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Intro to Interactive Media

Site Critique: Jay-Z Hits Collection

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By: Caroline Marshall

Site: Jay-Z Hits Collection

A winner of an Interactive Multimedia Award in 2011, the Jay-Z Hits Collection website presents new ways to market music, especially using social media. The Flash website, which was created by Island Def Jam and Agency Net in 2010, effectively uses design to clearly convey a message.

Navigation

The website opens with a introductory video that shows pictures of New York while playing Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind”. Normally, this would be something most users would skip within a few seconds, but the video is mercifully short. The bottom of every page contains a newsletter sign up, a “share” button that links to Facebook, and a music player. The navigation is incredibly simple. Users navigate from the home page to four different “eras” of Jay-Z’s career. When users click on a different era, a short video intermission plays and then users are taken to the page. Each era has the same sections to navigate through: discography, videos, milestones, and photos. The bottom of each page also contains bars that move with the music frequencies. Each bar contains a twitter post about Jay-Z. When clicked, tweets are displayed in a carousel interface, and users are invited to “add your voice”. However, the twitter feed is not labeled, so users are unaware of the feature unless they roll over the bar.Design

The design for the site is really the centerpiece here. The color scheme is thoroughly black and white, which gives the site a high contrast. The text is minimal and highly readable. Buttons are large, obvious, and let users know what they’re going to. But there is a problem with consistency in the navigation – sometimes users can click on any place in the window to navigate, and sometimes they need to click specific arrows. The website design does a great job of promoting Jay-Z’s image as an artist. The glossy black and white photos used in the design continuously suggest opulence and New York City.

Content

The site is clearly geared towards Jay-Z fans, being that its sole purpose is to sell his hits collection. However, the site does not contain a lot of up-front information about the actual album. The only way the track listing can be ascertained is by clicking the “buy now” link that takes users to Amazon or looking for the highlighted songs on his entire discography listed on the website. And for a website that is entirely focused on music, the music player is sorely lacking some features. The only controls on the music player are volume controls, and only 30 second samples of songs that are in the hits collection are played on a loop. The fact that the site is dedicated completely to the hits collection means that there are a lot of missed opportunities – there are no tour dates, links to current singles on iTunes, or integration with Jay-Z’s social media. The method of twitter integration was a good idea, but Facebook is the only other social network given space on the site. And since the website is in Flash, it cannot be accessed on Apple devices.

Summary

The Jay-Z Hits Collection website uses its clean design to guide users through the site and to promote an image of an artist, but it falls a little short on the information of the product that it is actually trying to sell. The site needs a clearer track listing for the album and an improved music player. The social media integration was a good idea, but needs to be displayed more effectively to communicate its purpose. Overall, the site is effective, but could be improved.

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