Citizen Media Watch

juni 14th, 2007

The need for usability in podcasting

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Karin Høgh talked about usability in podcasting

Karin Høgh‘s focus in her presentation on Podcamp was usability, and by giving a multitude of examples she showed that this is not something that podcasters have given much thought. Starting out, she gave her definition of a podcast, which you can see above. She also pointed out that this excludes streaming radio or sites that simply publish a download link to an audio file.
Thomas Plessis objected, saying there’s not necessarily a need for an RSS feed.
– Most people want to listen on the website, he said.
– The definition is something we have to talk about, Karin Høgh replied. For me the feed is important, that you can subscribe and bring it with you automatically.
Among the difficulties possible podcast subscribers encounter are:

  • Confusing buttons and instructions for subscriptions
  • Language barriers – for instance, which gender is the word podcast in languages where this is relevant?
  • definitions – is video also a podcast, and if not, what do you call it?
  • People wonder: Do you need an iPod to listen?
  • People wonder: What’s an RSS feed?
  • People wonder: Aggregator – strange word
  • People wonder: Syndication -”something with unions?”
  • People wonder: Subscribe? – I don’t want to give them my credit card!
  • People wonder: Synchronization – what is that?

…and get no answers.
Richard Gatarski commented:
– Most publishers don’t care about usability because it costs money and it’s an experiment. They think people who want to listen will figure it out.
Karin Høgh mentioned a number of important factors in usability for podcasters: Keep it simple, don’t use the word ”subscribe”, keep it accessible for all – non savvies, stupid people, the blind, colour blind, old people etc.
– Do we need standards?, she asked.
– I think we do, so as less advanced people can start doing this.
Her solution is a service called PodHandle, which is supposed to do all of this for you in easy steps. It looked simple enough, but I am also quite sure there are a number of similar services already available.

To check out all my photos from Podcamp, check out to my Podcamp Flickr set.


juni 2007
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