Digital History

An Evaluation of Bob Nicholson’s Blog – Digital Victorianist

Out of the three blogs I have looked at this is my favourite blog. Nicholson has injected it with humour and his own personality and the style and layout really appeal to me. Plus it helps that I like his field of research.

I’d say Nicholson’s blog is in between the cluttered and stylised look of Trevor Owens blog and the minimalistic and simple layout of Melissa Terra’s blog. Although the layouts for all three blogs are pretty similar, Nicholson’s use of a colour scheme and background image make his blog look much more stylised and sleeker. The background image, which is just as busy as Owens, doesn’t distract or overpower the look of the blog as Owens’ does. Perhaps because it’s black and white and the rest of the blog is in black and yellow that there is not too much of a contrast between them. The colour scheme of charcoal and Dijon mustard, tone down the image and the white text is easy to read on the black background. This colour scheme is even incorporated into Nicholson’s logo of a top hat with a computer mouse sitting on it, framed by a mustard coloured cog (sun?).

Image

The use of a header which contain an About Page, a Research Page, a Tit-Bits Page and a search feature, allows the blog to have a cleaner and less cluttered look while still retaining all of Nicholson’s important information and features. His About Page is provides a detailed academic biography and has a tongue in cheek picture of Nicholson dressed up as a Victorian Gent. His research page includes his published research and his PhD thesis. One of the things I particularly like, and it’s something the other two blogs did not feature, is the front page which has a small summary of the blog, with a image and the date it was posted. This allows the user to skim through the posts when browsing for topics relevant to their individual needs. Of course once you’ve found a post you want to read, you just click on it and you’re redirected to the full post.

Nicholson’s writing style is also what makes the blog easy to read. Just like the other two blogs, Nicholson writes in the first person, in an informal and conversational manner but refrains from using colloquial language. His posts are injected with some satire and irony, take for example his joke about the NSA and Terrorists in his post about Gale. Part of the easy readability of Nicholson’s posts is the word limit he seems to stick to. Posts seem to range between 800-1500 words, with some much shorter than this. But even his longer posts don’t feel like a chore to read as he uses images and hyperlinks to break up the text. Although Melissa Terra also used images and hyperlinks to break up her text and clarify her arguments, I found her posts to be far less enjoyable then Nicholson’s. That’s not due to a bias towards his research topics but due to the length of the posts. From reading the title of Terra’s post on representations of academics in children’s books I thought I would enjoy reading it. But the post is around 3,360 words and no amount of images stopped the “I’m reading an article rather than a blog” feeling.

As I’ve already noted the features in the header I won’t reiterate them here except for the Tit-Bits Page. This page is quite fun to view as behaves as a gallery, linking the images Nicholson’s posted to his twitter account to his blog. You can even view these images as a slide show. By having links to his other social media profiles and accounts (such as his Reddit Profile, his YouTube, Twitter & Facebook accounts) as icons in the top right hand corner of the page, the right hand side of his blog is freed up for other features without looking cluttered. These features include:

  • Recent Tweets – linked to his Twitter Account (perhaps not a very important feature seeing as he already has a link to his Twitter account.
  • Recent Posts to the Blog
  • Archive
  • Categories
  • Search Bar (Again, something which is repeated and doesn’t need to feature here)
  • Links to blogs similar to his own

My favourite feature of Nicholson’s blog is the header bar which follows you down the page and the little button which pops up after you scroll which brings you back to the top of the page.

Image

I think this feature is something which could be utilised in Melissa Terra’s blog especially as she doesn’t have a front page and her blogs can be rather large.

Overall, despite using similar layouts and features, I prefer Bob Nicholson’s blog, it’s quirky name, the humour in the writing, the layout and style make it a very interesting and entertaining blog to read.

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One thought on “An Evaluation of Bob Nicholson’s Blog – Digital Victorianist

  1. Hi Sinead,

    Thanks for taking the time to look at my blog. It was really interesting to read your thoughts – thanks for all of your kind words about it. However, I thought I should let you know that you reviewed the blog when I was in the middle of a big redesign – the front page, in particular, has changed a lot now. I’d be interested in your opinion, but I also wanted to check that this won’t cause problems for you if your blog post is being assessed as part of your Digital History module. If nothing else, it’s an interesting lesson that nothing on the web can be relied upon to stay the same when you need it to!

    All the best,

    Bob

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