For this peer review, I looked at Blaze’s website called Chariot Upkeep. From the PUB 101 Spreadsheet, I saw that the site was intended to be a personal cyberinfrastructure dedicated to content about cheap car fixes. Gardner Campbell describes the personal cyberinfrastructure as a platform where an administrator can express whatever they are engaged with, and so I understand Chariot Upkeep as a place where Blaze can share his interests in car mechanics (Campbell, 2009). From the website name and concept alone, I already have a grasp on who Blaze is and what his online self might look like. While I don’t have a particular interest in car fixes, I understand that tons of people do. So, I commend Blaze’s vision for the site as I see it being successful in ways outside of just being a personal cyberinfrastructure.
Unfortunately, Chariot Upkeep is still in its early stages of design and content creation. Nevertheless, the potential is evident in the site name and WordPress theme. The name “Chariot Upkeep” is fresh, intriguing, and relevant to the site concept of cars. Before clicking onto the site, I was excited to see what kind of aesthetic choices Blaze made for a site with a name as unique and bold as Chariot Upkeep. After seeing the homepage, I immediately liked the WordPress theme he chose, as it is understated and clean. The bright teal colour brings a nice contrast from the white, and I can see the site being developed into a modern, trendy, and easy-to-follow resource that people can rely on for the newest and best thrifty tricks for car maintenance or alteration. I get the idea here that Blaze can easily appeal to a counterpublic for people who like to be hands-on with car repairs.
Looking at the homepage’s layout, it seems reasonably easy and clear to navigate. The header includes the site name, which is simple and readable, and a menu bar with four different post categories– Home, About, Blog, and PUB 101. The category “Blog” is quite abstract and could be changed to something more specific once content starts flowing in for the sake of clarity. However, the category “PUB 101” has a nice drop down menu with subcategories for course-related content which will make future posts easy to find. I noticed that this header is static throughout all the different pages on the site, which creates a nice consistency and positive UI and UX, overall contributing to Homer Gaines’ principle of accessibility which values understandability (Gaines, 2022).
I appreciate how the homepage has helpful links that direct visitors to recent posts, archives, and categories. It is also equipped with a clearly noticeable search bar, which is useful for anyone who might be searching for a solution to a specific car issue. At first, I was apprehensive about a block for recent comments, as it did not seem necessary to have on the homepage, but then I proceeded to check out the “About” page and changed my mind. Blaze writes about how Chariot Upkeep is meant to hone a creative and collaborative element, complementary to his personal documentations– people can comment, ask, and input their own car-related experiences and tips that might benefit others. This community-style aspect of Chariot Upkeep solidified my idea of the site targeting a counterpublic, and is quite instrumental and effective in doing so. As content starts to be published, the site can function as a way to circulate discourse within the counterpublic and address members of it in the typical personal yet impersonal tone.
However, the “About” page remains quite underdeveloped and impersonal thus far. With just a paragraph on the page, I would suggest adding visual aids and breaking up the paragraph to achieve the welcoming and engaging effect that is evidently attempted through the written portion. Blaze could also provide links to his personal social media accounts so visitors may follow along on his car journey on other platforms. This would be a great way to connect the various facets of his online self, as John Suler explains how different expressions of oneself vary between different online environments, altogether creating the constellation of a complex online identity (Suler, 2004). I would also give it a proofread and edit for grammatical errors.
As the site is currently quite bare, there is lots of room to truly start building Blaze’s online self. I am looking forward to seeing design choices being made to reflect the car-guru persona I gathered from Chariot Upkeep’s name and “About” page. As someone who is not particularly interested in cars but would definitely be a casual site visitor, I would love to see some cool car imagery and continued use of bright colours. I think being more active in content creation and site design will further give people the idea that Blaze’s online self is someone who puts effort and is passionate about what the site is aimed towards– documenting car fixes and helping others do their own.
Additionally, as he continues to develop Chariot Upkeep, I would suggest keeping in mind other accessibility measures, many of which can be found on APLN’s Website Accessibility page.
Campbell, G. (2009). A Personal Cyberinfrastructure. EDUCAUSE. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure
Fattal, A. (2018). Encyclopedia Entry — Counterpublic. UC San Diego. Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/73t260cm
Suler, J. (2001). The Online Disinhibition Effect. The Psychology of Cyberspace. https://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html
Warner, M. (2002). Publics and Counterpublics (abbreviated version). Quarterly Journal of Speech, 88(4), 413-425.
Website accessibility archives. APLN. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://apln.ca/category/website-accessibility/
YouTube. (2022, January 27). The four principles of accessibility. YouTube. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUxx_sq2QdY