The Unfiltrd Project: A Final Report
Concept and Overview
The concept of the Unfiltrd project is to shed light on the beauty and lifestyle standards imposed by social media in the modern world, particularly among adolescents. With 2.3 million Australians over 15 years of age in 2011 reporting that they were on a diet for weight-loss purposes (Austin Bureau Statistics, 2011), the body image and self-esteem crisis among adolescents in the modern world is ever increasing. To provide an escape from the heavily stylised content of Instagram and Tumblr for those struggling with such issues, Unfiltrd shares a humorous perspective on life ‘behind the lens’. Unlike typical forums, Unfiltrd does not feature any sponsored or stylized advertisement, and rather than showcase, it explores the issues of Photoshop within the media, body image issues, health trends and more. It demonstrates the often hilarious reality of the lives and scenarios behind the aesthetic pictures we often see online; helping potentially insecure adolescents learn to love, and laugh at themselves.
Visual Communication and Design
When approaching design concepts, I knew I wanted to keep the layout colour scheme as simple as possible; keeping the user focused on the importance of the content and avoiding unnecessary distraction. The majority of the pages including the homepage feature a pale grey, solid background, accompanied by black text which transitions to green upon mouse-hover. I utilised a bright green to reflect the intentions of the Unfiltrd project: to promote the natural, organic side of life that has become somewhat lost in the world of social media. I constructed a piece of typography in Photoshop (see Figure 1), with a water-colour inspired font to communicate with the audience that beauty is often found in the most natural things; hence why I did not choose a linear, more structured font.
Visual communication is critical for the Unfiltrd project. Particularly when discussing issues such as photographic enhancement in the media and advertising industry, comparison images embedded within blogposts (see Figure 2) are extremely important. Taking real life examples and demonstrating the reality of the raw, unedited images is the entire concept of Unfiltrd; without them, the webpage would not connect with its audience in the intended manner. Edited or heavily stylized content on social media has become somewhat of a normality in recent years, and “what can be dangerous and often physically unattainable perfection”(Government of Western Australia Department of Health, 2011) is widely sought by young people. Through realistic images, Unfiltrd promotes all types of beauty and allows users to laugh at the often ridiculous, unachievable standards of social media.
User Interface Design
Through extensive scholarly research, I concluded that a successful webpage is primarily driven by three key features: “a directory of the site’s main content areas (navigation), a summary of the most important news or promotions, and a search feature.” (J Neilsen, 1999). Accordingly, I adjusted my user interface design to promote ease of use and general accessibility. At the top of the page, two menu buttons allow users to navigate through the pages with ease. The ‘Help + Advice’ is the most important of the two, as this is where users can submit their own content (see Figure 3).
Though the word ‘Home’ obviously links to the homepage, however, the typography consistently at the top of every page is an additional link to the homepage. Further following Neilsen’s tips, I additionally placed a search bar on the right side of my page (see Figure 4); allowing users to search specific key words and phrases such as ‘body image’ or ‘expectations vs reality’. Since news and formal updates are not particularly frequent on the website, I decided to instead, pin an ‘About’ post at the top of the homepage. This post outlines the point of Unfiltrd, what we seek to achieve, and who to contact with ideas and submissions. Following Neilsen’s three steps to well-organised user experience design, Unfiltrd is easy to navigate and relaxing to scroll through.
User Experience Design across Digital Platforms
“Social Media is a very active and fast-moving domain”(Kaplan & Hainlein, 2010). To connect with my audience across different platforms, and further enhance the Unfiltrd brand, I placed a live twitter feed on the right side of the screen, helping users to stay up to date and connect with Unfiltrd on a more casual platform. The feed refreshes approximately every thirty minutes, promoting Unfiltrd’s recent posts and activity, whilst additionally retweeting posts from other users to bridge the gap from creator, to audience. A large part of Unfiltrd’s content is generated by the audience themselves. In the ‘Help + Advice’ page, users can find several links to Unfiltrd’s Instagram, Twitter and related email address; platforms used to receive stories, images, questions, or advice from the audience, to then be published with due credit. Whilst this system makes use of the direct messaging tools available on Instagram and Twitter, it additionally attracts users to Unfiltrd’s other platforms, intriguing them to follow the project more closely, thus gaining increased traffic and user engagement.
Upon observation of the available metrics on WordPress, I concluded that in order to maintain a consistent flow of traffic on Unfiltrd, at least one new post per day would have to be published. As shown in Figure 5, the only heavy traffic recorded was on the days in which something new was posted. Though this demonstrates user engagement, it is not yet sustainable in that the users are not referring back to the content, nor recommending it to their peers. Though logically with an increase in followers this would probably improve, it has demonstrated that the primarily adolescent audience of Unfiltrd require daily content to remain ultimately involved.
Through the Twitter analytics system, I additionally discovered that my most successful tweets used multiple hashtags, rather than just one or two. From this information, I concluded that a consistent use of related hashtags, such as ‘#unfiltrd’, ‘#selflove’, ‘#bodyimage’, will attract an increased volume of my intended audience, whilst additionally making my content more simple and effective to find.
Future Directions and Development
The next steps for the Unfiltrd project if I were to continue production would be to continue accepting user submitted content and further expand my social medias to create a more wholesome, consistent brand. Regarding design, I would possibly make the palette of the webpage slightly brighter. The concept of Unfiltrd is to make people laugh and find happiness, and according to a 1961 study, the colour yellow is highly associated with feelings of excitement, joy, and stimulation (K. Warner Schaie, 1961) therefore, a pastel theme with brighter yellows and like colours could potentially be involved in a future design change. To further expand my audience in the future, I would additionally research the effects of social media and self-esteem on older generations, through areas such as “mummy blogs” and the presentation of seemingly perfect family dynamics online. Following this step, the Unfiltrd project would become increasingly applicable to a wider audience and potentially improve the lives of many more users; a goal in which Unfiltrd ultimately seeks to achieve.
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011, Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients,4364.0.55.007, ABS, Viewed 31 May 2017, <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.007~2011-12~Main%20Features~Dieting~500>
Kaplan, A M, & Haenlein M 2010, ‘Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media’, Business Horizons, Vol. 53, Viewed 1 June 2017 (ScienceDirect)
Government of Western Australia Department of Health 2017, Body Image, Government of Western Australia Department of Health, Viewed 31 May 2017, <https://gdhr.wa.gov.au/-/media-and-body-image>Neilsen, J 1999, Designing Web Usability, New Riders, Viewed 31 May 2017, <http://my.safaribooksonline.com/book/web-development/usability/156205810x>
Neilsen, J 1999, Designing Web Usability, New Riders, Viewed 31 May 2017, <http://my.safaribooksonline.com/book/web-development/usability/156205810x>
K, Warner Schaie PG 1961, ‘Scaling and association between colors and mood-tones’, The American Journal of Psychology, vol.74, Viewed June 1 2017 (JSTOR