Entertainment reviews blog
- Case study by John
- November 26th, 2010
Really Very is a music, film, book and opinion website written on-and-off by a group of people. It's essentially a custom group-edited blog.
Objectives of the project
The main objective of this project were to provide a place for myself and friends to write about whatever we want (but mostly reviewing music, films and books). To that end, I created a custom Django project which is essentially a blog with extras. I boiled down the objectives to the following:
- The ability to write reviews of music, films, and books
- The ability to write complementary articles (not reviews) about music, films and books
- The ability to write random 'op-ed' pieces
- A simple navigation system with appropriate filters
- RSS feed(s)
- Multiple writers can add, edit and delete their reviews and articles without interfering with others
- Meta information for reviewed items
- Rich imagery
- Emphasis on the content in the UI
How it all works
The site is built in Django, a python framework to rapidly develop various types of websites for all purposes. The site itself is essentially a bespoke content management system, geared towards reviews.
It works by seperating the site into the four main areas: music, films, books, and everything else. Each of these four areas is further divided into subsections, with music, films and books split into reviews and features respectively. These are the two types of content on the site, and it's right that they should be distinguished from one another.
Reviews handle, well, reviews. You write a review of some item (be it an album, single, film or book). These items are distinct from the review, so you can have many reviews of one item (in case several authors wish to review the same item).
Features handle all the other articles and 'stuff' that roughly fits with their music, films, or books. They could be top 10 lists, rants, or something else entirely, as long as they loosely relate to music, films or books. The reason each section has it's own handling of features is primarily so that they can be grouped with relevant reviews. It also means that in the future, further customised elements can be added to each feature if needed. The 'everything else' section holds one type of item, the 'editorial'. This is basically like the 'feature' section of the other areas of the site, in which you can write a generic article (about anything).
In the future, all these features (and editorials) will be able to take advantage of albums of images, so that authors can include relevant imagery with their text (which will make the pages look nicer for one thing).
The design, layout and aesthetics
The site is split into indexes of content based on the four main areas of music, films, books and everything else. Internally, this is referred to as the 'stream'. When an item is published, as well as adding it to the database, another record is added to the 'stream'. This allows for a timeline of what's been published in what order, from different tables within the database. The advantage of this is that different content can appear on all pages with relatively little data retrieval expense.
The homepage is basically a visualisation of the stream. Anything that is published is displayed on the homepage. Similarly, the music, film, book, and everything else index pages are representations of the stream, except only showing the relevant items (for example in 'Music', only music reviews and music features are displayed). It resembles a blog, with blog posts in reverse chronological order.
Review and feature pages are text-heavy, with an emphasis on readability. Some review sites have taken to plastering pages with endless adverts, and using a very small amount of space for the actual review text itself. This leads to a bad experience as readers try to read around the ads. On Really Very, there is only one ad per page (maximum). Review and feature pages devote most screen real estate to the item being reviewed (be it an album, film, or book), and the text of the article. Secondary content, such as information about the item being reviewed, other recent reviews and features, or other things by the author, are displayed next to the main text in a non distracting way. Images are used sparingly in such a way to draw attention to them when used. Comments (if enabled by the author) are displayed at the bottom of the page, where most users expect them to be.
The aesthetics are minimalist, so as not to distract the reader from what they're reading, and so that the design of the site does not hinder readability.
If you have any questions regarding Really Very, don't hesitate to get in touch!