A multimedia product should meet the needs and interests of its users. Therefore before you begin to design your product, you should consider the audience and the product's purpose.
Good multimedia [multimedia: the use of several types of media outputs from a computer in order to give the user a richer and more interesting experience ] design is about considering who will use the product, why they want to use it, and how they will use it. An effective multimedia product should match the needs and interests of its users, so remember to consider the target audience before you even start your design.
A multimedia product may have several different audiences. It is important to tailor the look, feel and tone of your product to the different types of people who will use it. You must also consider the purpose of your product - whether it is meant to educate, inform or sell.
Before designing a multimedia product, ask the following questions.
The overall design of the product will affect the outcome of these goals. The end-user experience of a product is vital to its success. A good user experience will not guarantee success, but a bad user experience is a quick route to failure.
Think about the platform [platform: A platform refers to the architecture of a particular piece of technology (and sometimes software). The most common technology platform is the computer, but more recent platforms include mobile phones, PDAs and game consoles. ] the product will be delivered through to develop a suitable design. Different target platforms have different design needs. A product on a touch-screen terminal would need large buttons for the user to press.
A multimedia product may be sequential (or linear), meaning the end user will have to follow a structured format, like reading a book.
Alternatively, it may have hierarchical structure. Websites often use this structure.
A network structure is an environment that enables the end user to freely move from one location to another without following a specific route.
As a multimedia designer, decide how users will navigate your product. Navigation is the means that allows users to move around a multimedia product. The most important thing about navigation is to keep it clear and simple.
The end-user should be able to quickly identify where the links are located and where they will take them. A hierarchical concept (such as a sitemap) can be useful, helping users to navigate to areas of interest.
Listed below are three main methods of navigation. You could use one or more of them for your multimedia product.
To make your multimedia product more user-friendly you could create a guided tour. A guided tour is video demo of your website designed to highlight its structure and navigation.
You can create your own navigational guided tours using screen recording software such as CamStudio. Screen recording software records screen and audio activity from your computer and creates a video file. Watch the example below on how you can navigate the GCSE Bitesize website.
Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is studying how humans interact with computers. It focuses on designing and building user-friendly computer systems.
Providing the users with feedback is important as it will let them know if they are using it correctly. This can be done in the form of text, sound or animation eg an error message or sound. Sometimes a form will not allow you to continue until you have filled in a relevant box, eg your date of birth.
Usability focuses on designing a multimedia product that is effective, efficient and satisfies the user's needs.
For example, if you are designing a multimedia website whose purpose is to sell something, you would measure usability by watching how quickly a user can locate and buy that item. It's good practice to put your product through usability tests, as they often reveal problems that are overlooked by designers.
Before you build your multimedia product, you should create some detailed designs.
A flowchart shows the path of a multimedia product.
A structure diagram shows the overall structure of a multimedia product.
A storyboard shows the layout and content of a multimedia product. This example is for filming short video, and includes details on action, dialogue and camera movements.