Concept and Overview:
Wanderluster Travel site is a website for travel tips and photography. It draws upon the images on the site for the aesthetic, which is clean and simple. The site offers articles on places/cities around the world which feature images from said places. There is also a separate gallery page for extra photographs categorised into cities/places. My site differs from other travel websites because it features a ‘local guides’ section, which is intended to showcase cities from a local point of view, by writing about exploring the city through its backstreets and hidden alleyways to find places not a lot of people know about. Followers of the site can use the contact page to submit places from their hometowns that they think are interesting to be added to the local guides section. By doing this they can showcase what their city or town has to offer and create a buzz around places that would otherwise be overlooked. The intended audience of my site are young travellers who are searching for a travel experience outside of the typical touristy spots and are not afraid to wander the streets of cities exploring, rather than having set plans and schedules.
Visual Communication and Design:
I decided to use photography heavily throughout the website to enhance the visuals of the site and reinforce the idea of travel. Having a separate page for the gallery was really important as it showcases not only the photography aspect of the site but the different cities and places featured.
The use of photography to break up the text throughout the website I think is important because it holds the audience’s attention for longer and doesn’t lose them in text heavy articles. Having an intended audience as young intrepid travellers means there is possibly a small attention span to work with and incorporating interesting images throughout hopefully combats that. The overall design of the site was kept minimal and clean, as it allows for the images throughout the site to be showcased and navigation from page to page to be kept simple. The header for the site also features a large relative image that adds colour to the site without it overpowering. The title for the site is prominently featured in a darker contrast to the image and the intention of the site is clearly stated below.
The design of the website’s header considers an aesthetic found on social media sites such as Tumblr and Instagram, utilising a sleek and simple design to draw the attention of a younger audience. The typography featured throughout the site has also kept to the simple and clean aesthetic intended. The text throughout the site is quite large and very easy to read, avoiding the potential for lack of concentration on the text due to having to strain to see it. I think keeping to the clean and simple aesthetic is the best approach for my site, as it appeals to the younger audience who are used to viewing such an aesthetic on popular blogs and social media platforms such as, Instagram and Tumblr.
User Interface Design:
The overall design of the site is meant to be clean and simple, to allow for easier navigation of the site and a good overall flow. The use of negative space is utilised throughout the site to contrast and showcase the images used. A dark header and menu bar also contrasts against the negative space, and creates a clear distinction between separate page links. The side bar of the site features a simple search bar and button and social media links for Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, creating easy access to explore the site’s social media outlets. There is also an Instagram feature below the social media links, displaying the latest 4 Instagram posts.
This display creates a nice visual feature and also links the images directly to the site’s Instagram, allowing the audience to explore that particular social media outlet and perhaps be inclined to seek out the others (e.g. twitter). The homepage of the site displays articles in order of most recently posted, however, doesn’t display the entire post but just an excerpt, allowing the user to click into it for further reading and the homepage to remain clutter free. This design choice keeps the website’s look clean and simple. The gallery page is a feature that helps define the aesthetic for the site. The page is categorised into separate cities/places and the photographs are displayed in a simple grid form to be clicked on for more detailed viewing. The gallery page is simple in its design, however, really draws upon and showcases the images used to demonstrate the photography and travel aspects of the site. These design choices make it easy for the audience to access the content they are after, and showcase what the site has to offer to them.
User Experience Design across Digital Platforms:
Utilising digital platforms in social media helps draw a wider audience to the site. Through the use of twitter, blog posts were able to be shared to a wider audience by tweeting a link with relevant hashtags, such as #wander and #travel. Instagram was utilised to share images found on the website also using the relative hashtags to reach a wider like-minded audience. Both social media platforms feature the website’s link in the bio, so the audience can easily access the site from there. Although Tumblr is a featured social media link on the site, it isn’t where I expect to gain most of my audience. The main reason for linking a Tumblr account to the site is to reach that little bit further to a younger audience and to post slightly different content to the other social media outlets.
By keeping a consistent theme across all social media platforms, by using the same username, profile picture (logo I created) and content drawn from the site, there is a coherent user experience design utilised. This makes it easier for the audience to access all the different aspects of the site, but also creates a wider reach for a new audience, without honing in on one particular social media platform and eliminating the potential of others.
With the most recent article post, A Night in Brighton (England), there has been an increase in visits to the sites and a few likes for the post. I didn’t however, link the post in any social media outlets, so its interesting to see the impact using tags on wordpress.com has to gaining an audience. Other than this recent activity the visits to the site has been little to none. It is clear I would need to utilise social media a lot better if this site was to progress. Creating continuity through scheduling posts may also help to gain a loyal audience who would keep revisiting the site. I found Instagram to be most successful in post likes, I think this is due to the utilisation of relevant hashtags (e.g. #travel, #wander and hashtags using the city’s name) and the bigger potential for Instagram users to search using a hashtag. Perhaps linking the site to every Instagram post would be the best progression forward for gaining more of an audience.
Future Directions and Development:
Continuing to utilise social media platforms to expand in audience will be important for further development in the site. The utilisation of hashtags in particular when posting through social media platforms, will help draw in an audience actively searching for content relative to the site’s subject. Updating the site on a twice weekly basis will help create continuity for the audience to follow. I think one article post and one post to the ‘local guides’ section would be a manageable place to start, whilst also offering variety to the audience. Keeping up with posting on social media daily, whether it be a link to a new post, an image posted on Instagram or retweeting a post/image relevant to the site’s content, will also help to expand the audience and satisfy the existing one. Incorporating a ‘travel tips’ section to the website would be a possible development to look into. Posting blog posts interviewing travel bloggers and/or well known people who travel a lot for their work could be a good addition to the site, as using trusted and well known sources would ultimately create a greater trust and level of respect within the audience of the site.