Evolution of a Timeline

We recently completed a project for the National Library of Medicine called Native Voices. The project prominently features an interactive timeline that charts the history of Native peoples’ healing traditions. The time-line however, became more of a time-circle, and had an interesting evolution in the design process.

During the conceptual phase of the project, we were thinking of graphical and navigational motifs that represented how many native cultures kept track of time, historically speaking; knotted ropes, beads, and chains. As we learned more about the subject of Native history, we learned that some Native cultures think about time, not as a linear event, but as cyclical. It occurred to us that we could take this philosophy and apply it graphically. We evolved the idea of ropes and chains into circles representing distinct historical eras, thereby implying the cyclical nature of time.

The final design is a somewhat unorthodox representation of time, but hopefully it will subtly convey an underlying message to visitors. Here’s a slideshow of how the design evolved from sketch to schematic to wireframe and finally to design comps.

—Chris DeWan, Art Director + Lead Interaction Designer

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