Creating impact and making money online. Interfaces. (rough notes)

Key words from the first 161MC workshop:

  • technology
  • understanding context
  • convergence (wait, I need a definition for this one)
    1. The act of converging (coming closer).
    2. A representation of common ground between theories or phenomena.
    3. The approach of an infinite series to a finite limit.
    4. The occurrence of two or more things coming together.
    (from WordNet, as syndicated by Wordnik.com)
    Another definition from the workshop:
    previously separate technologies being brought together
  • memes
  • online presence
  • social media – advantages and disadvantages
  • impact
  • hybridity
  • interface

We had to explore an online interface and analyse it:

  • interface elements – search boxes, branding, etc.
  • content
  • what makes it appealing/not appealing?

We were given the task to analyse Amazon, BBC and YouTube.

Here are my rough notes (enhanced by the discussion):

Interfaces give you options: menus, search boxes, banner ads, widgets

Interfaces have focus points: logo, banner, action buttons

Branding: logo, colours; making the website look appealing; reassuring that you are in a safe place; people trust it.

What makes a website appealing? – Convenience, imagery, user experience, usability, information.

What makes them not appealing? (e-retail websites) You can’t see or feel the product; it is an automated system.

Amazon.co.uk

  • focus on products (and promoting its own product Kindle)
  • purpose: selling products; giving product information
  • social element: what other people are buying; user reviews
  • can give you personalised tips for products, but that brings the question about safety and privacy; does it know too much about you?
  • top-down content

BBC.co.uk

  • ‘insanely’ user friendly; customizable – the user can move widgets around and change colours; accessible and usable
  • ‘Top stories’ that are hand picked (in comparison with other websites, where the top stories are usually the ones that have been clicked on / commented the most)
  • option to view location based news after inputting the user’s postcode (but? privacy?)
  • empowering? Does information give the user control? – usually, it just looks like that
  • news vs. comedy & music – attempt to appeal to various audiences
  • busy interface; hard to find a focal point
  • Is it appealing? – it depends on the user… it can be hard to navigate if you are searching for something specific
  • missing: advertising
  • it is not trying to sell you a product; it is trying to sell you an idea – the notion of the BBC; they try to be everything to everybody
  • top-down content

YouTube.com

  • basic layout; relies on content to guide the user
  • recommendations: paid + based on the user’s history
  • content: big video library; lots of UGC; but also: more and more labels and brands
  • full programmes with advertising – like TV
  • the interface tries to involve the user with replies, ratings, comments, sharing… trying to create a feeling of ‘community’
  • user behaviour is analysed to offer relevant content AND advertising
  • combined top-down + bottom-up content

The Inbetweeners website

  • an official website extending the TV series (‘real’ media content) with stories, quotes, character profiles, quizzes, behind the scenes footage etc.
  • Yay / Nay (voting system trying to use the same language as the film itself); interactivity
  • downloadables (you can’t download wallpapers on your TV (yet), but you can do it online)
  • watching videos on demand (as opposed to TV – when it’s served)

Conclusions from the session

  • There is a community in the internet; and every website is trying to create its own community
  • although a lot of people assume the internet is all about UGC, it is actually a directed, structured, moderated and curated environment; the ‘community’ is managed
  • a website always has a target audience
  • websites use a terminology similar to ‘traditional’ media
  • websites provide a link between producers and consumers (feedback, user behaviour…)
  • impact is primarily created with graphics, design elements, and content.
  • online brands are selling themselves (branding)
  • Who owns these websites? Who is talking to us? What do we give away? Personal information? Copyrights? Privacy? – questions we rarely ask ourselves.
  • it is a business.

The strongest impression from this session (for me): when we were given the task to check out the website of the show ‘The Inbetweeners’, no one asked what the URL is.
There used to be a time (it was still valid around 2000, when I first started using the internet), when you would need the exact URL of a website to visit it. Now we don’t even need to know the exact spelling of the keyword – Google checks it for us and fixes any typos we might have made. It thinks for us.

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