Concept and Overview
‘Homies of Adelaide’ (HoA) showcases the best Adelaide has to offer in terms of the places, people, eats and events. The site will feature editorials that contain written work and accompanying images. Its purpose will be to encourage people to engage and participate in the city’s culture.
The audience are individuals aged from their late teens to early thirties, both male and female who currently live in Adelaide. They want to experience the city in a creative and adventurous manner but most importantly they want to share those moments with their social media friends. They want to be seen as early adopters so the aim for our site will be to be on the cutting edge of what is new and on trend. HoA will provide its audience a behind the scenes look into some of the city’s little quirks providing each article with a clear story telling element. The idea is to fulfill the audience’s need to be seen as ‘in the know’.
Unlike other sites about Adelaide’s culture, our page will be approached by our audience from a position of ‘what’s in it for me?’. They want to know what they can get out of an experience we feature. They want inspiration and ideas for their own social media content.
Visual Communication and Design
The juxtaposition of colour in the articles against the neutrality of the banner and background will capture the reader’s attention and draw them in to the content. Photographs will be the most important element to the site’s visual communication. Each article will have a featured image which will be displayed on the home page along with the articles title and a short excerpt. The images will have significant immersive qualities but also be informative. They will exist as inspiration for the audience’s own social media posts so will need to re-creatable to some degree. In other words, the images cannot simply be beautiful but must tell a story and create an atmosphere the audience want to be a part of.
I have chosen Anonymous Pro as the font used throughout HoA. It is simple to read and has a minimalist vibe which compliments the other visual elements throughout the site. Furthermore, I have chosen to keep headings and titles in lowercase as it maintains the casual minimalist vibe. To preserve a professional appearance all body text is capitalised where grammatically necessary and the text is left aligned to increase readability and mirror left to right reading (Ling and Schaik, 2007). The balance of text to imagery is heavily skewed towards imagery, primarily for aesthetics sake. My audience are highly visual people so images will be heavily relied upon to tell a large part of the story.
The logo design for HoA is very basic and consists of the full brand name situated within a square. The square design is supposed to mimic that of a social media image. I have chosen not to use the logo on the WordPress site as I believe it creates clutter and is too disruptive to the overall aesthetic. However, I have chosen to use it on the associated social media platforms as it will help the audience recognise our posts within their feeds (Zarrella, 2010).
User Interface Design
User interface design for HoA is primarily concerned with the audience’s ease of use and access. HoA will utilise what Tufte (1997) referred to as parallelism as the main design approach for our webpage. This will be most obvious on our home page. The page layout will include a large banner across the top of the page, followed by a narrow menu bar and then the main design element, three columns of article links. The links involve a title to the article, an (Instagram style) image that represents what the article is about and a one or two sentence introduction to the article. While the columns of article links are perfectly symmetrical and parallel in width, the length is purposefully different from article to article. The aim of this variation is to encourage the audience to continue down the page by creating something new to grab their attention as they scroll downwards.
It was important that I chose a layout from WordPress that would feel familiar to the audience so they instinctually knew where to look for certain information. Even if they do not use the menu bar below the header, it allows them to see in rapid succession what the site is about and where to go if they want specific content. Because the home page in particular can appear a bit cluttered, I have made sure to maintain negative space throughout the site with the purpose of maintaining a level of clarity. I have avoided over-use of text by keeping my articles short and breaking it up with images so the reader is continuously driven through a post.
User Experience Design across Digital Platforms
As discussed above, social media will play a significant part in the development of the HoA brand, particularly FaceBook and Instagram. Facebook is where I will focus more on the story telling elements and promote the site directly to local Adelaidians through grassroots marketing. Instagram is where I will focus the visual elements and look to achieve the most engagement with the audience. Each is linked to the website via the banner.
The best quality of social media is not its marketing powers but its engagement potential. The more engagement the audience has with the brand the more likely they are to stay involved an continue following. Through engagement the audience builds a sense of ownership and belonging (Folds and Mangold, 2009). I have tried to maximise this engagement by promoting the hashtag ‘homiesofadl’, particularly on Instagram with the hopes of creating a community vibe. Instagram is the best pair with my target audience as it is visual-centric. It is also the space where I have currently gained the greatest following. Through experimentation, I believe I have found the right balance of hashtags. I also actively encourage my audience to use the hashtag ‘homiesofadl’.
Gancho et al. (2016) discuss the necessity of maintaining consistent branding across platforms in order to get the best return from your audience. In order to achieve this I have tried to coordinate posts across Instagram, FaceBook and the website and I have maintained the same logo, naming and imagery. Instagram is the only platform that sometimes has special content where I post ‘live’ images that may or may not link to a post on the website. The motivation behind that is to increase the amount of social media traction without having to create larger content based around articles.
As my site hasn’t been updated with content on a regular basis yet, my statistics will be heavily skewed. However, there are still some interesting findings to discuss.
Below is a chart detailing the sites views and visitors. Obviously on 25th May the most people were reached. This was when I first began adding content to the page. The majority of the views are friends and family who I asked to look at the site via a text message.
The chart below shows the views of each individual area of the site. I have not directed anybody towards any particular pages so these findings are particularly interesting, although from a very small sample size. The least visited category on my page was eats. This took me by surprise a bit because I thought eats would be one of the more popular articles as, in my opinion, it had the most visually intriguing imagery.
On the other hand, the most successful individual article was on the restaurant Chicco Palms, which, to a certain degree, counters the previous finding as it is part of the eats category. I found that Chicco Palms was my most visually appealing post, particularly if it was viewed from the home page.
It appears that most people viewing the site were doing so through linking to the categories in the menu bar. Again, this surprised me as I thought people would be visually motivated by the images on the home page and move directly through to the posts. This leads me to think that perhaps (at least through the website) my audience aren’t as visually motivated as I had assumed.
Future Directions and Development
HoA has a long way to go in order to develop a consistent following across all platforms. It will be vital that I stay flexible with my original concept and respond as the site accumulates more analytical data.
It is clear that I need to take more time to create original content for the site in order to maintain a loyal following. At this stage I think I need to create at least one post per week for each of the four categories and work harder to integrate the social media platforms with the website in terms of promoting content. I also need to trial Twitter more actively as to date I have not invested much time in it.
As far as design goes, I need to create more similarity between my photos, to make my site easier on the eye and improve flow between articles and social media posts.
I am going to build my site steadily towards summer time when I think people will be most willing to get out and about and try the features for themselves. There will also be more options for me to photograph and write about.
Staying on top of analytics and Adelaide’s cultural trends will be paramount in making HoA successful in the long run.
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Zarrella, D. 2010, ‘The social media marketing book’, O’Reilly Media Inc. Sebastopol, CA, accessed 30 May 2017, available from < https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=chd3yfExXMEC&oi=fnd&pg=PR4&dq=logos+in+social+media&ots=u6Q7m1A7V5&sig=jGTlwuASJsAUskNmel0AEN1vjG4#v=onepage&q=logos%20in%20social%20media&f=false>
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Gancho, S, Cooper, R & Evans, M 2016, ‘The Value and Importance of Design when Branding for Social Media: Models for a Framework Analysis’, Journal of Design, Business & Society, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 95, accessed on 29 June 2017, available from <http://go.galegroup.com.proxy.library.adelaide.edu.au/ps/i.do?&id=GALE%7CA448453798&v=2.1&u=adelaide&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&authCount=1>