design

Admissions Blog Critique

Cons/Problems We Had

* Well it seems as though the site can only handle so much traffic at once. Regardless of the browser, our class can not all get on the site at once.

* Posting content is not very user-friendly. When uploading a picture, it takes up the entire screen and makes it hard to lay out a post and format what you want it to look like. Also, the post ends up not looking anything like what it did when you were formatting it.

* Certain users have had trouble posting comments, regardless of browser as well. It’s hard enough to get people to comment, so the function not working isn’t a good thing.

* There is a lack of categories on the site. Rather, there is an enormous tag cloud that makes it hard to find what you are looking for. Posts are not organized into appropriate categories.

* The site is very text heavy. You can only see the headline of a blog post before clicking on it and this does not entice readers to keep on reading.

* Would be nice to have a button to ask bloggers quick questions, or just any question at all. Otherwise, prospective and even current students are left with Facebook to answer their questions. This could be really helpful for students and a great way to make the blog more interactive.

* Blog posts have a long load time and often you can’t read the text because the background takes the longest to load and you are left trying to read gold content on a red background which is next to impossible.

Pros/Things We Like

* The theme of the blog is very appropriate for the content and matches nicely.

* Great range of content. You can pretty much find a blog post on anything you are looking for.

 

— By Roxy and Skylar

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What Can We Learn From Lauren Dicioccio’s Paintings?

Lauren Dicioccio’s paintings help us in our process of creating blogs by displaying possible blog layouts through her visual representation of bodies of text. Due to a lack of words, viewers of her paintings are forced to analyze her representation of text rather than any text itself. And in her representation of the text, she beautifully creates appealing displays through vibrant colors and different formats. The ambiguous and assumed text is represented through circular and multicolored dots. The dots are then organized in careful manners to create columns and rows. Different shaped dots also represent different areas of possible text. For example, for a representation of a title she may have large colored dots and while the body of the text are all the same smaller colored dots that are neatly arranged in columns. Then the columns may break for one row of medium colored dots, in order to highlight a possible important line that would literally be the center of attention. Through these mannerisms, she is able to create magnificent displays of possible bodies of text that can help us when creating web and blog layouts, in our efforts to create visually appealing pages.

Lauren Dicioccio’s paintings also put some light on another aspect of blogging. A simple layout can determine whether a reader is interested or disinterested from the start. Just the first glance can determine whether the reader is on an optimistic foot or a pessimistic mood. This first impression is important because it plays a role in the tone that your blog is trying to play. A very visually appealing layout can interest someone’s attention regardless of the content. We can see this through Lauren Dicioccio’s paintings because people are dwelling on the beauty of the simple layout, even though there is an absence of textual work and content. To further strengthen our blog’s messages, we can improve the layouts in more appealing manners to strengthen our blog’s tones. For example, if we compare Lauren Dicioccio’s depicted layouts to one that would represent a boring article online or in a newspaper we could see the impact that a layout can have. Before we even begin reading, Lauren Diociocci’s depicted text looks like a possible easy and fun read while the boring newspaper or article looks as though it is an extremely difficult, boring, and an arduous task that is almost a chore to read. When creating our blogs, our intentions are far from creating chores for our readers and that is when Lauren Dicioccio’s paintings come in to play. From Lauren Dicioccio’s paintings we can learn to create layouts that would encourage people to read our works. Following the patterns of her layouts will also extenuate the tones of our blogs by setting up a good first impression for the reader through his or her first glance, rather than creating boring impressions. We can also utilize Lauren Dicioccio’s usage of different fonts, columns, and rows in order to manipulate certain messages in our blogs to be emphasized more than others. Overall, Lauren Dicioccio’s paintings provide great road maps for possible layouts for our blogs.

Lauren DiCioccio and Blogging

While there isn’t a direct correlation between blogging and Lauren DiCioccio’s paintings, her artwork can really tell you about layout and its importance.  All of her pieces look like magazine pages in which she uses dots of color to take the place of words.  She indents and ever text wraps white space that contains what would be thought to be a quote.  Being an art history major, I tend to get really analytical with artistic pieces (maybe sometimes too much, oops!) but her portfolio is really representative of modern art and the direction it has taken towards the media.  I was curious about her artist statement, and what she said really struck me.  “My work investigates the physical/tangible beauty of commonplace mass-produced media-objects…this transition is a good thing- faster transmission and distribution of information, streamlined systems, openness to user input, less waste. But a hole is left behind by the disappearance of these everyday objects.” (Read the full statement here)

I think, depending on the blogger, the focus really shifts between content and layout.  I know personally, I’m really anal when it comes to choosing my layouts because I come from a family of graphic designers.  The information on the blog may be really excellent, but it’s the layout that captures and keeps the readers.  I know that isn’t the case for every blogger though. I’ve seen some really awful layouts- especially on food allergy blogs written by mothers or family members that are less tech savvy.  Their intent is to get the content to the audience but they don’t realized that they don’t keep that same audience.

