Bertelsmann : Overlooking the user

A publisher shows a surprisingly lack of professional empathy.

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The Site

Bertelsmann, Germany based media corporation, provides an unusual interactive picture download interface that is not as useful as it is easy to use. The Press section of Bertelsmann's global website features a Photos and Logos link on its landing page as well as in its dropdown menu. Clicking the link triggers an overlay panel with its own icon-based navigation. Users are initially asked to select a subject from a list of 13 that includes Buildings, Branding and Executive board. Selecting a subject refreshes the panel with thumbnails of the images within the chosen category; hovering over a thumbnail shows its title. Clicking a thumbnail changes the view to a larger version of the image. An 'In my cart' link that appears below the larger single image allows users to select it for download. The contents of the cart can be viewed by clicking on a shopping trolley icon at top left of the panel. Image titles are listed along with individual file sizes. Selections must be confirmed by tick box and before download can begin users must fill in a data form giving their name, contact details, publication and purpose for which they intend to use the image(s). Once this has been submitted, download follows immediately.

The Takeaway

Bertelsmann’s Photos and Logos library is unusual in that it is not a discrete area of the site, rather an overlay panel that keeps the content currently being viewed quickly retrievable. Beyond this, however, and despite the fairly intuitive and simple navigation within the panel, information is not as readily to hand as users might expect (especially from a publishing house) and nor is all that might be expected provided. A notable inconvenience for picture editors is the necessity of putting an image in the download cart and navigating to the cart before they are told the file’s size (and so can assess its quality and suitability for different mediums, such as a website or print magazine). In addition, the lack of information about copyright, usage rights and sources disregards details important to professional users. These could be associated with the data form, but instead that is all about Bertelsmann’s desire to collect user information. A little more thought about users needs would go a long way to making it easier for them to use Bertelsmann images on their websites and in their publications.
First published 18 September, 2012
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