As I lay my tired eyes on Record of Naught for the first time I think to myself, “I don’t know what I’m looking at…”
I like it, wait do I? I think so. Yes.
Ok, I’ll just say it, I am confused and intrigued (honestly I’m probably just not cool enough to understand) by the eerie, liminal nature that is your blog, Sam Pham… Or is it, Walter Anderson?
Look, I only know your “real” name because of the Google sheet that assigned me to your blog, but otherwise, I would not know anything about you. That’s fine though because due to the emptiness/vagueness of your blog I am starting to think that not knowing anything about you is the entire point.
Your “About” section informs me that your blog is about fictional stories. Going through your posts, however, I see mostly image-only posts or posts with vague descriptions or sometimes a couple of non-related sentences. This may be the intended aesthetic, and that’s ok because today is not about content, today we are going to dive into the design of your blog, Walter err… Sam, or whomever you may be. Let’s go!
You may or may not have read my post last week about my love and affinity for all things brown/beige. If you did not, then I regret to inform you that the last line was a lie, and I detest, nay, mildly dislike too much brown/beige of anything.
Your site is different though, Sam. Your site has a look, a vibe, an air of mystery and pops of art that paint the pages with accents that adhere and contrast to the dirt and grit of a neutral tone. Beige is probably the perfect fit here.
There is a lot of edginess, rawness, and evasive yet emotive work being showcased on this blog.
I used the word liminal before and I’ll use it again, that’s the theme in my eyes, that’s the disorientating allure I feel from your site, it is truly liminal.
I see personality in your “Records” posts. These posts sometimes only display an image, sometimes there is an image and some simple, curated written content. In the case that there is written work to go along with the image, in tandem the two elements create a story. This unity of words and images displays an elegant and pointed customization to the overall edge of the site. I see now that perhaps the “fictional stories” you alluded to, Sam, are perhaps the sum parts together (or I’m grasping at straws and you just haven’t posted any stories yet).
I understand that this customization is perhaps not customization in the traditional, objective sense of the word in the context of design, but the posts allow the site’s overall demeanour to warp and strengthen its liminal face.
If we were to take customization in the traditional sense of design, the way you display your records on your Records page (also seen on the Posts page) utilizes an interesting layout, that plays with padding and empty space.
Yes, it’s empty, but it’s on purpose, and it’s intriguing. There’s no comfort in how far away the “Records” button is from the titles, and that lack of attachment is new and bothersome (in a good way), I want to click everything just to understand.
I don’t know maybe I’m a weirdo, but I really like how non-traditional this page is.
OOooOoo a sans-serif with another sans-serif? Juicy. If we stay on the Records page, we see the use of Krona One and DM Sans paired together. The emotive and modern nuances of Krona One add a playful touch and the DM Sans brings about the business.
The Record “Playtime” is underlined when a cursor is hovered over it to showcase that is a link, adding to the usability of the site. The gap in the underline also gives personality to the typeface.
This was touched on previously, but the space in the arrangement of the record title and respective date and button keeps the elements attached, yet allows them to be their own focal points giving the user an easier time discerning title from date.
Social Media Integration
On the bottom right of the footer on every page (except the “About” page) there are buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram:
Pressing on any of these doesn’t really go anywhere as there are all linked to a fragment “0” i.e.,
Perhaps this will change in the future.
Let’s talk about the layout. I enjoy the simplicity, the easy horizontal top-bar navigation, the gallery masonry layout on the home page, and the Posts and Records page “empty space” layout. The only nitpick I have is that the about page does not share the same footer as every other page on your site.
I really like the topic of usability because as a computer nerd I enjoy efficiency and ease when I’m working with anything. As mentioned in the site structure, I LOVE the simplicity of the navigation (mine is similar, maybe that’s why I like it so much). Having a nav bar with obvious links as well as a pronounced drop-down menu to denote that there are more options is key in guiding your audience through your work without confusion or frustration.
I do need to note the lack of accessibility here, as I believe both usability and accessibility live in unity. So, without further ado, where is the alt text??? I cannot find any, on any of the images.
Also, I understand there is a vibe that you are going for with the beige-on-beige look, however not having any options for increased contrast for font visibility could prove frustrating for those of your audience that would benefit from it.
The line “Sarah’s Self Care Journey” pops out, but the muted down typography of the subtitle and paragraph gives a washed-out look and could potentially be hard to read for some.
Consistency & Cohesiveness
Here is your first peer review post, Sam:
And here is one of your process posts:
As you can see, the typography is different in both. Different in font type and different in font colour. Perhaps this is on purpose to signify the difference between post types, however, I feel that trying to find something that works for both will allow your audience the comfort of consistency and provide them with the gift of less cognitive load. Less cognitive load in the sense that they may consciously or subconsciously expense energy scrutinizing the page trying to figure out what may or may not have changed, ultimately distracting them from focusing on the most important part, your work.
I like your site, Sam. It’s eerie, liminal, creative, edgy, artistic, and simple to navigate. The only parting constructive criticism I can give would be to think about the cohesiveness page to page, and the consistency in your design and design elements going forward. Oh, also please get on the accessibility train!
If you missed the links above, be sure to visit www.recordofnaught.com for the full experience.
Hopefully, that was insightful in some way and only the smallest bit annoying.
Anywho, bye for now!