Author Archives: alex rose

Peer Review: joannalin.ca

Homepage

Joanna’s site opens to a picture of Downtown Vancouver with the overlaid text “Food Adventures!” and a “Discover” button. The semi-transparent white rectangle is meant to increase the readability of the text, however it fails to do so as the typeface is still too thin to differentiate with geometric backgrounds like buildings.

Joanna has some options to solve this issue: she can increase the opacity of the white rectangle further, she can change the background to something that lacks strong geometry or remove it altogether, or she can change the typeface to a heavier font (my personal favoured option).

Some other quick notes: the “Discover” button is non-functional – a real shame considering how our attention is drawn to it after reading the main title text. Next, the site’s title is confusing – is it joannalin, PICKIEATER, or “Food Adventures!”. The last option might seem obvious, but I would recommend making it a full tag-line if that is the intention; something like “Adventures into the culinary world of Vancouver”. Finally, while the picture is attention grabbing, the fact it fills the screen makes me think there is no other content on this homepage, which is not true.

Blog Posts and General Aesthetic

 

Joanna maintains a clean, consistent, and well balanced aesthetic throughout her site. The monochromatic colour palette allows for the focus to remain on the images of the food: the subject of the site. However, I would recommend having the image below the title and before the main body text to make it seems integrated into the post, rather than separate.

There is a definite elegance to the style of the site, especially when reading blog posts. There are no distracting widgets pulling attention away from the articles and the thin sans-serif font reads nicely.

One glaring issue is the “My Life” section of the blog: it is completely empty. Even if Joanna plans to post about her general lifestyle (which I would not recommend for a food blog), she should not have the section created until she has content.

Final Thoughts

It is clear from Joanna’s latest process post that is considering she design more closely moving forward. She has managed to keep a consistent and clean aesthetic, which is important, but has major utility issues including her Discover button and My Life page.

 

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My Audience

I’m in a fortunate situation to already have data on my audience. With over 34,000 total views and an average watch time of 7 minutes, I’m able to see where my audience curently stands and how that compares to me target.

Gender and age

The subgenre of g-house (ie. my set mixes) and the niche of music production (ie. my tutorials) are both still male dominated. While I was expecting a discrepancy, I didn’t expect the gap to be so large. Women generally tend to prefer genres like future bass and and tropical house, however also have a strong presence in the bass listening community. As I continue producing more future pop music, I hope to equal out my gender demographics.

In terms of age, the distribution is near to my expectations. I’m surprised 25-34 beats out 18-25 as younger people are more likely to enjoy dance music, but again in may be a result of the sub-genre of g house being a traditional house genre and not mainstream.

Geography

I’ve included every country that represents at least 3% of my audience. Interestingly, I have a presence in 63 countries which is more than I expected. I also expected Canada to come in at number 2, not 4, and of course USA at number 1 is no shocker. While its positive my audience is so diverse, in an ideal scenario I would be much more popular in Canada; at least 10% of my audience should be Canadian.

Other factors

The profile I imagine this blog portion of my website appealing most to is young (15-25) producers and DJs looking for both educational and entertaining content. Making the transition from an audience based on 30-80 minutes mixes of a niche sub-genre of house music to vlog content has been challenging. My view counts are nowhere near the formerly mentioned content, but I’m hoping consistency and the grind will pay off in the coming months.

Until then, I will continue the experiment for the semester.

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Youtube and Design

As the second largest search engine on the planet, millions interface with Youtube‘s design everyday. The Google-owned video streaming platform is by far my most frequented website due to my nature as both a consumer and producer. In fact, I have three separate Youtube accounts: one for general interests of mine like film and television, video games, politics, and recently magic; one for music and vlog subscriptions and my own video publishing; and one for work and business related subscriptions. I’ve learned many skills and developed most of my political opinions using the platform and am painfully aware of all of its developers design decisions.

As a viewer

Many Youtube power users detest the front pages focus on recommended videos over your subscription box. While I would definitely prefer having the subscription box under the recommended box rather than on a separate page, its the obvious choice for the designers to increase time-on-site and watch-time. Also, the recommended box is very accurate at predicting content I enjoy, much like Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist.

The subscription box (where much of my time is spent on site) is organized by time of upload. Ignoring the issues of videos being mysteriously omitted occasionally, the focus remains on the video thumbnails, like the front page. The entire website design seemed to be as minimalist as possible, giving full attention to the thumbnails which next to no other colour on the site.

On video pages, the design philosophy continues with all text, share buttons, and so on being unobtrusive grey and commenters profile pictures being relatively small.