Dicioccio’s Paintings: A Look Inward

This is actually a very interesting question…What can Lauren DiCioccio’s paintings teach us about blog style and layout. I think the most obvious thing I’ve gained from viewing her paintings is a greater respect for the placement of information in a space. She forces us to view information in a way that takes away it’s actual meaning. We begin to see the bits of information as colors and shapes rather than ideas and thoughts. This is incredibly interesting and offers a great way to explore what is appealing to a reader subconsciously rather than consciously. Almost like a dream, her paintings bring forward these subconscious views of everyday articles and force us to think on what other factors might motivate us to like, dislike, or pay more or less attention to any given piece of writing and presentation.

The use of so many different colors is an interesting choice. I’ve been looking at these pictures, trying to decide whether the colors ACTUALLY relate to the same specific letters in each of their instances, or whether she has randomized them. I love that the bolder contrasts in color seem to point to areas on the page where an image might appear to be most effective. This of course is just how I see it, and may not be the same for someone else. Something that really jumps out at me is the minimal use of the color white in most of her paintings.  There are obviously some dots that are white, and not just areas of no text. However, with so few of them, I wonder if these are areas of the painting she wants to call some sort of attention to.

Again, as far as layout is concerned, I am in awe over the level of thought these images provoke. The painting which brings to mind a sort of braille like quality, also brings about a fantastic contrast between what would normally be black writing on a white background. The resulting pop that comes from the contrast of so many colors against the white background again forces the viewer to remember how important the negative space within a document is, relative to the words on the page. I’m given a much better understanding, even if it wasn’t her intent, on the importance of the negative space, and the placement of the various elements of my work. I must also say that it is slightly off putting to see the pages that are almost completely covered in color. As an individual with ADHD, this perfectly translates the feelings I have when I am trying to read an article or a post and am constantly being inundated with new information which is both distracting and unwanted to me.

I know my thoughts are a little bit messy on this topic, but I am not sure if any of these ideas I have are anywhere near Dicioccio’s intended meaning. Either way, these are excellent, thought provoking paintings no matter how you choose to view them.

Nude Media

I guess I had never really thought about nude media in the context, or really (if I’m going to be completely honest) at all.  It’s really interesting to see how an authoritative site such as the New York Times can have its information misused and stripped down to it’s base.  With each manipulation, the article loses more and more authority until it literally becomes a summary.

The short article emphasizes presentation and format and how that correlates with the authenticity of the information you’re presenting.  This is something that I’m not necessarily sure the first thing some bloggers may think about. The way a blogger or a publisher may view their information could be completely different than how it will later be perceived by the general public.  Because of the huge dichotomy between print, e-article, and e-mail friendly versions, there are bound to be discrepancies in not only formatting, but content and the way it is viewed by the intended audience. It’s interesting to think about all of this, because in an age where everyone relies so heavily on media to get our information, it’s becoming more apparent that we have to take into consideration both content and context.

As amateur bloggers, I’m not too sure how nude media could effect us to the same extent as it did the New York Times, but this article has definitely opened my eyes to the issue.

Three Blogs I Love – Check Them Out!

Three Blogs I Love:

http://www.dancebloggers.com/

This blog has a similar theme to the blog I am in the process of making. It has this theme of bringing dancers together, except in this case, it is strictly bringing dance bloggers together. In the “above the fold” part of the blog, there is a lot going on. The title is at the top, which is apart of the header of this blog. In the navigation bar, there is a home button. There are no categories. Below the navigation bar, there is a subscription box. Next to that in the middle of the page, is the most recent post. Then on the right of that is their only social link, which is a link to their Facebook page. There is a box for tags, but there are no tags. There is also a box for popular posts, but that is also empty. There is a list of contributors on the right. It is a very long list with all the dance blogs they link to. The rest of the blog consists of all their posts. I like this blog because I think they have a great idea here and a lot of potential. They also bring all these dance blogs to one place, which is really cool. There is a lot of content, they just need to promote it more, and also the blog is kind of plain. If they promote their posts more through social media and get people commenting, that popular posts box can get filled and they can make their blog bigger. I think a more exciting design will also draw viewers.

