First Impressions and Homepage
This week, I’ll be reviewing Sam’s blog, sgonline.ca, with a focus on design principles. My first impression is that the home page is fairly obscure and I’m not sure what the focus of the blog will be. The header, which looks like an image of Vancouver at night, features a title that says “Welcome!” and in the top left corner “Sam’s Publishing 101 Blog”. The bold white text against the dark Vancouver skyline creates a nice colour contrast. The text of the title and menu is clear and easy to read. However, it was a bit confusing trying to determine what the blog would focus on based on the header and title. I suggest changing the title or header to reflect something about the content in order to captivate and guide readers right off the bat.
Overall, it looks as though Sam hasn’t strayed too far from the default settings of his original theme. In “How To Survive the Digital Apocalypse”, Travis Gertz raises concerns that we have designed ourselves into a corner by being reliant on design choices created by machines. To address this concern, I think Sam can incorporate more of his personality and style into his design decisions.
The home page also features an “About” section in which Sam introduces himself as a Communications student at Simon Fraser University who will be posting about class and his personal life. I like the personal description, but I think it could be incorporated into a sidebar using the widget feature as it is fairly short. This would free up room for Sam to feature some posts on his home page, and the featured posts might give readers a sense of what the blog is about. To clean up the home page a little bit, I think Sam should remove the comment box under the about section. The comment box creates a lot of unnecessary white space and throws off the visual equilibrium of the page. All of that said, I’m intrigued to see what topics will be discussed in Sam’s posts.
The structure of Sam’s blog is fairly straightforward. I noticed that the balance is a bit off on the homepage because the title is centered while the “About” section is aligned to the left. I’m not sure if this can be changed, but it might be something to look into.
Looking to the menu for some guidance, I can see that it features three categories: Home, Posiel, and Other. I think the “Other” category is a bit vague, and specifying it further would help guide readers. This could be done by separating the sub-categories into two main categories: “Video of the Week: and “Song of the Week”. I also think “Blog” could be a separate category, rather than falling under the “Posiel” tab. Placing the “Blog” category under “Posiel” creates an additional hurdle for readers, and some people might not check the drop-down to find the additional categories. I think it is especially important for Sam to have clear categories because there are no posts featured on the home page, and so the only way for readers to find content is via the menu.
I’m unable to make any comparisons between Sam’s theme and the default version because I can’t find the name of the theme anywhere on the blog. However, it seems as though Sam has customized the colours of his theme to include all black text with an orange accent. I like the use of the orange accent as it creates consistency throughout the site: the hover function, read more buttons, and tagged categories are all set to orange. One thing that I noticed is that Sam’s posts don’t feature any photos, and I think that this detracts from his ability to effectively use certain design principles. I think that incorporating photos would help Sam create balance and proportion.
I like the use of the sans-serif font as well as the size and spacing of the text. Overall, I find that it reads really well. Some people might not like the use of a sans-serif font for both the body and the header, but I find that they complement each other well on Sam’s blog.
I tested the responsiveness of Sam’s website through mobiletest.me. The layout is flexible and there are no major issues viewing the website on different devices. The posts load quickly and there are no large images to slow down the loading speed. The comment section on the home page seems to take up a lot of space when viewing the site on mobile likely because the layout is condensed. This can be easily fixed by removing the comment section.
Overall, I think that Sam is off to a good start and has successfully implemented some of the design principles that were discussed in class. There is a bit of unnecessary content that can be cleaned up (such as the comment section on the home page) but this can be fixed fairly quickly. In his process posts, Sam mentioned that he thinks he is boring compared to others in the class. Overall, however, I found Sam’s process posts insightful and engaging. Sam mentions clown college in his first blog post and this sounds like a really unique and interesting experience that I hope to read more about in the future!