Author Archives: Marcus Anderson

Blue Jays rumour mill: Springer, Wong, Bradley Jr. among free-agent candidates

The Blue Jays have been linked to free-agent CF George Springer. Photo credit: Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons.

MLB Free Agency began nearly one month ago on November 1st, but the dominos for big-ticket items have still yet to fall with December knocking at the door.

The Blue Jays made the postseason for the first time since 2016 in a 2020’s shortened 60-game season, but management, players, and fans are certainly hoping that was just the beginning. Last offseason, the team bolstered their starting pitching by signing former Dodgers’ LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu to a four-year, $80 million contract. The move paid off well for the Jays as Ryu went on to post a 5-2 record with a 2.69 ERA in 12 games, good enough for a third-place finish in AL Cy Young voting.

This offseason, the Blue Jays seem to have their eyes set on improving defensively up the middle of the field while adding some more offensive punch to their lineup in the process. The team has been linked to high-profile names like CF George Springer (Astros), CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (Red Sox), 2B DJ Lemahieu (Yankees), and 2B Kolten Wong (Cardinals).

At the moment it seems like Lemahieu will find his way back to the Yankees, clearing the path for a Kolten Wong signing if both sides can find some common ground. He certainly won’t dazzle you at the plate with a career .261 batting average and 53 home runs in 852 career games, but he also won’t be a hindrance to the lineup. More importantly, he’s coming off his second straight Gold Glove victory thanks to his stellar play at second base. This is where the Blue Jays can really use his help, as the club finished in the bottom third of the league for errors committed in 2020. Having the 30-year-old Wong between young infielders Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Rowdy Tellez will help bring some stability to the Toronto infield.

Beyond the infield, the Blue Jays do have a solid outfield trio in Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Randal Grichuk, each of which are under club control until at least 2024, so the team won’t be completely lost if they fail to land a big-ticket item like George Springer. Hernandez had a terrific year offensively last season, blasting 16 home runs and 34 RBIs in just 50 games played, while Gurriel Jr. posted similar numbers at the plate (11 HR, 33 RBI, 57 GP) and was named a Gold Glove finalist in left field for his tremendous defensive play. Grichuk had himself a fine season offensively as well with 12 homers and 35 RBIs in 55 games played, but his defensive play has been below average since joining the Blue Jays in 2018, making him the most likely candidate to be moved to DH or dealt away via trade if a big free-agent comes in.

At this point, rumours are just that. Until pen meets paper and the figures are reported, nothing is guaranteed. But it seems like Toronto is attracting mutual interest as well. According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, George Springer has given playing for Toronto some “serious thought.”

Springer is a three-time All-Star that would bring a career. 270/.361/.491 slash line along with 174 home runs and 458 RBIs to the Blue Jays, instantly improving the top-end of their lineup. He was also named World Series MVP in 2017 when the Astros defeated the Dodgers, although that might be less of a talking point for the Springer camp in his negotiations given that accusations of sign-stealing and cheating have since made that the most controversial World Series in history.

Still, there’s no doubt that Springer would make the Blue Jays a better team in 2021. If they end up losing out on him, look for them to be all-in on Jackie Bradley Jr. who has proven to be one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game. He doesn’t have the same offensive pedigree as Springer, but he’ll certainly be a cheaper option while still bolstering Toronto’s defense.

Toronto has also been linked to names like left-handed relief pitcher Brad Hand, as reported by Jon Morosi, and veteran catcher J.T. Realmuto, per Craig Mish.

It could still be a while yet before any of these rumours play out, if at all, however. As R.J. Anderson and Mike Axisa have noted, “MLB free agency is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Concluding remarks and reflections from PUB 101

Essay #2

This was my seventh and final semester at Simon Fraser University, marking the end of a grueling five-year undergraduate degree. It certainly isn’t how I envisioned it ending when I first arrived at university in Ottawa more than five years ago. Aside from the fact that I had never intended on attending SFU or studying Communication, I definitely never expected a worldwide pandemic to define my final two and a half semesters of university. Still, things have somehow managed to come full circle to a certain extent, thanks in large part to this class.

