This week I’m delving into Helen Tan’s website called Hey, It’s Helen. My first impression is that Travis Gertz’s fears in his article “Design Machines: How to survive in the digital apocalypse” came true…It seems as if little has been changed from the original template on Helen’s website. The digital machines have taken over!
As I explored her site, I turned to her process posts to find out what’s up. It seems she’s been struggling with the technical aspect of building her website. I can understand this. I struggled with my site for many hours to get things just right. Helen, if you need any help, hmu.
That said, I really like the template that Helen chose, and I’m sure she’ll soon post some content that the design will complement. The typography she chose is very light which gives her site a clean and professional look. I noticed there’s a tab called “Let’s talk about money” and I think the website’s aesthetic will go well with post about budgeting help or finances or whatever cool stuff Helen might be planning.
The layout and structure makes the site easy to navigate. The tabs encompass loads of interesting topics such as “education” and “health.” Some social media integration is found on the right side of her site. There’s an Instagram feed, but nothing to see there yet. Either way, I’m sure some photos will tie into the rest of the website well. It’s also promising to see that Helen’s Instagram has over 100 followers without a single post! I think that it’s a great idea on her part to start gaining a public so once she does start using her site more, she’ll have a ready-made audience.
There’s not much customization going on yet, but she has already made a really cool sign-off for herself. At the end of her posts/comments, I notice she says, “It’s Helen, and it’s ___.” (In the blank she puts in another word such as “frustrating.”) I think this is a great little brand thing that’ll help tie posts together in the future.
Other than that, I believe that Helen is off to a pretty good start. As soon as she learns more about how to use WordPress to her advantage, she’ll be making great things!
The audience for a yarn bombing site
The first reason I chose to make my website a yarn bombing site is because I desperately want to be a part of a crafting group. Ever since I start crocheting, I’ve wanted to find people who also like to crochet/knit and yarn bomb stuff. Unfortunately, the only crafting club I was able to find in downtown Vancouver was strictly “for the elderly” as the woman at Barclay Manor Seniors Centre told me politely as she shut the door in my face.
By creating a yarn bombing website, I want to show people that it’s easy and fun to make yarn graffiti, and maybe they’ll be willing to join me in my adventures. Hopefully my outreach to fellow crafty souls will be increased through my digital platform. My imagined audience is made up of people (of all ages) who are passionate about crafting or at least admire this kind of art.
When I think about people like that, I imagine that they want a fun, visual site that can inspire them. I guess I assume this because it’s what I would want. I would want a welcoming home page with a fun, interesting picture that invited people in.
I want my website to evoke the feeling opposite to what I felt when I was shut out of a crafting group because of my age. After all, the digital world is apparently “…terrifying for those who are intimidated by youth…” because we get our own platforms and freedom to do things we can’t do in real life, according to Danah Boyd. And yes, us youth sure are intimidating. Watch me crochet flowers onto a pole. Roar.
Why are people intimidated by youth, though? Is it because we’re seemingly further from death? Who knows. But my imagined audience informed me that I shouldn’t appear intimidating if I want to have an audience at all. Being friendly and open is the first step to attracting people, right? I even try to use funny gifs. People love funny gifs.
I’ve also try to make my writing clear and easy to read. Who wants to read boring shit? Or posts with long academic words in them? (Oh, sorry, we’re in university. I meant to say stuff with “sesquipedalian utterances” in them.)
That’s another thing I hope to avoid in my site. Bullshit. I’m hoping my audience is one that appreciates honesty in its frankest form. I don’t want to pretend I’m some super-capable, anarchist yarn artist or whatever. I just like to make things. And I like other people seeing what I make turn up in unexpected places. Most of all, I hope my audience will want to do the same kind of thing. Maybe then I can finally start a crafting club.
“Texts themselves do not create publics, but the concatenation of texts through time,” said Michael Warner. My yarn bombs here and there won’t do much; but if I can reach an audience and inspire yarn works through time at SFU, maybe then there will be an impact.
“8. Searching for a Public of Their Own.” It’s Complicated, by Danah Boyd, Yale University Press, 2014, pp. 213–227.
Warner, Michael. 2002. “Publics and Counterpublics.” in Quarterly Journal of Speech. 88.4.
Reviewing a Website’s Design Choices and Reflecting on My Own
One of the only websites I visit frequently for fun is The Peak’s site. For those of you who think print is dead (or that newspapers are “boring” @that one guy in class), The Peak is SFU’s student-run newspaper. Students can submit their work to the paper and get it published for money. It’s pretty sweet.
I’ve noticed that their front page has a very detailed setup without looking cluttered. This might be because, unlike other news websites, its very photo-heavy, rather than text-heavy. I get a haeadache if I stare at CBC News’ crazy home page too long.
On the other hand, The Peak’s logo at the top is really small compared to the huge photos, making it seem a bit lost. I also feel that some of the photos weren’t meant for the display boxes they’re in. I often notice they’re cut off near-completely or cropped weirdly. I do like the use of negative space, though, and how simple the menus are.
Scrolling down, I’m almost always surprised by the digital version of the paper issue they have on the stands that week on the right. Why is it so hidden? You’d think it would be one of the site’s more important aspects. Other than that, I like how they’ve laid everything out to the very bottom the site. Everything is there, and the excess is only sometimes a little overwhelming.
The posts themselves have an appealing look, with big, legible font accompanying every article. There are often many helpful hyperlinks, and some of the articles are web-exclusive that you wouldn’t find in the papers on campus. Unfortunately, some of the website’s pages are outdated. I guess a problem with having too many categories and pages is losing track of them. Overall, I think their website design is clean and easy to navigate, which is perfect for a newspaper.
Using the feedback I got from the peer review and the tips we got from our design lecture, I made some modifications to my site. I made my About section a bit more about me and started adding captions to some of my photos to give them more depth. I’ve also been playing with fonts to see which will work best on my website, though it’s always overwhelming to scroll through the options. I’m also working on the slider on my homepage since at the moment, it does not work well for mobile phones.