BAA : Dating letdown

Initial promise for picture editors is not sustained.

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The feature

BAA, the UK’s leading airport operator, highlights new content in its photo library but frustrates potential users of the service as well as its commercial potential. BAA's photo library sits on a standalone microsite as a ‘business-to-business’ facility providing images for ‘commercial use’ at a fee. A ‘Latest additions’ link on its home page leads to a list of categories from which users are invited to view thumbnail preview galleries. A clear indication is given with the initial link and on the categories index page of when new images were last added. No date is included in the initial references for individual images in the preview galleries but is given in a full caption that appears on mouseover. In some cases this shows that the image has been added after the ‘latest additions’ date (for example, several in the ‘Heathrow’ set are credited from mid-August when the ‘latest’ date is 3 July). An ‘Image search’ tool to the left of pages allows filtering by Category, Subcategory and Keywords/Image Ref but is not geared to the Latest additions galleries. So, for example, attempting to search the ‘All new images’ gallery for Heathrow/People returns more matches (2,415) than the total of new images (310). New categories such as Diamond Jubilee neither feature in the search filters nor are identified as new.

The takeaway

The provision of a dedicated Latest additions section in the photo library looks to be a boon for picture editors whether they are regular users or seeking newsworthy or up-to-date images. The initial at-a-glance confirmation of when the resource was last updated is a potential time saver but for anyone following through to the Latest additions gallery the level of support goes rapidly downhill. The search engine produces confusion not clarity and even confidence in the feature’s fundamental proposition – its last-added-to date – is undermined once users have worked out how to find and browse caption information (which itself is neither obvious nor explained). That the initial caption information shows a catalogue reference number only suggests the library has put commerce before usability rather than usability at the service of commerce. The uncoordinated search and mismatched dating add to the sense that sloppy and unsympathetic management is wasting the investment in the feature as well as stifling any commercial potential it might have.
First published 06 September, 2012
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