The research that the team has conducted so far has focused primarily on the human -interest stories, investigating social platforms such as Love What Matters and Story Corps. I discussed one particular platform, Humans of New York, in a previous research post that is located here.
The focus of research investigation i s now directed towards identifying whether there is a platform that exists within the niche market that we intend to explore through the animated documentary. Whilst animal stories had been featured on the other websites, those articles have been written and catered towards the perspective of the animal rather than the experience of the owner. The intention of the documentary is the exact opposite – exploring the experience of animal companionship as perceived by the owner, and how that relationship had influenced that person and their outlook on life.
The general evaluation from the team is that we are currently struggling to identify an outlet – either online or through an alternative facility – that approaches the experience of animal companionship in a similar way. However, as the team is contemplating the project as an opportunity to allude to an expanded brand and increased outreach of opportunities to explore the accounts of people across the globe, the sources that I have gathered through my investigation still retain some wealth for guidance and inspiration.
It was the animal stories that were featured on this website that explored accounts that expose the heartwarming and everyday animal stories that resound with the audience.
One particular account focuses on the owners, Mary and Jim, and the behaviour of their dog Lucky during the period in their lives when Mary was coping with a cancer diagnosis. The entry includes some backstory that explains the nature of the dog Lucky, and his admiration for taking treasures from visitors and other areas of the home before depositing them in his toy box.
The pivotal point of the story occurs after the owner, Mary, returned home after a two-week stint in a hospital for breast cancer treatment. She was very weak and unable to climb the stairs towards her bedroom in order to rest. She resigned to rest on the sofa until she had gathered the strength to move remotely around the rest of her home.
Mary was soon overcome by exhaustion and fell asleep upon the sofa, unaware of the events occurring whilst she was unconscious. It was only when she had woken up that something was amiss – to her discovery, she found herself covered in all of the ‘treasures’ that Lucky had collected throughout the years. The dog had spent the period running towards the basement where the chest of toys was located, gathering his belongings and one-by-one placing them upon Mary as she slept. Lucky had covered her with everything that he loved and treasured.
This story is only one of many endearing tales that explore the relationship between animals and their owners, but from my impression during investigation, the stories are very to the point and miss an opportunity to hit the emotional mark with the audience. The design of the website is another element which detracts from the potential of their platform’s purpose – it is poorly designed, lacks visual aesthetic appeal and is coded similarly to an early two-thousands web page, with one long column down the left side of the browser. It is not user-friendly and does not utilise the tools that web-building platforms have created specifically for improved navigation and layout for the audiences’ consumption.
In contrast, another website that was uncovered during my investigation had been designed specifically to appeal to a community audience. The website can be located here. An interesting and potent element of the web design is the question that is posed as the user first visits the websites – ‘Do you think that all dogs matter?’ The user is given the option of two responses – yes, or no. Whilst I was curious as to what may have happened if ‘no’ had been theatrically selected, my moral compass prevented me from testing to see what the result would have been.
Whilst the other website indicates that their primary purpose is to celebrate the stories of animals and express how enriched lives are as a result of their companionship, IHeartDogs focuses on the community network – bringing together people worldwide to one platform so that they may share with other like-minded individuals their dedication and love for that species of animal.
The website facilitates stories as their main selling point, with diverse benefits such as health tips and dietary suggestions as additional topics that present the website as a community and source of vital information towards excellent dog care. The approach that IHeartDogs has implemented is universally accessible, but consequently, the stories are recounted as their apparent value, with a lack of emotional or intellectual understanding that would make their experiences spiritually potent. Their introductory question begins to address the deeper thought and meaning, but the content has yet to match that level of psychological comprehension.
The research did not indicate an exact comparison between what platforms exist within the market currently, and what the intention of the animated documentary idealises to achieve. The benefit of identifying the lack of similarity illustrates that the team has located a gap within a niche market that has the potential of being exploited in favour of the animated documentary, and based on the nature of the other platforms, has the potential to be successful within a viral online environment. The disadvantage is that whilst there are statistics that indicate that animal-related platforms perform well with audiences, the approach that the team is channeling does have the possibility of ostracising potential fans as a result of trying to implement an emotional and intellectual response – some people just want to watch cute animal videos and not have to think too deeply about the ‘why’. The team will have to consider that as a consequence of the choices that will be made within the next few days of production – the best way to test whether or not that may be the case will be addressed through user-testing and response.
Alawebpages.com. (2016). ENDEARING ANIMAL STORIES. [online] Available at: http://www.alawebpages.com/celebrations/animalsample/animalstories.htm [Accessed 7 Feb. 2017].
Iheartdogs.com. (n.d.). Cite a Website – Cite This For Me. [online] Available at: http://iheartdogs.com/ [Accessed 7 Feb. 2017].
Love What Matters. (n.d.). Home. [online] Available at: http://lovewhatmatters.com/ [Accessed 1 Feb. 2017].
StoryCorps. (n.d.). StoryCorps. [online] Available at: https://storycorps.org/ [Accessed 7 Feb. 2017].