I began the journey of creating my personal cyberinfrastructure (aka my own digital environment) with a vision board filled with gossip columns like TMZ and Perez Hilton, which all exude chaotic party energy, colour, and bold fonts. I wanted my blog to look and feel like a typical gossip column, but this isn’t how it turned out.
I’d never used WordPress before, so when I first looked through the many themes, I assumed it would be something like Wix, where users can customize pretty much everything. However, after playing around with different themes, I quickly realized that WordPress was different, and for some themes (like the TMZ-inspired ones), I basically couldn’t edit anything and was stuck with headers, fonts, and formatting that didn’t really fit my blog.
From here, I had to re-envision my blog and work with some of the more customizable themes on WordPress. I scratched my original TMZ idea and decided to go for a more aesthetic, pastel, regal-looking theme, which I thought was pretty fitting for a blog about the royal family. With my new vision board, I found “Kantipur Themes” on WordPress, which had many different themes that I liked. I ended up choosing “Fourteen Blog,” which is customizable and very fancy-looking, exactly what I was searching for.
Figuring Things Out
In terms of website configuration, I wanted to keep things simple and navigable, which meant creating an efficient menu bar. Here, I included a link to the home page, as well as an “about” section, a section for PUB 101 with sub-categories, along with three sections for content posts related to my blog. Each element on my menu is in the form of a “category” instead of a static page so that, for example, if a user clicks on “hot takes,” they will be able to see excerpts of each hot take and choose one to read. This makes the site user-friendly and also allows viewers to access a wide range of content, from which they can choose what they’re most interested.
The homepage doesn’t include much more than a few featured posts. My simple homepage, filled with pictures of my posts’ featured images captures viewers’ eyes and gives them the chance to read these articles if they so desire. However, it isn’t overwhelming and instead encourages them to check out the menu bar, where everything is laid out in a very logical way.
Bits of Knowledge
I also learned about the importance of including hyperlinks in my blog posts. As a university student, in-text citations have been drilled into my head for the past two years. But I learned that when publishing websites, hyperlinks are the way to go. Linking to other sites helps create a community of knowledge, improves my SEO, and adds to the navigability of my site. I’ll make sure to do a lot more of this in future blogs.
Finally, in terms of accessibility, which is something I’ll be working on learning about and improving every week, I tried my best to follow Gaines’s description of the four principles of accessibility. I made my blog perceivable by improving its scannability. For example, I ensured that my hyperlinks are a different colour and that buttons change colour when hovering over them. My site is operable because users can interact with the visuals in different ways, such as by accessing alt-text, descriptions, and the accessibility plug in. The easily navigable menu bar makes it understandable. And it’s robust too, as it’s compatible with a range of devices, from phones to desktop computers.
So overall, creating my personal cyberinfrastructure was different than any university project I’ve done. Like Campbell explains it, I’ve spent so much time trying to understand what exactly the professor wants so I can get a perfect mark that I haven’t really had the chance to do what I want. In creating my own domain, I’ve had the chance to design things my way, and write about things that interest me. And it’s been pretty amazing.
Campbell, G. (2009). A personal cyberinfrastructure. EDUCAUSE Review, 44(5), 58. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure
Gaines, H. [UXDX]. (2022, January 27). The four principles of accessibility [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUxx_sq2QdY
Wong O. (n.d.). About. Spilling the Royaltea. http://spilling-the-royaltea.com/the-tea-on-olivia/