http://dailydancenote.blogspot.com/

The first thing I liked about this blog was the background design. It draws you in because of the use of multiple colors and the splatter paint design. In the “above the fold” you see the title in the header, and below that there is no navigation bar, but there is a subscription bar. You also see the most recent post and the beginning of the sidebar. As you go down past the fold of the page, you are able to see more posts, and what the rest of the blog includes. It has a list of people who follow the blog, the blog archive and an “about me” section. I like this blog because the posts are motivational and they teach you stuff if you are someone in the process of learning to dance or trying to achieve a career in dance. I think this blog could improve by updating a little. The last post was in 2012, so they should add some more current posts. I also think they should get social media accounts to promote their blog and add the social links here. I feel like nowadays, social media is a must have for blogs because of how big it is in this current generation.

http://t-h-e-d-a-n-c-e-b-l-o-g.tumblr.com/

This dance blog is probably my favorite. In the “above the fold”, there is a middle section with the most recent posts. There is a sidebar on the left that shows all the blog has to offer. The categories include, Instagram, Me-Dance photos, Dance Blogs List, Dance Tips, Personal/Photography Blog, and How To Dance Videos. The categories show this blog has a lot to offer to dancers and people who like dance. I think the photos this blogger posts are really cool. There are a lot of action shots, which is awesome to see. This blogger also has an archive section, an “ask me” section, a submission section, and links to other blogs. I think those are important sections to have because it allows readers to really interact with the blog and get involved. I really like the content of this blog and the design is also nice and put together well. I did not see anything I thought called for improvement.

Using Creative Commons

As Roni Loren points out in her post about the dangers of using someone elses media without a proper understanding of it’s licensing and or attribution criteria, you quickly leave yourself open to legal action and I’m sure a sense of shame. Because of this, Creative Commons proves to be an incredible tool for bloggers looking to use different forms of media that they have not themselves created. It’s important to keep in mind that photos, music and writing do not just appear out of thin air. Someone took the time to frame those shots, set up the lighting and create all the little details that eye catching photo entails. When you find that picture you want or that song you just have to have because it embodies everything you’re trying to express, it’s only fair that you give credit where credit is due! The fact that people go through all this trouble to produce something amazing and turn right around with a willingness to share and allow it to be distributed is a testament to the good nature of our fellow humans and should never be taken advantage of. Creative Commons gives them the perfect way to give you permission without having to go through the long and sometimes migraine-filled process of seeking permission that used to be the norm. The simple and easy to understand criteria that Creative Commons work use, provides us with a singular system in an near fool-proof manner. Through the use of Creative Commons material, you, the author, can avoid the risk of being sued, continue to share amazing works of art, and feel good that you’ve given attribution to those that made it all possible. The use of Creative Commons is also fantastic for the contributor. So you spent all day, in the cold, lining up a shot and waiting for the sun to be at just the right angle for that once in a lifetime photo that you just needed to have. You get home, dump it on the internet and wait for the compliments to start pouring in. A few weeks later, as you’ve gained followers on your Flickr account, a friend informs you that they’ve seen your picture somewhere else AND IT DIDN’T GIVE YOU CREDIT. What a devastating feeling that must be. Someone else, even if it’s unintentional, is now getting the credit for your sweat and tears! Creative Commons give you solid ground to stand on for issuing cease and desist type orders; a way to protect yourself! Another great benefit is the exposure that one can receive for sharing their work. Just imagine that same image being used in so many amazing places, and it’s got your name tagged underneath! The traffic and notoriety that can generate can be priceless for you and your blog or career. I think the most important reason to use Creative Commons, aside from the somewhat selfish idea of being sued for not doing the right thing, is that you are promoting people to keep things shared, and continue contributing these wonderful things for the whole world to enjoy! The content that is shared by Creative Commons license, allows for the majority of internet connected peoples to be party to amazing things that may never have been dreamt up, or presented in the way they finally were, without that push from something that inspired them and that they were given the opportunity to use themselves. For instance, my blog would be just a bleh place of bland text and a boring white background if it were not for the fantastic people on Flickr who decide that they are willing to share with me the fruits of their labor. I thank them for allowing me to spice up my work and provide that visual appeal to go along with my typewritten ideas.

Blogs I Love

The blogs I have chosen to focus on today are MoscatoMom, HoseMaster of Wine, and Call Me Cupcake!

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The reason I chose these blogs is because they incorporate some of the different aspects of the things I’m going to be talking about in my blog. For example, MoscatoMom tackles easy recipes and happy hour–two of my most favorite things! Her blog is more geared towards a a lifestyle approach. She talks about fitness, eating, crafting, entertainment, and traveling. So while her blog can seem a little bit overwhelming to navigate all at once, she definitely has tabs for everything you’re looking for. One thing I will say is that her above the fold is a bit cluttered, there almost seems to be way too many selections and way too many to get connected on social media. A solution to this might have been to move all her social media icons more towards her footer so that the reader can actually get a feel for her blog before being bombarded by the ever present Facebook button. Shudder. Other than that her blog is really neatly organized and you get to know a lot about Lynsey and her family, who are always prevalent in her posts. She has a search button for her posts, which is great! But sadly, no archive. You have to actually go through page by page to get to a specific month or day which can be a bit tedious is maybe you’re just looking for some fun fall treats. Then again, hopefully the search bar tackles that issue straight on even if you’re not sure what you’re typing for. That would be my only downside to that.

