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Chapter 6. Designing for Web Genres

Chapter 6. Designing for Web Genres

Designers of Web sites often draw on well-established brick and mortar practices to decide what should initially constitute the content, expression, and form of their sites. They do so, whether intentionally or not, in an attempt to accommodate the expectations people bring from their physical-world experience—experience that can be categorized into “genres.” For example, people visiting news Web sites would expect the pages of that site to incorporate many of the structural and layout features of newspapers. Tourism sites might resemble travel brochures. Shopping sites might incorporate many retail features, such as aisles and shopping carts. The home page of an entertainment site might be designed to look like a colorful poster for a game or a show, or whatever the particular entertainment topic is. The benefit of this approach to design is usability. Visitors immediately feel comfortable in the site's environment.

News, shopping, entertainment, and information sites are each a genre that can be identified and distinguished from other categories by the content each provides to its intended audience. But designers should be aware that, perhaps more importantly, in addition to content, each genre has its unique, culturally established expression and form that define and distinguish the genre. For users to immediately feel comfortable with the content and to find the site easy to use, they need to recognize the styles and formats to which they are accustomed in the physical world. Then visitors can gradually assimilate new Web features unique to the given genre.


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