For the third and final peer review, I am reviewing my peer Cassandra McLean’s site: “The Art of Cass”. Going into this review, all I knew about her blog was that it is centred around her art. However, when I arrived at the website, I was instantly surprised and intrigued. Cassandra’s home page automatically captivates you with a large display photo of her own digital art creation. This alone made me quite interested, and right away I was ready to dig in. If you are a digital art fan, I would recommend checking out her site!
After seeing Cassandra’s or “Cass’” home page, I decided to look at her about page, to get a little more information on her before jumping right in. I was definitely not let down, as Cassandra gave a wonderful introduction to who she is. I felt very welcomed by her! If I could recommend one thing, I would suggest for her to add a photo of herself to the about page, so that her audience is able to put a face to her name. Besides that, I was feeling quite ready to look into her written and digital content.
Looking through Cassandra’s content was quite interesting. Her blog content focuses on her digital art pieces, which are amazing! Each blog post describes her inspiration behind the art pieces, and provides an explanation and mythical story. Bernstein (1998) stated that there is “…value [in] audience attention…” (p. 6), and I think Cassandra has been able to adequately captivate readers through her creative writing. Her posts exhibit an extremely unique take to an art-themed blog, and I really enjoyed reading through. Something I found fascinating was a post that displayed the process and progress of one of her art pieces! I also noticed that Cass signs most of her art pieces. I think signing her digital creations is a really smart idea, in regards to copyrighting her work (Norman, 2021), as we discussed in lecture. This will protect her from others potentially stealing her work.
Cass’ blog posts speak to a specific crowd and it is evident that she has a clear target audience set. I think that this is great and a definite strength of her site. As Gertz (2015) mentioned, “[your] content should speak to the few people who can identify with this personality because this is the only audience that matters” (para. 63). Her site definitely aligns with his idea. It is clear that she has a strong relationship and connection to her content, which is directed towards a valuable audience that fits with her blog (Stadler, 2010). My only suggestion for Cassandra would be to link out to other sites in her blog content, as this would be beneficial to her site. To be more specific, she could potentially monetize her website and make money off of her artwork. I am sure that her target audience (and even others) would be willing or interested in paying for an original art piece that Cassandra could create. Hempel (2016) explained that there are “…benefits that come with large audiences…” and benefits in “…allowing publishers the autonomy to preserve and build their brands and manage their own relationships with readers and advertisers” (para. 7).There is definitely clear marketability and strong monetization potential in Cassandra’s site.
Cassandra’s course content is also quite good. She has been consistent and has shown great effort in her Mini Assignments, and has also documented her progress by including screenshots in her Process Posts. Again, I would suggest that Cassandra links out to sources and/or other sites, and utilizes the course readings in her work as this is an area that is slightly lacking. The use of hyperlinking is quite important and valuable online (Derakhshan, 2015). Otherwise, her content is great and nicely articulated!
As I mentioned in a previous peer review, I ensured to consider Mauve Pagé’s (2021) best design practices, including “balance, rhythm, proportion, contrast, [and] unity”, when looking through Cassandra’s blog.
A design element that I really loved about Cassandra’s site is the gallery section, where you are able to view all of her artwork and creations. You are given the choice to choose between viewing her original creations, or her inspired creations, which I think is a great touch. Once you click on either side, you are taken to an array of magnificent art, which is a powerful design element. Additionally, I think that Cassandra has picked a great theme and has customized it in a way to truly showcase her talent.
Cassandra’s website is also easy to navigate with clear spots to find her Process Posts, Mini Assignments, Peer Reviews, and Essays. A design aspect that I appreciate is Cass’ consistent use of lower-case headings, as well as the staggered way that she laid out her PUB 101 page, with helpful descriptions of each category. I think that these unique elements really fit with the premise of her blog. If it is possible with her blog theme, I would recommend for Cass to add drop downs in her menu, so that the reader is able to more easily access her PUB content individually, without having to click on the full page and scroll through.
Additionally, Cass has been “…repeating aspects [like] position, typography, [and] color” (Bernstein, 1998, p. 41) on her blog, which is quite valuable. I think that consistency is key, and Cassandra has managed to accomplish this. Furthermore, she has also been able to adequately create a blog that incorporates “balance, rhythm, proportion, contrast, [and] unity”, as Pagé’s (2021) emphasized. The blog layout is quite balanced, and there is a good amount of white space and contrast (Pagé, 2021). Also, there are good proportions, especially in regards to the artwork images in her posts. Ultimately, Cass’ design has a strong rhythm and unity, and also enhances the content that she displays on her blog (Gertz, 2015), which is quite important!
I think that it would be great if Cassandra included a site logo or icon onto her site, which she could even draw herself! This addition would be valuable to her art-centred site.
Ultimately, Cassandra has created a strong blog with a key and specific audience. With a few tweaks and additions as mentioned above, I think that Cass’ marketability would be even higher than it already is. Keep up the great work, Cassandra!
Bernstein, Mark. 1998. Hypertext Gardens: Delightful Vistas
Derakhshan, Hossein. 2015. “The Web We Have to Save.” Medium.com. July 2015. Available from: https://medium.com/matter/the-web-we-have-to-save-2eb1fe15a426
Gertz, Travis. 2015. “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” July 2015. Available from: https://louderthanten.com/articles/story/design-machines
Hempel, Jessi. 2016. “Medium Takes Aim at WordPress with a New Way to Power Sites.” http://www.wired.com/2016/04/medium-now-way-power-entire-sites-including-ads
Stadler, Matthew. 2010. “What is Publication?” Talk from the Richard Hugo House’s writer’s conference, Seattle, WA. May 21, 2010. http://vimeo.com/14888791
Cover photo created with Canva