This essay will compare Usability and Accessibility issues related to the use of multimedia in the areas of museums, the ArtStart Kiosk at The National Gallery and British Museum's COMPASS Database, and BBC Online Broadcasting. Multimedia guides, software applications, organization of links and information, graphics format and style, navigation systems, screen resolutions, interface, browsing facilities, interactivities, communication access and user applications are the points by which this paper will discuss.
British Museum's COMPASS (Collections Multimedia Public Access System) and National Gallery's ArtStart Kiosk; are both database-driven multimedia guides to a selection the Museums' paintings or objects. Both systems provide users with electronic catalogues of pictures on the application using multimedia touch screen. The technology museums' system are user-friendly, such that visitors can use the technology even if they do not have previous experience of the collections by providing indexes as common terms and organized information. Organization comes in the form of links to collections of varied interests; virtual 'tours' of groups of objects in familiar themes; objects of the month from the Home page and thousands of links between the objects and to background information. The textual links however could create confusion to the graphical image links at the menu page. This confusion is also brought by lack of site map facility. Instead of a full site map browsing facility, the user can browse specific areas such as browsing paintings by A-Z Artist and paintings title at the ArtStart Kiosk.
With the BBC there is an alternative similar to a site map in which sitemap navigation is facilitated by 'A-Z Index'. This provides textual links in which the user can select from the alphabetical list, which page they want to navigate to. For example BBC Radio name and Series name.
With ArtStart Kiosk other navigation links include 'Today's events' and 'Highlights' which are some of the options at the Menu Page. Specific information links are also provided. The search function can be accessed from a textual link at the menu page. This however, limits the user to provide the accurate data or text for the search to be effective when using the search function. Therefore the search function mainly benefits users who know what they're looking for when searching for painting, object or artist name. Otherwise if the user enters inaccurate data or text; the search results wouldn't be effective.
In parts of the paintings, interactive hotspots are also available in which a small pop up screen appears which displays information about part of an area in the painting. It lists the detail, image and technique the Artist has used. Browsing is quickly facilitated by a 'cover flow' browsing facility. This involves displaying and browsing the image by year of painting in a dynamic flowing effective way. The images can be scrolled from left to