Online Media Types

By Mindy McAdams
University of Florida

> Online Journalism
> Writing for the Web
> Interactivity
> Scholarship
> How to make use of these online media types
Text Static Similar to printed text: Does not move or change; cannot be changed by users May be inside a scrolling box
Moving Typical in ads; "flying text"; may disappear or change; may show and hide; may expand and contract Not the same as a scrolling box that contains text; moving text actually travels and changes
Link Clickable; usually differentiated from unlinked text by color or decoration, e.g. underlining May be embedded in static or moving text; may be navigation (reused throughout site for wayfinding) or independent (not for wayfinding)
Photos Independent; "singles"

Not part of a photo group; may accompany text, have a caption, or be accompanied by audio

More than one independent photo may appear on one page
Slide show Set of photos that are displayed in a sequence; usually with no preview of upcoming photos Passive (user only watches) or active (user can control speed or order); with or without audio (music, narration, ambient / natural; may be looping or not); photos may move or zoom (see example)

Set of photos displayed in some way that allows users to select which photos to view; usually with thumbnail images

Linear (after user's initial selection, the gallery takes on a slide show format) or nonlinear (user can always select the next photo from a set)
Graphics Static; fixed Does not move, is not clickable, is not a "realistic" photo; may convey information, or not; includes logos and headings in cases where the text is an image (text is not selectable but is part of the graphic) Difference between a photo and a graphic may be hard to discern in some cases (e.g. a "photo illustration"); some graphics are illustrations with little or no information value; "infographics" deliberately convey information, e.g. a diagram of a car engine
Moving; motion Animation; may convey information or not (e.g. a blinking light bulb); may include clickable sequences within the animation Passive (user only watches) or active (user can control or make choices regarding the action); may be integrated with or include photos and/or video; with or without sound (see example)
Link Clickable; may be static or moving; may have a rollover (mouseover) visual effect, or not; may include text as part of the image (such text is not selectable) Navigation (reused throughout site for wayfinding) or icon (reused throughout site but not for wayfinding; always means the same thing, e.g. "download") or independent (not navigation or icon; may be reused)
Audio Instant

Usually provides feedback to users, e.g. a beep sound when a button is clicked

Usually of very short duration
Looping Soundtrack repeats endlessly, e.g. a music loop Controllable (user can stop or start sound and/or change volume; sometimes can even change the track) or not controllable
Non-looping Sound plays once and does not repeat automatically Can be ambient/natural sound, music, voiceover, etc.; controllable (user can stop or start sound and/or change volume; sometimes can even change the track) or not controllable
Video   Motion recorded with a camera (note that an online video player can play non-video media; motion online often is not video) May include photos or still shots; may include audio; compare with Graphics/Moving and Photos/Slide show
User interaction Form input Text fields, radio buttons, check boxes, selectable lists allow user to enter or choose information Typical uses are polls, quizzes, surveys; also used for shopping; response to user may be delayed (check back later for the results) or immediate; when submitted, form data may be saved in a database, e-mailed, used to generate a response, or all of these
E-mail input Provides both an e-mail address and a means for sending e-mail May be a mailto: link (opens an e-mail application) or a form for sending e-mail to a specific e-mail address
Discussion Asynchronous, many-to-many discourse among two or more participants May take place via e-mail or through a Web interface (e-mail discussions are often archived on the Web); may be moderated or unmoderated
Chat Synchronous discourse among two or more participants May be archived after completion; may be one-to-one,
one-to-many, or
may be moderated or unmoderated
Publication Users contribute content to a site they do not own or control; content typically is not edited by anyone other than the contributor Includes group Weblogs and community sites (e.g. compare with User interaction/Discussion
Publication date: 11 March 2003
Last update: 19 November 2006