As the 2018 fall semester comes to an end, it is time to review and finalize my student blog and portfolio website!
To begin, I found 10 other blogs to review and compare to my own website. The blogs focus on different industries but there are many similarities among them as well as individual strengths and weaknesses.
Inside Higher Ed: https://www.insidehighered.com/
MIT Technology Review: https://www.technologyreview.com/
Forever Amber: https://foreveramber.co.uk/
Business Writing: https://www.businesswritingblog.com/
Brafton Blog: https://www.brafton.com/brafton-blog/
Chase News: https://www.chase.com/news
I’d Rather Be Writing: https://idratherbewriting.com/
Among these blogs were several that were most appealing to me, such as HubSpot, MIT Technology Review, Forever Amber, and Brafton. Their common characteristic is a clean, uncluttered, and highly readable design and I found that there is an effective use of the design principles of contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. In each of the four blogs, the contrast among elements and colors is ideally balanced. Also, there is consistency among similar elements such as headings, individual posts, and text and their placement on the page. This made navigation through the blog effortless while keeping the blog appealing. I like how HubSpot used slightly rounded boxes for page elements because this creates a more flowing effect that is naturally pleasing to the eye.
The Inside Higher Ed blog is also clean and readable, and I like the heading design. However, I think that a lack of contrast in the text and sections filling the home page detracts slightly from the page’s readability. The same goes for the I’d Rather Be Writing blog. On Mindshift, the main distracting element is the heading because every section of it is different and therefore it lacks a touch of consistency to balance the contrast provided by the color theme. The blog posts on Mindshift are very readable, though, because of adequate negative space and spacing. Finally, I think that the Business Writing blog is also readable, simple, and appealing. However, I feel that the posts could use more white space, specifically white, around the text. Also, the menu on the right side of the page could be made more readable.
Assessment of My Blog
As compared to the other blogs, I felt that my blog was not sufficiently developed yet even though it seemed to work well in terms of contrast, consistency, and alignment. My website looked very clean and “poised” as one of my classmates mentioned, but I would have like my website to show more of my personality. This was a challenge of my website before I edited it because the simplistic and “one-tone” look was not enough to keep readers interested and engaged. There was also a limited amount of elements that I could add given the theme that I was using. For these reasons, I made 5 big changes to my blog.
Overview of Changes
- Blog theme – The largest change that I made on my website entailed entirely changing my blog theme. As a whole, the change significantly improved my ability to work with my blog and develop it into the more modernly alive, personalized, and appealing site that I wanted. I chose the new theme after looking through many others, which did not seem to provide enough elements that I could use in my envisioned design. After finding the theme that I loved, I developed it to make my blog come alive as a whole and engage viewers and readers with more interesting visual elements such as the images and color added to the home page, as well as the added white space throughout the blog.
- Featured slider – The slider on the home page features six of my most recent posts. I added this element because the movement of the slider catches the viewers attention and also makes it easy to access my most recent posts. I think that the slider makes my blog more appealing as a whole, even though this element is present only on one page. In addition, the slider adds to the overall “earnest blogger” impression of the page, improving the mundane feeling of my previous blog.
- Font and color – A huge difference between my old theme and the new theme is that I was now able to fully customize every font on the page, from the page title to headings to the body of the text. In addition to customizing my name in the title of the website, I chose a highly readable font for the blogs and a slightly contrasting font for the headings. I also increased the font size slightly. I made these changes because I found my previous posts hard to read, both because of the default font and grey text color. The result is a more readable and visually appealing blog.
- Post images – I realized while working with my previous blog design that the featured images at the beginning of each blog post were not always relevant to the topic that I was writing about. In addition, one of my classmates commented on one of my blogs that using images that matched what I was discussing really enhanced the post and helped the reader grasp the information. For that reason, I decided to use more relevant images for many of my posts. Also, I added images to some of the “Portfolio” posts to make them interesting. One example is the Drone Podcast. I think that this big change will allow the reader to connect better with the blog post. As a whole, the change makes my website seem like an actual blog now.
- About page – A smaller change that I made was developing my About page. This included adding more information about myself and sharing some of my likes, hobbies, and values. I made this change because of a suggestion from a classmate to add more to this page so that readers can know the author of the blog better. The change likely will not impact my blog as a whole, but it can contribute to a more personal feel and improves my blog by making every page mostly developed now.
In general, these changes have significantly addressed the problems I identified in terms of page development, personality, tone, and the overall blog spirit. Since they have gone a long way to improving specific blog elements, I believe that the changes also improve the overall quality of my blog. This is because they helped make my blog more modernly appealing and personalized through a more “colorful” theme. Personally, I am very happy with how my blog looks now!
Some ideas that I may want to implement in the future are adding more categories to my page menu and writing more diverse posts that relate my hobbies and interests that I described in the About page. This will really help tie my blog together and convey that I love what I write about. Also, I would consider developing a newsletter, an integrated sharing and social media widget, and other elements to add variety and participation to my website.