Identify your Audience and Venue
User-centered experiences meet users where they’re at so it’s helpful to identify your key audiences and the contexts in which your work will reach them. Dissemination means considering how it will be seen, shared, and distributed, whether you’re interested in publishing in a print journal, presenting a conference poster, developing a mobile app, or creating a website.
Keep in mind that different venues will have different presentation affordances — a website, for instance, can support using color and interaction to display your data in ways that a print journal, which might be published only in black and white, cannot.
Define your Deliverables
Thinking about how you will disseminate your project early on can help you to articulate clearly the desired deliverables for the project. Here are some of popular types of digital humanities deliverables:
Data Visualization – A data-driven visual expression that offers macro views of patterns for large datasets, as well as micro views for individual data points.
Interactive Infographic - A more narrative form of digital storytelling that curates data into multimedia interactions.
Software - Creating a tool that users can process data with, whether it’s for a pre-defined collection or their own materials.
Online Exhibition or Digital Tour - A project website that leverages multimedia interfaces to enrich visual or spatial analysis of data collections.
These are just some of the many ways digital humanities projects might take shape.
For free platforms that don’t require separate web hosting and that are particulaly well-suited to displaying a range of media types, try:
Find Web Hosting
The following resources provide great web hosting services for projects you do want to host yourself:
Reclaim Hosting was specially designed with students, educators, and institutions in mind. It provides a more affordable service for web hosting.
GitHub Pages is a service that allows users to host web applications free of charge on GitHub’s servers. There’s a catch though: your site will be run from a static-file server, meaning you can’t run any server-side code with GitHub hosting. If you don’t know whether your application requires a server, stop by the Digital Humanities Lab and we can help you determine.
Heroku is a beginner-friendly server provider that lets users run up to three web applications with custom server-side code for free. It’s a great first step into digital web hosting if you are working on an application with server-side code.
Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) EC2 Instances allow users to host web applications that run custom server-side code. Students get 1 free year of EC2 instances but afterwards must pay to use Amazon servers. AWS is harder to use than Heroku and requires familiarity with server administration. That said, AWS is quickly becoming the industry standard for scalable web hosting.
Microsoft Azure is Microsoft’s version of AWS. If you like Windows and Microsoft products, you may find Azure easier to work with (though AWS supports Windows as well).
Consider Data Storage Providers
If you have lots of data to store, you may want to look into cloud storage providers, such as the following:
GitHub allows users to host tens of thousands of files with up to 1GB of disk space for free in each user repository. For small projects this may be sufficient.
Dropbox provides simple, easy to use digital storage. You can store several gigabytes for free, but if you need to store lots of content you’ll need to pay a montly fee for storage.
Amazon Web Services’ S3 allows users to upload arbitrarily large data collections. Students get 1 free year of hosting but must pay thereafter. AWS features a geat “command line interface” with which users can upload and download content from the command line.
Connecting with your Audiences
Once you have identified the platform for sharing your work, be sure to use it in a way that is user-friendly and accessible.
User-Testing - It’s always a good idea to test your assumptions on real users as you design your project. The Digital Humanities Lab can provide advice and support for conducting user testing and research.
Accessibility - There are many resources for ensuring that your project is built in a way that is accessible to a broad range of users. You can refer to the Accessibility Guidelines provided by Yale ITS on their best practices for testing and evaluation. For additional recommendations, we encourage reviewing the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
How do I get started?
If you're new to digital humanities and are interested in starting a project, stop by the Franke Family Digital Humanities Laboratory in Sterling Memorial Library during our Office Hours.
We also highly recommend looking at existing digital humanities projects to get a sense for what's possible. In addition to projects at Yale, we recommend checking out projects at other digital humanities centers, including:
- Stanford's Literary Lab
- Northeastern's NULab for Maps, Texts, and Networks
- Maryland's Institute for Tecnology in the Humanities
- DHCommons Projects
In addition to on-campus support, there are also off-campus and online resources that you might try. The following programs all offer opportunities for researchers to learn different digital humanities methods and theoretical approaches:What we offer