Designing with Profiles Inspired by Inuit Art

There are many different approaches you can take when developing the content for a web site. An interesting article from User Interface Engineering describes a method inspired by the Inuit.

The Inuit create works of art that often resemble people, out of stones found near where they are making these statues. These markers can tell later viewers something about the place, or the builder’s experiences there.

Is that something that can help give us ideas which inspire us when we design? It’s inspiring me.

Reassuring Users with Inukshuk Content describes a university site that decided to show what a student’s experience might be like at their school by using more than 40 detailed profiles of people who may have been students, or are associated with the school in some manner.

I found the references to the Inuit and their art interesting enough to want to find out more…

This review of The Inuksuk Book does a nice job of brushing the surface. There are a number of different types of inuksuit described, including some that have sighting holes which can be used for navigation. By the way, inuksuit means “thing that can act in the place of a human being” according to the author of the book being reviewed.

There are many different kinds of inuksuit, each of a different shape and built for a different purpose. There are inuksuit that can show direction, tell about good hunting or fishing spots, show where food is stored, indicate a good and safe resting place, act as a message centre, warn of danger, store equipment, serve as a memorial to a loved one who has passed away, or even guide caribou to waiting hunters.

I can see how you might use this approach on a number of types of sites, beyond the pages of a university. Imagine a travel site selling cruise liner trips following the adventures of a family on a cruise, or a site specializing in deep sea fishing adventures showing the daily adventures of people on a corporate get-away.

In the UIE article, a site that educates visitors about the use of a specific drug to treat anemia does so with videos of people who have had the treatments.

How can you use inuksuit on a site that you are building?