This week’s peer review will focus on a website by one of my classmates called Masked Retail, which covers many topics related to working and shopping at retail stores during the COVID-19 pandemic. The topic couldn’t be more relevant to our lives right now with case numbers increasing and the holiday shopping season upon us, so I actually really enjoyed exploring this website.
The website has a very clean design that’s aesthetically pleasing. The header isn’t overwhelming and adds a nice splash of colour to a simple, yet inviting homepage. I like that homepage draws readers in with a couple of simple questions before inviting them to browse the site to find the answers to those questions and more.
Masked Retail is also very easy to navigate thanks to its implementation of a standard menu bar. Moreover, giving users the ability to click just about anywhere (header, pictures, headings) and be taken to a page makes it extremely user-friendly. I could continue on about the positive features of this website, including the friendly about page and well-written blog posts, but at this point in the semester I think it will be more helpful to focus on a few specific elements that could benefit from a bit of tweaking.
With this week’s topic revolving around marketing, I’ll now consider the ways in which this website is marketable. As I mentioned previously, the topic is something that is relevant to all of us as consumers right now, so in that sense, it’s highly marketable. After reading the admin’s latest process post, I can see that she doesn’t feel like she’s in a position to monetize right now, which is completely fair. However, for the purpose of this week’s review, I’ll go over a few things that could improve the website from both a design standpoint and for potential future monetization.
As the admin notes, a site cluttered with advertisements isn’t their style, and I agree that it might take away from the tidy nature of the website. However, Masked Retail definitely has the potential to feature sponsored content or affiliate ads from specific retailers or others involved in the industry who might want to get a message out to a broader public concerned with safe shopping practices.
I understand that the admin doesn’t want to be identifiable on this website for privacy reasons, but perhaps as the website continues to grow, it might be useful to create a Facebook or some sort of social media page under the same name for people to connect to. That way, readers can stay up-to-date on the latest posts without having to check back on their own accord. This would likely increase traffic and improve the overall marketability of the website.
Another suggestion regarding social media would be to add shareable buttons at the bottom or top of posts that allow readers to share them with their social networks. The following website includes a few options for plugins that accomplish this. I just installed Social Snap on my website personally, and while you need a premium membership to unlock more niche platforms, the free version includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and email, which are useful.
Looking at the website’s contact page (below), it might also be useful to include a little message above the fillable fields that suggests why people might want to leave a comment or contact them. For example, they could ask people to contact them with any story suggestions, marketing/partnership opportunities, or just to say hello.
Lastly, I want to briefly address the post grid that the admin has included on their homepage and other post pages.
The use of pictures and a preview of the text within the post is great and gives the site a professional feel. However, when I loaded the site on my mobile device (iPhone XR), the post grid design didn’t transfer all that well. I’m no WordPress guru and don’t know exactly how one would go about making the plugin and site compatible with mobile devices, but it might be something worth looking into. Below are two screenshots side by side of how the homepage looks on Safari on my phone.
If the admin ends up tweaking with the post grid plugin to make it more compatible with other devices, they can use a website like responsivedesignchecker.com, which allows them to plug their URL in and preview the website at different screen resolutions.
Otherwise, this has been one of my favourite websites to explore in the class and I think it has a lot of potential going forward beyond this semester.