Free Website Reviews: Featured Five no.1, Anthony’s Notes

Nov 07, 2012 1 Comment by

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ANTHONY DEAN of ANTHONYNOTES.COM

If there’s a head screwed on correctly amongst us website proprietors, it belongs to Anthony Dean. This guy knows what he likes, how to share it, and where he’d like to go from here. Whether he’s talking shop with the comic book lovers of the world wide web, sharing his latest interests in technology, or exploring social trends in current media, Anthony knows his niche and does a fine job of presenting it.

Of particular note is his “Minorities in Cartoons” feature, a regular dissection of ethnic minority characters as represented in his dearly held comic books. Anthony’s insights are consistently worthwhile in this intriguing line of thought, and recognition for such a unique contribution to social dialogue is well deserved.

It is my hope that Anthony will continue to find new audiences for his specialised collection of data and conversation. I selected his site and work for the Featured Five not only because of the quality of his site as a technical and aesthetic entity, but for the strength and consistency of his content. This is the sort of niche offering that makes the web so great – so let’s have a look at his website review and interview!

WEBSITE REVIEW: ANTHONYNOTES.COM

Anthony D. (http://www.anthonynotes.com/) – For such a bare-boned layout, I was surprised at how much I liked the feel of your blog.

Let’s talk content first, though. Your language is clear and crisp; your knowledge about the subjects in question not likely to be challenged. My impression was of a well-educated, hobby-oriented blogger with a real commitment to his areas of interest.

Your expertise was mildly exclusive. You didn’t dip deeply into jargon and your voice remained likeable and accessible, but the subject matter was very specialised. It’s not that there was one, overarching specialty, either, but several loosely bound specialties. While I appreciate your dedication to your interests, I think that an effort to cut down on the learning curve would significantly improve your chances with new readers. This is not a serious issue, however, as your style overall is so pleasant and easy to read that these difficulties with comprehension might just be swept under the rug. Thought I’d point it out, in any case.

And that’s all the criticism I can genuinely offer! Believe me, I looked for an angle; I searched for a weak point. The above is all I could come up with.

Your posts are pleasant, intelligent, and digestible. For the audience you are trying to reach, I imagine that you’re giving them exactly what they like to read. Your personable approach to general updates – for example, the comments section after the comic releases posts – makes even your more information-oriented articles enjoyable.

The layout, which I see you only just put into place last month, is ideal. I like the data core in the upper left hand corner of all your posts – I haven’t seen this theme before, and I found it aesthetically and organizationally spot on. Most of the credit must go to you, though, for carrying it out as well as it could have been.

Your use of images in an otherwise sparse layout makes for a distinctive, precise set of focus points. This made it easy to browse, and simple to identify the subject of a given post.

You impressed me with your varied, reliable but not quite predictable blogging pattern as well. The alternation of themed posts and regular features was conducive to holding a regular reader’s interest, or hooking yourself a new one.

WEBMASTER INTERVIEW

(1) What would you like to tell me about yourself, outside of your online life?

I currently live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I work full-time as a file clerk, plus do freelance writing. Interests of mine include comics, animation, and travel.

(2) Where would I find you online, on an average day? What would you be doing there?

During an average online day, you’ll mainly find me on Twitter. On Twitter, I’ll usually read interesting tweets (or respond to same). I’ll also usually post my two cents about various subjects, and link to new blog posts I’ve made. I’m also found on Facebook and Google+. Outside of social networks, I regularly read several tech websites (including Engadget and TechCrunch), a few others’ personal blogs, and participate in a few bulletin board discussion forums.

(3) When did you start your website? Why? What did you have in mind to begin with?

While I started my blog back in 2002, the current self-hosted Anthony’s Notes site got started in 2010. As useful as Blogspot was, I thought having my own self-hosted site would allow for greater flexibility, including setting up an online portfolio of my work. While the earlier blog focused more on my personal life and thoughts on random subjects, it’s since become focused on its current topics (comics, animation, general media, and technology).

(4) What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as you’ve developed your site? Victories? Defeats?

One challenge has been learning how to run my own self-hosted site, including how to find a website host, choosing and securing a URL, etc. WordPress has made the maintenance of my site much easier, however.

Not sure about defeats, but one victory would be seeing others respond to my blog posts in the comments section. Other victories include the times my blog was referred to on Reddit and in the Columbia Journal Review. The former was for a post I wrote about how to get NBC’s Olympics streaming functioning under Linux, while the latter (under my blog’s old name, “Anthony’s Annotations”) was for a post I wrote about changes made at the time to ABC’s “Nightline.”

(5) Where does your site stand today? How has it grown? Where do you want to take it?

My site’s standing pretty well today, and has grown from a Blogspot blog to consist of a blog, an online portfolio of my writing work, and some self-advertising of my writing services. In the future, I hope to increase my blog’s readership.

(6) Where do you see yourself five years from now? How about ten?

In 5-10 years’ time, I hope to be pursuing a career as a freelance/nonfiction writer, either full-time or above the current levels part-time.

(7) Do you have any closing thoughts, favorite quotes, shout outs?

Thanks to some of the others who’ve given me advice and suggestions on how to get my own site up and running, including Heather Clitheroe at www.lectio.ca and Rik Ward at shinypixel.co.uk. Also thanks to the open source software community, given my first published articles were about open source programs.

Website Review

About the author

Dan Parrington is an independent writer and content editor. Dan is the founder and primary operator of The Parrington Review. He also maintains a personal blog, and contributes on a volunteer basis at the Baldrige Resource Library.

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