Sunday, 3 January 2010

With reference to your chosen case study consider how important interactivity is to media institutions?

Case Study: Newspaper Industry (The Guardian)
Audience demand for interactivity could be considered as the main driving force behind the development of new media and if the audience demand it then the industries need to deliver. The newspaper industry is struggling because the circulation figures are falling and with that the revenue that comes from advertising. Newspapers could not be considered interactive in the printed form because consumption of the newspaper is passive. However, if the online version of the paper is visited the experience becomes ‘active’ because the visitor is now in control of her consumption and can choose what to look at/watch/listen to, can download files and podcasts, share articles with friends and contribute to a discussion using one of the numerous ‘talkboards’. Online newspaper ‘Users’ now have a wide range of choices available to them for where they get their news and it seems the only way to keep them coming back is to make them feel part of a community, a difficult task for a national paper. If a successful community is necessary to keep their ‘unique user’ count up then interactivity at a combination of levels is crucial to the success of the paper.

One of the key things to look at when studying the importance of interactivity to media institutions is to look at the audience of a text and determine the impact and uses that a new level of interactivity would have. The guardian newspaper claim that the majority of their audience is between the ages of 16-44, this indicates that the interests and beliefs of the overall audience and extremely varied and one slant or view on a news story may not suit each individual reader. This is important when considering the need for discussion interactivity and talkboards. These allow readers to share their views on the articles and ensure that even if a reader disagrees with an article or has a different viewpoint, they have the option to air their views in a way that would not be possible with a print newspaper, this gives a new dimension to the way news is consumed, people not only red articles, they now have a place to discuss their thoughts with a community of readers.

The idea of an online community has grown in recent years, internet users see online communities as part of their everyday internet experience and the newspaper industry has taken this community experience and used it in their product to make it more interactive. The community of the guardian is not just about adding comments to articles, users can have live web chat with guardian journalists or industry experts, the guardian has an entire page dedicated the community which indicates their community drive. On the other hand, although satisfying the needs of readers is important the concept of discussion of news has been around for hundreds of years, why is it so important to develop an online discussion tool for interactivity when the art of conversation in reality is there, for many the idea of commenting their views rather than talking about them with friends and colleagues is strange and the guardian need to ensure that they do not alienate those outside of the discussion community by focusing more on the interactivity than on the news content itself.

One of the biggest developments in the way we receive news through interactivity is the increase in user control. Readers can now decide how they want to receive their news, what they want to read and what they do with the articles. Online news now involves audio and video to enhance the user experience, rather than read an article users can now watch a news report or watch the footage that a certain article may be talking about. This interactivity development has revolutionized the way people take in news. At the touch of a button they can share content through social network sites and this all adds to the versatility of newspapers and opens up an new area for them. The guardian in particular has developed new ways of getting their news and brand to the public, they now have regular podcasts and have now developed an iphone app. These technological advancements take interactivity to a new level and allow news on the go. Looking into the iphone application it is interesting to see that the application does not allow for article comment, this indicates that the guardian have taken the community side of the online guardian and taken the newspaper back to it’s simple form, they have combined the classic newspaper with digital advancements in an attempt to find a new platform, it has the appeal of a hard copy paper, alongside the fast moving appeals of on demand online content.

One of the things that the guardian succeeds with in regard to their online presence is the variety of content available on demand for users. The internet site has archive articles as well as a much wider range of topics covered, the home page for example has categories such as travel, sport, arts, politics all in one place and all with hundreds of archive articles, newspapers have a limited number of articles without the archive capabilities. This means a greater range of audience segments can find a use for the guardian rather than being put off by the content of the guardian newspaper. Although the guardian have a fantastic home page they lack the advertising space, the site has the power to command a high advertising price and the interactivity of the site can involve advertising in a new medium. The one advert on the home page is for o2 in a video format, the power of interactivity not only helps the newspaper find a new market but also to attract new advertisers to the brand with higher prices.

The growth of interactivity in the newspaper industry has not just bought about a new market, it has also developed the potential for existing areas of the paper such as the job section. The guardian is famous for it’s extensive job vacancies listings and by opening up the use of the internet and interactivity in this area they are generating more interest. This shows that interactivity is important to develop existing products as well as creating new areas of business.

To conclude, I believe that interactivity has revolutionized the way we receive and process news and that it is very important for newspapers to invest time and money into boosting interactivity levels. There are so many ways of creating a more interactive user experience, sound, video and images can bring news to life while new community boards create a community for a newspaper. It is however important that newspapers do not take their attention away from the hard copy print versions, they may focus their energy too much on interactivity in the virtual market and loose a proportion in their newspaper market. To find a balance of interactivity and strong income papers need to ensure they deliver reader demands but find profitability in their developments or risk loosing financial stability.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Planning grade: 20/20

Fantastic planning from start to finish. Everything was very carefully thought through to ensure you meet the expectations of the target audience as far as design and navigation and also to persuade them to make a purchase through your site. Your approach to planning was very professional and your time management was excellent. Well done.

