I stumbled across an older piece done by BBC News back in 2010. “Life with the Lancers” follows four soldiers from the Queen’s Royal Lancers through basic training, to Afghanistan and back to the UK. These 15 videos are packaged in a little multimedia project for efficiency’s sake.
All the media is contained in this tidy layout. The navigation bar categorizes content with a subhead like “Life in camp” or “Coming home” to give an idea of the chronological progression of the videos. The video editing is top notch, and the material is very compelling, with a lot of soldier head-cam footage.
The layout of each page is a little different to make room for different elements, like the map and two videos shown below.
This page covers basic training in the UK and shows the locations of the different training sites. When the videos are set in a smaller frame, like the two above, a pop-up media player hovers over the layout.
The navigation in the back fades and the video takes center stage to really command your attention. It troubles me, though, that with some of the videos that play without a pop-up, you’re able to watch the video while reading the chatter or viewing the infographics, but when you get a pop-up player, you are unable to view the other content. I don’t think the producers put any thought into which videos would allow that and which would not.
The layout is very neat and tidy, and is easily navigable, but by and large it’s a little bland. The use of shades of gray throughout the layout is pretty dull, and doesn’t do anything to complement the content. All of the material by itself is well-produced storytelling, but the package it comes in is pretty boring. If I’m nitpicking, I would mention that the footer at the bottom of the screen on the BBC News site is also distracting.
Beneath the nav. bar is the typical BBC footer, which I don’t want to see if I’m trying to be immersed in the story of these soldiers. What does help with engagement is the neat infographics they include throughout the piece.
Infographics like these are a nice touch that provide additional information that you don’t need to hear coming from the mouth of a soldier. The subjects of this story create an ethos through the videos that is supplemented by the information provided in these graphics.
All-in-all, I like this piece, but I can imagine a more interesting way of presenting the information. The multimedia itself is great, but the design leaves something to be desired.