I first made the trip across the country in 2015 to work toward a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University, with the end goal being to land a job as a sports journalist. My dream had actually been to attend Ryerson University in Toronto, but my application was sorely lacking when it came to a portfolio, so I ended up settling for Carleton. Now, with my undergraduate degree within reach, I finally have the portfolio I wished I had back then. Better late than never, I suppose.

When the time came to decide on a blog category for this website in September, I didn’t need a second thought before deciding on a sports blog. It was what I had always wanted to do, but had no idea how to, or was too intimidated to try. With an idea to narrow down my topic by focusing on Canadian sports news specifically, Great White Sport was born. The tagline says it all: “All Things Sport in the Great White North.” I am only one person, however, and a busy university student at that. It would be difficult to cover all things sport in Canada. So, instead I have tried to focus on the most newsworthy stories each week, and so far I think I’ve managed to achieve that.

With that in mind, Great White Sport isn’t necessarily only for the diehard sports junkies out there. Ideally, anyone with any sort of interest in Canadian sports will find some enjoyable content on the website in a format and style that they can understand. I try not to get too technical or overload my posts with complicated information because my imagined audience so far has really been based on my own preferences as a reader. At the risk of sounding unintelligent or lazy, I tend to prefer sports stories that are comprehensive but easy to follow. By that, I mean no fancy statistics or analytical jargon that I have to spend ten minutes Googling to try and understand. However, that type of sports journalism seems to be fading away in favour of the heavily analytical. Therefore, I believe my website’s value lies not only in its wide range of coverage but also in its readability and accessibility to all types of sports fans.

I have also conceived of my website as more of a ‘personal cyberinfrastructure’ throughout this semester (Campbell, 2009). While Campbell’s argument on this topic is based around the traditionally rigid nature of academic institutions and their limiting of students’ creativity, the idea can be applied to journalism as well. As Campbell writes, “the freedom to explore and create is the last thing on [students’] minds, so deeply has it been discouraged” (2009, p. 58). In other words, there’s a formula that students learn, memorize, and regurgitate. Whatever work is celebrated by professors is what will be replicated (Campbell, 2009). The same can be said for journalism. What works is whatever sells, and what sells is what becomes the standard formula to follow. According to Campbell (2009), however, a personal cyberinfrastructure provides the opportunity to discover and craft one’s own desires, and to go beyond the expected standard.

Although it would be exciting and rewarding to have an audience to write to, what I value most right now is having a space on the Web where I can write about my own passions while continuing to learn and grow as a writer and publisher. Google Analytics has shown that since September 21st, I have had 69 users visit my site for a total of 116 sessions. Consequently, my greatest concern has been playing around with and developing a website that will be suitable to a larger audience in the future, should it get to that point. In that sense, I have treated my website as a ‘digital garden,’ inspired by Tanya Basu’s article on the subject. As Basu explains, “digital gardens … are frequently adjusted and changed to show growth and learning” (2020, para. 4). What makes a digital garden different from a typical blog is that it is not necessarily addressing a large audience (Basu, 2020). Instead, the focus is on cultivating your own content of interest over time, with the ability to add to it later on as you learn more (Basu, 2020). Although I might write with an imagined audience in mind, I frequently return to my website or specific articles to make changes based on what I have learned and what I believe will yield a better product, as inconsequential as that might seem.

This is probably where I have experienced the most growth as a publisher this semester. In September and the first part of October, I was sometimes spending hours on individual blog posts because I wanted them to be perfect. I treated them as if once I hit that ‘publish’ button, they were set in stone. According to HubSpot author Lindsay Kolowich Cox (2020), that is exactly the kind of mistake bloggers should avoid. She asserts that one of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is that they try to make every post perfect when the truth is it never will be (Cox, 2020). I have come to accept this while writing my more recent posts and it has been incredibly liberating. God forbid I make a glaring mistake that needs fixing, I know that I can come back to the article later on and make the necessary changes. Truthfully, this is a lesson I should apply to my life in general, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Looking beyond this semester, I’m unsure of the extent to which I will continue to blog and develop my online presence in the form of Great White Sport. I can say with certainty that this experience has helped me rediscover my passion for sports writing, and for that reason, continuing the blog is something I will consider. If I do keep it going, however, I think I will try to market it through social media in an effort to establish a real-life audience. Writing for myself has been a great way to get started these past two months, but as I mentioned earlier, my initial career goal was to be a sports journalist writing for other people. It seems a little daunting to put my work out there and open it up to all types of reception and criticism, but similar to Cox’s (2020) argument that good writers know when to stop obsessing and hit ‘publish,’ there comes a time when you have to take the leap and open yourself up to the greater public.

