To understand the intent of this blog as a web presence, we should appreciate the value of self-branding and identity construction according to Alice Marwick (2013, p356). Another useful reference is John Potter’s “storying the self” in Digital Media and Self-curatorship (2012, p31). We shall also discuss the application of basic narrative and design principles.
The first example demonstrated here is the deliberate narrative structure of the About page, which applies Aristotle’s simplified 3 Act Structure as demarcated in the subheaders, and also the use of Tzvetan Todorov’s theory as interpreted by L. Cohen – that a good narrative should have 1. Equilibrium 2. Disruption 3. Recognition/facing the problem 4. Repair 5. New equilibrium. Ceteris paribus, applying these narrative theories is likely to yield better reception to most raw information.
Signifiers Of Genre: Name, Font & Tagline
The name “Ianimator” is a natural combination of “Ian” and “animation”, the chosen genre. It also sounds like “Terminator”. Hence a font choice resembling the Terminator movie poster could hint at this intellectual connection.
However, it does nothing to identify my primary mission of social entrepreneurship for special needs awareness, and what we do. Hence, the tagline is a necessary extension in this case, to add context and set an expectation.
Signifiers Of Genre: Image & Colours
The original key visual header image was created to support the featured article on my Sheepwallker game, designed to engage the conversation of autism awareness. However, upon reflection, the colours did not adequately reflect the genre of cartoons, animation or entrepreneurship, nor were they distinctive in any way to create a strong brand. Even with a bee-sheep hybrid photoshopped in front of a live-audience in 15 minutes 🙂
Most of the entrepreneur blogs I liked had one thing in common: A face. Some research here shows that a face does make a difference. GaryV had a fantastic appeal with his own cover picture wielding a device with some nice high-tech looking mise-en-scene in the background. However, while the pervasive use of black was cool for tech it was not ideal for my genre – cartoons. Seth, on the other hand, had a great colour scheme had me re-evaluating what might be more befitting the art and animation genre. Fortunately, I found this picture below taken at Montmartre, that just happened to have a whiff of Gary’s pose, while emulating Seth’s cheery saturated colours.
For those who need to get an easily customizable WordPress theme, Twenty Eleven (as well as Twenty Ten/Thirteen/Fifteen) come highly recommended. In its original form, however, I found the font choices limited, as well as a “Site Identity” bar that took up unnecessary white space at the top. Considering the hot areas of F-Pattern research, the content got pushed way too low for my liking.
One solution, assuming you have some photoshop knowhow, is to work the Identity with your own choice of font directly into the image. This way, you can disable the default display “Site Identity” white bar, which gives a much more desirable F-pattern match with the secondary row smack on my menu bar or cover post content.
The chrome yellow background is inspired by Seth’s colour choices, prioritising genre matching over personal preference (metallic grey seems to be my favourite, possibly due to being called “Ironman” by schoolmates long ago).
An added note about layout, much as I like Seth’s strong design (and gracious permission to use his blog picture in my analysis), I took longer than necessary to find the link to his bio. After noting the key highlights of the layout, the next instinct is to scroll down looking for more stuff. Nothing found.
It turns out I had to scroll right (or zoom out). This is a possible drawback of deviating from the common F-pattern layout. A minor risk, some may say, but a risk, nonetheless.
What a great idea to initiate “engagement”! I liken this to a plot device used in good narratives. It works as a clever mechanism to help move to story forward, arguably even more critical for an interactive blog as a story literally ends when engagement stops.
With a less adorable/clickable head, my own version of a plot device borrows from Pikotaro‘s meme to re-state my mission of spreading engagement with special needs communities.
A plot device in this context could be a meme, hashtag, cute cat, or any instrument that increases the likelihood of further engagement. Applying Stuart Hall’s theory of audience reception oftentimes pits the preferred reading against the oppositional reading deliberately to create controversy, a risky but well known strategy in increasing engagement. In this case, the “cute” or “funny” reaction would be the preferred reading, while “cheesy”, “cringeworthy” or “not again” would be oppositional readings.