The other blog I took a look at was Call Me Cupcake! Also blog dedicated to food but more specifically desserts. Linda’s blog is really more antique-y looking as compared to MoscatoMom who is all pink and Cosmopolitans. However, it goes along with her personality and writing style. Linda has a strong love for photography and baking which makes the pictures on her blog look absolutely drool-worthy. Seriously, every shot you can practically taste the glaze on the cupcake. Even better though, Linda did have a super easy to navigate archive which made it a pleasure to go back and see exactly how long she’d been running her blog. Unlike MoscatoMom, Linda puts her links to social media at the bottom of the post and instead of linking to a million different sites she simply has a small Facebook button down next to her comments so if one should feel so inclined, they can share. I do wish her font was a little bit bigger in her posts however, her pictures are marvelous and take up the entirety of the screen (which, thank you jesus, means more icing ogling for me) but then her actual posts are severely overshadowed by this itty bitty font. I just wish it was a bit more substantial so I wouldn’t have to zoom in my screen and distort the picture in order to read her post. Her actual formatting is really cute and demure, which doesn’t overshadow the works she’s doing in her actual posts and she even has these little cute cupcakes next to the comment section. Overall, a really pleasing blog to visit and learn from.

The last blog I took a swing at was HoseMaster of Wine which stems from Ron who has quite a few decades of wine-knowledge from which to contribute to this blog. I chose this one because it focuses mostly on wine but in a way that is less about simply taste-testing and more about story-making. For example, Ron talks about his experiences at vineyards and wineries and also talks about some of the literature of wine. Since I talk about literature that incorporates wine, I knew I had to get the details on this site. What I love about Ron’s blog is its straightforwardness. However, his blog is completely dominated by words. Aesthetically its a little overwhelming because there’s nothing being broken up. Its text after text after text. Even in his side bar, which features his prominent about me. I think I would prefer a little bit more of a break up in between his posts so it doesn’t feel like I literally have to read an entire screen to get anywhere.

Mayhem in the Kitchen

mayhem-in-the-kitchen_logoOne of the blogs I decided to follow is Mayhem in the Kitchen. I chose this blog initially because above the fold I saw a picture of a pug with cupcakes. Immediately, I knew this would be up my alley as I am both a dog and cupcake-lover. I should specify that I am more so a complete push-over for anything dog or food related. So sue me, I have major weaknesses. Could be worse. Anyway! The header was simple but still descriptive and contained the title “Mayhem in the Kitchen.” Initially I read this as a sort of commentary of the characteristic of who it was that was working in this kitchen and creating a mess. Going on to read the about me, however, I soon realized that Mayhem was in fact the blogger’s dog. A 4-year old adopted pug, too cute for words. The blog doesn’t seem to be hosted by anyone as it ends in the more traditional .com without another server or rather, platform, attached to it. The navigation bar was pretty straight-forward and definitely featured above the fold so it was easy to click through and see the options. Her tags were more towards her footer and I had some trouble finding her archive, I think there was overall much more of a focus on her tags.

The blog is so easy to navigate and the gist of the posts are comprised of a photo detailing the recipe that Leesha will be undertaking that day. She’s a vegetarian so all of her foods cater to that lifestyle and she tends to use organic ingredients for mostly everything she makes. In her about me she details the blog as a site where she will post about super healthy and clean eating but also really delicious not-so-healthy for you treats. Any place that can combine an amazing dessert with a nutritious meal is fine by me and so it was really fun to scroll through and see her different attempts.

What I liked about the recipes is that they’re very straight forward. You can scroll down her blog to see pretty much every recipe she’s tried but you actually click on the picture to jump to the permalink for the recipe. So for example you can pretty much bypass all of her healthy food choices to get right into the desserts. The posts themselves are pretty simple. She will showcase the picture of what the food should look like when its done and then give you a brief synopsis of her own experience making it. Then to replicate it yourself, she has the actual directions and ingredients. That way if you’re feeling particularly creative you’re welcome to try them out or even improvise based on her own mistakes or successes.

Overall, its a very cute little blog. There doesn’t seem to be any sort of regularly scheduled postings but so far all of the recipes have looked great, and easy enough to manage. An archive would definitely be an easier way of navigating, I think, than having to scroll past every month. Though, the tags do help in specifying what you are looking for.