Archive.org homepage & icons to lead to search results

Archive.org is an internet archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more. I have used it in many of my own personal projects to collect video footage, images, or audio from dated time periods or to be able to have content that I can edit and manipulate without worrying about copyright infringement or the need to make my own. Overall, I feel as though the interface is decent, but could be optimized to make access to specific parts easier. What the interface does well is the use of icons and buttons with pictures identifying the categories within. Throughout the site thumbnails are used to display and mark out categories and specific content.

There are fairly clear image thumbnails on each video, photo, or audio clip help distinguish the content apart from the titles. This is helpful when such a large variety of content is being compiled and sorted through by the user. Black and white film can be easily distinguished, finding iconic clips from Cheers or Bugs Bunny. However, this could also be the downfall of the site. The sheer amount of categories coupled with the sub categories beneath them can become very overwhelming and the options to specify your search on the left side of the screen are just as large, making even specifying what you want to find a task in itself. An example of this can be seen when searching for American literature. Right on the homepage is category American libraries, and beneath that is the library of almost every university in the United States that is available. If one wants to find a specific reading from a specific author the website gives you multiple options of the same reading from different libraries; including the university libraries, which becomes a very complicated search for one reading.

The thumbnails are also not consistent in their arrangement, sizing, or categorization. Beyond the way that archive arranges their library the options for the user to specify their search in so numerous that it also becomes difficult to use. The majority of the time when the search bar is used the user does not find exactly what they were looking for. Within the Prelinger archive, which is a specific archive to look for videos derived from old film, typing “animation” into the search bar yields results that include options beyond just animation.

Whatever system is in place to categorize and hashtag the content is either not specific enough, or the amount of specific content is assigned too many hashtags to make searches more streamlined. Because of this, users are turned off from wanting to use Archive.com as a whole, or using it to find very specific content. The default organizational pattern for all the content is by number of views, which makes the top video an old film about Bananas, most likely because it is always the top option and is repeatedly clicked on first by many first time users. It has very little relevance or importance to many users searches, and there are easily other options that Archive could use as their default organizational choices. The content could be arranged by publication date, being that the prelinger archive is made up of old film. It could also easily be arranged alphabetically by the name of the films, or the production companies of those films, and determined even further from there. Thumbnails for all content can be made the same size, and stacked horizontally across the phrase, with emphasis on the title of the media, and placed in their own folders respectively. Archive could easily adopt a drop down menu system, where content can be organized into its specific folders even further without having the cluttered, overwhelming look it currently has. I personally feel as though Archive.com has a solid foundation for its interface, being conscious of the huge variety of media they have to present and catalogue, as well as audiences they would be serving. They provide many choices in an attempt to optimize the search of the user through such a large archive, to the point that it would become easily mind-boggling and confusing to the layman. As an archival database, they could use a better, simplified, and clear cut organizational system, with commonly known default settings and user friendly options that allow for the presentation of their archive to be more refined and less overwhelming.