Fixing up the form of jellylift, and my struggles with keeping my people happy
As I continue to develop jellylift, as much as I am bursting with ideas, my site is bursting with problems.
After surpassing the initial troubles of figuring out how to use WordPress, issues of design flexibility, site clarity, and navigation began presenting themselves to me. I discovered I can’t attach widgets to the sides of my website, forcing everything into one column, and the post categories don’t offer a thumbnail or clip which links to the whole post, but rather displays the entire post while you’re scrolling. And most of all, over this week, I received feedback from four separate sources that my site was difficult to navigate. It was unclear where to find the newest posts, the menu headers didn’t make sense, and the colours blended together too easily, making it difficult to read large bodies of text.
This was a hard pill to swallow, as I had worked especially hard to make my blog very organized and straightforward. Personally, I hate learning how to work a new website where the layout is super scattered and impossible to navigate, which is why I opted for the very minimalist style, with few links to click and spaced out wording that emphasizes the important parts of a text. Yet, despite my efforts to create aesthetically pleasing and easy to follow visuals, my only negative feedback was on just that – the visuals.
To me, the navigation made perfect sense. I can see where the confusion may have lain in my old menu headers such as “omg hey – the dry part – the fun part”, but only if you don’t explore the blog enough. After not even 20 seconds on each of those pages, I found it to be extremely clear as to what their purposes were. Regardless, I decided to strip jellylift of that unique characteristic, and opted for something more standard: “omg hey – about – all posts.” I didn’t like this change very much, but concluded that it was more user friendly and accessible to first-time visitors. To solve the issue of not being able to find the newest post (which I also thought was clear, but maybe I’m just high up on my horse and terribly unreceptive to criticism) I implemented an internal link that teleports you to the ‘all posts’ page, where the newest post is at the very top of the list. For colours, I darkened the background and lightened the text, which hopefully helps. I never saw an issue with the colours clashing to begin with and am not able to tell whether the slight changes I made helped at all and so, to all my beloved readers who had trouble with the colour contrast… this one’s for you <3.
To add to my troubles, I installed a site-editor plug-in (because I’d had enough with WordPress), tried it, hated it, uninstalled it, and it totally screwed up all my previous work. The font was all wacky, the colour blocking was wrecked, the photos were in weird orders, and the text formatting got all jumbled up. I had to go and reverse it all and even now some pages don’t look the way they used to. I’m inclined to believe that these marginal details go unnoticed by a visitor who isn’t constantly staring at the site and editing it daily, but it’s still driving me nuts. Will jellylift ever be the same again? Or is she forever changed? I suppose we can only wait and find out.
All my struggles with website layout and form brings me to the article “Contents May Have Shifted” by Erin Kissane (2013), in which Kissane discusses how the form of standard content we have always known seems to be shifting and losing its traditional structure. She refers to how our standard digital workbook style webpages and editors are beginning to “turn liquid” (Kissane, 2013) and melt into something less cookie cutter. These platforms are now meant to be flexible, and we can start to see the meshing of forms such as the example she gives of the use of GIFs in newspaper articles. In a physical copy of a newspaper, you could never implement a GIF right smack center of a New York Times print, fresh off the press! Yet here we are, in this liquid form of what once was a newspaper, with short moving pictures planted in the story-telling of politicians saying the wrong things and cats being saved from trees. Even books have not only their digital, but their auditory counterpart, fumbling with the idea we once had of what a ‘book’ was.
Kissane’s (2013) article along with our class discussion forced me to reflect on how my site might benefit from this amalgamation of form, as “content that can fit into many containers” (Kissane, 2013). How might implementing different forms of content and media enhance or limit jellylift? It seems like a lot to wrap my head around with everything that already needs fixing, to suddenly start worrying about its flexibility in design. I’ve been thinking about what an impact that layout and form has on my audience, and how it is integral in keeping their attention. After looking at jellylift on my phone, I quickly discovered that it does not transfer well onto a mobile device, and left me wondering if maybe jellylift needs a renovation. As previously mentioned, after toying around with the theme I chose I began to uncover all the limitations that this minimalist template offers. This structure puts me in a difficult position as I continue to ponder the future of jellylift.
Do I completely change the template?
Is user-friendliness more important than personal preference?
Do I need to sacrifice the simplicity of jellylift for the sake of flexibility and relatability?
Will packing different forms of media into the site steal from the minimal and straightforward aesthetic I originally intended to achieve?
Could there possibly be a way to satisfy everyone?
So many questions, so little answers…
Will jellylift ever reach true perfection?