Peer Review #2 – Sam Vines

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Looking at Samantha Zenarosa’s blog Sam likes to Vine, it’s clear she has a solid image in mind of what her blog should look like.

‘Sam likes to Vine’ is injected full of Samantha’s personality, filled with quirky vines and artistic drawing and writing posts. Sam appears to be a very cute, witty and friendly person through her blog. This is a snapshot of what her homepage looks like when first opened.

At first glance, there is a very cute picture of Sam featured in the header!! However, there are quite a few issues with her theme – specifically the overall readability and navigability.

The picture she uses in her header image is very cute and shows her personality well and it really fits the vibe she has going on in her art and writing posts, but the header doesn’t stretch the picture out well. It is not the ideal size, and the theme crops the picture awkwardly due to the header shape. I would suggest if Sam wants that picture to be on every page of the blog when an audience is going through the blog to maybe put it as a sidebar image (around where the search bar is) instead of as the stretched out header. If Sam really wants a theme with a stretched out header at the top, I think it would be better to place a different image – something that is higher quality, or just an image that fits the shape of the intended header a little better.

Another problem with the header is that the title text is black and the picture chosen to put in the header is also very dark. It’s very unreadable and it would be better to pick a lighter image, or to change the font colour of the header.

Something else that is difficult for readability is the way the posts are formatted into the theme itself.

As you can see, the first letter of the post is a drop cap and extremely disjointed from the rest of the string of words. This can be very off-putting especially to someone who might be quickly scrolling and doesn’t have the patience to try to connect the letters. Drop caps are typically intended for paragraphs and larger strings of texts where they will be nested with a lot of text, like in the picture to the left, so if Sam wants to use a theme with drop caps it would be better to make posts with a lot of text that can nest the drop cap. Because many of her posts only have one line of text I would suggest turning that option off, or finding a simpler theme.

Another problem I have with this theme is the way it displays pictures. Because most of Sam’s content are pictures (whether they are her drawings or her writings), the theme should display pictures better. When a post with pictures is clicked, it takes the user to an entirely new tab, the one that shows up when one wants the url of a picture. However, it’s not very convenient for a blog. It would look better if the blog displayed the images full sized already, especially as the image seems to be the more important part of the post. With the visual hierarchy of the blog posts and the way the images are formatted to be small and blurry when compressed, it gives off an impression the images are a less important part of the post or even an afterthought – when that is definitely not the case.

The captions seem to be the same point font and the same boldness as the title, and because of that, they seem more important than anything else so the pictures don’t pull enough visual weight and this may be off-putting.

Another thing this theme does is that it seems to allow for a sub-heading in a post when the post is open in a separate tab, but on the home screen it puts everything on one line.

This is what the post looks like when scrolling down the home page. It looks like an odd run-on sentence.

When you actually click on the post however, you can see that there is a sub-heading underneath the post and it isn’t an awkward run-on sentence.

A solution for this would be adding punctuation to the sub-headlines (eg. adding a period to the end of that sentence). That way the sub-heading wouldn’t blend in with the blog post.

One more thing to point out about the layout/typography formatting is that when Sam writes very lengthy posts (such as in her about and her first post) she spaces them out somewhat which is good for readability! However, it would be a little better to space them out a bit more to add more visual breathing room to the paragraphs because it can end up looking like a large block of text.

Sam links her socially media very well – in the top right-hand corner is all the necessary social media she wants to show the audience. Her Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, and VSCO are all present and easily accessible – this is very good considering her blog is about vines which probably means she wants to target a teenager/young adult audience.

Overall, Sam’s blog has very cute content and is filled to the brim with her unique personality. Her blog is fun to read and with a few changes to the formatting, could be even better!

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