Analysis of a Food Photographer Site

Screenshot of The Bite Shot's landing page.
Screenshot/The Bite Shot

I learned how to take photos using artificial light from a YouTuber named Joanie Simon. She runs a popular YouTube channel called The Bite Shot. Although most of her content is video-based, she also runs a website by the same name. Like her video content, her site is vibrant, easy to navigate and full of helpful information.

Organization

The Bite Shot is a perfect example of a narrow niche website. The site focuses on specialized topics or subject matter. It caters to a highly targeted audience interested in that niche—self-taught food photographers. By focusing on this narrow niche, The Bite Shot provides in-depth tutorials, tips and resources that cater specifically to the unique challenges and interests of self-taught food photographers. This targeted approach allows the site to establish itself as a go-to resource for this niche community, fostering a sense of community and trust among its audience.  

Navigation Menu

The Bite Shot employs a simple linear information architecture (IA) with some sequential elements. In Writing for Digital Media, Brian Carrol explains that a linear site architecture is the most straightforward approach to IA. Typically, in this design, there is only one predefined path that leads to the page. 

Screenshot of The Bite Shot's landing page.
Screenshot/The Bite Shot

On The Bite Shot, there are four menu choices: About, Free Resources, Courses, and Member Login. Each menu item leads to a submenu item that leads to a single page. However, given the nature of hyperlinks, there are plenty of call-to-action buttons scattered throughout, so the reader has ample opportunity to get to any page. Overall, the navigation pathways are straightforward, and the menu, button labels and hyperlinks all lead to relevant information. 

Search Functionality

The only search functionality on The Bite Shot is on the blog page. This page also has a menu designed specifically for the blog. There are no submenu items here. When a reader clicks on a specific category topic, they are directed to a page displaying blogs tagged with that specific topic.

Screenshot of The Bite Shot's blog page.
Screenshot/The Bite Shot

When a reader clicks on a blog article, another menu appears in the sidebar, and related content widgets are featured above it.

Screenshot of The Bite Shot's blog page.
Screenshot/The Bite Shot

Content Hierarchy

The main purpose of The Bite Shot’s website is to support its YouTube channel. Simon uses the site to drive affiliate traffic to her suggested photography gear and to funnel prospective students to her courses. She does a great job placing her Free Resources menu item before the two paid access menu options. 

Screenshot/The Bite Shot

Page Layout

The Bite Shot’s landing employs a combination of a Z path and a zig-zag pattern. In Writing for Digital Media, Carrol says a Z path "guides the human eye through most text documents from the upper left to the right, then down diagonally, then left to right"(105).

Following a simple Z path, the site title is the entry point on the upper left, then to the navigation menu on the right. There is text with a call-to-action button just left of the diagonal line. The clever strawberry placement directs the eye to the frosted donut with the bite that points to the next H2 and on to the next section. The strawberry also underscores the first section. The final section is where the main call-to-action text lives. 

Screenshot/The Bite Shot

The landing page's content is arranged in a zig-zag pattern on the bottom half. The Nielson Group's eye tracking study revealed that using decorative images in an alternating list layout caused users to stumble while scanning the page. However, this placement was not visually jarring to me. The H2s emphasize the important text; the content is simple and concise, and the vibrant color boxes next to the text with a collage of images make the content flow well. 

Screenshot of The Bite Shot's landing page.
Screenshot/The Bite Shot

Visual Design

Like Simon’s photography style and personality, her site is vibrant and energizing. In Writing for Digital Media, Carrol says that visual rhythm is created through "the repetition and placement of various elements, such as shapes, colors, typefaces, textures, and relationships"(104). Simon uses graphic elements such as silo photographic subjects, vibrant food photography, and bold text on a primarily white background for contrast. The result is a clean, modern design that is simple to navigate.

User-Centered Design

Simon caters her content to the specific needs and expectations of users—she knows her discourse community. I see how Simon uses user-centered design methodology to create new, helpful content for her community, as outlined in Dr. Lucas’s User-Centered Design in Digital Documents.

  • User Research: Her followers are active on social media and YouTube and she regularly conducts polls and asks for topic suggestions.
  • Ideation and Prototyping: Most of Simon’s courses start as free mini-courses or challenges. 
  • Usability Testing: She invites her community members to participate in the minicourses or challenges and ask for feedback.
  • Implementation: When her final course is ready, she offers her community first access.
  • Evaluation: After you complete a course, there are surveys. You can also post suggestions for improvements in the community group.
  • Maintenance and Updates: Once you purchase a course, you can access it for life. There are regular updates to courses that students have access to as well. 

Comparison and Reflection

The primary reason I sought to earn a Master's Degree in technical writing was for the opportunity to dive deeper into user experience design. As a photographer, I know the basics of visual design. However, applying design concepts such as scale, topography, contrast and texture to written content is a skill I have yet to master.

As I analyzed multiple websites for user-centered design elements and IA, I now have much more work to do for my websites. When I started my garden blog and portfolio site, I focused on my preferences because I thought my audience would like what I wanted to see and read. As I progressed through my digital writing career, I realized that not all audiences are alike.

I need to spend more time researching my discourse community's needs and consider the narrow niche approach. I realize that for my garden blog, I've always catered my content to new gardeners. But I can narrow that category to new gardeners in a single-family home. This information will help me effectively design my site's IA. I will start by mapping out the existing site architecture and look for areas to improve.

I have my discourse community for my professional site dialed in. Still, I need to improve the user experience by improving the IA (especially the menu), simplifying the content and adding call-to-action elements. 

Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe is a freelance writer, photographer, and author who has been writing in the home and garden industry for 10 years.
Powder Springs, GA