Genre is a way in which text can be categorized using style and form. Being able to do this holds great importance both for production and analysis. The majority of students affiliate genre with films and music because it is easier to identify categories in this way. However I would argue that the same tool used to categorize film and music can be used to generalize any kind of media text and define them by categories and paradigms. I’m going to use genre to discuss my website which I produced for the as portfolio. Its very easy to make note of minor similarities of differences in websites to make them fit into a definitive genre. This is what Rick Alterman calls the semantic approach (1995). Instead Altman encourages a syntactic approach which is to ask- why? So I will explain the purpose of the similarities.
The industry websites have certain genres because each industry sector has a different function, so therefore their websites serve a different purpose. While most websites do operate as a marketing tool it would be wrong to assume that this was their only function. This is supported by entitled “Top ten site genres” (March 2010) a chart made by marketing charts.com. On this chart finance, sports and recreation, home and garden and entertainment and email are held as the closely followed by the general community.
So its evident that the marketing industry is already categorizing sites, most likely because it helps them sell advertising space on this sites.
Campaign websites are just as easily identifiable as films, based on the common themes and paradigms that are recognized to belonging under that particular genre of website. The iconography they use must persuade the audience that the campaign is worthwhile and motivate them to get involved. To make this easy for the audience, they share a certain structure. My website had a recognizable theme which obviously belonged to the campaign genre because of the mission statement which was “preserving animals in their natural environments”. To support this, the iconography used on the website depicted the basis of the genre because the images used to site were of healthy animals in well maintained facilities. These images conveyed the idea that the campaign had made a positive difference to the quality of life of the animals.
As expected in this genre, persuasive language like; “donate” and “help” are used to encourage people to support the movement. In comparison to other sites in this genre I would say that my website is relatively safe. Following an informal lay out with small chunks of info scattered around the page.
Placing sites into categories makes navigation on the part of the audience a lot easier. This is because they know what the type of paradigms to expect in a particular genre. For young people, the assessment of the site may also be based on how inventively the genre paradigms are used. If you look at campaign sites aimed at teenagers there is sometimes evidence of innovation in the design but the theme, structure and iconography still make them instantly recognisable as a campaign site. Talk to Frank for example uses more flash and has an interesting way of accessing the information from the main image, but the conventional structure is still evident. The concept of genre is therefore applicable to websites and it is already extremely important to both the Institutions their audiences. Both are given a sense of safety by genre. The institutions have financial safety knowing they are investing money on a format that already works. For site visitors, the safety is of having their expectations of the navigation experience met by the site they choose to visit.