As part of a class I took during my first semester studying in Canada, I had to develop a website relying on Semantic Web principles and technologies — a field I have a huge interest in. The subject was broad and limits blurry. I chose to stray from the obvious path (RDF, SPARQL) and built a modern website with a strong, innovative concept that would need APIs; rather than thinking of the problem backward and trying to fit technologies into a generic idea.
Club des Critiques isn’t just any typical literature database. Though it indeed enables you search for books — and can even recommend you some based on your profile information — the website first and foremost a social platform, modernizing the idea of book clubs and bringing it to the web. The challenge in the website conception was to add enough social features for users to comfortably interact with each other and exchange about their passions, without falling into common tropes of “dating” (or “meeting”) apps.
Though all books in the system are available to any visitor, only members can rate (on a scale of one to five stars), comment and participate in the exclusive the chatrooms.
Here resides what makes Club des Critiques stand out from other online libraries. The weekly Salons are private chatrooms where users can discuss one particular book, chosen in advance by administrators ; they have the possibility to register for said Salons before it starts. After it has ended, no messages can be sent anymore, but the discussions stay up on the website for any eyes to read.
Even though the targeted audience of such website might be slightly younger than the average neighborhood book club, it still mostly concerns women well past their teenage years. As such, the design had to be the most intuitive it could, with no excess information leading the eye away. Emphasis was placed on typography and easy-to-read text so that users can get primordial information at a simple glance.