Evaluation Grade 18/20

Excellent refection on your work and the context for it. You have carefully considered audience and institution and you communicate your progress and ideas really clearly. You demonstrate an excellent attitude to the learning process with technologies and your site proves that your efforts were very successful. Well done.

Reference audience feedback

Friday, 4 December 2009

Final Evaluation

One of the things I aimed to do when creating my website was to design something that was genuinely conventional and that looked like a website rather than a site that resembled more of an online poster or flyer about a charity. I spent a lot of time looking into other websites to highlight the conventions which make a website, something as simple as a side navigation bar can have a huge impact on the look and feel of a site. I looked in particular at other successful charity websites to see what conventions they used, by getting a feel for existing real media products I could include elements of them in my product. The large top image for example was an idea taken from a shopping website, they had a green long rectangle place at the top of the page and included silhouettes of the products they sold, I expanded on this idea by creating a Christmas landscape in photoshop to give my site that Christmas feel right from the top of the page so the user understands the theme of the site.

I also found through research that a colour scheme in a website has more of an effect in the overall look and perception of a website than first thought. I chose to base my colour scheme around winter and Christmas colours, red, white and green. This helps set the theme throughout the website and promotes a brand identity within my charity. Many sites follow this, Oxfam have a green scheme on their site, water aid choose a blue, water theme, I found the colour schemes very effective when analysing other sites.

One creative decision I made was to widen the overall size of the website, I felt that by changing the width I would add a new level of interest into the website and set it aside from standard sites. It also allowed me to be more creative and include a large logo, a top image stretching across and numerous product displays within the home page.

I felt that my targeted social group did not need to feel patronised by my charities need, they know about global issues and the poverty that occurs within society so felt that pages of text explaining how poverty works and why they should help my charity would be wasted, so I felt a small explanation about what the idea of the charity is would suffice as well as a small explanation. This would make my target social group feel that the charity is appropriate for them.

I ensured that the text was written in an informal mode of address, this is to make the charity seem more down to earth and in touch with it’s target social groups, the products are aimed to be bought by a large selection of numerous segments so the language should not limit my audience to a higher reading ability and economic status.

I felt the target audience understood the problem, and by visiting my site felt they were interested in being part of the solution, my method was simple and effective, they would see straight away a solution, then show how easy the solution was to get to through my site. Many charity sites ask for donations and the donator is unaware as to where their money actually goes, with my site they can pick where they want their money to go, and see an instant positive reaction in response to their purchase. Christmas presents give instant joy, a charity present gives that same instant joy but on a much wider scale.

For a website this is a difficult question to answer, websites are unlike radio and television media and are not distributed, they are hosted and visited.

I looked at how campaigns are distributed and designed, there are two ways to do this, often charities have their own marketing departments and come up with and produce their own content, the other method is for charities to contact marketing and advertising companies and ask them to come up and with and distribute a charity campaign and sometimes the website itself.

I feel that for my website I wouldn’t require the services of an advertising agency unless a campaign to a different medium was introduced, I feel that by designing and contenting the website myself I am able toe exercise full control and ensure the site is everything I want it to be rather than employing an external source. I looked at domain name and web hosting options, I found that hosting my website with an easy to find name would suit my sites brand image, it would be cost effective to host with an external server and would look for a or .com name rather than a third party address such as It’s important to relate distribution to my audience and ensure that I am reaching them with my product in the most effective and efficient way and finding the right communication method of distribution.

My campaign site is heavily influenced by my audience, the design, language and feel of the site is tailored with my market’s views in mind. My target audience is a 26-50 category, this may seem like a vast range but I believe that this age category have disposable income and have experienced many Christmases so a change in gift choice would appeal. In more detail I feel that women would be a secondary audience, from research and experience I feel that women take more of a leading role in Christmas gift purchasing, I have decided to tailor many aspects to suit female visitors, the overall feel of the site for example is soft and the language is more emotive to pull on women’s sympathetic outlook on life. When designing however I did not want to disillusion other markets, the site is approachable to numerous audiences, the informal language makes the charity feel approachable without appearing too casual about the issue.

To really sell the charity I made the Christmas theme stand out, everything from the colour scheme, logo and images had a Christmas feel, I felt that to appeal to my audience I would have to work around Christmas as this is the one thing which really brings people together, by making my campaign about Christmas the charity sells itself in two ways, it shows itself as a solution to global issues and as a way to bring people together, this helps appeal to my audience on both a personal and global level.

