Student Survival Sydney – Project Critique [DIGC302]

Studentsurvivallogo
As a university student myself living in Sydney, I know first hand how hard it can be to survive in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Staggering rent prices, food, retail and life expenses all add up and you have to learn quickly, or perish under the sheer stress of your circumstances.
The concept of the Student Survival Sydney blog is a refreshing take an aggregated blogging platform that demonstrates how a little research, can actually translate into simple savings. Using their own research and ideas from other students, the SSS blog have created over 40 pages of content across a broad range of topics including entertainment options, fitness ideas and even car maintenance advice.
Although this concept is often used throughout magazine publications (both physical and online) across Sydney, there isn’t a dedicated site like the ideas published by SSS. This gives there project some real merit as they have created a unique and original assignment.

Then aim of the SSS was to create a blog with relevant and practical content that students could use when adhering to strict budget measures, often enforced due to high study workloads. I believe they have achieved this goal. Scanning through all of their content there are many fantastic options and simple ideas that would help a uni student such as myself, save money whilst still maintaining a fun and active social life. I especially enjoy the content on car maintenance, as this is one issue many university students struggle with, due to the high cost of owning a motor vehicle.
Aesthetically the blog is visually appealing. The large tiled theme throughout the blog works well with the concept of the design. The headers and spacing around the content have clear navigation paths, which suit the overall design of the blog. The inclusion of the smart calendar ‘upcoming events’ and the Twitter feed are also great features that allow for quick access to content pages. Once the blog receives more traffic, the inclusion of the Twitter feed will add free content ideas given by the audience themselves. The addition of a search feature is also a practical inclusion when looking for specific content.

One criticism of the blog is that it lacks a ‘wow’ factor. This is something that distinguishes itself visually from the hundreds of millions of blogs on the Internet. Perhaps by adding some more design elements to the page such as logo (as used in their Twitter feed) would give the blog a sense of individualism.
One other criticism of the SSS blog is that the commentary at times feels quite ridged. Given that this blog is for university students who are predominately in their early 20’s, the writing style of the contributor’s lacks that edginess seen in most successful blogs with the same target audience.

To coincide with the blog the Student Survival Sydney team has also created community discussion through Twitter and Reddit. At present count they have tweeted over 38 times with just fewer than 20 other users following their Twitter feed. Given the time frame of the project these numbers will continue to rise. Using both Twitter and the social media integration features of WordPress, the SSS team have capitalised on creating free content for their Twitter following. However the recent introduction of a Reddit discussion group remains the most successful attribute to their project. Again, at this present time, there have been over 58 comments by users discussing their own survival tips, across a broad range of topic areas. This forum is achieving their aim of creating a platform of discussion whilst generating content for the blog itself. Whilst Reddit often faces a large amount of bad press, it is a fantastic way to create discussion on the Internet.

It is clear that this project is still in its infancy however, the possibilities for the SSS blog are very positive. With a large amount of discussion occurring Reddit, content ideas are being created instantly. The users of Reddit are systematically sorting the good ideas from the bad and assisting the project creators, giving the fresh ideas for the blog itself. One further criticism of the blog is that they may be using an incorrect social media strategy to create interest in the blogs content. Given the demographic for the project, statistically Facebook has been proven to be the most viewed platform amongst their target audience. Twitter posts with just written content alone aren’t stimulating enough to capture the reader’s attention. Alternatively, Facebook posts would allow for strong visual representations of each new post, allowing the introduction of images, videos and also facilitating discussion through comments and likes.
One possible idea could also be to integrate content through a multimedia platform such as Instagram or YouTube. Each post could also use a variety of hash-tags and reference points to categories the content posted. Also users again have the chance to facilitate discussion under each post and give their own ideas. Creating videos talking to students about their own methods would not only be an entertaining form of content, it would also be a great way to further facilitate discussion of the project.
Overall the aims of Student Survival Sydney have been completed. There is a large amount of content whilst creating digital arenas for discussion. To further improve the project they could perhaps work on both the aesthetics and writing style used within the blog. The demonstration by the two project leaders today indicates that they have a strong passion for the project and a clear focus for the trajectory for the future. The overall aim for these digital communication final projects was to create a content resource that would be used as a reference point when looking for real life practical job experience. Having closely followed the progression of this blog from the start, I have full confidence that both the content creators have demonstrated their digital abilities and have a tremendous amount of confidence for their futures.

Student Survival Sydney – http://sydsurvival.wordpress.com/
Student Survival Twitter – https://twitter.com/student960
Reddit Forum – https://www.reddit.com/r/sydney/comments/2im2ld/surviving_as_a_student_in_sydney/