reviewing “Obscure Taste”

This week, I was asked to review the design of another classmate’s website. Jake is a business student who runs a blog called Obscure Taste. Obscure Taste is a review site for underground artists.

The homepage of Obscure Taste.

What works

The colour branding of the website seems perfectly fit for a blog about underground artists. It’s very grunge and low-key. There is consistency between the purples, oranges, and reds, and the black and grey helps tie it all together.

The use of a dark background rather than a light background is a great move design-wise. It helps distinguish Obscure Taste from most websites, which tend to favour a light background. This means that Jake’s blog will be more memorable in his audience’s mind. As Travis Gertz argues in this article, websites tend to suffer from standardization.

The website is also very well balanced. The use of very strict rectangular blocks and the asymmetry of the layout make for some very pleasing pages. Similarly, all the text and images on the site are flush left, which also makes for a pleasing visual experience.

What doesn’t work

The first thing that caught my eye was the background. The background is extremely busy and distracting. I found my eyes being drawn to it despite trying to focus on the images and text. I’d suggest the use of a simpler and more downplayed background, or at the very least, for him to change the text boxes to be completely opaque so the background doesn’t show through it.

The site is also pretty difficult to navigate. A first glance through the homepage and all the top menu items told me nothing about what the website was about. The top menu is particularly difficult to read. In fact, I’d recommend that Jake switch the content in his top and side bar. For the top bar, I would recommend Jake to have an “about”, “album reviews” or “artist reviews”, and “posiel” tabs, in that specific order. On the side menu, just the search bar and recent posts are fine.

I definitely think Jake could push the branding of the site title a little more. The Easy Google Fonts plug-in makes it easy to change the font to something with more character, and something more indicative of the theme of his blog. For example, I did a quick search through Google Fonts and found a couple right off the bat.

Four fonts that I selected that might be better suited to his blog theme.

Fonts like Creepster and Nosifer could really push the wacky/kooky/weird function; or if he wants to go more hip/cool, he could try some sort of sans serif font like Nova Round or Unica One. Of course, these are just four of the many different fonts available on Google Fonts.

Overall

The main issues with Obscure Taste revolve around infrastructure and usability — how to guide users to the right place essentially. The secondary issues aren’t problems per se, but would be helpful to push the branding of the site just a notch further. These include customization of font, background, and more.

Jake has definitely begun to create an online self. In fact, Obscure Taste has all the potential to be something great. However, design speaks louder than words, and while the design is on the right path, it’s not quite there yet.

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