I’ve never been the kind of person who welcomes criticism with open arms. Not to paint myself as an egomaniac, but I have always wanted to get things right the first time and be recognized accordingly. As I prepare to wrap up my university degree and (hopefully) enter the workforce in a pandemic-stricken world, this class helped me realize just in time that there might be a better way to go about things. I have learned that perfect is not the only option. Sure, this was just a website I made for a class. But like everything else in life, there’s always room for learning and improvement.


Basu, T. (2020, September 3). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. MIT Technology Review. Retrieved from

Campbell, G. (2009). A personal cyberinfrastructure. Educause Review, 44(5), 58-59. Retrieved from

Cox, L.K. (2020). 17 blogging mistakes to avoid in 2020, according to HubSpot bloggers. HubSpot. Retrieved from

Pondering the pandemic

Process Post #13

Last week, we were treated to a guest lecture from Andrew McLuhan, the grandson of Canadian communications icon Marshall McLuhan, and the creator of The McLuhan Institute. Towards the end of his lecture, he challenged us to write a blog post about how messed up the world is right now. Challenge accepted.

As crazy as the world we’re living in right now is, however, I think what’s even more bizarre is just how quickly we’ve adjusted to this new reality and accepted it for what it is. Of course, we haven’t really had much choice. And I’m not one of those people that thinks we’ve had our freedom taken away or anything like that. I’m all for masks, social distancing, vaccines, and whatever restrictions keep us safe and healthy.

That being said, nine months ago, we were living completely different lives. I’d wake up in the morning and take three packed buses up to SFU Burnaby, and then take three more back home. I’d go for walks outside and speed right past people with no thought of their breathing and mine. I’d go to grocery stores without putting on hand sanitizer or wiping my cart and carry basket first. I even worked at Rogers Arena during Canucks games with 18,000 people in one building where I’d handle cash and pay terminals.

Now, if I’m somewhere in public and I see a person without a mask or ignoring social distancing protocol, I’ll automatically distance myself as far as I can from them. Even the other day, I was riding the elevator in my building with my mask on when two other people with masks decided to come on, and I swear I didn’t inhale or exhale for 30 seconds.

I’m supposed to fly to Edmonton in ten days to visit my dad for Christmas, and for the first time ever, I paid for my seat ahead of time. I made sure to get a ‘preferred’ aisle seat right at the front of the plane to give myself a little more room and make sure I wouldn’t be squeezed in between two strangers. Better yet, I’ll be able to bolt right off the plane as soon as we land. If you know me personally, you know I don’t like spending money on something I don’t have to. But when it came to buying my seat in advance, it was a no brainer. I’m still a little anxious about the whole process, but I’m willing to do whatever I have to in order to stay safe.

I could go on and on but isn’t it crazy to just sit back and think about how much our lives have changed? There are regulations and restrictions in place, but when it comes down to it, it’s up to us to actually follow them. And by and large, it seems that we are. Obviously, it would be great if more people were, but it is what it is.

Another thing I’ve noticed is when I’m watching TV or a movie that predates COVID and see a bunch of people in close proximity, I can’t help but think about how they’re not being safe. But like I said, nine months ago, I would never have had those thoughts.

I don’t know if I’m putting this into words very well, but my point is as crazy as 2020 has been, what’s most remarkable to me is how quickly we’ve adapted and altered our lives completely around this virus.

