When you encounter a new piece of information, whether it’s a television show, a picture, and article, or one of the many other forms of media we encounter on a daily basis, you form an opinion about it. What it’s about, if you like it and what the purpose of it is, among other things. Unfortunately, you can’t always go to the producer of the content and ask them directly, so you may never have a definite answer to some of these. The same goes for producers. You don’t always get to know exactly how a person felt while interacting with your content.
Given the degree of uncertainty in how work is perceived, it is important to think of every way that the content can be perceived and the way that the content was meant to be perceived. This is important on both sides of the media.
When viewing a piece of work, sometimes consumers have to work harder in order to unpack the meaning of it. In this case, the meaning of the content may be ambiguous. Consumers also will not always take the same meaning away from something given their differing backgrounds. Some will be offended by content while others may find it intriguing or even funny, as was the case with some of the most controversial ads campaigns.
Understanding all the ways that your work can be perceived is an important part of being a content producer. A large part of this means making sure that the context gives enough clues to the consumer on how the content should be understood, but not overwhelming them with information. This is where the importance of being concise, yet descriptive comes into play. Another approach is to use text over the image, like Barbara Kruger. She is known for using the text over her found photos to clarify or give a different meaning. Without that context, the photo would mean something entirely different to the consumer.
The saying goes that an image is worth a thousand words, but when someone looks at your content, are they getting the same thousand words you intended? The same also goes for the reverse. Are you getting the same thousand words the producer intended?