Gray Flannel Dwarf

4/15/2004

They really think we’re getting out of control.

“Be fair, alright? Everyone wants ‘Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride’…”
–Brody, Mallrats

If there is one thing consistent I have noticed about the web since everyone started getting his, her or its own presence, it’s the fact that radio stations, specifically those of the “Rock” format, consistently have grating web design. For years, it seems, back at least as far as when I was using Netscape 3, radio stations have always seemed to have garish, high-contrast colours, poor content layout, as well as ill-used elements, plugins, and various other bits of less-than-ideal detritus.

To tell the truth, pretty much even thinking about going to a radio station’s webpage kinda gives me a headache and want to grit my teeth. The ever-so-slight rise in stress levels I can detect. I’ve been conditioned, over time, to avoid them!

Local stations DC101 and WHFS are no exceptions, but nor am I singling them out, either. I even doublechecked my theory before posting this, using made-up but likely radio station names (google for “97 Rock”, or “96 Rock” for example) and you’ll see the same thing. It’s just painful. Now, maybe some exist out there, but I have yet to see a radio station’s webpage that doesn’t make me shudder.

For example, the excessive flash — well, a lot of companies have excessive flash, but radio stations consistently overuse it, and do so in a really bad way, with the “strobelight” effect thing going on, or blinking text, or something equally distracting.

Now, I can understand why they at least try to do all this… it’s just the same old radio “lightning bolts, neon and fantasy van” thing that they’ve been doing for years now. Orange, yellow, and red on blue or black, these haven’t changed… and really, I can see how these things kinda elicit the visual equivalent of those “radio sounds”. Back in the day, if you saw the fantasy van, or you had a bumper sticker, or t-shirt… fine, you see it and it catches your eye.

What works on a radio tee, however, just doesn’t work on the web, and when you’re trying to read something, that stuff drives you crazy. Really, it seems that while radio promo stuff hasn’t changed since the 70s, their web-design layouts, short of the aforementioned Macromedia garbage, never made it out of the mid-nineties.

At first I wanted to blame it all on ClearChannel, but really, if you look, these stations generally have some various, usually local web outfit come in and do the design. But unless CC has some sort of homogenised “look and feel” quasi-standard going on — which is feasible, but unlikely — they, for once, can’t be blamed.

I don’t quite know where I’m going with this. All I know is that it seems that radio is falling behind the times on understanding the consumers… and while I can’t quite put my finger on it, and I am gonna stop far short of saying people will boycott radio simply because their webpages suck, I can’t help but think there’s something stale going on behind the scenes at stations everywhere.


cswiii @ 2:51 pm

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