Blog

Jack of All Trades

reddit-1007072_1920Have you ever had an embarrassing story that you wanted to get off your chest? Or maybe you just can’t stand the monotone voice of the professor that is giving you a lecture about which stock to pick, so you need a quick refresh with a funny picture or video. Well, look no further because Reddit has got you covered. This website has it all. From motivational posts to financial advice, you can waste hours of your day on this site.

 

Rhetorical Awareness

The best part about Reddit is that all of its content is supplied by the users of the website. This gives the website a unique advantage because the content is specifically tailored by those that are knowledgeable about the subject. The website is essentially one large forum that is broken down into what are called “subreddits.” The most common “subreddits” are news, “askreddit,” funny, and “todayilearned.” Each “subreddit” has moderators and bots that analyze the appropriateness and validity of the content. Moderators are typically industry professionals or those that have credibility within the context of the “subreddit.” This article from Business Insider explains the responsibilities of one of the moderators from the science “subreddit.” Each item has a heading and if there is a long body of text to read through, the publisher will provide a section called “TLDR” which is short for “too long, didn’t read.” They understand that users quickly jump from page to page and may just want a brief digest of the issue that is at hand.

 

Design

Since the website is loaded with a variety of content the design is crucial to being able to navigate. Reddit offers a tab at the top where you can organize the information that you want to use. Maybe you want to see what is most popular, most recent, or the top articles of all time. If you want a more tailored experience, you can create an account where you can subscribe to specific “subreddits” that you want see. When you create an account you are given the ability to comment, up-vote, and become more involved in the community. Up-votes give posts their ranking and relevance to the front page. Even comments can be up-voted and down-voted which is especially useful on the “askreddit” thread since it is centered around the community’s responses to your question.  If you want to search a specific “subreddit”, you can use the search bar.

 

Visual Rhetoric

The website at face value, doesn’t appear to have many graphics. There might be small pictures that are complemented by a heading, however the developers understand that the user wants to browse quickly. They want to be able to quickly skim the front page for the most interesting articles or pictures. If the user finds the heading enticing, they can click on the heading to be taken to the actual “subreddit” where the article will have a more in depth analysis and community comments. If the user likes the concept and it involves a picture or gif (small looped video), there is a small button underneath that will blow up the picture or gif without linking you to the actual article. This especially useful because if the user only wants to see the funniest pictures, but doesn’t want to waste precious time by opening a new page, they can just click the small expand button underneath to fully examine the content. The website is simplistic and compressed with not a lot going on the front page because users will typically delve into a “subreddit.” The “subreddits” are more customized. They will typically have a banner  and some sort of unique graphic or theme that is relative to the content of the “subreddit.”

 

 

 

 

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A Cup of Beauty

A Cup of Jo

windows-1076116_640One of my favorite websites to read is actually a “mommy” blog. A Cup of Jo is a blog about style, culture, motherhood, food & life. Started by Joanna Goddard in 2007, it is one of the most successful blogs in the “blogosphere”. Joanna’s content is one of the main reasons I keep coming back to her site. She covers a variety of topics including stories about transgender families and honest conversations about life and marriage.  But her website’s beautiful design and powerful visual images create the inviting space that I love to go back to every day.

Fonts

There are many design elements that make A Cup of Jo a beautiful and successful blog. One of the biggest elements is that the site is easy to read. With simple and clean serif and sans serif fonts, the text on the screen stands out yet does not compete with the visual elements. The title and titles of each post are a matching serif typeface in different sizes. The serif type creates a bolder more important look so it draws in your eyes. But the content of each post is easy and friendly to read in a sans serif font. If you want to know more about serif and sans serif fonts read this aricle. It explains why serif fonts are meant for print because they are more distinctive. And that sans serif fonts are actually easier to read on screen.

