Landscape metaphor for navigating information spaces

Bookmark Archipelago

I started designing a prototype of my ideas focusing on a single type of objects, web bookmarks (favourite sites).
I think that existing bookmarking systems have many lacks and most of the problems that come in organizing bookmarks can be extended to other type of files.
Since Internet pages are multimedia documents, bookmarks refers to many type of objects: texts, images, sounds, videos.
The system I’m building can be easily scaled to organize other types of objects such as pictures, texts, contacts.
My application is developed in Flash, it will be possible to use it on-line in common browsers or as a stand-alone application.
The possibility of testing the application on-line (huge audience) is of great importance to analyze the system usability thanks to many case studies.

sketchesBookmark Archipelago early sketches. Folders are replaced by islands, all the content lays on the same plane, there’s no folders sub-folders hierarchy. Different levels of information are accessible zooming-in as in electronic maps softwares.

Using metaphors in Interface Design can be a good starting point but what is more important is having a good conceptual model (Donald Norman, The Invisible Computer).
Instead of thinking how to bind all the aspects of the interface to the map metaphor I concentrated more on features and details that could make the system more useful and usable.

Archipelago sketches

As the interface took shape the map metaphor started fading.
Other metaphors can be used (honeycomb, universe).
however I believe the comparison between bookmark groups and islands is still useful for better understanding how to use and what to expect from the application. Meanwhile It supplies a language for referring to different elements of the system: the single bookmark is a tile that can form an island when grouped with other tiles; the empty space between islands is the sea; the whole space is an archipelago of islands.
Great importance is given to the process of rearraging bookmarks based on the everchanging needs of categorizing and ordering; that process can be compared to the Continental drift and the continuos continents motion.

Archipelago sketches

Start the interactive demo, use the mouse scrollwheel or keyboard arrows to zoom.

Bookmark Archipelago interactive demo