Voice Over Education Blog

August 2014

Ten website design rules, and how to violate some of them


To design and build your website, there are countless mix-and-match options. You can hire a web design service, or use a Content Management System provider/host such as Squarespace or WordPress (using their tools and a customized template), or even build your site from scratch, maybe starting from a template, and incorporating a player so that visitors can hear your demo files.

Unless you already know about sitebuilding, or plan to make it a sideline, building your own site from scratch is not the most efficient way to go. (If you have that much spare time, focus it on actual Voice Over practice, auditioning and work.)

Whatever your approach, it’s easy to stop too short or get carried away. To get your results “just right,” here are some principles to heed. And sometimes not. This list is far from all-inclusive, but it may help avoid common mistakes.

1. Don’t get a round-hole template for square-hole needs. If using a template, is it perfectly suited to your marketing situation? Some design services tend to use templates for everything, but your voice over website probably doesn’t have the same needs as, oh, their telecommunications services retailer client. This is something to ask the service about before starting. Your site content and navigation should suit what you have to offer; you should not add or limit content to suit the available menu or space.

(One advantage to some templates is that they’re well-tested on all platforms and screen sizes. A disadvantage is that unless extensively customized, they tend to make your site look like everybody else’s. Does the world really need yet another huge, space-wasting, confusing image “slider”?)

Internet Audio: Is yours a star, or a dog? Part Two


NOTE: This is the second post in a two-part article. Click here to read part one

Last week, we talked about how the use of audio and video is exploding on the Internet. This week, we have some tips and observations particularly related to online audio content and production.

As we said last week, “content is king,” so the script deserves some attention.

Audio scripting for the Web

Whether your role is only to voice the content, or you are its producer, the script may already be written. In that case you might skip over this next section. But it pays to be aware of any way to make your services more valuable, so please read on….

Where the script is concerned, sometimes a client will invite suggestions, but generally not. As a VO pro, you know that although perceptive clients appreciate your creative contributions, you should follow the script. It might have been written a certain way for reasons you’re not privy to. Even if you have a really helpful insight, a script critique might be unappreciated, embarrassing or even tactless to offer it outright. It depends on who is in the room with you, and your client’s attitude. But sometimes there’s a way to offer a suggestion indirectly – for example, by asking a thoughtful question, or mentioning previous experience in a way that won’t embarrass anyone.

If you’re actually writing the script, here are four important considerations:

Internet Audio: Is yours a star, or a dog? Part One


NOTE: This is the first post in a two-part article. Stay tuned next week for part two!

As they say, on the Internet nobody can tell if you’re a dog. Unfortunately, people can hear if you’re a dog. The quality of your audio should be up to the quality of your content. And, of course, your content should always be stellar.

Internet Audio takes many forms, from a website audio file to the audio component in the video stream of a live event. It encompasses everything imaginable, including:
• “explainer” videos
• corporate training
• narrated banner ads
• podcast intros
• Audio Description for the sight-impaired
• just plain entertaining program content.

As voice over talent, you may have only limited involvement in the many relevant issues, or you may be totally involved in scripting, production, recording, and delivery. For example, if a video producer hires you simply (and we use that word only in a relative sense!) to record the voice over for a video that someone else will produce, that’s a limited involvement. But if the voice over will be a demo on your own site, or if you’re a site owner contemplating producing and voicing a video yourself, there are a whole range of creative, performance and technical issues to think about.

This brief article can’t cover all of them, but whatever your role, we hope to provide some seeds for thought, understanding and exploration. As you gain experience in this area, you’re likely to encounter clients who have relatively little experience at producing the end product, and who look to you for input and guidance. One way or another, your involvement is likely to grow.

Content is still king.

For the site-owner, the one overarching question is (dare we say it), do you even need audio? On the Web, content has always triumphed over form, unless form is what you are selling. There are times to use audio, or video (A/V), and there are times to stick to text.

What’s your image of Imaging?


In a world where “real” voices are paramount, where being “vocally free” is prized, what does a VO pro make of promo, trailers and imaging work? Isn’t it the domain of the big voice, the DJ sound, and distinctive affectation?

It was. Not so much anymore. Even in imaging.

First, let’s all get up to speed with some definitions.

• Promos are the “commercials” that broadcast stations and networks (TV, radio, cable, satellite, web, etc.) run to advertise their own programming.
• Imaging is what the advertising community calls “branding.” It refers to a station or network IDs, audio billboards, logos, and other productions that identify the station or network and define its “position” in the programming marketplace. (For example, “This is CNN,” or “All hits on the Big 102!”)
• Affiliate promos are related to both imaging and promos, in that they are promotions produced by networks for their affiliated stations’ use. Each station receives a localized version (e.g., with a specific channel number and names of local newscasters).
• Trailers promote movies. Even when a movie promotion is run on television or included on a DVD, etc., it’s still called a trailer, even when it’s more like an ad or commercial. (No matter -- the word is an anachronism anyway.) Increasingly, in theaters trailers don’t have a voice over at all. In other media, voice is necessary.

Clear enough, right? But how does, say, an imaging job differ from a promo job?

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