A University Advertises Itself on the World Wide Web "A case study about the meaning of images based on the international section from the website of the University of Hull"
Raja Boean, N.J.A.
MetadataShow full item record
The World Wide Web is a growing resource of information and communication. Inspired by this and forms of visual communication a research about the role of images on the web has been set up. More specific, this research examines the meaning of three images that are portrayed on the website of the University of Hull. The three chosen images are based on the international pages of the University’s website and concentrate on students from the regions Africa, Arab/Gulf regions and North America. (University of Hull, 2008) Central through this enquiry has been the theory of semiotics and iconography. With regards to semiotics the research specialises itself into the field of visual social semiotics. (Chandler, 2007; Kress and van Leeuwen, 1996). The study of visual social semiotics focuses on signs and meanings, and the way people understand images (Lester et al. 2006: 50 62; Tietze et al., 2003: 20). Iconography considers contextual factors that influence what people see (Van Leeuwen & Jewitt, 2001: 102-117). To explore this topic, qualitative methods of research have been used by interviewing 14 international students and 1 employee of the University’s Web Team, about the way they conceive the concerned images. This research has shown that there are elements of visual social semiotic theory and iconography that comply with results of this research. The way images are presented influence how people interpret them. As explained by Harrison (2005) an ‘Action’ image can create a story, this element became visible during the research. The interviewees also gave symbolic meaning to ‘Action’ images. The research also contained a ‘Conceptional’ image, which created symbolic and classificatory meanings. Another aspect that becomes clear is that the interviewed students base their meaning and interpretation, not only on the way they are presented (‘Action’ or ‘Conceptional’ image), but also use other contextual factors such as the title of the page, verbal descriptions and personal experiences, to form a meaning about the shown image. The research considered different cultural groups (North America, Africa and the Arab/Gulf region). The results do not show a significant difference to the way these students interpret the images. To research this further, a broader range of topics should be applied in the future.