The hierarchy of content: changing layout design to accommodate multimedia content
The internet is a haven for interactive media. Traditional media relied on the strength and collaboration of written and photographic storytelling (with a heavy emphasis on the written), but today, brands and publishers rely on a combination of interactive media storytelling to create content. Everything’s on the menu, from lists to maps to GIFs to podcasts to charts to video (especially video). Now, it’s just about balancing how to display and layout this content.
Traditional layout design from newspapers and magazines favors the title > image > byline > copy layout, but traditional print media can’t exactly publish GIFs, can they?
Taking a note from traditional media’s layout design, web content complied to the same rules and restrictions of traditional paper media for a long time. “Above the fold” on a web page translated into everything you could see on a page before you would need to scroll. For a long time in media, the most important pieces of a story occurred above the fold in the first few images or sentences; a “hierarchy of content” occurred not only in its layout, but its journalistic content (inverted pyramid structure).
Now the “hierarchy of content” must change as our consumption habits change. We’re no longer afraid to scroll down pages; in fact, all we do is scroll down social media feeds on our mobile devices. Even though 80 percent of our attention is spent “above the fold,” nearly 66 percent of our engagement is done below the fold, according to Chartbeat.
Since we’re all now pro-scrolling content consumers (and our attention spans are less than goldfish), brands and publishers are looking to push what’s most important/entertaining/interesting above the fold and what’s most engaging below it. It’s a tricky task, but one that’s easily been solved by BuzzFeed, of all publishers.
Eschewing traditional layout design, a new hierarchical content design replicates the structure of listicles, following the formula of title > copy > item title > image > item description (and so on and so forth). Yes, we can thank/blame/curse BuzzFeed for popularizing this new layout trend as other publishers (and eventually brands) rushed to replicate its success and shift to multimedia storytelling to accommodate video. Approximately 70 percent of future internet traffic is estimated to come from video and multimedia content.
Image credit: Kaboom Pics