Images

A Cup of Jo is more than just it beautiful fonts, it features beautiful and relevant images as well. Each post focuses on a topic close to heart and the images Goddard chooses to use are wonderful pieces of visual rhetoric which reflect meaning and sometimes represent content for the whole post. For instance, on Friday’s they feature an illustration about life. These drawings are simple and often funny. They have become a staple on the blog and express wonderful little stories but don’t usually include a ton of text, like this one about what home means. The drawing has a way of telling the story and there is really no need for text. It’s easy to connect to the meaning of the post and Goddard need not write a thing. Goddard worked in publishing before starting her blog so she is seasoned at editing correctly and making sure her posts are relevant for her audience and stay on point. As I previously mentioned, she does cover a variety of topics but she knows her readers and understands that keeping her copy formatted the same for each post keeps them coming back. All of the posts can be found on her homepage but they generally just include an image and a small amount of text to get the reader hooked. Below there is a “click for more” button that takes you to a page dedicated to the posts full content. Goddard’s focus on her audience is a key element of her formatting. Her home screen is easy to navigate. If you want to browse all of the posts you can do that, or you can click through when you find a post that you are interested in. They user-friendliness of her site is at the front and center of its design.

User-Friendly

Goddard worked in publishing before starting her blog so she is seasoned at editing correctly and making sure her posts are relevant for her audience and stay on point. As I previously mentioned, she covers a variety of topics but she knows her readers and understands that keeping her copy formatted the same for each post keeps them coming back. All of the posts can be found on her homepage but they generally just include an image and a small amount of text to get the reader hooked. Below that there is a “click for more” button that takes you to a page dedicated to the posts full content. Goddard’s focus on her audience is a key element of her formatting. Her home screen is easy to navigate. If you want to browse all of the posts you can do that, or you can click through when you find a post that you are interested in. The user-friendliness of her site is at the front and center of its design.

All of these elements create A Cup of Jo but the sum here is really better than its parts. Through amazing design, Goddard has created a “home” for her readers. The posts are like little doors which each reveal a story that is painted with a picture. The homepage is like a newspaper which features highlights and headlines. The warm pinkish-gray background holds all of these elements together. And in this world, people connect from all over and find common ground. It is this type of design that makes a great blog.

The Design of Fashion

36d8b2eNowadays there are many fashion websites that one can follow. One very popular website is Fashion Monitor. I commonly use Fashion Monitor to find out about news and information. Fashion Monitor has news articles, blog posts, job openings and much more. This website has everything anyone needs to know about the fashion industry. I also used Fashion Monitor daily for my previous summer internship when I needed to find out information on magazine companies like who was currently working there and their contact information.

Rhetorical awareness is about writing persuasively to accomplish a goal. In rhetorical awareness there is a purpose, audience, stakeholders and context. Fashion Monitor has many purposes, but its main attraction is their news page. They have pages and pages of articles on recent news that is happening with multiple companies. Their page on blogs is equally as popular. Their blogs are about current and upcoming fashion trends to follow and stay updated with.

Fashion Monitor has an exclusive audience that is directed only for people who are interested in fashion. There is nothing on the website that does not have to do with beauty and fashion. On the website there is an about us page that includes the employees, which would be the main stakeholders. The other stakeholders include people like me who often read the website.

Fashion Monitor has a straightforward goal about its context. They provide this website, so people can gain a “competitive edge” in the fashion industry by always being in the know of current events. Their news and blog section is very extensive, although for their job section the context of this could be improved. They only provide a handful of job openings whereas they should provide a substantial list. I would love too see more job openings on the website, so I could use this as a central outlet for finding jobs.

User-center design is focused on the reader and their connection to the website. This is in good condition for the website. This website has clearly thought through their purpose and mission. Their website is very organized and easy to access. At the top of the website there is a bar which includes a tab to every section they offer. For the news section each article is informative and straight to the point. They are also organized very well because at the top of every article it says what genre it is about in fashion. The article can be anywhere from announcements, public relations to launches.

More specifically to the readers and audience, the user-center design is very evident. Fashion Monitor is for people working or desiring to work in the fashion and beauty industry. The readers expect new items to read daily and Fashion Monitor posts around 20 news articles daily and a few blogs a week. Users also have the option to make an account, which gives access to more information, and sign up for emails to always be in the loop.

Visual rhetoric is very important for websites. This can be what draws a reader into the website and what keeps them interested. Visual rhetoric can lead to a positive outcome if it is done properly and results in the readers understanding the concept.

