To review a site in terms of its design and the message that it conveys or attempts to convey is not easy, because, for the most part, the description is limited to the definition of a particular devise and the commentary on whether the given devise works or not, and why.
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The given rule, thankfully, is completely inapplicable to the WePAC site, which shows a remarkable contrast between the site’s purpose and design and yet, weirdly enough, manages to attract its target audience efficiently due to a careful use of its expressive means and the creation of a specific atmosphere that makes the target audience both inquisitive and enthusiastic about what the site has to offer.
To start with, the target audience mentioned above must be defined. Seeing how the WePAC is literally transcribed as West Philadelphia Alliance for Children, it is obvious that the organization aims at addressing children of school age and teenagers.
Therefore, when analyzing the design of the site and the ideas that it is trying to get across, it will be necessary to consider these messages and ideas through the lens of a kid or a teenager.
First of all, the positive issues regarding the site design and ideas should be mentioned, Much to the designers’ credit, the site offers a relatively simple navigation, which was clearly designed for children and teens, and very concise, easy-to-understand information concerning the organization’s mission and vision:
“The West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC) is one of the premier nonprofits in Philadelphia providing literacy programs to young students” (WePAC para. 2).
It is also remarkable that the drop-out menu appearing once the mouse cursor points at “About Us” section contains a “Fun Facts”; the given heading is most likely to drive children’s and teenagers’ attention, therefore, tricking them into learning more about the site and gradually becoming fond of it.
The fact that WePAC provides its audience the means to spread information about the organization in social network is also worth mentioning.
While over the past few years, the view of a block of various social network logos in the corner of a site has become an element of everyday online browsing and is no longer anything out of the ordinary, the approach undertaken by WePAC to promote its services in social networks is still noteworthy.
Instead of providing a range of small logos in the corner, the designers put an enlarged image of two key social networks’ logos (Facebook and Twitter) in front of the viewer, thus, literally convincing the visitor to post about WePAC.
Finally, the use of appropriate pictures next to each text column in order to illustrate the key message in a more graphic way is definitely a smart move.
While the use of imagery as a visual addition to the information represented in the text is nothing new, the choice of the pictures is definitely worth admiring. Of the same nonaggressive color cast as the overall design of the site, these pictures appeal to the youth and vivacity of the target audience, creating a positive image of a school and reinforcing the idea of education as a positive and exciting process.
Perhaps, one of the weakest aspects of the site and the messages that its design is supposed to convey is the obvious overuse of the signs of openness and honesty, such as people showing the palms of their hands; on the one hand, the reasons behind the given choice of gestures is quite evident, seeing how, when hidden behind one’s back or deep in one’s pockets, hands and especially palms send a powerful signal of mistrust.
However, when overused in such a straightforward way, with a picture at the home page and a slide reoccurring every half of a minute, the message of the given gesture becomes too on-the-nose, which irritates the audience.
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The above-mentioned nitpick, however, is a minor ditch in an overall good design of the site. One might argue that the color cast could have been more enthusiastic, since the authors of the site are clearly trying to attract younger audience and thrill tem into paying attention.
However, the quiet cast of colors in the site design also serves a particular purpose, creating a “library” atmosphere, where the focus is on reading instead of noisy activities.
Therefore, it can be assumed that the site leaves a very peculiar impression. On the one hand, the lack of bright colors clearly sets the tone that the target audience will most likely consider unenthusiastic and lacking in emotion. On the other hand, the calm and restrained design of the site creates the atmosphere that students are most likely to seek once they feel the need to spend a couple of hours tête-à-tête with a book.
Hence, the site clearly leaves its visitors intrigued about what it has to offer, thus, creating the premises for the target audience to return for more information and finally join the club by signing up and becoming one of the organization’s members. A perfect study in contrasts of marketing and reverse psychology, the design of the given site is everything but forgettable.
WePAC. Home. n. d. Web.