Obviously, the most prominent aspect of the interface for transcribing documents is the layout for the document and transcription windows themselves, yet it was one I initially didn’t give much thought too. Our first design incorporated the look some other transcription sites have incorporated placing the document viewer and editing window side by side. This seems like a natural design, mimicking what most of us would likely do if transcribing a physical document (with the document on our left and the transcription surface on our right).
Tool Interface Design
However, one of the advantages we have here on the Papers of the War Department project is a staff of people familiar with viewing the documents and gleaning information from them. When we presented the initial design, the PWD team raised the possibility of presenting the windows in a vertical layout, with the document appearing above the transcription window.
This layout offered one great advantage over the side by side scheme, allowing us to stretch the document viewer vertically. This was key for the transcribers who generally zoom in on a line or a portion of a line (much the way our eye does when reading). There is less of a need to see the document in its entirety, so a short vertical area is acceptable.
Additionally, this also uses less space for the editing window, opening up the page for links to the fullsize image, the page list for the document, and any metadata we may eventually want to include down the road. The primary focus will be on providing the largest possible viewport for the document image.
This interface will be tested over the next week or so, along with the registration/login process, as well as a few other facets. We’ll iterate another design based on that feedback for another round of testing with the hope of presenting a seamless, easy to use product for our transcribers.