Understanding (or trying to understand) Google Analytics

Process Post #12

If I’m being completely honest, I’m not much of a numbers guy. I got by pretty well in mathematics in high school, but the second I realized I no longer needed it I left it behind and never looked back. If I’m reading about goals, assists, greens in regulation, serving percentage, and so on, I’m good to go.

But even in sports, when it comes to all the advanced statistics that have become prevalent in today’s world (e.g. Corsi or Fenwick in hockey), I tend to get a little lost. It’s not that I don’t want to understand what they mean, but my brain just doesn’t work like that.

So, when it comes to Google Analytics I have to admit I’m pretty clueless. However, I’m able to understand the basics that appear as soon as you open Google Analytics. Below is a picture of my data that has been collected to date since I first installed Google Analytics on my site on September 21st.

With 66 users total since then, I’ve only averaged just slightly more than one user per day, so obviously traffic is incredibly low which only makes me more confident in my decision to not want to monetize my site yet. Considering a good chunk of the visitors to my site are probably people in the class conducting peer reviews or Jaiden and Suzanne, the true number of ‘public’ visitors would only be more underwhelming.

In class this week, Suzanne mentioned that an ideal bounce rate is below 50% so it appears I have some work to do in that regard as well, but thankfully it’s not outrageously high and it is based on a relatively small sample size so far.

I hoped by creating a Twitter account and hashtagging my tweets with links to the posts I would draw some more visitors in and it seems to have helped a fair amount. Based on the screenshots below, 24 of my 66 visitors have come from Twitter, which accounts for 36.36% of all users so far. Part of that success is likely due to my retweeting those tweets from my personal account where I have over 1000 followers.

However, as you can see, the bounce rate from my Twitter referrals is very high at 88.0%, so it hasn’t exactly been a huge success story so far.

One thing that had bothered me up until lecture this past week was the fact that occasionally I would visit my website without being logged in to WordPress and would therefore register as a visitor to my site. Thanks to Suzanne showing us how to add filters, however, I was able to filter out my IP address so now I can visit my site without worrying about skewing the numbers.

I’ll continue to play around with Google Analytics in the coming weeks to familiarize myself with it in hopes that it will actually be useful for me as my website grows.

We the South: Raptors to temporarily call Tampa home to start 2020-21 NBA season

Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry. Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images.

One season removed from being named the NBA Champions, the Toronto Raptors will have a new challenge to contend with this upcoming season, courtesy of the Canadian federal government.

The Raptors released a statement penned by president Masai Ujiri on Friday, confirming the team’s upcoming absence from Toronto. It reads in part, “The Raptors worked diligently with public health officials at the local, provincial and federal level to secure a plan that would permit us to play our 2020-21 season on home soil and on our home court at Scotiabank Arena.”

Ujiri maintains that conversations were productive, but due to the public health crisis and the Raptors’ urgent need to find a home for the upcoming season, the decision was made to make Tampa their temporary home. As a result, the Raptors will be playing just over 80 miles down the road from the NBA bubble where they spent two playoff rounds this past summer before bowing out to the Boston Celtics in a seven-game series.

NBA teams and fans have poked fun at the Raptors’ slogan, “We the North,” for several years now, pointing out that the Trailblazers (Portland, OR) and Timberwolves (Minneapolis, MN) actually play their home games further north than Toronto. Of course, the defining point of the Raptors’ argument is that they play for and represent the entire country of Canada, but their new home is prompting some to suggest a new slogan.

While the location clearly makes sense for the Raptors for several reasons, it’s difficult to ignore the irony that the only team further south than Tampa is the Miami Heat. In that regard, an adjusted slogan might be warranted. With NBA training camp being less than two weeks away, Toronto was in a hurry to find a home in the US, so what’s most important right now is that they got that done.

It remains to be seen whether Toronto will have to play all 36 of their home games this season in the US or if they’ll be able to make the transition to Toronto at some point this winter. If the Raptors are looking for advice on how to settle in to a temporary home away from home, however, they can look no further than the MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays who were forced to play in the US this past season at the hands of the Canadian government.

