Second – the ballet site

My second assignment is to compare the different design phases of one website and decide whether the change was for the better. I chose the web site of the Korea National Ballet because I do not read Korean, so the letters and the text do not make any meaning to me. For me they form part of the graphic design instead of conveying meaning. Hence, my examination cannot include assumptions about how the design serves as a medium of a message. It focuses on its arrangement, the way it guides my eye, and the overall sense of the site it communicates.

The first design I looked at is from November 2000. http://web.archive.org/web/200011090553/http://www.kballet.org/

Back then the background was black, there was a logo on the left upper hand corner, and mainly pictures dominated the site. A quasi frame divided the center part from the header and the footer and all the pages of the site were designed like this. In the header the title “Ticket” was in English also in the Korean version. In a larger button white an orange, “What’s new” was the visually most striking button. Apparently, then, the most important was to update the potential audience on what the company was doing and not straightforward marketing.

http://web.archive.org/web/20020401031946/http://www.kballet.org/

By 2002 a new design took over. Apparently very little pictures (as much as I can download the site). Instead, much text on white background. The logo is still in the left upper hand corner, but in the header there is only Q&A, Site map, and a logo for contact. The white quasi-frame disappeared, instead there is a horizontal bar that allows to enter the different pages of the site. Whereas the titles are in Korean, when scrolling the mouse through, they change to English. Under “Notice” – in English on the Korean version – a list of dates with explanation in Korean. There is a calendar below it, still in the middle of the page. There is a link to quizzes and to a Gallery, which judging from logos, includes both visuals and sound. The site became more interactive and less static. It allows more “KNB-experience” through the web, but offers less insight to the performances.

http://web.archive.org/web/20070427231057/http://www.kballet.org/

In 2007 the background remained the same white, and everything else changed. Excluding the upper bar where visitors can also log in, the site is divided into five stripes. A bar with Korean titles, each is scrollable. Then comes a vertically divided stripe. One after the other automatically or as the mouse goes through it becomes wider. Then come static pictures from the performances, which are almost in the middle. Below it each stripe is divided into two columns. News and Notice is on the left and Quick menu with English typos on the right (instead of Dancers, one can click on the button Dacers.) Last but not least ticketing and if I am not mistaken a link to a map are on the bottom. This is a much simpler and compressed look. The arrangement however, makes it more straightforward and seems not to balance between marketing the shows and informing about the company.

Today the site www.kballet.org/index.asp has a white background and differently colored rectangles for the different headlines. It has links to the social network sites as well. On the left hand there is the title and the dates of the upcoming premiere. The color choice of the rectangles support the hierarchy of importance: the coming up premier is the most accentuated. Within this rectangle there are two buttons: Ticketing and Information in different shades of the rectangle’s lilac color. Below is the picture of the choreographer. There is a rectangle to see videos or pictures but it does not work. Season Program and Notice are the other two big rectangles.

The site is much cleaner and more neutral as well. It suggests that the company fashions itself as an established, prestigious classical ballet company. Its elegant lines and clarity makes it easily approachable for those visitors who are familiar with the universe of classical ballet. Since no visuals are displayed in the rectangle dedicated to them, first visitors need to spend more time on the site in order to have any understanding about the company and their productions. If I need to evaluate whether it is better or worse than the previous sites, I remain puzzled. It better serves the presentation of a brand than narrates what the company is doing, like the previous sites did. It is definitely smarter, but I do not know if this is intentional and why the owners of the site decided to communicate such an image.

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  1. I like that you chose a site that wasn’t in English. Very cool idea!

    • Thank you, Emily. I read about your stay in NYC. Your design kind of connected to my NYC – image, or one of the images I have of the city. Nice touch.

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