Taking Mendeleyev’s correspondence course
Interface design lessons from the periodic table of the elements
Through an examination of the organizational principles behind a highly successful visual information design employing rich prospect – Mendeleyev’s periodic table of the elements – this paper provides a set of principles for designers interested in creating tools for use in association with rich-prospect browsing interfaces. These principles emphasise the value of simultaneous structures visualized across the full range of available information, and include: the establishment of multiple matrices for pattern-finding, compression and inclusion, provision of a legend or key to the system, and the creation of potentially productive negative spaces. Interface strategies based on Mendeleyevian principles should be particularly useful for accessing large bodies of digital documents such as those often found in the humanities, maximizing the preretrieval research potential of a collection.
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