Masai Ujiri said in his statement that the team will continue to work with public health authorities and the federal and provincial governments as they prioritize “planning for a safe return to play in Toronto.”

As of right now, the NBA has not released an official regular season schedule for any of its 30 teams, but the start date is tentatively set for December 22nd, 2020.

CFL announces 2021 season schedule for all nine clubs

Photo credit: Geoff Robins / CFL Photo

The Canadian Football League is among professional sports leagues to have taken the biggest hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to having their entire 2020 season wiped out, the league also requested and was denied $150 million in financial assistance from the federal government in April, before also being denied a $30 million loan in August.

Unlike other sports leagues which have been able to resume play without fans in the stands thanks to lucrative TV deals, the CFL doesn’t make nearly enough money from broadcast partners. The nine-team league relies heavily on the presence of fans in the seats, with ticket buyers providing the greatest source of revenue.

When the CFL officially ruled out the possibility of a shortened season on August 17th, it left many questions to be answered about the future of the league. But two days shy of what would have been the 108th Grey Cup in Regina this weekend, the league has officially rolled out its plans for the 2021 season on Friday.

To kick things off, the B.C. Lions and Calgary Stampeders will face off in Calgary on May 23rd for the first game of a three-week, two-game preseason for each team. The contest won’t count for anything in the standings, but the significance won’t be lost on the fact that it will be the first CFL game in 546 days by the time the players take the field.

As an all-Canadian league with an 18-game schedule, all nine teams are already quite familiar with the other teams in the league. However, in order to minimize travel across the country, the CFL will is implementing more divisional games than normal.

The B.C. Lions, for example, will play Ottawa and Montreal two times in 2021 but will only face Toronto and Hamilton once each. In 2019, they played all four teams in the East Division twice. Similar tweaks will be made to the schedules of all nine teams to keep teams closer to home during the season.

Still, the season won’t be without some exciting inter-division matchups. Hamilton and Winnipeg will square off on June 10th for opening day in a rematch of the 107th Grey Cup that saw Winnipeg come out on top 33-12.

The regular season is set to conclude on October 30th with a handful of rivalries. The Toronto Argonauts will host the Montreal Alouettes while the still-unnamed Edmonton Football Team will wrap up its season in Winnipeg against the Blue Bombers.

The CFL Playoffs will begin on November 7th, while the 108th Grey Cup will take place one year from tomorrow on November 21st, 2021 in Hamilton, Ontario. It remains unclear if fans will be permitted into the stadiums by the time action is set to begin this spring, but for now Canadian football fans have a tangible date to hold onto which is a step in the right direction.

You can check out the full 2021 season schedule here.

GIF: All seven Canadian NHL teams release ‘Reverse Retro’ jerseys

Mini Assignment #6

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In the spirit of all NHL teams releasing their ‘reverse retro’ jerseys yesterday, I decided to stitch together a GIF of all seven Canadian teams’ jerseys.

I individually downloaded the videos from each team’s official Instagram account and then trimmed and stitched the videos together in iMovie. From there, I went to to create the GIF, and voila!

NHL eyeing all-Canadian division with January 1st as a potential start date

Oilers’ goaltender Mike Smith fights Flames’ Cam Talbot on February 01, 2020, in Calgary, Alberta. Photo credit: Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

Well into our second month without NHL games now, hockey fans are clamoring for some NHL action, and with any luck, they’ll be seeing it by New Years’ Day.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has spoken multiple times now about the possibility of a January 1st start date for the upcoming season, but as we inch closer to that date without any plan formally in place, you have to wonder how realistic that target really is. Of course, the biggest obstacle for the league right now is the current surge in cases of COVID-19 across both the United States and Canada.

The Canada-US border is still closed until November 21st, after the closure was once again extended last month. However, with cases on the rise, and the deadline being only one week away, it’s incredibly likely that this closure will be extended again very soon. Even if we see a dramatic improvement in the number of cases in both countries, it’s doubtful that we’ll see the border open before January or perhaps even February.

