Over the past year or so I’ve become aware of the importance of images in blog posts. I noticed this after I started to move away from reading blogs on my RSS reader on my mobile device, which didn’t include images, to use of RSS and Twitter aggregator services, such as Smartr, Pulse, Flipboard or Zite.
An example of the interface which I use most mornings on the way to work can be seen. This image shows the Pulse App on my iPod Touch. As can be seen in the display of UKOLN RSS feeds my blog and the blog for my colleague Marieke Guy both feature images taken from the blog posts which can held differentiate posts; in contrast items available in the UKOLN News RSS feed, for which we tend not to provide images, fail to stand out.
It was as the importance of such personalised newspaper apps started to become apparent that I decided to make greater use of images on this blog. In this respect I am well behind Martin Weller who, on his Ed Techie blog, frequently includes images in his posts.
The thing I didn’t expect was to see such interfaces being provided for desktop browsers. However last week when I followed a link to a post on Library 2.0 on Steve Wheeler’s Learning With ‘E’s blog I found a similar graphical interface, with an image for the most recent post displayed prominently and images for other recent posts displayed underneath.
I think it will be interesting to see the way in which user interface approaches developed for mobile devices start to migrate to a desktop environment.
In a post on Who let the blogs out? Steve discusses the new theme, with a tongue-in-cheek reference to a recent series of posts on the Context is King vs Context is King debate:
For all these years I have been focusing mainly on content. It was substance over style. Focusing solely on content at the expense of context is a mistake.
Steve went on to describe the changes to the blog:
I gave my blog a makeover a few days ago. I invoked one of the new templates that Blogger has just started to offer its users. You can see the difference it has made. … It holds the content, and presents it in a manner that is more accessible, easy to explore and in a more dynamic way.
It will be interesting to see if developments such as this theme, which is provided on the Blogger.com platform, owned by Google, will challenge traditional views on the importance of HTML conformance and Web accessibility guidelines. I would be interested to find out if the content of the blog can be made available to AT tools whilst still providing the new interface for those who prefer this way of interacting with continually the updated content we often find on blogs.
I should add that Steve’s blog can be read on my iPod Touch and Android phone using apps such as Pulse. This makes me wonder if we can regard such devices as AT tools for users who may, for example, find it difficult to make use of desktop computers?