For my second peer review, I looked at Tara’s website, Foodie TJ. It’s a food review website that, like she puts it, explores her love of “good food.” As she describes, McDonald’s does NOT cut it on this blog.
Theme and Customizations
My first impression upon arriving on Foodie TJ’s homepage is that it is meant to feel intimate, personal, and welcoming. It doesn’t look or feel like a corporate or business page, which I think is the right choice to make because of the blog’s subject matter.
The predominant colour featured in the blog is beige, with a green menu bar and a black font colour. Here, Tara uses colour effectively because, as Mauvé Page describes, colours should be used functionally, such as to attract the reader’s attention to facilitate communication. The use of the green menu bar helps differentiate it from the rest of her blog, which allows readers to navigate her site as easily as possible.
Something I really appreciate about Tara’s blog is that she fully created and customized her blog herself, without the use of a template. Gertz explains that in web design, things are starting to all look the same. Part of the reason why is because of the use of templates, which suck the creativity and expression out of creating websites. Sites like Squarespace which offer tons of templates all look mundane, and they’re just a way of making money, instead of helping customers create beautiful, eye-catching designs.
By creating her blog without a template, Tara takes full control of all her design decisions, ensuring that her blog doesn’t look the same as every other blog out there that uses a template. For example, her homepage is a little different than most of the homepages I’ve seen. There is a blurb at the top instead of a post carousel or big picture, which adds to the personal and warm feeling of the blog.
Site Structure and Layout
Kaptelinin, in his explanation of the concept of “affordances,” argues that a good design is intuitive. He provides the examples of car door handles, Swiss Army knives, and window locks to demonstrate that even without using the handles, users still know how to use them based on intuition.
Tara’s site structure is built intuitively, which helps users navigate the site and maintain their attention and interest while reading the posts. For example, users’ eyes are naturally drawn to the menu bar, where they know that they must click on each section to see each of the posts. Then, they are brought to another page displaying previews of each blog post. From there, they know they can read each preview and then click a post if they want to read the entire thing.
Users do not need to guess where to find certain aspects of the blog, nor do they need to scroll or search for a long time to figure out where things are placed. Everything follows intuition and brings users to where they want to go with just a few clicks.
Usability and Accessibility
Going more in-depth about the website’s usability, I found that the menu bar was one of the pillars of the easy navigability as it clearly defines each section of the blog. It includes “home,” “about me,” “fooooood,” and “pub 101” which includes three subsections for process posts, mini assignments, and peer review.
One thing I noticed is that when I click on specific posts, I can’t seem to navigate back to the homepage afterward. The menu bar seems to disappear, and the only element I can see is the “about me” section. To further improve the navigability of the website, I would suggest making sure the menu bar is visible when viewing posts, so that if users want to view other posts or navigate back to the homepage, they can do this as easily as possible.
Tara’s blog is also accessible, which enhances its usability. In accordance with Gaines’s four principles of accessibility, Tara does a particularly good job of making her site understandable. For example, she avoids complex sentences to make her site accessible to a range of readers and keeps a consistent theme throughout the blog.
Gertz explains that in addition to the usability and flow of websites, choosing a readable, fitting typeface is extremely important. In alignment with Mauvé Page’s suggestions for typefaces, Tara uses contrast effectively. The black colour of her font contrasted with the beige of the background allows readers to easily concentrate on and read the type.
She also groups similar elements together, such as picture captions, which are close to the pictures. However, to increase the readability here, I would also suggest that she include headers to help organize her posts. A header placed right above its content helps divide the content and makes it even easier to read.
Finally, in terms of type, Tara chose a very legible font that doesn’t confuse the “I’s” with the l’s” (like I am now noticing mine does), and that sort of stuff. Its “personality” also fits well with the tone of the blog. It is warm and inviting, but still has a clean and neat feel to it.
Social Media Integration
I really like how Tara integrated many different social media platforms into her blog. For example, she linked her Spotify, which she describes could be used while cooking or eating. By doing this, she shows her audience how they might use her Spotify in relation to her blog. She also includes her TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. All of these platforms offer more insight into her personality, which complements the “foodie” side that she shows on her blog.
I loved looking through Tara’s blog this week, and it’s clear that she puts lots of effort into each post. They are all filled with interesting content, links, and pictures of food that are making me hungry as I write (especially the photos from Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba… it’s one of my favourite restaurants).
The writing is also clear and free of typos, which makes the site clean and professional. I especially like her conversational tone while writing. It adds humour to her posts and it also allows her personality and voice to come through in the writing. I’m excited to keep reading about Tara’s reviews and try out some of the restaurants she recommends too!
Gaines, H. [UXDX]. (2022, January 27). The four principles of accessibility [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUxx_sq2QdY
Gertz, T. (2015, July 10). How to survive the digital apocalypse. Louder Than Ten. https://louderthanten.com/coax/design-machines
Kaptelinin, V. (2014). Affordances. In M. Soegaard and R. F. Dam (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed. Interaction Design Foundation.
Page, M. (2023). Web Design and Type on Screens [PowerPoint Slides]. Canvas.