For my final peer review, I looked at Mercy’s blog, MindMediaRes, which is a website that analyzes media through personality theory, as stated in the tagline. In his about page, he explains that he’s been interested in psychology his whole life, and when he got into personality theory, he found the competitiveness of the community extremely toxic. Therefore, with his blog, he wants to create a space where he can safely write about his opinions and invite others to share theirs too.
Who is the Target Audience?
By exploring Mercy’s content, it becomes clear that his target audience is composed of personality theory enthusiasts, or more specifically, personality theory enthusiasts who are interested in how it manifests itself in media.
Fattal explains that counterpublics are publics who oppose dominant discourses, and I think that Mercy’s target audience fits this explanation perfectly. Personality theory is a way of explaining the mind that isn’t rooted in science, which is the dominant discourse in our society in terms of psychology. By catering to this audience, (or counterpublic) of personality theory enthusiasts, Mercy successfully creates a public and generates discourse surrounding the intersection of personality theory and media.
At the same time, Mercy makes it obvious that his intended audience is also himself. Basu explains that the creation of digital gardens is different than simply making a blog because it involves talking about niche interests and focuses on learning and growth, instead of gaining large audiences.
In alignment with the concept of a digital garden, Mercy creates an environment dedicated to growth and the telling of his own thoughts and ideas, explained on his about page. He states that “this blog is based on my own thoughts, feelings, and ideas” and also emphasizes that he’s trying to learn more and is open to hearing other people’s opinions too. So with the digital garden in mind, he’s also marketing to himself, but for the purpose of this review, I’ll be focusing on the marketability of the counterpublic of personality theory enthusiasts (which he is a part of anyways).
Writing for an Audience
Looking at the content on Mercy’s blog, it becomes obvious that his content posts specifically cater to his target audience of personality theory enthusiasts who also enjoy media. Each content post focuses on an aspect of personality theory, either cognitive functions or the enneagram. Using these aspects of personality theory, Mercy analyzes different media, such as movies and shows. For example, his most recent content post surrounds the character, Trina from the 1992 musical, Falsettos. He analyzes Trina’s enneagram type through the songs she sings throughout the musical.
Mercy’s content also caters to all levels of personality theory enthusiasts, from beginners to experts, which increases the marketability of his website to a wider audience. This is evident through his first two content posts, where he explains the two aspects of personality theory he tackles in his blog: cognitive functions and the enneagram. These explanations provide a solid framework from which beginner personality theory enthusiasts can start building their knowledge.
It is also obvious that Mercy’s blog content is more intellectually advanced. This is not only shown through the blog’s subject matter, but in the way the posts are written. The academic tone of the blog makes the content more exclusive, but I don’t think this is a bad thing at all. Hollenbaugh explains that when creating content, writers need to present themselves based on their imagined audiences. In this case, the imagined audience would be personality theory enthusiasts, who are assumed to be more intellectually advanced in the first place, just based on the academic subject matter. Take the first sentence in Mercy’s post, “Untangling Morality in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along” Blog as an example:
“Character archetypes have a fairly predictable lifespan of solidifying themselves in pop culture, going through subversions, and subsequently creating new archetypes based on those subversions over the course of many years.”
The vocabulary used in this sentence makes the blog content more exclusive in nature, and it becomes difficult for a younger audience of children, per se, to understand the posts. Nonetheless, the language caters well to the target audience.
Diving into Design
Judging by the blog’s target audience of personality theory enthusiasts and the content in each of the posts, I think that in terms of design, this makes for a more intellectual, serious, straightforward feel to the blog. Mercy uses elements that help maintain this aesthetic that align well with Mauvé Page’s suggestions for blog design. For example, the typeface personality fits with the more serious, intellectual aesthetic of the blog. It is clean, simple, and legible, and makes sure the g’s and q’s don’t mix up and all those kinds of things.
More generally, some other effective design elements include the fact that there is a good contrast between the black and white shades, making the writing clear and legible and adding to the “seriousness” of the blog aesthetic. The design is also very cohesive, with a limited amount of colour and one consistent font used throughout the blog.
Mercy’s website is also accessible, which makes it inclusive for everyone within his target audience. In alignment with Gaines’s explanation of the four principles of accessibility, Mercy’s blog is particularly perceivable. For example, he includes an accessibility plug in and all his hyperlinks are underlined, making them different from the rest of the content and reducing the need to look for them.
Mercy uses a theme from Alx for his blog. While this template is effective in organizing his posts and laying out all the content in a logical way, Gertz warns against using templates because they are often standardized and can take the personality away from websites. Therefore, I would suggest that Mercy thinks about building his website from scratch so that it reflects him and his audience better.
But if straying from a template is too much at the moment (which I completely understand as it’s also the reason why I’m still using one), I would suggest that Mercy creates a consistent identity and brand for his blog that caters well to his target audience of personality theory enthusiasts. This might be the “serious, intellectual, straightforward” feel that I talked about earlier, or any other kind of mood Mercy wants to create.
Subtle customizations that reflect aspects related to personality theory might be a good idea. For example, this might include creating a homepage, that, instead of simply featuring previews of posts, hosts a post carousel with pictures related to the content featuring aspects of personality theory. It might also involve playing around with more colours to convey a certain aesthetic if he sees fit.
Branding the site a little more strategically through design elements would create a clear mood and atmosphere for the audience, which, aside from the content, pulls viewers into the experience and shows them what the blog is about even before they read any of the posts.
All in all, I really appreciate the passion that Mercy puts into his blog. It’s clear that aside from being a school assignment, personality theory is something that he is truly interested in. His posts go above and beyond the course requirements and include in-depth, comprehensive explanations, thorough application of theory to case studies, and even several sources for readers to learn more. Because of this and so much more, I really hope that he continues working on this blog after the course is over and I will definitely stay updated so I can keep learning about personality theory!
Basu, T. (2020, September 5). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. MIT Technology Review. https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/09/03/1007716/digital-gardens-let-you-cultivate-your-own-little-bit-of-the-internet/
Fattal, A. (2018). Encyclopedia entry — Counterpublic. UC San Diego. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/73t260cm
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
Hollenbaugh, E. E. (2021). Self-presentation in social media: Review and research opportunities. Review of Communication Research, 9, 80–98. https://doi.org/10.12840/ISSN.2255-4165.027
La Bossiere, M. (2023). About. MindMediaRes. https://mindmediares.com/about/
La Bossiere, M. (2023, January 24). The cognitive functions explained. MindMediaRes. https://mindmediares.com/the-cognitive-functions-explained/
La Bossiere, M. (2023, January 30). The enneagram explained. MindMediaRes. https://mindmediares.com/the-enneagram-explained-introduction/
La Bossiere, M. (2023, March 32). Untangling morality in Dr. Horrible’s sing-along blog. MediaMediaRes. https://mindmediares.com/untangling-morality-in-dr-horribles-sing-along-blog/
La Bossiere, M. (2023, March 22). Trina from Falsettos (2016) is a clear 6w7. MindMediaRes. https://mindmediares.com/trina-from-falsettos-2016-is-a-clear-6w7/
Page, M. (2023). Web Design and Type on Screens [PowerPoint Slides]. Canvas.