Thematic: Design & Modes of Communication

Thematic’s design is very simple, sleek (no surprise, thanks to its creators all being expert designers), and easy to navigate. In addition to its main Welcome page where users can sign in or create an account, some of its other main pages include “Explore,” “Search,” “Team,” “Help,” “Contact,” “Terms of Use,” “Profile,” and “Settings.”

The “Explore” page (see screenshot below) is one of Thematic’s main and most useful features. “Explore” lets users view stories created by other people using Thematic. The “Explore” page even includes different categories including Architecture, Art & Design, Entertainment, Fashion, Photography, Sports, Travel, and many more.

Thematic Explore Page

In addition to the “Explore” page providing categories for finding stories, Thematic also offers the “Search” option, where viewers have the option to search keywords for stories or search for friends and other users to follow.

Thematic Search Option

At the bottom of Thematic in its footer, users can find links to the “Team,” “Help,” “Contact,” and “Terms of Use” pages. Both the “Contact” and “Terms of Use” links are meant more to serve as logistic and legal information pages, providing an email address when clicking the “Contact” link and a copy of the legal policies and rules of Thematic when clicking the “Terms of Use” link. Additionally, the “Team” page displays photos and paragraphs of information about the creators of Thematic, while its “Help” page (see screenshot below) answers questions and provides advice for uploading photos, design tips, and tech tips. There is even an additional email address on the page for users to seek out further help or give their own suggestions to improve Thematic.

Thematic Help Page

Similar to Instagram and other social networks, Thematic also includes user “Profile” and “Settings” pages, which you can see in the following screenshot. On the “Profile” page, users are able to change their profile pictures, add background header images, and write a small description for their profile. In addition, this is where users can view who they are following and who is following them. The “Settings” page, on the other hand, is very basic and simply provides a place for changing one’s username, email, or password.

My Profile

Overall, the design of the Thematic is very successful in its organization. Like I touched on earlier, the authors use center alignment in its footer to group together pages and content that would help the users to understand how to use the tool. They keep their Thematic logo in the top left hand corner on all pages, helping to establish to users what tool they are using, and use right justification for all other frequently used pages such as “Search,” “Explore,” and “Me,” which includes the dropdown window with “My Profile,” Settings,” and “Sign Out.”

The colors choices that the authors use create nice contrast, using a white background on all pages, with orange and black as the accent colors, and the preview images of stories scattered throughout the rest of the page adding further color. The biggest items on any page are always related to stories and the preview images of other users’ stories, showing a clear emphasis of the main purpose of Thematic, which, of course, is to create a story with photographs and take viewers on a journey. Also, the proximity in which the authors group elements, titles, and navigation is very spaced out, which seems to work in Thematic’s favor to not overwhelm its visitors and to keep the site simple. Everything on the site, from the stories to the profiles, are easily accessible and navigated.

In addition to its design, Thematic utilizes 4 out of the 5 Modes of Communication. Not surprisingly, the main mode that Thematic focuses on is visual; however, it also incorporates the gestural, spatial, and linguistic modes. The only Mode of Communication that Thematic lacks is aural, as it does not look to include any sound on its interface or in the creation of user stories.

As its already been discussed, as a successful tool and interface, Thematic is completely driven and reliant on the use of photos and images. Thematic really has no purpose without the visual Mode of Communication. Additionally, the gestural Mode of Communication comes into play as users move around through the interface itself, as well as moving around and viewing stories. To view a story, users scroll down and move from photo to photo. The spatial mode is put into action as users create their stories, deciding what order they wish their images to appear in and how they want to arrange titles or text on the screen. Finally, the linguistic mode is critical when users are determining what exact titles, subtitles, or text to include on their stories in order to move their stories forward and create further meaning.

Of course, the authors of Thematic also had to take into account all these Modes of Communication (visual, gestural, spatial, and linguistic) when determining how they wanted their interface to look, what information would be included, and how the information and tool would organized in order perform at the highest and best functioning level.

Now that you have a better grasp for the design and feel of Thematic, let’s continue on to examine some of the affordances and constraints of using the interface.

Previous: Overview — Next: Affordances & Constraints

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