17
Jul
10

Moving Consumers with the Notion of Motion

[July 17, 2010]

If you needed an example of traditional Web design, at least in the form it survives in today, Kraft offers a perfect example. As of 7-17-2010, the site is orderly, “simple,” inoffensively colorful —and utterly static.

By comparison, Dole, another brand in more or less the same category, makes extensive use of animation, some of which responds to mouse movement in a fairly natural way. While admittedly, dole.com has its share of bugs, especially in terms of voiceover talent and sound editing, this brand made a crucial realization:

Today, an American consumer’s worldview is primarily shaped, if not yet controlled, by video.

clock

It’s no longer a trend. Even people in their middle years are accustomed to being informed and entertained through some form of moving image.

And video is, more and more, the exemplar of the digital experience. The genie is out of the bottle. Today, the part of the Web that actually ensnares its prey is the interlocking stream of video your audience is watching instead of your home page.

As with so many other cultural shifts, this one began slowly and then accelerated exponentially. From the establishment of TV as a regular feature in American households to the nonstop video jolt available to children as soon as they can click a mouse, video is more than just a common cultural reference point. It has become our first language.

The VideoFirst Century.
How did this happen? Perhaps it has to do with the rapid pace of change in the world in general. World cultures are morphing and merging; the definition of citizen and citizenship is evolving. Anything and everything, abstract or concrete, is constantly in motion. If you get most of your news and views of the world through TV, films, YouTube or your smart phone, you’re a citizen of the VideoFirst Century.

And yet, this cultural shift is barely reflected in digital space. Sure, many a site now features a video window, a slideshow or animated buttonage, but that’s not the same thing. No matter how many modules you add to an otherwise static site, it remains static. Instead of reacting to visitors, it stares at them like a crash dummy caught in the headlights.

Motion-ese: Universal language for a fractured world.
On the other hand, the rice pudding magnate Rice to Riches, (see, especially “Today’s Flavors” and “Vibe”) addresses its audience in an embryonic form of motion-ese. Despite a sluggish execution, the site goes a long way to suggesting the impact of video-driven web presence—and its potential for further development.

All that’s missing is a broader creative vision and a deeper understanding of the value of “value” (Hint: It’s not defined by how much money you save).

Nor is this continued video lensing of our world confined to digital space. Drivers are now distracted by digital video billboards, bus shelter ads tell us what shows to watch and we’re edging closer every day to the “Blade Runner” world of constant video immersion on city streets. Even the iPad’s emulation of page turning is, essentially, a video interpretation and therefore “cooler” in some eyes then the real thing.

Get moving: “What works” doesn’t work anymore.
Yes, I understand the Reality of Today’s Marketplace, where false budget constraints and best practice-fundamentalism continue to shape both Web design and content development. But I can’t walk away from an even grittier form of Realism:

In a world where nothing stands still any more, even on a metaphorical level, the stasis of the status quo is going nowhere fast. Go ahead, post another static home page—slideshows not withstanding—just have your earplugs ready. The next sound you hear will be the cumulative thunder of a million users clicking away.


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Mark Laporta

Writer, Creative Consultant
New York, NY

m.laporta@verizon.net
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