Fern is Koya Bound (Ikra)

Website Analysis From An Admirer

Website: Koya Bound

Who is/are the author(s) of the page? Craig Mod & Dan Rubin, two photographers who hiked the Kumano Kodo for eight days in Japan. Mod is also a writer and Rubin a designer. Many patrons supported the website, the long list of names listed at the bottom of the site.

Who is the intended audience? Fellows travelers, hikers, and those more interested in learning about the Kumano Kodo or treks in general. 

What kind of information is the site providing? It provides information on the days, sites, experience and details of walking the Kumano Kodo (a journeyer’s handbook of sorts, but more personalized). It is also embedded with some cultural/historical background and visual imagery of the trek.

Is the design of the site well suited for the chosen content, functions, and audience? That is, is it easy for the user to navigate, search, and find answers? How so, how not so? On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give the site a 7 because it does accomplish what it intended— to share the journey of the Kumano Kodo with readers. However, there is system of categorization or organization. An archive that allowed readers to search for specific things, such as if I wanted to sort by day and only read the last day or I wanted to only read about the historic sites or the bus trips. In that sense, there is navigation or searching to find answers. The site tells a long story of a travel, and it would be better to be accompanied with a menu bar that has some other options of how to process the same information.


Question: Does the site uphold Steve Krug’s principles of UX design? Which ones does it fulfill? Which ones does it depart from?

#1 Don’t Make Me Think (About the Design & Just Let Me Get into Your Content) : The website is super easy to scroll through with headings that tell us when we have switched days and a guided map on the side so we always no where we are geographically.
#2 Break Up Pages Into Clearly-Defined Areas:  While the site is only one “page,” the information is well-segmented with a visual hierarchy. Each day looks something like this:
A catchy title to describe this day..(SECOND LARGEST FONT SIZE)

And here I began to describe this day’s walk….. (Regular Font Size)
Mod & Rubin are consistent with technique throughout.

#3 It’s Obvious What’s Clickable (by the color and underlining)
#4 Paragraphs aren’t Too long and Scanning is Possible
#5 Doesn’t Have Much Clutter or Needless Words

#1 Home Page: Where are you? Although, the beginning page
#2 Billboard Design 101: This relates to #3, but it’s hard to search for specific things on this site (or rather not really an option unless I use CTRL +F). You have to “scroll through the journey,” and this is likely a very intentionally-designed choice for the form to mirror the content of journeying. For my site it would be important to have some place where information is categorized.
#3 Persistent Navigation/Menu Bar: There is no “menu” because there is only one long page; although, the persistent map on the side could serve as a persistent navigation in sense of a MAP literally as the NAVIGATION (as opposed to a menu bar).


How would you improve the presentation and/or design? This site is amazing, overall. I would use the map on the side & actually turn it into a menu bar where if I clicked on each city/village, I have sub-menu options to see “Artefacts,” “Historical Sites” & “Reflections.” I would also have a running menu bar at the top or on the left side that has some options like: Archive, About, Story. I would also add some background music, if possible. I may also include an oral narration/podcast of the story, so a reader could listen to the story as opposed to reading all of it. All of these suggestions along with some others such as a place that highlights significant moments or sites, are ways of having more options of the information in a more categorized, organized way that doesn’t LOSE the storytelling aspect but enhances it while keeping the story there as it is now.

What aspects of the site design or function would you like to apply to your own project and how? I would like to apply the form of storytelling or walking the reader through a journey to my project of holidays & holy-days, but with more pages. In my project, I would walk a person the story behind a given holiday. My site, I would ideally like, to be a combination of Bulger on Trial and Koya Bound together. The map on the side I want to retain but perhaps make it a calendar as opposed to a location-based map, if that’s possible. I also want to numerous images from documents, videos, and other artefacts related to my project that I come across during my research.

2 thoughts on “Fern is Koya Bound (Ikra)

  • February 16, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    Excellent, thorough, detailed analysis, full of incisive and generous insights, and enriched by your engagement with Krug. Your post is also enhanced by the Q&A format, which helps guide me through all the detailed information you provide. As an additional lesson in UX design, take a look at Naira’s website analysis, where she uses the same Q&A form, but applies Krug’s logic of headers and visual hierarchies, to make it even easier to read. The other aspect of your post you might examine is the use of italics for your analysis. I find italics somewhat tiring to read (though not nearly as bad as all caps). You might consider putting your questions in italics and answers in regular font).

    As for combining Bulger on Trial with Koya Bound–it’s a really intriguing idea. I find the navigation of the sites (both of which I greatly admire) quite different: Koya Bound takes me on a long scroll, whereas Bulger allows me to scroll through stories, but keeps me anchored in a kind of grid structure. Can the two work together?

    • March 31, 2019 at 9:10 pm

      I also missed this comment somehow (sorry). Maybe I saw it, forgot to approve it, and now I can’t recall that whole process and just saw it sitting in my “unapproved” box with a complete freshness. Revisiting this post is probably timely as we’re designing prototypes, and I think I agree: I actually found the italics tiring too this time around.

      Hmm…..I think they could work together (on Bulger on Trial and Koya Bound), or some version of it that retains the grid, but also encompasses a longer story. I’ll be experimenting with it. Thank you for the comment and advice.


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