Nick draws things and apparently, Nick paints things also! Actually, the only portfolio Nick has on their site is painting. Given the title of their site, I guess we can expect drawings at some point as well. If not, “Nick Paints Things” may be a more appropriate title, but it’s in the same vein, so that’s cool. That aside, I would buy your work, Nick. Maybe, selling your work isn’t the focal point of your site, so far, I can’t exactly tell (more on that below) but if it was, I’d supply the red stickers. To preface the content below, whatever you are doing Nick, keep doing it!
Colours! One of the first things I thought was, “wow, this is a cute and colourful kitty banner.” My next thought was, “I wonder if Nick painted that?” Scrolling down I see a portfolio with a bunch of lovely paintings and thought the same thing. These recurring thoughts led me to wonder… I have no idea if the content on the site is from Nick themselves or simply placeholders for the widgets on the screen. Perhaps that is a good thing and a testament to your work, that it looks professional enough to be a placeholder. However, I feel as though some sort of preamble (after the “Portfolio” header and before the gallery) defining this would help your audience understand that all these beautiful works were created by the very talented, Nick!
This site came across as being about the art that Nick does. From the title to the first look of the page, to the gallery, it is clear that Nick is here to show off their great works of art! However, the purpose as to why they are showing their work is not specified. Are they trying to sell it, are they using the space simply as a portfolio, or are they just trying to fill their site with eye-catching things? Again, a preamble of some sort before just going into the portfolio would be beneficial to understand what is going on. Also, adding some functionality when a painting from the gallery is selected may be helpful to the audience as well. Currently, on desktop, when you hover over the gallery paintings boxes with a magnifying glass show up and when clicked on you are simply redirected to the main page (more on this under usability, below).
The home page doesn’t really tell me much about the author, so I navigated to the “About” section. From the name of the navigation link the content on this “About” page could go either 2 ways, it’s about the content or about the author. Upon inspection, it is about the author. Nick might consider changing “About” to something like “About Me” so that the audience understands that the content on the “About” page is not about the works per se, but about the author of the page, Nick. On the “About” page, Nick does a good job of listing how they came to draw, how they picked it up again more seriously during Covid, and why the site exists. I don’t have much to comment on here except maybe including a picture of themself or some early drawings from when they were little might make this section a little livelier so that it may match the liveliness of the home page.
I touched on aesthetics a bit with colours and layout in the above section, but I would like to dive more into design decisions and the overall feel of the site.
Overall, the aesthetic feel of the home page is fun, colourful, and about art! Until you scroll past the portfolio banner and see a lot of underutilized blue space for each blog postcard. I am assuming that the cards are supposed to have an image that takes up the blue portion, so perhaps Nick could make that happen. If there is no image that relates to the post itself, perhaps Nick could display some of their works with each blog post and comment on their creations (because they are awesome, and I would love to know more).
The overall aesthetic of the about page as discussed above is sort of lacking in content and could be elevated with some images of Nick’s works.
Moving on to the recent posts page, the overall aesthetic is, YELLING. Sorry, Nick… Maybe you were thinking about accessibility and making things easier to see, however, the all-bold everything is screaming at me and makes me want to navigate away. Also, making everything bold, makes nothing bold and makes your site harder to read.
On this page, there is also a drop-down menu that navigates to category pages for the posts. I think that is a swell idea, however, that menu desperately needs some styling. Nick, you are an IAT student with a concentration in science, I know you know CSS so please throw some styling on that menu (he needs clothes ☹).
Usability and Accessibility
Wow, this is long already (Nick/Suzanne/Lauren, I am sorry)! Despite this post’s length and the fact that this blog is brand-spanking new, this topic is important so I will touch on both usability and accessibility a bit.
The usability of the site’s navigation is wonderful. The flow of the user navigating from any page to any other given page is uninterrupted and intuitive. Going back to the aforementioned gallery widget on the home page, actually anchoring/linking the works in the gallery to information about that work seems like the intuitive flow a user may take and expect. If that is not the way Nick wants the gallery to work, I would suggest disabling the hover and click feature.
On the posts page, we had previously discussed the dropdown menu, but let’s be more specific. At the very minimum, the styling on the menu needs padding and a larger size so that the user may notice it easier. Giving the menu these attributes will also provide the menu with a decent amount of click space so that the user doesn’t accidentally click on the post below instead of the menu. Everything else on the blog post pages themselves looks great usability-wise.
Since this is a brand-new site, I don’t expect too much with accessibility, besides the overly bolded text on the blog post page I feel that there is a good contrast in colours and decent text sizes. As far as alternative text goes for images, I couldn’t see any alt text whilst inspecting the code through the console, but it may not mean it’s not there. I feel that the elements that had images (the banner and the gallery widget) may not lend themselves to allowing alt text or showing the alt text via code inspection.
From going over the posts that Nick has currently, I could see no immediate issues with typos or grammatical errors. Nick’s writing is clear and concise, albeit short and perhaps lacking creative details. The decision of the content seems to have a duality to it. Nick’s blog seems like it is for those who enjoy art and, mutually exclusively, learning about Nick. Both could tie in a bit better to make the overall content more cohesive because right now it feels like “this is my work” and “this is my blog which is something completely unrelated/minimally related to my work.”
Personality and Disposition of Nick’s Online Self
Armchair psychology time. I want to know more about Nick. More about Nick as it pertains to their art. Nick’s paintings are vibrant, exciting, and full of personality. Nick’s blog posts… they could stand to show a little more of what Nick’s paintings have going on. I want to see the real you! IMO, Nick’s blog posts come off as systematic and concise. While not a bad thing, Nick’s current personal cyberinfrastructure doesn’t allow us to understand the personality behind the words. Again, the duality of the paintings to the blog posts is stark and I believe this creates a conflict in Nick being able to showcase the disposition they may want to exhibit for their online self. Nick mentioned wanting to feel more comfortable with showing their work, perhaps there is some correlation between this and their present blog posts. There is an air of Nick inhibiting themself from showing their “true self,” allowing themselves to remain anonymous to some extent. Hopefully, in future iterations of Nick’s blog, there will be more semblance of who Nick is through the content that they post.
Overall, I believe that Nick has started on a path with lots of promise. I very much enjoy Nick’s work and look forward to seeing the final product in a couple of months. Keep working on the cohesiveness of your blog Nick and I feel like you could get lots of repeat activity to your site, if not for your artistic talent alone!
Hope this was useful, sorry for the length, and bye for now!
Visit Nick at: http://nickdrawsthings.com
One response to “PR #1: NickDrawsThings”
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