One of the important things to consider when targeting a wide audience is their attention span, I wanted them to be drawn in from the offset and gain an instant feel for my charity, so many sites loose their audience with too much text, I opened my site with a flash animation with the logo and snow effect to instantly tell the audience what the theme is and who we are, this is a result of my market research and found that many visitors to charity sites are put off but too much text.

I feel that to attract my audience I need to make the user experience as meaningful and entertaining as possible, the design and quirky look of the site helps to achieve this and the high number of images, boxes and colour outweighs the amount of text to make the site eye catching and appealing. On every page there is a large amount of interesting and entertaining graphics or features which aim to enhance the overall enjoyment of my audiences experience.

I designed my site with navigation in mind, I didn’t want my site to look overwhelming so ensured that every page was accessible, I had two navigation bars as well as hyperlinks throughout the site, I wanted the user to easily navigate around the site to ensure there viewing time on my website is increased by browsing around all areas, the products are given their own page and a large link to each product to make sure they are easily viewed.

I wanted to include a video that was in touch with my audience, I felt that the sites view of the problem was positive and focused more on the solution than the problem, I made a comic video which the audience could relate to do to their past experiences with presents. I feel that a light-hearted video which also gets the point across would suit my website and appeal to my target market.

I wanted to include sound in my website but didn’t want to sound to be tacky as this would put off my target market and make them wary of purchasing from my site, I looked across the internet for a Christmas song that was copyright free, I choose a jingle bells song which was played in a slow rhythm, this is a well known song but having it slowed down gives the opening page more depth and adds to the entertainment factor that is often lacking in charity websites.

One of the things I have learnt in terms of technologies from the creative process is the use of iweb, before this project I had no experience of macs or the iweb software but have developed my skills over the year. I have also learnt that although iweb is a powerful tool it is a combination of iweb, photoshop and movie making packages which make a successful website. I also found that using iweb’s default settings can make a website look cheap an unprofessional so it is important for me to put my own stamp on an iweb website.

I also had to learn the basics of adobe flash, i found this program particularly difficult and had to study numerous guides and books to create my opening page, I wanted to create something unique and give my website the wow factor and to do that I felt the use of adobe flash was vital. I found my knowledge of flash quite limiting to begin with but after experimenting I eventually created something quite neat using the program.

Adobe Photoshop was a program I had used before but only in its basic form, I learnt new techniques from my teacher and made most of the features of my website in Photoshop, it would have been easier to make boxes and navigation bars in iWeb but felt that to give the site a more professional look, Photoshop was the answer. Even small details such as gradients in the side bars, outer glows in the snowflakes and trees and the logos were made in photoshop and my skills have grown as a result of that.

I also saw the importance of combining technology with hand craft to create something unique, The welcome page features a ripped red package, this was made by ripping a white piece of A4 paper, scanning it into a photoshop document and filling in the white space with a red colour. This is an example of hand made features being used alongside technology and I learnt how effective manual methods can be.

During the preliminary task I learnt the basics of numerous programs which I would use much more for the full product. When creating the preliminary my thought process was to make a traditional website with the correct conventions and looks rather than go for something a little different and interesting, over the course of the last year or so I have looked in much more detail at creating something more unique rather than following suit of a typical charity website.

In my first school website design i included a slideshow at the top, this was my first experience with the video capabilities of iweb, the sideshow did not work so I had to include a picture instead, this creative decision was hindered by iWeb and throughout the course of the production work I have had similar difficulties, what i have learnt however is how technological issues can be overcome or new solutions can be found, this acceptance of faults has grown through experience of using the software.

One thing I have learnt is the importance of knowing my audience, with the preliminary task I didn’t take my audience into consideration and the final site has no real target to influence it, my new site has had the audience in mind while it is being designed and many of the images and text style represents an audience more.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Friday, 13 November 2009

Audience Profiles

I believe that my target audience is a 26-50 age category, this is a wide age range who generally have a larger disposable income and who have experienced numerous Christmas times receiving and giving the same, materialistic gifts. Their friends are also of this age and would be more acceptant of a charity gift than a child would, most children would prefer toys to charity goats.

My likely gender is female, I believe that the female gender are more likely to be the gift purchasers in a family so would target my language and images to a more female market whilst ensuring I don’t eliminate the male market all together.

To have a strong interest and awareness in the issues raised in my campaign I feel my audience would be more middle and higher class audience that I would target, I believe that these classes have the disposable income for my gifts and would be more happy to donate their money to charity than lower classes who require their earnings for their own wellbeing

I would choose Fulfillers as one of my target audiences, I believe that they value their responsibilities so would feel required to help others in need. I also think that Individualists would see the uniqueness of this idea and would buy a gift to lead the way in individuality. My final main audience would be carers, their compassion for the world around them would lead them to purchasing a gift as they see the moral appeal of a gift

Wednesday, 11 November 2009