Across different forms of media, there are lots of different interfaces that the user needs to recognise for them for their intended purpose.
Below is a comparison of various media forms across various categories.
Retail Site vs News Site (Play.com vs BBC News)
Both theses sites are intended for completely different audiences at separate times but may still be used by the same demographic. The sites have very simple interfaces that are easily recognisable by the user by using tabs with words on that take you to various parts of the site. A search bar is also available which when clicked on, highlights the fact that you need to type in the field to find a specific thing that you may be looking for.
In the centre of both sites, they highlight certain things that may be of interest to you. On Play.com, they show special offers or anything that may be of interest to you, especially if you have used the site before. In that case, the site will recognise that you have visited before, and if you have bought something it will show you similar products available.
Both sites use a mixture of text, audio and video which helps the consumer feel more interactive with the site. In the case of the BBC, the audio and visual elements are usually part of a new story or the news channel as a whole streamed live. Play.com however use video features to show trailers and reviews. There isn’t a lot of user generated content (UGC) apart from the public able to review products on Play.com and being able to send comments and pictures that correspond with a news story on the BBC site. There is also no customisability.
Smartphone App vs Facebook Profile (Sky Sports News vs Facebook)<img alt=””
Both interfaces offer a wide range of customisation. On Facebook profiles you can enter in all your own information, set a profile picture and on an old version of vanilla Facebook (Vanilla being standard Facebook during it’s start up) you could set out your page into various parts. This has since changed with Facebook having 1 standard profile set. The SSN app allows you to choose the teams, sports and features you want to see on your homepage. It will then list the main storys from what you have chosen. It also has an audio element with the SSN radio inbuilt which you can listen to whilst doing other things on the phone. Facebook has no audio element set to profile pages but this is probably down to an effort to be as less like MySpace as posible. Searching is very easy on both apps with a search bar at the top of the page, and navigation differs due to using a mouse scrolling through Facebook and touch gestured on the app. However, with the inclusion of touchscreen on more devices such as PC and the iPad, Facebook can also be used by the touch method.
All of the sites and interfaces that I have looked at use a top down system but that doesn’t make too much difference in my opinion. If the content is available for the consumer to view, they will scroll down to find it. Interactivity on different interfaces is what makes things more exciting. This includes audio and video elements. It makes the consumer more intrigued and will make them make more visits to the site.
As a producer, you have to take many things into account when making something for a consumers purpose. It has to be easy to understand, to follow, to navigate and the consumer has to get it within 10 seconds of being on the page, or when viewing something, otherwise, they will leave an navigate to another page. However, saying that, people are always open to new experiences or alternative ways to doing things and this is why now, the ‘apps’ from consumer devices such as iPhones, iPads and Android are a new and exciting experience that wasn’t around 5-10 years ago (at least in their current forms). With ‘app’ downloads due to hit 1billions download per year (‘The Apprentice’, Episode 2, BBC1) this is a massive way, that people in the media need to recognise, in getting your ideas out into the world. News now travels faster via social media, then it does in the Newspapers. The recent death of ‘Osama Bin Laden’ was posted on Twitter 25 minutes before any of the major news networks knew (report by CNN.com). By this time, the original tweet had been ‘re-tweeted’ 15,000 times. Again, a new way of getting a news story out into the wild, letting people know of what’s going on.
Media practice is changing. Gone are the conventional forms such as shooting, editing then showing on TV or Film. In are the new ways in getting your productions out. Smart phones, Apps, Social Media. They are taking over, and we must change our ways for the good of the idea.