Fashion Monitor does very well on is visual rhetoric. The website has put together a very appealing color scheme and overall graphic design. Their use of visuals in done in a creative way that makes this website stand out. Their visual rhetoric excels with their blog posts. Each blog post contains many pictures and I personally am more likely to read an article when their are pictures included.

Overall Fashion Monitor does an exceptional job in all aspects regarding the design of their website. There are other websites like National Retail Federation and Refinery29 that are similar, but I use Fashion Monitor the most because of its visual appearance and accessibility. They leverage their graphic design by making the website look fashionable and trendy so the users will naturally be drawn to it.

The New York Time’s User Aesthetic

I choose to get my news from the New York Times for a whole bunch of reasons. I believe that it is a credible news source that I can trust to publish the truth, and that they tend to be fairly quick to issue breaking information. But their speed and reputation isn’t entirely what brings me back, it is their obvious dedication to making the news understandable to the average person. The way they produce articles, layout their website, place their ads, and even apply their color scheme makes it easier for men and women all across the country to understand what is going on in the world.

When you read an article published in the New York Times, rarely will you find it filled with technical jargon or advanced language that many would find hard to understand. The writing is clear and concise, with the occasional storytelling element added to keep it readable. The writer does not simply regurgitate the facts, but turns each article into a short story to make it more conversational and easy to get. Often they will even link to other write-ups within the text in order to make the big picture more coherent. In this way they make it clear that they understand who they are writing for: the ordinary person.

You can expect to get all the information you need when reading an article posted in the Times. The writers do a great job of including all relevant information and making it easy to find, while at the same time alluding to more complex details and backstories within the text. If you are interested in understanding the story at a deeper level, the option to dive deeper is given to you in a convenient fashion, either with text-wrapped links or pictures. It is not hard to find more information thanks to their user-friendly organization.

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The design of their website is incredibly intuitive and straightforward. When you open the page you are presented with the title in the top surrounded by ads seperate from the articles so you do not confuse the two. Bellow are the pieces surrounded by miniature text boxes to again separate them from one another, each with their title bolded. By choosing to design their layout in this “boxed out” fashion it is exceptionally easy to choose between the articles and not get lost in the abundant text. In this way the New York Times ensures that their interface is user friendly and easy to navigate, something that is crucial in website design.

The focal point of their page is the most relevant article running. It has the largest boxed section of the page in the dead center, and typically contains a photo to draw peoples attention to it. It is surrounded by other running stories, some just as important, some not that important at all. The layout attracts people’s eyes to the first story, then leads them to the other write-ups. Personally I can’t think of a better way to design a news website.

The New York Times understands why and how people want to read the news. Every little detail down to the simple white and black color scheme help average people navigate their website and digest the information they want to. They have mastered user centered design and are clearly well aware of how to plan a website with a specific intent. I always have and always will choose to use the New York Times as my resource for news, as I believe they are self aware enough to change with the times and demands of people.

Another post about fishing: Front Range Anglers Web Design

FRA_logo_retinaI work for this shop here in Boulder, and l use the website often to find information about fishing reports, current flows of rivers, and new products. For context, the owner recently hired someone into a full time position to work specifically on the design of our website, our social media platforms, and managing our online marketing through emails, etc. The reason we hired someone to do this is that the owner is looking to build a well-rounded business, and to do that in today’s world, even as a small business, it’s important to generate sales through an online platform. Because of this, the website has changed a lot in the last year, in terms of both appearance and function.

 

I’ll start by analyzing the usability of the website. Having taken web design classes because of my major, I think that usability is the most important aspect of a website. We live in such a fast-paced environment online, that if a user has a hard time navigating a website to find what he or she wants, he or she will find another website within seconds. As a fly shop, it’s important to carry products and brands that customers want, and the shop’s website should be up to date on what is in stock and what’s not. FRA’s website is mostly accurate, but there are a few things that are outdated, and out of stock. The first tab on the nav bar is to shop, and that’s useful, but there are too many options when you hover your mouse over the tab, which may lead the user to feeling overwhelmed. It also may take more time to read all of these options, than it would for the user to click through a couple broader pages.

