CAMPAIGN-I: Private surf - James Hilton, the creative director of AKQA, reviews the D&AD award-winning Book of Kells CD-Rom

The Book of what? As it turns out, The Book of Kells is a 9th

century Irish manuscript containing the four Gospels in Latin.

On first inspection, you would be forgiven for thinking that the CD is,

well, not as engaging as it could be. There's no flashy intro, no

illuminating graphics; in fact, there isn't a great deal to look at.

Clicking on a menu button accesses the navigation, which extends a row

of section buttons, each with its own drop-down of sub-sections. Nothing

bad about that, although I question the usability of constantly having

to click to open the main navigation (I've got this thing about

unnecessary clicking).

So I clicked around for a bit, looking at pages of the book, always with

the thought "it's OK, I suppose". I came back to it a couple of days

later in a slightly more intellectual frame of mind.

The point of this CD, as I see it, isn't to embellish the book with

superfluous design, but to let the book speak for itself.

The depth of research and production values of the CD are


There is no doubt a lot of hard work has gone into this. The narrative

is well written, clear and highly informative. The icons are obvious and

intuitive, although I did find the minimized main navigation irritating,

as there was no obvious way to see "the story" of the book. Because of

this it was difficult to have an experience as the flow was interrupted

by the need to constantly access main links. That aside, this is the CD

you want to get if you need to know anything about The Book of Kells,

which I suppose, was the point.

To be honest though, it's not really my cup of tea, but if you like this

sort of thing, then it's the equivalent of Dutch porn.


Owner: Trinity College and X Communications

Positioning: Make The Book of Kells more accessible

Launched: March 2000

Developed by: X Communications