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A comparison of “kids” sections in Aquarium websites. Maddalena Crudeli. Lingua Inglese c.p. A.A. 2005/06.

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a comparison of kids sections in aquarium websites

A comparison of “kids” sections in Aquarium websites

Maddalena Crudeli

Lingua Inglese c.p. A.A. 2005/06

The websites of these big aquariums enable a cyber-viewer to admire the enormous biodiversity of our oceans, and are an insight on mankind’s effort to save many endangered species that live in the sea world.
different approaches towards a kid s world
Different approaches towards a kid’s world

Indirect approach

Direct approach

new york aquarium
New York Aquarium

Realistic visual modality.

Dynamic picture.

In the kids section there are many programs for guided tours and activities.

On the homepage the kid is a spectator, with a teacher/parent next to him.

Verbal approach: teachers and parents are the targets.

virginia marine science museum
Virginia Marine Science Museum

Dynamic picture and caption.

Realistic visual modality.

Use of the sound of the sea in the background.

Kids as spectators again on the homepage.

A whole section only for teachers.

three relevant parameters
Three relevant parameters:
  • Pathway from the home page to the “kids” section
  • “Activities” sub-section
  • Interpersonal level (relationship with the viewer)
what is a hypertext pathway
What is a hypertext pathway?
  • A hypertext pathway collects different semiotic modalities and genres, activities and meanings along the meaning-making trajectory created when users of websites create links from one web page to another.
  • The trajectory is the trace of the progressive integration over time of the meaning-making resources that the user encounters.

(Baldry,Thibault 2006)

pathway new england aquarium
PathwayNew England Aquarium

The word “learning” tells the user to start his pathway towards the kids section here. Intertextual previous knowledge.

Marine life icons

The site’s target is also a young viewer.

Ocean blue background

1 pathway new england aquarium
1) PathwayNew England Aquarium

By rolling the mouse over the “for kids” item, a thematic expansion appears.

1 pathway new england aquarium1
1) PathwayNew England Aquarium

Abstract approach of verbal menu.

The text encourages kids to make questions.

Creative text font.

See-for-yourself approach of visual cartoon-like menu.

1 pathway new england aquarium2
1) PathwayNew England Aquarium

Pathway to “teenagers” section

Text and photos: realistic approach

pathway monterey bay aquarium
PathwayMonterey Bay Aquarium

By rolling the mouse over the“Teachers and Kids” link a sub-text pops up which is a thematic expansion.

Terms concern education.

Marine life and Ocean blue background.

Concise organization of information, using icons and verbal captions.

1 pathway monterey bay aquarium
1) PathwayMonterey Bay Aquarium

Cartoon-like icon attracts the younger kid’s attention.

Teacher’s and kid’s sections are both visible on the screen.

A set of items made up of dynamic and cromatic visual elements and corresponding verbal captions and links, which invite the viewer to explore.Different activities for teenagers.

2 activities sub section new england aquarium
2) “Activities” sub-sectionNew England Aquarium

Text is an explicit invitation to explore.

Visual metaphor menu instead of a verbal one. Paradigmatyc reading path.

Dynamic elements on mouse roll over.

Cartoon-like. Tridimensionality.

2 activities sub section new england aquarium1
2) “Activities” sub-sectionNew England Aquarium

This section encourages an active attitude.

Hands-on approach.

2 activities sub section monterey bay aquarium
2) “Activities” sub-sectionMonterey Bay Aquarium

Paradigmatic reading path: the viewer has the possibility to choose different features from a set of items made up of visual and verbal elements.

Cartoon-like icons contain dynamic elements, which encourage web-surfing.

2 activities sub section monterey bay aquarium1
2) “Activities” sub-sectionMonterey Bay Aquarium

All sections are divided in age groups.

Music activities include downloading.

2 activities sub section monterey bay aquarium2
2) “Activities” sub-section Monterey Bay Aquarium

Text and cartoon-like pictures encourage an active attitude.

Child-like drawing.

2 activities sub section monterey bay aquarium3
2) “Activities” sub-section Monterey Bay Aquarium

Bright colours and the big crayon are visual metaphors of the colouring-in activity.

3 interpersonal appeal
3) Interpersonal appeal

Cartoon-like genre

Use of cartoon-like genre appeals to the sense of fun and enjoyment of the young viewer.


Use of colours as a semiotic resource attracts the eye of the viewer and contributes to create a playful environment.

Creative font and language

Use of creative font and direct languageproduces a friendly andreadable text.

3 interpersonal appeal1
3) Interpersonal appeal

Dynamic elements

The autonomous visual changes in some elements on the page and the modification by mouse rollover of other features both show the object’s interactive potential and engage the viewer’s attention towards specific thematic domains that can be activated by clicking on these objects.

Covariate ties (Lemke, 1985): trasformed images share some features in common with each other. Because of this similarity they are members of a more general class of clickable objects with interactive and thematic potential.

3 interpersonal appeal2
3) Interpersonal appeal

All of these features are made to create a positive interpersonal response from the viewer.

3 interpersonal appeal new england aquarium
3) Interpersonal appealNew England Aquarium

Use of cartoon-like pictures and speech bubbles represents an interpersonal approach to a special audience: children.

This is an example of an interactive game, which gives kids the possibility to move the penguin. The movement is accompanied by the penguin sound and a speech bubble.

3 interpersonal appeal monterey bay aquarium
3) Interpersonal appealMonterey Bay Aquarium

On mouse roll over the picture on the book cover moves.

Cartoon-like icons.

Bright colours.

contexts of application
Contexts of application
  • Promote the use of internet in primary schools.
  • Introduce a kids section in other websites, like art and nature ones, to encourage young learners.