The next three items on the nav bar are important as well. They are “Fishing Reports,” “Guided Trips,” and “Adventure Travel.” In my opinion, the options one sees when hovering over these options are more straightforward and to-the-point than the options under the “Shop” tab. As an employee of the store, I feel confident saying that these tabs are just as important as the shop tab. People come into the store all the time asking for fishing reports, or advice about flies (lures) to use. If customers don’t have time to come into the shop, or if they’re already on the way to the river, it’s important that we keep fishing reports updated so they can look them up on their phones.

While most people online these days navigate websites by clicking through tabs and pages, some people still use search bars, so it’s important to have a search bar that works as well as a navigation bar. FRA’s search bar could probably use a little work. It works if you type in simple searches, especially one word references to a brand or product. But as a fly shop that also offers guided trips, and hosted trips around the world to fishing destinations, it’s important that these options can also be found through the search bar.

As for the visual rhetoric of the website, the amount of images is astounding. Users can click on almost anything, and it will link them to the topic they want to view. There is even an interactive photo at the bottom of the home page that the user can drag through to look at physical products in the store. One feature that I don’t think is prominent enough is the nav bar. Although it’s quite useful, it is so small that the user might simply look past it because the other images on the page are so large and colorful. Overall, the website is well-designed, and sufficiently represents the shop itself and our events, but there are a few small things that could be improved.

 

A Deeper Look into ESPN.com

ESpnI have been going to EPSPN for all my sports news since I was young. They’ve always had the stories that give you the real inside scoop into athletics in the United States. They have their own chanel that you can turn to for live news stories, but they also have a website dedicated to published stories by relevant reporters. I am going to take a deeper look into their website and see how they try and appeal to their readers.

Rhetorical awareness is looking into how persuasive a piece of writing is while looking at audience, stakeholders, context, and purpose. ESPN appeals to a variety of sports fans so to help with navigation they have a tab for every major sport to lead you to condensed information you care about. In order to relay their purpose they have the phrase “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” in their google search. Their context is brought to the reader by brief explanations under each article title to give an ease into the more complex part of the reading. Finally ESPN provides information on the stakeholders by stating in almost all of their titles who they are writing about and why.

User-center design is a good way to look at how easy it is to use a website under three categories. Document design shows how easy it is to navigate through website. ESPN provides all its information in clearly marked tabs at the top of the page. Here you can filter through sports, scores, schedules, favorite sports teams, etc. This makes it extremely easy for a user to navigate quickly to what information they care about.

Information design looks into a websites ability to convey information with ease. With all of ESPNS articles there is a clear format: title, explanation, picture. The title and quick explanation give the reader a quick synopsis into the context of the article. This will help readers scroll through articles they like and don’t like with ease. In most of the articles the reporters will write with sections so you can clearly see the beginning, middle, and end.

Sentence design exposes how good experts are at conveying information to people that aren’t experts. I believe ESPN does this well by giving out the conclusion at the beginning of the story. They spell out the issue and what they found clearly before going into the nitty gritty details. One thing I believe they can do better is providing a glossary of terms. Sports have a lot of terminology and for someone who isn’t and expert at baseball might not know what ERA means.

Looking at how imagery persuade a person is another way we can grade ESPNS website and this is called visual rhetoric. A picture has a hard time making an argument, but certain details of an image can persuade a viewer. Elements in an image an be highlighted to show its importance.

ESPN completes this grading criteria because imagery is a huge part to their website and article design. As stated earlier every article has a picture associate with it. These pictures help bring a mood to the article by using specific players as the focus and colors as an indicator to the mood of the article. An article that is up right now discusses the best trash talkers and to show importance it has picture clippings of three athletes and the color of the image is red to show the hostility.

The final grading criteria is the overall graphic design of the website. A component of good graphic design is keeping it simple by knowing your story and only having information that belongs in your story. The topic of sports is so broad and ESPN could make 100’s of websites dedicated to different sports with different topics. ESPN keeps is simple by categorizing sports in the header, deleting old stories from their home page, and providing clear bold fonts for easy reading.