End of Semester Final Reflection Essay

I was to stress that I am currently in my last semester as a fourth-year business student at SFU. Publishing is one of the two electives that I am taking this semester. It was recommended by my brother who took this course two years ago with the same professor, Suzanne Norman. He told me how fun and interactive the course was and how it is a great way to learn more about creating websites and such. Taking upon his suggestion, I ultimately decided to enroll in PUB101.

As a business student concentrating in finance, I found no better option than to create a website that talks about finances. I am very content with my topic as I am able to deliver value for people’s lives by teaching them how to better manage and approach their finances. I am not teaching people how to make money, but rather how they can better use what they have such that they have one less thing to worry about in life. I envision my audience to be young adults that are nearing the end of their high school education or just starting college and university. It is without a doubt that our generation is not as financially healthy as our predecessors. An article on “The Financial Lives of Millennials” points out that only “24% of millennials are financially healthy” (Garon, 2019). My goal is to fill that void and bridge the gap.

To address the topic of finance and my audience, I created my website using the Jetblack theme. The theme provides a professional, yet minimalistic design. I wanted to keep my website simple to avoid creating any unnecessary distractions for my audience. An article written by the Wix Team mentions that “the less site visitors have to read, click on, or remember, the better they’ll be able to process and evaluate your content” (Wix, 2020). Also, according to an article “Global attention span is narrowing and trends don’t last as long”, humans’ attention spans are decreasing due to the amount of information available to the public (The Guardian, 2019). Knowing this, I made sure that my website is direct and free of clutter to avoid losing their attention. Each week, I brainstormed content ideas that are simple yet relevant. As I mentioned, my audience most likely does not have much experience in finance, so I made sure to avoid using complex terms and concepts. Instead, I focused on everyday topics that can apply to a general population such as credit cards, spending tips, and when to save or invest. By doing so, I lower the barriers to entry and can target a larger crowd. I used the exact same strategy when it came to my editorial decisions. Finance courses are not usually mandatory in school meaning that majority of people do not actually learn much about it unless they do self-study. Knowing this, I made sure to keep my points concise while providing real-life examples that they can relate to. Visually, I ensured that there was adequate space on the web pages to remove distraction and make it easy on the eyes. My home page also had the necessary description and atmosphere that welcomed users. Anyone landing on my website will know immediately what I will be talking about.

If I had to change one thing about my website, it would be the preview blocks. They do not align and hurt the overall aesthetics of the website. This function was already built-in with the Jetblack theme. I am certain that there are ways to fix the issue by changing the coding or installing a new plugin, but that may disrupt the flow and other positive aspects of my website. It simply was not a risk I was comfortable taking and therefore, I left it as is. If I have more time in the future, I will definitely explore possible solutions and fix this ongoing issue.

When it comes to value, I think I am providing lots of meaningful and practice advice for my audience. Instead of following other blogs and talking about my daily life and whatnot, I delivered financial advice that can improve their lives. Those that genuinely read my blog posts will definitely learn some new about financial management and should see improvements in those areas.

For website analysis, by using Google Analytics, I was able to better understand my audience. Google Analytics provides statistics such as where users are from, what pages they usually visit, how long they stay on the site and many more. I wrote a process post going over what statistics stood out to me and how I am using those pieces of information to further develop my website. Essentially, Google Analytics is telling me to focus more on credit card posts (posts with most traffic) and look into providing content in Chinese (20% of my audience is from China). I have barely scratched the surface of what Google Analytics can do, but I am already fascinated with the kind of information the platform can provide me. Honestly, it is quite scary how accurate the information is. Why should anyone install Google Analytics? “It’s free” and “it’s easy” says Hicks from Hostgator (Hicks, 2018). Those are some of the most common reasons why marketers suggest people to use Google Analytics. Even beginners like myself can navigate the platform without having taken any prior courses or training. I finally understand all the rage behind this platform.

Unfortunately, I did not compile any comments on my website because I did not receive any. I am not surprised as most of the visitors are my PUB101 classmates. Their comments will come in the form of peer review evaluations. That being said, I believe my website is well prepared for comments. I have installed an anti-spam plugin from Akismet. I have the free, basic option that provides spam protection. I have also created a set of community guidelines that outlines what I expect from users that decide to comment on my posts. The guidelines are necessary and must be followed to ensure a safe and healthy environment for everyone. Those who break the rules will be blacklisted from my website.

Now that the semester is coming to an end, I can sit down and reflect on the progress that I have made the past few months. As mentioned, I entered this semester with no prior experience in publishing or creating websites. All I had was my experience and education in finance. It is fascinating to see the end product of my website, from the design, editorial, and content aspects. My goal for this semester was to create a fully functioning website and I can confidently say that I made it! Looking forward, I do not really have any goals for my online self past the end of this course. I mentioned in my final blog post that I do not plan to continue posting on this website. This is my last semester at SFU. Beginning next year, I will focus most of my time and efforts in job hunting and enrolling in the CFA program. That being said, no one knows what the future holds and should I decide to create another website, I will be sure to incorporate what I have learned in this course.

References

Garon, T. (2019). The Emerging Millennial Wealth Gap. New America. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://www.newamerica.org/millennials/reports/emerging-millennial-wealth-gap/the-financial-lives-of-millennials-evidence-from-the-us-financial-health-pulse/

Hicks, K. (2018, January 18). 7 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Google Analytics. Hostgator. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://www.hostgator.com/blog/why-use-google-analytics/

The Guardian. (2019, April 17). Global attention span is narrowing and trends don’t last as long, study reveals. The Guardian. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/apr/16/got-a-minute-global-attention-span-is-narrowing-study-reveals

Wix. (2020, June 04). 5 Web Design Tips for an Outstanding Site. Wix. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://www.wix.com/blog/2017/10/5-design-tips-for-a-professional-site

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