Analysis of a Personal Blog

Images of eggs, a woman holding a baby, a woman cooking, and a jar of sourdough starter
Hopewell Heights Homepage

To better design my own personal blog I will analyze the design of an existing blog that is similar in content to the one I am creating. I hope to gain insights into the organization of the blog, Hopewell Heights, and determine what I find to be helpful and user-friendly, explore the ease of finding information, and critique the menus, drop-downs, and labeling. The combination of these elements of a website comprises the information architecture or IA.

I chose this website because it contains content that is interesting to me and that I would enjoy writing about on my blog, including homesteading, natural living, seasonal preparedness, and food made from scratch. The blog writer has notes on her About page explaining each social media platform she uses and the development stage each is in, noting that her blog is under construction with a re-launch scheduled for January 2024. This was good information to consider as I reviewed her website.

Who Am I Talking to and What Do They Want

As I clicked around the Hopewell Heights website and started looking at the content, I had to consider the audience and their needs. The end-user should be a consideration towards the beginning of the design process. This is called user-centered design, or UCD (also referred to as design thinking or humanity-centered design - which focuses on groups of people and societal issues). The purpose of UCD is to create useful and usable products for people's abilities and needs.

Four phases in user-centered design
Interaction Design Foundation - IxDF. (2016, June 5). What is User Centered Design?. Interaction Design Foundation - IxDF. https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/user-centered-design

Usability of Actionable Content

The purpose of the Hopewell Heights blog is to document the writer's homesteading journey, share recipes, and teach homemaking tips to other mothers. I see the target audience for this website as busy moms looking for a tutorial on breadmaking or recipes to use as they're planning dinner. The formatting should be conducive to someone standing their phone or tablet up on the counter as they prepare food, with a font large enough to see and short phrases with helpful photos, rather than long drawn-out paragraphs. Since this is actionable content, this formatting will allow the information to be utilized as a user guide while performing the specific task. I found the formatting to be well suited for the use and was glad to see the Jump to Recipe button.

Search Functionality and Navigation

A search bar that allows for quick, easy information retrieval and suggests similar, alternative topics, is imperative. For example, if I search for pie, I would like to see the best recipe match and other articles in the dessert category. This doesn't exactly happen when using the search bar on this site. If you search pie, that is the first thing that comes up, but all other recipes on the site follow. I believe this is due to the lack of submenus. This website does not have submenus or dropdowns. The layout translated well to my mobile device. The six main topics of the website, which are displayed beautifully below, unfortunately, were not functioning or clickable when I had my browser full screen, but when I minimized the browser view to half screen, they worked seamlessly. Hopefully, this will be an interactivity improvement addressed in the relaunch.

Images of eggs, a woman holding a baby, a woman cooking, and a jar of sourdough starter
Hopewell Heights Homepage

A number of recipes, like this pasta-making recipe, are accompanied by a YouTube instructional video, which is a great addition for users. There are also images of the steps throughout the processes and some have a What You Need image.

Image of a woman rolling pasta dough
Pasta Making screenshot from Hopewell Heights Blog

Some Takeaways

The content of each post is user-friendly and visually appealing. The navigation could be improved by adding submenus or dropdowns, and by improving the search function. I noted a lack of ads on this website, which was fantastic, and hope that the relaunch does not incorporate more sales. The video links are something that I frequently use, but had not considered jumping into another form of media for myself although the videos may improve the user experience.

Claire Toledo

Claire Toledo

Claire is a proud manager for local government. She is working to complete her MBPL, and balances work and school with family--husband, 2 independent children, dogs, cats, and chickens.
Defiance, Missouri