Information Architecture of an Expat Blog

Information Architecture of an Expat Blog
A picture of my favorite meal while in China: Kung Pao Chicken and Spicy Green Beans/Info Arch

For a short time in 2018, I was living abroad in China. I was there teaching (English) speech at Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications. Every now and again, I think about what it would have been like to have somehow documented my experiences there. For this assignment on Information Architecture in Web Design, I decided to look through some expatriate blogs to get an idea of what a good one might look like. I started my search by looking at an inventory of the 100 Best Expat Blogs. There I found one called California Globetrotter. It was apparently once awarded Top 100 Expat Blog. While it certainly contained a lot of features that I appreciated, I was still left wondering about the best ideas for visuals and format.

 

Usability

I had some mixed opinions about the usability features of the site. Something I found a bit counterintuitive were menu options. The Travel Topics link from the menu across the top of the home page offered a list of options for variously themed travel events. Given this, I would have imagined that there would have been a Locations link with a drop-down menu of continents and countries. Instead, there were separate links for Germany, Europe, and the USA. Furthermore, the drop-down menu for Germany included theme-based options as well as regions and cities; this was a bit confusing given that Travel Topics had already been delineated in a separate link. An additional curiosity about the homepage menu was that the links for Travel Corner and Expat Corner did not necessarily have intuitive options to me. What exactly is a Travel Corner?

On the other hand, there were also some positives with regard to user friendliness. The right-hand side of the page included an About Me space which featured information about the author, a picture of her, a subscriber sign-up, as well as links for all the author’s social media accounts. This same area also included a search feature and a lot of other interesting options like a link for her site app and a space featuring her site’s most popular posts.

 

Visual Appeal

I found the visual appeal of the blog to be the site’s best feature. It contained movement and very little white space. In fact, virtually everywhere that one looks on this site he sees a visual. At the top of the page just below the menu is a rotating album containing several of the posts; each one includes a clear title and an attractive photo. Beneath this is a series of posts, again separated by picture of the featured location and a lead-in for the text for the post; each one was preceded by a lavender-colored bar which included the date of the post. The border of the site is shaded in with this same visually appealing shade of purple.

 

Reflection

Reviewing this site helped me clarify a few options about my own potential such blog, but it also left me with a few remaining questions. I would definitely like to have the homepage of my expat blog covered with one or more attractive visuals. The addition of movement also seems like a nice idea. Having a “Best of” which included the blog’s most popular post was also a nice addition; it seems like it would be a very good way of determining which themes or locations to feature in future posts. I still, however, have some questions about what type of visuals to include on my site as well as about what type of post to feature.

Pictures are excellent, but I wonder whether the audience would be more interested in video. I am also still considering whether such a site should only feature travel or would my readers also like to read a chronicle of what daily life is like in a foreign country. What do you think?

Below I have included some pictures and videos from my time in China. Any preference for one over the other?

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In Xi'an near the Bell Tower

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In Xi'an

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Jiefangbei, a pedestrian street in Chongqing

Chanel Brown

Chanel lives on the East Coast and is currently pursuing an MA in Technical & Professional Writing.
Along the East Coast