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Entertainment Value

(March 17, 2005) - Reading straight text from a computer screen can be uncomfortable and slow. The Net itself compounds this with its erratic display performance. For the most part, experienced Web surfers scan broad passages of text looking for the logic and connections between HyperLinks. Since this is the primary Website browsing behavior, a Website should be designed with some type of entertainment value in mind.

Entertainment value includes both maintenance and providing for the needs of a guest. Although it seems removed from the "hard work" of job searching and candidate screening, entertainment value is another dimension of user-centeredness. The central question when assessing the entertainment value of a Website is: "What is the user's subjective experience of the visit to the Website?"

The quality and use of graphics are both components of entertainment value. Graphics must be engaging, clear, interesting and appropriately placed. Though the term is often used as a pejorative, "infotainment" is the ideal goal for Website graphics, which should simultaneously inform and entertain. The placement of graphics in a Website's text should add maximum value to the Website's information.

Employment-related Websites are visited by three kinds of people:

  • Active job seekers,
  • Opportunity seekers who aren't exactly active job seekers and
  • Networkers who are laying the groundwork for a future job search.

Each group has somewhat different needs and interests. Active job seekers are likely to be impatient with all but the most relevant information for their job search. Opportunity seekers generally have a heightened interest in knowing how to stay abreast of changing employment possibilities. Networkers are usually concerned with professional improvement and developing strategic relationships.

Depending on what your objectives are, it may not be possible, useful or desirable for you to develop relationships with all three of these audiences at the same time or through the same Website. By using well-designed forms of entertainment, visitors that are not desired at a Website can be directed elsewhere. Done well, with a gentle but clear hand, a Website's entertainment value can build an impression that will cause visitors to return to the Website when they become the right audience.

John Sumser

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