So, where does that leave the binational National Hockey League? With 24 US-based teams and only seven in Canada, the vast majority of matchups for Canadian teams during any given season are against American opponents. However, that could be changing this upcoming season, as rumours continue to float around about an all-Canadian division for the 2021 NHL season.

Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton are all currently in the NHL’s Pacific division and typically play each other about four or five times per season. The same can be said for Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal, who account for a good portion of the Atlantic division. On the outside looking in are the Winnipeg Jets, who are presently joined by six US-based teams in the Central division, and consequently play their fellow Canadian opponents less often during a regular 82-game season.

If the Canadian division ends up going ahead, we’ll be treated to more frequent matchups between Pacific and Atlantic teams, as well as between the Jets and the other six Canadian clubs. However, with January 1st as the target date, it’s unlikely the NHL will manage to squeeze in an entire 82-game schedule, which typically runs from October to April.

The NHL does have experience planning a shortened season, though, having played a 48-game campaign in 2013 due to a CBA-related lockdown. That season ran from January 19th to April 28th, so with a two-week head start, the NHL should be able to pencil in another half a dozen games or so, and still finish relatively on time. With travel also being less of a concern, the NHL has suggested that teams play short series against one another, similar to how the MLB operates. This would allow teams to play two or three games in one city over a shorter period of time, without wasting as much time on the road.

At this point, it’s still all up in the air, however. The NHL has also tabled the idea of short-term hubs, where teams would play in one location for 10 to 12 days before moving on to the next one. Essentially, this would be a miniature version of what we saw in Edmonton and Toronto this past summer for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

No matter how it all shakes out, what seems to be almost a given at this point is that we will see an all-Canadian division. It’s entirely possible that the teams branch out and play US-based teams later on in the season if restrictions lift, but we’ll be seeing a lot of all-Canadian action this season regardless.

Now, just for fun, let’s see how an all-Canadian division with all-Canadian matchups would’ve turned out last season. Obviously, the sample size will be incredibly small, and this won’t take into account any roster moves made by the clubs during the offseason, but let’s take a look anyway.

Despite the fact that the Vancouver Canucks went the farthest of any Canadian team last year in the playoffs, making it to game seven of the Western Conference semifinals, they had a dreadful regular season record against the other six Canadian clubs. Winnipeg played a handful fewer games than every other team against their Canadian counterparts but using points-percentage as the measuring stick for success, they sit atop.

Of course, there’s no telling what will really happen this coming season and one person’s guess as is good as next’s. The NHL is running out of time to set everything in motion if they do want to accomplish that January 1st start date.

For now we’ll sit back and wait, and imagine the possibilities.

Incorporating feedback from the final peer review

Process Post #11

It’s hard to believe, but we’re soon entering week ten of classes for the Fall 2020 semester, and as much as it feels like we fast-forwarded right here, I also can’t help but reflect on all the progress made on my website until now.

This week marks the third and final peer review for this class, in which my peer offered some really great advice. Coming off the lecture on monetization with a guest appearance from Trevor Battye, my peer began with a few suggestions about how I could monetize in the future if it’s something I wanted to do. Although they reaffirmed my sour feelings about ad-cluttered websites, they did suggest that through some filtering, I could include sports-related advertising content or feature sports-oriented companies down the line. This is definitely something I would consider if I gained a big enough following, and I appreciate my peer’s confidence in something like this being able to actually work.

The next suggestion in regards to monetization was to consider asking readers for donations to keep the site running, which admittedly feels like a nerve-racking thing to do. However, it is becoming more common to see, and personally, I would never abandon a website for asking for money. At the worst, people would likely decline and continue reading.

In journalism, and sports journalism in particular, it has become somewhat normal to ask readers to pay for a subscription for unlimited and exclusive content, much like The Athletic has done since its inception a few years ago. Its staff has grown enormously in the past few years, at least until the pandemic hit, signaling that people were willing to pay for quality sports journalism.

In terms of monetization, my peer definitely provided some good food for thought for the future!

The next pieces of advice from my peer were centered around the basic design and functionality of my site. For starters, they suggested I reorder my menu order to have ‘Contact’ come last, after ‘PUB 101 Coursework,’ which makes a lot of sense now that I think of it! Thankfully this was an easy fix, with the updated menu pictured below.

