Interactive Website: Queensland Remembers
In honour of Remembrance Day this year, we launched Queensland Remembers.
The idea was simple: create a digital reflection pool filled with floating poppies dedicated to those who served. Every poppy that floats by has been created by someone with a personal story about Remembrance Day - stories that we invite you to share as you explore the site.
In designing the actual look of the poppies, we went through a few iterations. At first, we started out with the idea of recreating an origami poppy. We loved the idea of writing a message on the paper and then folding it into a poppy for someone else to unfold. Plus, the interaction of folding digital poppies created the perfect atmosphere of reflective contemplation.
The final poppy design, however, does not feature origami poppies. The reason why relates to the real-world Queensland Remembers campaign. In the lead up to remembrance day, people all around Queensland created real poppies with messages inside that were then collected and transformed into a huge public art installation.
Since our website was meant to be a digital extension of this real-world installation, it made sense that our poppies should look more like the physical ones. The resulting curved poppy design aligns more closely with the offline Remembrance Day activities, while the numerous layered petals give a sense of depth and tangibility that was admittedly missing in the origami versions.
If you decide to dedicate your own poppy, you’ll notice that there are two options: select a pre-filled dedication, or personalise your own message. This was a very deliberate (much iterated) choice that deals with one of the site’s fundamental design problems: the potential paralysis caused by customisation.
In an ideal world, all poppies contributed to the site would contain a personalised dedication. These kinds of unique, diverse messages create a much more meaningful experience. But forcing customisation risks users becoming paralysed by the need to write a message of their own and backing out of the creation process entirely. Pre-filled messages were our way of helping to alleviate this paralysis.
While pre-filled poppies aid in the creation process, these generic responses are somewhat of a hindrance to the other main mode of the website: exploration. Customised, personal stories are much more interesting than generic, pre-filled messages. So we created a ranking algorithm that would prioritise personalised poppies within the overall stream.
The reflection pool behind the poppies is where a lot of the contemplative atmosphere of the site comes from. The flowing water mechanic, complete with realistic water ripples, allows users to have “one free interaction” whereby they can interact with the water and poppies for no other reason than because it is delightful to do so.
The colour contrast between the reflection pool and the poppies is also a distinctive feature of the site. While we did experiment with a lighter colour direction, giving the pool darker tones gave much more contrast to the poppies, lifting the vibrant red into the foreground.
During the month-long Queensland Remembers campaign around Remembrance Day 2018, over 1,300 poppies were created and submitted to the website. This included two VIP submissions from the Premier of Queensland and the Governor of Queensland. The project was also featured on Channel 7.