Concept and Overview
The central concept of ‘Daily Drinker’ is to establish a cocktail blog and drink database that seeks to introduce a collection of both innovative and classical drink recipes, the site will also include reviews of local Adelaide bars and ‘how to’ tutorials that focus on the techniques and fundamentals of mixology. All aspects of the site will be aligned with the target demographic- university students/millennials.
The intention for targeting such demographic is due to their lack of familiarity and knowledge of cocktail culture; having only just been introduced into the world of legal drinking, cocktails remain under-appreciated within this generation. Followers of Daily Drinker are expected to be avid and active users of social media, primarily between the ages of 18-25; the content maintains relevancy to global audiences and thus is not geographically limited. The budget and flavour profiles of a young demographic are given special consideration; recipes are kept simple and easy-to-make, with few ingredients; the site is innovative and unique because of its content targeting a market often not acknowledged in cocktail culture. Furthermore, whilst other cocktail blogs have already been established these often focus solely on one aspect of mixology- recipes, tutorials or venue reviews; Daily Drinker widens this scope to include all three aspects whilst centring the text with the intended demographic in mind.
Visual Communication and Design
Visual communication is an integral component of the website, with its objective as a visual medium it was pertinent to utilise photography, design and typography to build the brand and illustrate its central concept. Scholars Hsu and Chang emphasise the importance of visual modes of expression ‘[users’] first impression of the interface, will influence subsequent use…aesthetic pleasure is a decisive factor in whether users’ interactive experiences are pleasurable’ (2014, p. 451).
The initial key component of the site was the creation of the logo. Utilised across associated social media platforms. The finalised logo instigated all further visual components as it established clean lines, simplicity and consistency – elements further evident throughout the site’s design. Refined through typography the black and white colour palette appeals to a wide demographic, yet retains individualism and distinctiveness (see figure 1).
In successful visual design it is important to maintain consistency within presentational style and photography style (McNeil, 2008, p. 29). This was achieved through developing themes within each post that maintained the styling of the photographed cocktail i.e the Malibu Seabreeze evokes summer and tropical nature which was then emphasised through photographic styling and editing as evident in figure 2.
Colour can be effectively manipulated to evoke mood and create hierarchy between post elements (Hsu & Chaung 2014, p. 461). The neutral colour palette, centred on grey, allows photographs to stand-out and evokes polished and sophisticated design, as a support to the visually dominant elements it not only unifies design, and maintains a consistent colour scheme but also creates clear hierarchy focussing the users’ attention (figure 3) (McNeil, 2008, p. 143-147). The text-to-image ratio is an important, influencing factor; photography and videography have been the focus communicative tool as, especially evident within the focus demographic, users’ prefer images over large bodies of text (Hsu & Chaung 2014, p. 461- 462).
User Interface Design
To maximise user accessibility, several design components have been employed throughout the website’s layout, interface and structure. Hierarchy of the site’s components is first established though the use of scale, space, contrast and colour; through the homepage (figure 4) the user is first introduced to a large slider that highlights featured content, it is the most distinctive component of the page and is employed to capture new users, guiding them through the site with suggested posts, whilst also engaging repeat visitors as the featured posts can be changed seasonally (McNeil 2008, p. 4). The home page chronologically highlights posts, further guiding users, maintaining consistency and complementing user expectations (Johnson 2014, p. 5); a secondary example of content hierarchy, the content blurbs don’t compete for dominance with the titles and headings, yet, still remain legible and encourage users to click posts, outlining content further avoiding ambiguity with post engagement (Johnson 2014, p.12).
The website interface and layout is premised on clear categorisation and compartmentalisation to better meet user goals. Categorisation is employed throughout the site, the most prevalent being the home bar which uses tabs with drop-down functionality to explore broader areas that are then further categorised depending on the post’s content (figure 5). The footer (figure 6) also allows for a category cloud, organising posts by their ingredients. McNeil discusses the importance of compartmentalisation, stating that it connects with viewers and leads to an easier breakdown of content (2008, p. 229).
Post layouts are consistent throughout the site, they are structured with a strong focus on the feature image, reiterating cocktails as a visual medium; alongside is the post’s content set against a white background in order to balance the photography.
Widgets have been utilised to complement the site and further engage its users. Instagram and Twitter widgets have been employed, providing a summary of recent activity across the social media sites, encouraging audience migration across platforms, further building and maintaining a following.
