Coetail Blog Makeover: Take 1

It’s been a perfect week to delve into visual literacy.

It’s the Tet holiday and I’m in Phuket, Thailand enjoying views like this with my family:IMG_1823

Visual images are powerful.

I am no expert in design and I am definitely not an artist, but I know what appeals to me. I have an eye for good design, but I feel stuck when trying to design something myself. After this weeks’ readings, I am encouraged to know that effective design techniques can be acquired like any other skill if I take the time to learn and practice.

Armed with my new understanding of Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity, from Design Better with CRAP, I wandered into the hotel lobby to pick out a few sightseeing brochures to see if I could apply my knowledge.

There weren’t any that were totally amazing, but these ones caught my eye:


In the first one, I notice the contrast between the white and cool blue water. I also see alignment with the image in the center crossing diagonally separating the tagline “Love, Peace, and Serenity” and the seal of the island. Apparently, centering text is rarely a good design technique, but I like how it works here.

In the second brochure, the size of the font (contrast) definitely lets you know you are going to RACHA. There is also contrast between the blue water and the white sands. The logo and tagline, while aligned, are difficult to read.

This one did not appeal to me:


There is not a clear focal point or message so my eye wanders everywhere and nowhere. There is too much visual information and a lot of fine print. It took me a long time to find the information I needed.

According to Brandon Jones in his article Understanding Visual Hierarchy in Web Design, good design helps people organize information. Designers make choices. It starts with the designer having a clear vision of what needs to be communicated. Good design doesn’t just communicate a message but moves people into action.

In my mind, the brochures that looked simple, clean and beautiful meant the cruise was also going to be simple, clean and beautiful. Even though the price was a bit more, I was willing to pay more because  it meant that the tour company was paying attention to detail.

I decided to take a look at my own COETAIL blog from the perspective of good design principles. The original template I chose was Twenty Ten because it was simple and classic and easy to use. Simple and classic is a style I prefer. It comes out in my home decor and the way I choose to dress.

Here is my original COETAIL Blog Before:

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 7.24.30 PM

While it was simple and fairly easy to use, it definitely had some limitations.

Here are the changes I made and why:

  1. I chose a new template (Hueman) that would be responsive to any device. My original template did not allow for that which basically meant that whenever anyone wanted to read my blog on their phone or iPad they couldn’t and they probably didn’t. That was a huge barrier to getting my message out there.
  2. I changed  the header photo. I loved my original photo because I love Hanoi and the photo was taken by a good friend. I liked how it captured the idea of community, living close to one another in order to survive. While I didn’t really want to get rid of it, it just didn’t look as good as the stock photo of a cityscape. The new photo captures the same idea but looks more professional and visually appealing.
  3. I chose a template that displays images for each blog post in a grid format. My goal in this course is to pay more attention to the images I choose and make sure they reflect the message I am trying to get across. I went back through each of my older posts and chose a feature image for each post that I felt reflected what I was trying to communicate in that post.

Here is what it looks like now:

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 3.15.03 PM

One thing I wish I could change with this template is the font color. I think it’s too light and maybe hard to read. If anyone knows how to change the font color let me know.