Genre is a way of categorising a text through style and form. It is vital to be able to categorise texts in
this way, both for production and analysis.
While genre is more commonly applied to discussions of film, the concept can actually be applied to any media text
as a way of explaining categories and paradigms. I am going to use it here to discuss my website which I produced
for the AS portfolio. It would be simple to class the similarities and differences in websites to make them fit
into a specific genre, although Rick Altman applies this to films, it could be useful in websites, this is called the
semantic approach (1995).
Industry websites have certain genres because each industry sector has a different function and so their websites
must serve a different purpose. While most websites do function as a marketing tool it would be wrong to assume
that this was their only function. At marketingcharts.com there is a chart titled, ‘Top 10 Site Genres’ (March 2010)
and the list includes Finance, Sports & Recreation, Home and Garden and Entertainment. Email is the top site genre
closely followed by General Community.
The marketing industry is already categorising sites, presumably because it helps them sell advertising space on
these sites and genre has also been a key marketing tool for film promoters because they can connect films with big
advertisers and with audiences.
Campaign websites are easily identifiable by their paradigms. They all share a common theme which is to help
others. 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 was recognisable as
we used an attractive colour scheme to the eye, to catch the readers attention and to make them aware of what we
are trying to achieve with this campaign website. We also used images of young happy children to show what the
the money the audience give will do to these children to make their lives much better than it already is and to make
them happy. We also had a video on the homepage of our site which shows a young girl happily playing on a swing
in the garden laughing and smiling, we hoped this would motivate people to donate money.
From my home page audiences can navigate to the events page and there they can see photos of young children
who we have helped, and different fundraising events we have done. In addition to the images audiences can see
persuasive language and key verbs such as ‘donate’ ‘help’ ‘support’ which are all expected in this genre.
The structure of my website is recognisable because it has a ‘safe’ three-column structure and has all the links a
campaign site needs to promote and to enable the audience to get involved or donate. On every page we have a big
red button with 'donate here' in capitals written on it, to persuade the audience to click on it and donate.
Audiences like site genres because it helps them navigate sites quickly. They expect a site in a particular genre to
contain certain and recognisable paradigms. For young people, the assessment of the site may also be based on how
inventively the genre paradigms are used.
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.