Week 1 of My Blog Process: Orientation
Reading: “How to Talk to Strangers” (2016) By James Hamblin
Reading: “The Man who studies the Spread of Ignorance” (2016) Georgina Kenyon
Week 2: Set Up – My Personal Cyber Infrastructure (Blog)
This week I began the installation and setup of my own personal cyber infrastructure, or blog. The most difficult decision I had to make in my blog process was selecting a theme. With very minimal experience and knowledge in WordPress, I started with those that were free. It literally took me hours to make a decision, but I finally settled on Button.
I wanted something a little out of the ordinary. The Button theme suggested its usefulness for “creatives,” and highlighted some pretty interesting formats for images, which caught my attention. With a history in fine arts and an interest in both photography and painting, this seemed like the perfect format for me to creatively showcase my writing.
I enjoy a combination of new contemporary designs and older retro type styles. This theme was the best of both worlds with a very minimalistic feel, and the possibility of a two column newspaper type layout. I stuck with the grey, white, and orange colour palette, which reminded me of my childhood in the 70s and early 80s!
My attempt at creating a vision board for my blog has been a fail so far. I just can’t seem to make a decision about how to design it. At first I thought I’d do it the old fashion cut and paste way. But I’ve since discovered several online methods through Pinterest and Canva that seem quite interesting. It’s all so time consuming and a bit confusing. For now I’m going to focus on my new status as a returning undergraduate. I’d like to encourage other single parents, or midlife people like myself, to step out of their comfort zones and change their lives for the better. I’d also like to educate, inspire, and empower others to make positive social changes in their communities and the lives of others.
Here’s to the start of an amazing journey in my blog process!
Week 3: The Online Self
The next step in my blog process was developing my online self by focusing on my Home and About Pages. I also began using Canva as a tool for searching, editing, and getting creative with images. I wanted to immediately connect with my social media publics so I spend quite a bit of time searching my theme’s tools and plugins for social media “buttons.” This week I published my first three process posts on my blog and shared them all on Facebook.
Header,Tagline, and Site Title
Coming up with an appropriate header was a huge task. I began by searching my own images but wanted something a little more artistic. I wanted an image that evoked emotion and somehow resonated with me. Again, Canva proved to be my best source for image ideas, and I knew I didn’t have to worry about copyright issues. The tagline ” The Unexpected Undergraduate” seemed a good fit for the topics I wanted to write about, and I decided to keep my own name for the site title.
Home and About Pages
My theme didn’t come with a Home tab, which I wanted at the top of the page with the others, but I couldn’t seem to find a way to place it there. I ended up with another “button” on the top right hand side of each page, which seems confusing, but will have to do for now.
My About page was fun to do. I changed the name to The Undergraduate to match my tagline and wrote a little about myself. I’ve been playing around with the image of myself, but will continue to change it until I find or take a better picture. I initially removed the second column on the right, but decided I like it there to keep that newspaper type format. So far I’ve shared most of my PUB101 content live through blog posts, but I’m considering adding these process posts to The Undergraduate page to document the development of my blog and online self.
Social Media Links and Sharing
After playing around with different social media “buttons” I decided to keep the sharing ones that came with my theme, for the bottom of each post and page. I added an ” Ultimate Social Media Icons” plugin as well so my visitors could follow or like me on my other social media platforms. This plugin had Icons that better suited my theme, colours, and blog process.
Process Posts this week:
Week 4: Design Yourself
Publication and interactive design were the topics of this weeks PUB101 lecture and lab in the blog process. First, I continued to work through the appearance of my blog, experimenting with and customizing menus, widgets, and backgrounds. Then, I began to familiarize myself with settings and tools, playing around with different options like font and the use of visual media. Finally, I took a look at the plugins I was already using, as well as those that were popular with or suggested by others.
I published two more process posts reviewing a peers blog and my favourite yoga studio’s website.
Week 5: Publics/Digital Publics/Public Spheres
This week as part of my blog process I published my 6th process post, reviewing one of my favourite blogs.
