was and what nearby locations can be referenced to it. This compared to a website only offering a list of each execution site underneath its respective country. That method takes away from the location aspect and someone with no knowledge of eastern Europe would learn nothing from only seeing the names of the towns the sites were located in. Aside from the map, the videos and pictures that are included in the profiles help the user understand the emotion and impact these events had on survivors and even eyewitnesses, things that regular text cannot capture. When it comes to user experience and accessibility, yahadmap.org goes above and beyond on giving the user a stress free experience. The fluidity of the map and clarity of it gives the user the full ability to explore eastern Europe. The search bars that include a full text search, and by village are key tools for having mobility in one’s website. Aside from total clarity, the information in the modes of text, visual, and audio are one of a kind. The information found in this database/website are some that won’t be found in other locations. The primary sources add an element to this domain that other history websites do not possess.  Overall, a user with no knowledge ofthe Holocaust and the execution sites can utilize this website and learn about a variety of execution sites without having to worry about navigating the website; which is every web developers goal.   

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