Scheidt, Lois Ann & Wright, Elijah (under review). Common Visual Design Elements of Weblogs. In L. J. Gurak, S. Antonijevic, L. Johnson, C. Ratliff, & J. Reyman (Eds.), Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs [Online]
Early articles focusing on the weblog (blog) phenomena have focused on ‘voice’, essayistic style, and a pantheon of other concepts drawn from preexisting rhetorical, journalistic, and linguistic frameworks (Blood, 2000; Winer, 2001; Hourihan, 2002). This focus, while admirably productive, does not fully map the potential landscape of weblog research. In particular, such textual foci slight visual factors that may contribute almost as much ‘style’ to weblogs as the particular textual practices (c.f. ‘voice’) of individual authors. Previous descriptive research regarding the genre of weblogs (c.f. Herring, Scheidt, Bonus, and Wright 2004) reveals that many of the common tropes in weblog research – especially those statements which identify a subset, or “A-list”, of weblog early adopters as having a disproportionate amount of influence over the behavior of others – are easily disproven. This article extends that work to the visual domain, employing techniques from classical content analysis and computer-mediated discourse analysis (CMDA) to analyze a random sample of 154 weblogs collected on September 21, 2003 using the ‘random blog’ feature of the weblog-tracking site http://blo.gs/. A grounded theory approach was used to develop a coding scheme consisting of 23 elements. From this data, we observe three dominant emerging patterns: that individual webloggers do not tend to make substantive structural changes to the layout of their sites, that design schemes used by consumers of popular weblog software are frequently minimally modified versions of templates provided by software selected by the end user (particularly Blogger, but also Movable Type and Radio Userland, among others), and that the overwhelming proportion of the customizations we observed were made within the boundaries of some sort of sidebar – an area running vertically down the web page but with less visual prominence than the main content area (where most weblog posts occur).
Via: Lois Ann Scheidt
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Tags: blog research
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