Podcast Alley : Programming notes
Effortless journeys for browsers of a deep directory.
Podcast Alley, a US-produced portal and directory site, supports browsing by coupling integrated previews of content with next-step options.
Podcast Alley has a ‘Genre’ finder on its home page offering 21 topic options in a dropdown menu. Options lead to a customised version of a directory page, with the index for the chosen topic displayed beneath the genre list. Indexes can be long, with 13 running to a thousand-plus entries, but each can be previewed by clicking on its title. This expands a summary below the title giving an overview of content (and any warnings of restrictions such as “not suitable for those under 18 years of age”).
Summaries end with a line of three onward options: Subscribe, Vote, Details. These are largely self-explanatory: Subscribe leads to a page on how to set up a feed; Details opens an index page for the selected podcast title.
Podcast Alley copes well with one of the consequences of success for any directory or catalogue site: how to help browsers find their way as effortlessly as possible to content that interests them. As is often the case, it is the well-integrated sum of the parts, rather than any one knockout feature, that does the trick.
The use of categorisation linked to a dropdown menu is basic stuff but well positioned for browsing eyes, at top left of the home page. Retention of the menu list in full at the head of customised pages is a neat alternative to having to reuse the dropdown once in the feature (though that option is retained along with a title search). The expanded summaries are a little more distinctive, though hardly innovative, but are enhanced by the addition of next-step options if the preview looks worth following up. Arguably the Vote option is prematurely positioned – it’s jumping the gun unless it’s the summary that is being rated – but, as that generates a pop-up ballot box rather than changing the page, it’s a minor quibble.http://www.podcastalley.com/index.php
First published on 08 January, 2009