Thinking Visual in Your Audio World

| November 14, 2014

By Gabe Barnes
Director, Business Development
Mersoft Media 

 

barnesgabewriterKANSAS CITY — Stevie Wonder is one hell of a musician and singer, but I am not putting a paintbrush in his hand and asking him to be Picasso. His art might turn out a bit abstract…. And that is putting it nicely.

I use this analogy to get radio groups thinking. For so long, all that they have had to be able to do is paint a pretty picture in the minds of their listeners with colorful dialogue, stories, and audio entertainment. But now, they are being asked to paint those same pictures in the eyes of that same audience.

So how does a radio station begin to think visually when they have been so accustomed to working in the audio world? Here are six recommendations to consider when thinking from a visual perspective:

  1. Have a Website: This may be too obvious, but believe it or not, there are hundreds of radio stations across the country that do not have a website.
  1. Customization options: I do not want to “plug” one vendor over the other, but a simple Google search for “Radio station website design” or “Radio station website template” will provide you with plenty of options. As always, keep in mind the costs, features, audience engagement capabilities, and how your stations can effectively monetize the site.
  1. Factor in eye-movement tracking: Remember this Golden Rule ALWAYS: “Out of sight, out of mind.” Users spend 80% of their time looking at the information above the “fold,” or the portion above the web page that doesn’t require scrolling. Another important key is that 69% of users’ time is spent looking at the left half of the web page.
  1. Big Images and Positive Space Attract Readers’ Eyes First: When first landing on a page, usually the visitor’s eyes jump to the leading image of a page, and then go downwards to actual content. Too many times I see radio websites using their leading image with an image of the studio or picture of the radio station itself. Why waste this space when it can be used for promotions or sponsorship opportunities?
  1. Consider User Experience: If you didn’t launch your own website, would it be one that you would visit regularly? I could write an entire book on this point alone! So be sure to understand the user experience. But to sum it up in one word: Usability! Users return to sites that are easy to navigate…and make sense. Random “stuff” poured onto the site like lighter fluid over coals will surely turn your users away.
  1. Update frequently: Humans naturally don’t like change, but they need change. If the content that you put on your site is the same day after day after day after day, your users will go elsewhere to find the information that they need. This isn’t the 1950s anymore; you must be careful in assuming that what you are offering can’t be accessed elsewhere.

The beauty of operating in 2014 is the access to information that we have. If your site is developed with the same theme and version from 10 years ago, it is time to take a step back, do some “googling,” and make some changes.

Always remember that a good design will catch the eye, but a great design will keep your audience on your site and engaged. And while you never want to underestimate the power of the site’s copy, your website’s design is what people will always notice first. And that is how you think visual in an audio world.

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Gabriel Barnes is a co-founder and directs business development at Mersoft Media – a leading developer of smartphone applications for talk and music radio stations across the country.  He can be reached via phone at 913-948-8757 or email at gbarnes@mersoft.com. Follow him on Twitter @gabrielbarnes.

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Category: Advice, Digital