The next suggestion my peer made was in reference to my ‘Contact’ page itself, where they recommended I install a contact form where people can contact me rather than having my website just floating out there for everyone to see. The link they provided was super useful and easy to follow that I had the plugin installed and published within minutes.

Finally, the last piece of advice they gave was to make my website secure using the Really Simple SSL plugin. Props to my peer for being eagle-eyed and to notice that my website wasn’t secure before. Once again, thanks to their linking, it was super quick and easy for me to activate and install this plugin.

Over the course of ten weeks, it becomes easy to look at your own website and be satisfied with its layout and features, so it helps to have a fresh set of eyes at this stage in the semester. Big thank you to my peer who provided some very valuable feedback this week!

Peer review #3: Masked Retail (

This week’s peer review will focus on a website by one of my classmates called Masked Retail, which covers many topics related to working and shopping at retail stores during the COVID-19 pandemic. The topic couldn’t be more relevant to our lives right now with case numbers increasing and the holiday shopping season upon us, so I actually really enjoyed exploring this website.

The website has a very clean design that’s aesthetically pleasing. The header isn’t overwhelming and adds a nice splash of colour to a simple, yet inviting homepage. I like that homepage draws readers in with a couple of simple questions before inviting them to browse the site to find the answers to those questions and more.

Masked Retail is also very easy to navigate thanks to its implementation of a standard menu bar. Moreover, giving users the ability to click just about anywhere (header, pictures, headings) and be taken to a page makes it extremely user-friendly. I could continue on about the positive features of this website, including the friendly about page and well-written blog posts, but at this point in the semester I think it will be more helpful to focus on a few specific elements that could benefit from a bit of tweaking.

With this week’s topic revolving around marketing, I’ll now consider the ways in which this website is marketable. As I mentioned previously, the topic is something that is relevant to all of us as consumers right now, so in that sense, it’s highly marketable. After reading the admin’s latest process post, I can see that she doesn’t feel like she’s in a position to monetize right now, which is completely fair. However, for the purpose of this week’s review, I’ll go over a few things that could improve the website from both a design standpoint and for potential future monetization.

As the admin notes, a site cluttered with advertisements isn’t their style, and I agree that it might take away from the tidy nature of the website. However, Masked Retail definitely has the potential to feature sponsored content or affiliate ads from specific retailers or others involved in the industry who might want to get a message out to a broader public concerned with safe shopping practices.

I understand that the admin doesn’t want to be identifiable on this website for privacy reasons, but perhaps as the website continues to grow, it might be useful to create a Facebook or some sort of social media page under the same name for people to connect to. That way, readers can stay up-to-date on the latest posts without having to check back on their own accord. This would likely increase traffic and improve the overall marketability of the website.

Another suggestion regarding social media would be to add shareable buttons at the bottom or top of posts that allow readers to share them with their social networks. The following website includes a few options for plugins that accomplish this. I just installed Social Snap on my website personally, and while you need a premium membership to unlock more niche platforms, the free version includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and email, which are useful.

Looking at the website’s contact page (below), it might also be useful to include a little message above the fillable fields that suggests why people might want to leave a comment or contact them. For example, they could ask people to contact them with any story suggestions, marketing/partnership opportunities, or just to say hello.

Lastly, I want to briefly address the post grid that the admin has included on their homepage and other post pages.

The use of pictures and a preview of the text within the post is great and gives the site a professional feel. However, when I loaded the site on my mobile device (iPhone XR), the post grid design didn’t transfer all that well. I’m no WordPress guru and don’t know exactly how one would go about making the plugin and site compatible with mobile devices, but it might be something worth looking into. Below are two screenshots side by side of how the homepage looks on Safari on my phone.

If the admin ends up tweaking with the post grid plugin to make it more compatible with other devices, they can use a website like, which allows them to plug their URL in and preview the website at different screen resolutions.

Otherwise, this has been one of my favourite websites to explore in the class and I think it has a lot of potential going forward beyond this semester.