I’ve been reading a fair bit about UX (User Experience) and it’s role in website design, and by proxy, online learning spaces. I’ve been thinking about how aesthetics have been important in this relationship and recently I’ve come to re-think my definition of aesthetics. Previously, aesthetics online only meant the visual: the look and feel of the website in question. Now, I’m thinking that motion and sound will become increasingly more important as we move from a static web to the motion web. YouTube is great for allowing people to share videos, but really, the skin that they wrap their videos in is horrible. Ugly. Vimeo, on the other hand has a much better looking (and in my opinion designed) interface.
Does that mean that design is an indicator of popularity? No, but eventually either YouTube will allow you to change the default skin (and they already allow some minimal customization) as a feature for it’s users or a competitor who allows more customization will begin to eat away at the dominance. If only YouTube allowed an easy migration path to switch between hosts? The real killer for YouTube is when it can no longer support the bandwidth required and people have videos interrupted or become basically unplayable. At that point, if it comes, people will switch to the better looking alternative.
To the same end, audio will need to be presented in a good looking player. Not only that, but it needs to be clear and audible. A lot of the problems I’ve encountered with poor audio have been with two aspects, the first is in the production of the audio (generally characterized by a flat AM radio sound) and the second being choppy intermittent transmission. Both do things that disrupt the user, by either being a distraction or an interruption to the processing of the core information. Ugly interfaces are often accepted as long as it works. When it doesn’t work… well things get bypassed entirely.