I also completed a second peer review for Sarvin Samei’s Art inspired website Art Bar.
As I work through my blog process, I’m beginning to become more conscious of my imagined audience or public. I want to make sure that my editorial and design decisions make sense for my current readers, as well as those I hope to attract.
So far I’ve attracted a lot of readers from my Facebook account, which tends to be an older demographic like myself. This was intentional, because one of my goals for this blog was to educate, inspire, and empower middle age readers to take risks in their lives and help make positive social changes in the world around them. I began using images and content that were both a reminder of “the good old days” (recognizable by those who grew up in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s); as well as more motivating ones for positive change in the present and future.
I’d also like to use my present status as an “unexpected” returning undergraduate, to educate and inspire others about the benefits of going back to school at any age. And, empower those wanting to begin their own blog with some of the processes I developed in doing so.
Week 6: Authority/Echo Chambers/Online Behaviour
This week, based on the first peer review I received, I began adding more content to my blog. I also signed up for the social media platform Instagram so I could eventually share these images to my blog and vice versa. Finally, I began working on my first PUB101 essay about “False News.” This topic has become explosive in the media since Donald Trump was elected as President of the United States of American!
Week 7: Publishers/Authors/Texts
Sarah Wendell, Co-author of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, was a guest speaker in lecture this week. Her discussion on the development and process of her blog was both informative and inspiring.
This week I published my essay on social media and False News.
As part of our blog process this week we were asked to create a “remix” of something.
According to Wikipedia:
"A remix is a piece of media which has been altered from its original state by adding, removing, and/or changing pieces of the item. A song, piece of artwork, book, video, or photograph can all be remixes. The only characteristic of a remix is that it appropriates and changes other materials to create something new."
An incident in the news concerning sexual assault inspired me to remix the following images, which I shared on social media.
Week 8: Marketing, Audience, & Analytics:
Trevor Battye, SFU publishing prof and Clever Media co-founder, was our guest speaker today. He spoke about the business of online publishing, monetization, and digital markets/audiences.
This week I attempted to install “Google Adsense,” but I didn’t have enough written content to be approved yet. So far most of my written content has been published in posts, so I’ll have to begin working on the content of my pages to be approved. At this point I’m not ready to monetize my site anyway. I want to wait until I’ve had a lot more time and practice to develop my blog and become more familiar with my audience.
Analytics Process Post
My most recent process post was an article I wrote on digital tracking.
Week 9: The Global Picture
In lecture this week we looked at the “2016 Mary Meeker Internet Trends Report.
My own findings from “Google Analytics” suggested that most of my audience is still visiting my blog from articles I post on social media platforms like Facebook. A few visits to my site resulted from searches of my name, which confirms why I chose to name it after myself in the first place. The “Yoast” plugin that came with my theme has been one of the most helpful tools I’ve acquired so far to edit my writing and improve my SEO search terms.
Week 10: Editing & Genres
Peer Review #3
Creating a Story Out of Media
Week 11: Using Multiple Channels and Media in the Blog Process
How Do People Read Online: Guest Speaker – Lisa Manfield
Most Web Readers:
- scan a page in under 10 seconds at first looking for specific information
- look for bold headings and subheadings
- browse links to navigate
- don’t go below the fold
- spend more time scanning the left side on desktop; on mobile it’s the right
- only scan first few words of headlines
- click around a lot; most visits are only seconds long – one or two pages
- leave quickly if they can’t find what they need
- eye tracking studies show an “F” pattern
- spend approximately 25 seconds per page
- read only about 20% of a page
- process visuals faster than text
Reading is active (thinking), watching is passive (feeling)
A Users State of Mind is Different on the Web than in Print
- visitors browsing want to be entertained
- visitors who are goal oriented are looking for specific information
- screen display makes reading slower – screen glare
- online reading is 25% slower
- the web is interactive – not linear
Make it Easy for the Readers to Spot What They’re Looking for by Using:
- bold subheadings
- anchor links
- meaningful headings
- bullets or numbered lists
- one idea per paragraph
- the inverted pyramid style for information
- half the word count of conventional writing