As a creator

Youtube is more of a mixed page from the perspective of a creator. There is no single click way to see all your videos in a list for efficient performance evaluation, and in general the Creator Studio is a mess. The default dashboard configuration is crowded and disorganized, drawing the eye to multiple locations including useless sections like “WHAT’S NEW” and “TIPS” (dear Youtube, if I wanted “tips” for Youtube, I WOULD YOUTUBE IT!). Again, you cannot expand your video list or analytics without loading a separate page.


The video manager and uploader and usable but not noteworthy. Cards, end screens, and annotations remain very clunky ever since Youtube reformatted to prioritize mobile.

Analytics is by far Youtube’s strongest creator feature. The design communicates only the most important information, is surprisingly uncluttered, but still retains much of the power and utility desired from an analytics tool.

Reviewing my design

After considering design more closely, the aspect I’m now concerned most about is navigation and consistency. I’ve edited my logos to stay consistent in the exact typing of my artist name as “alex rose”, never “alexrose” or “Alex Rose”. I’m also considering combining different sections to make sure my top priorities are most easily accessible.

Overall, the design of my site follows design principles. The minimalist, white space aesthetic is consistent and my pages are organized and uncluttered.

 

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Peer Review: jadeboiser.com

Jade’s website opens to three colorful square picture blocks, all of which include people. The pink and white pallet of the italicized text denoting the article titles and post-dates fit the familial content of the pictures. After moving my gaze I notice the first design issue: the black and white background image paired with white and grey text is practically illegible. One of these two elements needs color to create contrast, or alternatively, the background should be darkened to have no true white value to make white text visible. The larger issue at hand is that Jade’s website is all about playlist curation and the personal significance of music, none of which is communicated visually. Even with the text legibility issue solved, I would also recommend including a musical signifier as a landing image, like a vinyl record player or a group of friends playing music together.

About

On to Jade’s “About” page; she cleverly includes a Spotify widget to allow guests to follow her playlists, a great connection to make to the theme of the site. Her about description seems like a missed opportunity by contrast. While it establishes her philosophy behind music curation, it fails to connect the reader to her personally. I would encourage Jade to use this opportunity to talk about the significance music has had in her life broadly; save the specifics for posts, but this should be an introduction. Also, remove comments from the “About” page: there is no need.

Blog

Jade’s blog is fantastic. She delivers beautifully personal takes on songs that have impacted her in life. A unique approach to typical song reviews, Jade succeeds in connecting with the reader through her experiences told in just the right amount of detail. The theme of her blog is well envisioned, and her execution is strong. My only criticism is of the inconsistent length and writing quality between posts. Her second post seems rushed and lacking in the personality displayed in her other two. Hopefully as Jade continues writing the issue of consistency is resolved.

As someone who shares her philosophy of music curation, Jade’s writing tells me a lot about herself as a personal, and that personal connection is fantastic. I look forward to reading Jade’s work in the future.

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Thoughts on Genres | 003

This week I share my thoughts on genres – sub genres specifcally – and the effect they have on we produce. If you like the vlog and want to support it, be sure to like the video and share it with friends. Also, I really appreciate any comments on topics you’d like covered in the future. Until next time.

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Sexy Back (RICCI Remix) | Review

I recently played a Throwback 2000s show at Republic Nightclub here in Vancouver. I took to Youtube in search of remixes for a shortlist on crowd pleasers including Spice Girls, Christina Aguilera, and of course: Justin Timberlake. Seeing as RICCI is one of my favorite Brazilian Bass artists, you can imagine my excitement finding out he’d remixed JT’s mega-hit Sexy Back.

Brazilian Bass at its Finest

Brazilian Bass only entered my radar recently as I misnomered RICCI and Alok as G-house. While I could (and will eventually) go on a whole rant about house sub-genre boundaries, let me just say that whatever I should classify this remix as, it nails the dark, minimalist elements of modern confessions style house music.

The Good

The highly saturated and reverberated top percussion keep your head bobbing, even during the breaks. The atmospheric FX of sirens adds to the dark mood established by the long 808 shots, and the bass pluck tease in the first break does a perfect job of planting the seed for the drop.

What I love so much about this track is the marriage of the drop vocal and bass pluck rhythm. Syncing the pluck to the vocal phrasing and hard cutting the levels in the second half creates beautiful rest space that adds to the intensity and anticipation of the next kick. The additive synths to much to accentuate particular notes without distracting from the driving pluck. The fills and open off-beat hats are not overdone, a common mistake in the genre.

