Duck, Duck, Duck… Posiel.

(Week 7)

This week in #POSEIL we are tasked with picking apart a site that we frequent and discussing what works and what doesn’t in terms of design elements. As it is the spooky season, I thought maybe I would scare myself a little and pick a site that may or may not get me in trouble… What’s life without a little risk?!

So, hello, posiel, I want to play a game. 🙂

Front and centre for your viewing curiosity, this is what the home page of Posiel looks like currently:

Snapshot of the current home page.

To give this the attention it deserves 👀, let’s break down the home page into sections and go over the design elements one by one… spooky.

Overall Vibe

What is this site saying about the personal cyberinfrastructure of Posiel? I feel like it is saying, “Hey I just got here, oh cool what’s this default layout all about? Wait, there are a hundred different layout varieties and permutations of thousands of different design tweaks available to me? Nah, I’m good fam, brown just feels right… Annnnnddd done.”

I swear I don’t only have terrible things to say about the design of this site! If you’re wondering why I’m being not so nice off the bat, I’m trying a new thing from last week’s peer review cheer, going for the inverse of a “compliment sandwich” kind of thing. So, here comes the complimentary meat! I like the contrast of the red accents in the headings and sidebar spacers to the brown background. The spark from the red gives it a nice pop. Also, hmm, no actually, that’s it. Well ok, being able to see the hyperlinks via the default blue is also nice.

Sweet, with that long list of positives out of the way, back to the sourdough bread (emphasis on sour). Question. How do we feel about dessert at an all-you-can-eat buffet from the 90s? Picture the good old Uncle Willy’s, where their motto is literally, “Every day is a food day.” No, exclamation mark, just a gentle, obvious tautology. Why go the extra mile Uncle Willy’s? Why not, “Every day is a day?” Actually, new slogan idea for Posiel, “Every element is a brown element.”
No exclamation mark, we’re more dignified than that.

Picture of the front of Uncle Willy's in Burnaby, BC, Canada. What you cannot see is the inside where my close to senile grandpa is accidentally pulling the fire alarm and embarrassing my 7 year old self.
“Making you sick since 1986!” – Someone, probably.

Alright, enough sexy Uncle Willy’s lore, back to the question. How do we feel about dessert at an all-you-can-eat buffet from the 90s? 10 arrays of stale, beige creampuffs? Weird colourful jello that is also somehow still brown? Blonde brownies? I think you understand where I’m getting at. Going to drop this here, for colour pallet inspiration!

To be honest, if the only overall critique I have is that the site is brown, then I’m grasping at straws a bit. With that said, let’s see if we can’t unearth (hehe) some more design critiques getting into the nitty gritty.

Navigation Bar & Banner

Snapshot of the navigation bar on

Honestly, I like this. Yes, there is no exciting logo, but what you need to know is there, and it’s clear. For example, there is a clear distinction as to what navigation link is a drop-down offering more options and what nav link isn’t. You can tell which page you’re on via the boldness of the navigation bar. The composition of this section shows a clear focal point of the title banner, and the font size and strength of the title typeface compared to the typeface of the nav bar is apparent and purposeful.

Main Content

Snapshot of the main content on the home page, showcasing a picture of two girls holding cell phones, and some text about the site.

This is where things get a little iffy. The welcome heading is smaller than the title banner, great. Sans-serif heading vs serif paragraph font, also great. No alt text for the one single picture on the ENTIRE site??? Oooooo bad, very bad. Observe:

Snapshot of an open browser console inspecting the lack of alt text on the picture on the home page of

I think I remember something about wanting this offering of PUB 101 to feature the “most accessible group of sites to date.”


Snapshot of the side bar and it's contents including recent posts, tweets, publication, contact info, and search bar on

Though (as mentioned 10 times already) the palette is kind of dated, the flow and what information draws your eyes where gives a welcome air of organization and directness. Whoever designed this, knew what the Posiel audience wanted to look at and made it apparent. Again the sans-serif vs serif, the bold vs default, the colour pops, and the text alignment, the separators, all are good.


Full Semester Outline

Snapshot of the design layout of week on on the "Full Semester Outline" page on

Whew, ok. Look, we are not talking about usability, or I could go on and on about the “Full Semester Outline” pages weekly segments. Since we are discussing design elements, I just want to say that is decently laid out. The subheadings are important to know where to queue the reader where to look, the spacing between different ideas breaks up the section naturally, and the bullet points let the reader know that there is something important to go over. It looks educational, it feels educational, and it is educational.

Parting Words

All-in-all, there isn’t much to critique except the obvious, because there isn’t much to go on in the first place. Also, through this design critique, I have come to realize that I am a huge hypocrite. Much of my site is plain jane with little razmataz, but perhaps that’s because I want to bring attention to the content. Perhaps that is what Posiel has been doing all along, just with a side of gravy.

Alrighty, then bye for now!


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