User Experience Design across Digital Platforms
Social media has evolved to become a key tool in connecting to an audience and ultimately expanding one’s brand. The employment of other digital platforms allows for two-way interaction, establishing important dialogue and feedback from the followers of Daily Drinker (Kuhlmann 2012, p.29). Hsu and Chuang highlight the significance of social networking media ‘…[it] provides a mechanism for contacting, communicating and interacting with other people or shared friends.’ (2013, P. 450). Several platforms were utilised to establish connection; through Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube Daily Drinker built a decent following, extending the brand across platforms.
Instagram was employed to principally complement the website, the content posted was focused on publishing cocktail recipes in a quick-to-read format through typography and Instagram’s ‘slideshow’ feature. The results are visually engaging and summarise the website through a format that is easily shareable and encourage greater engagement see figure 8.
Figure 8: Instagram’s ‘slideshow’ functionality was utilisied for visually engaging posts.
Twitter was the best format for updating followers regarding new blog posts and also allowed for the sharing of works posted by other accounts including cocktail and drinking news (figure 9). Twitter supports casual user engagement as the platform encourages daily posts of a short, concise nature.
An accompanying Pinterest account was established with the creation of ‘boards’, through the platform followers are able to expand their personal drink database beyond the drinks posted through Daily Drinker, it encourages engagement with the works of other content creators and further promotes recipes from Daily Drinker. Finally, YouTube complements the tutorial component of the site, the creation of short, instructional videos is a popular format amongst the target demographic. Videographic tutorials are very engaging and allow for an interactive experience of the site’s content without the requirement of reading sometimes monotonous text posts.
Analysis of audience engagement through statistics and metrics is vital in understanding how to best encourage post engagement and what components lead to the greatest success. Kuhlmann outlines that page views are dependent on the relevancy, frequency and originality of published content (2012, p. 250) and audience metrics are to be utilised for comparison to support this statement.
Figure 10: WordPress visitor/view statistics between March 2017 – April 2017.
Outlined in figure 10 are the statistical figures of webpage views and visitors across a 3 month period (March 2017- May 2017). Evidently, the most successful month, calculated by the average number of views per visitor, was May with an average of 9.86 views between 21 visitors. It is theorised that this could be due to the website and associated social media platforms being most established and having the greatest following during this month, the implications being that as the number of followers grow there will be a continuous increase in the number of visitors to the site. Furthermore, as the number of published posts increases there is expected to be a greater number of views.
Alternatively, April was the least successful, this is because it was the quietest months across all platforms of Daily Drinker, with only two WordPress posts published. Aside from the homepage, the two most popular posts were 3 Lots of Shots and Malibu Seabreeze, it is posited that because these drinks are classified as ‘innovative’ and expected to be popular among younger demographics, they most appeal to Daily Drinker’s audience in comparison to ‘classic’ drinks such as the Classic Mint Julep.
Twitter analytics support the hypothesis that tweets with supporting visuals (i.e images or gifs) receive greater engagements evident through comparison between figure 11a (completing gif) and figure 11b (no visuals). Furthermore, hashtags result in a greater number of tweet impressions giving tweets greater virality.
Future Directions and Development
To further develop the Daily Drinker brand, it is envisioned that there would be greater utilisation of short video formats of tutorial and drink recipes, these can expand the brand to greater platforms such as Facebook and YouTube where video tutorials are a prevalent trend. It is important to consider that innovation of the site is not dependent on introducing new components but rather on how the development of Daily Drinker necessitates a focus on the needs of its users’ and what their relevant goals may be (Nambisan et al. 2017, p. 230). To accommodate audience interaction social media features need to be engaged with, an example of such would be the development of a unique hashtag, perhaps #DDCocktails; most platforms integrate hashtags with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter being the most dominant, through the hashtag users can share their creations, ask questions and request specific recipes, adapting the site to user goals. With regards to the design and concept of the site, these features appear to be successfully aligned with the audience demographic, however, as more statistical data is collected the choice of recipes would be adapted to complement what flavours and styles the audience most engage with.
Hsu, C & Chuang, M 2013, ‘The Relationship Between Design Factors and Effective Response in Personalised Blog Interfaces’, Interacting with Computers, vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 450-464.
Johnson, J 2014, Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Guidelines, 2nd edn, Elsevier, Massachusetts.
Kuhlmann M, 2012, Social media for WordPress: Build Communities, Engage Members and Promote Your Site, Packt Publishing, Birmingham, UK., Viewed May 2017, <http://www.ebbokcentral.proquest.com>.
McNeil, P 2008, The Web Designer’s Idea Book, HOW Books, Cincinnati
Nambisan, S, Lyytinen, K, Majchrzak, A & Song, M 2017, ‘Digital Innovation Management: Reinventing Innovation Management Research in a Digital World’, MIS Quarterly, vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 223-238.