The Bad

I have only two criticisms of RICCI’s remix. First, more variety and creativity with the vocal would have taking the drops to another level. While RICCI does some interesting gating in the second half of the drop to build tension, the second drop would have benefited from more of this creative manipulation seeing as we’ve already heard the drop once before. My second and final criticism is of the builds: they left me wanting more. While Brazillian Bass and G-house cannot engage in the kind of self-indulging builds of electro-house due to their minimal drops, RICCI’s remix would have benefited from an extra percussive build-up/riser.

Verdict

While I’m a little late to the party on this remix, its become a must-play in my sets. It achieves what I tried to in my track Drank, and I’ve started using it as a reference for my new G-house projects. RICCI struck gold here.

 

 

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Design Anxiety

You’d be hard pressed to find a musical artist who didn’t also find visual design interesting. As an integral part of a brand identity, visual design forms part of an artist’s aesthetic.

The Logo as a Guide

Forgive my repeated appeals to Oliver Heldens, but I feel we can learn something from his logo. The simple OH on its side resembles a person dancing: the exact purpose of Oliver Heldens as a project. His visual design in consistent with his musical design.

As I mentioned in my article on outlining my brand identity, I was blessed with a beautiful logo that continues to guide my visual (and even musical) design decisions. However, after reading Travis Gertz’s Design Machines, I realized I hadn’t been honoring the promise of my own brand.

A Tired Look

I was using the same tired templates as the start-up tech firms of silicon valley that he so rightly pokes fun at. While this design is definitely different than what most DJs use, it is still not consistent with alex rose.

Ignoring the Christmas colour pallet created by my camouflage hat for a moment, I’d like to focus on the all-to-common “call to action” (CTA) button. When designing my landing page the first time, I struggled to decide what to even link through with my CTA button. Should it go to my SoundCloud? My Facebook? My Instagram? SoundCloud obviously houses my music, but I wanted to grow my Facebook following, but I was also most active on Instagram. I landed with the first option, but it never felt right.

The rest of the landing page included my most popular mix, mentioned in my post about audience engagement, because…well no particular reason other than that it was popular. My website design followed tropes rather than translating my brand from its current forms as a logo, music, and live act, to an interactive visual experience.

Looking to the Future

I made some major changes recently, like combining my “about” page with the homepage, and changing the order of my “media” page to prioritize my music: my primary product. I’m sure the website will continue to evolve in terms of visual design both as I improve my skills and as I understand alex rose better as a brand, but I’m happy with how far its come.

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Audience Engagement and the Dreaded Comments Section

I’m fortunate to have the comments section I do. On all my videos and Soundcloud tracks, I’ve received only 2 negative comments out of hundreds. This surprises me considering how often we hear of Youtube’s toxic community and North America’s overly competitive (as opposed to collaborative) music-producer scene.

That being said, I still do receive comments that provoke my defense mechanisms. You know, those mechanisms that turn us into our worst selves online. I want to share one such comment today.

“Your Genre Doesn’t Exist”

My original G-House mix is by far my most popular video, with over 50,000 views between the original upload and re-upload. As a result, I’ve encountered some commenters who deny the existence of the subgenre “g house” (short for either “gangster house” or “ghetto house”) altogether. Obviously, it easy for me to take personally when someone denies the existence of the genre in which I produce and play music.

My instinct is to dismiss them entirely, but as an artist who cares about engaging my audience, I think it is important for me to to talk to even those who offend me, in hopes of connecting with them to add to my fanbase.

While in the above image I tried to keep as considerate and polite as possible, it became increasingly difficult.

I won’t lie: it is pretty annoying to see someone question my legitimacy as a DJ by saying I “don’t know what [house] is”, especially considering I specialize in house genres. You may notice my tone changes near the end of that comment.

Funny enough, I didn’t realize until much later that the user Marlanze was not the original commenter, and I mistook his comment for being directed at me and not two number 9. For this reason, I called him pretentious – a bad move.

Thankfully, Marlanze isn’t offended and seems to become a fan. While I never recovered engagement from two number 9, I learned something about interacting with anonymous people online.

The Real Difference

It is easy for me to think I am an equal participant in the exchange: that I am also an anonymous user commenting like on my private Youtube account. This is however not the case. When performing my identity as alex rose, I retain the social inhibitions of real life, and that’s a good thing. I am obligated to treat others with empathy and respect as if they were in front of me, even if they are not doing the same.

As this project grows and I attract a larger audience I will have to continue improving on this. I just hope not to be known as the stereotypical DJ hot-head.

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