Writing Want-Ad

An Overview

The Challenge

In online writing communities, also known as role-playing communities, it can be challenging recruiting or finding people interested in writing within certain fandoms and series. Interested people are out there, and often feel as though they are alone within the fandom, but often miss advertising for their fandoms and series of interest.

The Solution

An interactive Want-Ad that is more engaging to the user, hopefully drawing people in and allowing them to linger. This increased attention could spark interest or curiosity in further exploring the attached online community where the writing takes place, and lead to built bridges. Because role-play communities exist in a variety of community-oriented sites — including JCINK, Proboards, Invision, and tumblr — I focused my efforts on an advertising method that could be used on the forums; the implementation incorporates HTML/CSS, making it a little awkward to present on tumblr sites but a total possibility.

My Role

UX Researcher: Virtual ethnography, interviews.

Interaction Designer, Illustrator, & Developer: HTML/CSS, Corel Painter & Adobe Photoshop

This idea originated from my own frustrations in identifying people interested in writing within a particular fandom — Death Note, a Japanese manga series that later was adapted into an anime some ten years ago. Because it is an older series, much hype around it has died down, leaving only dedicated fans and straggling, newer fans (like myself).

The Case Study

User Research

An effective want-ad is only possible with careful accompanying research to guide it. I dug deeply through writing communities and asked a few active roleplayers about their most sought characters within the Death Note series. I asked people outside of the fandom, too, should they encounter a Death Note roleplayer, what character would they hope to see being played. From this research, I discerned the order in which to tackle my design of this want-ad.

Because I knew I would be illustrating the panels myself, I prioritized the characters ranked highest on people's lists of characters they'd like to see played. This composed of the main characters — Light Yagami, L Lawliet, and Misa, and later-important Near and Mello — and a couple supporting characters — Watari and Matt.

The Design Process

Furthermore, because they would be displayed as a series together, I wanted to instill a coherent theme. One that was relevant to the series, and personal to the characters. I thought such a design would be most compelling. For example, L drinks coffee and tea throughout the series, and in my design piece he is shown to be drowning with his teacup floating atop the frame. Another example is Mello, who is a rather ruthless and trigger-happy character, shown in my series to be an implied victim of such ruthlessness. I came to title this want-ad the Death Montage.

A constraint I had was considering the area in which the want-ad would be posted. Because I was primarily focusing on forums, I had to keep into consideration the width alotted to user posts, lest the series annoyingly elongate the scrollbar vertically or horizontally.

A problem I encountered was failing to anticipate the skin-designers of forums changing the dimensions of posts on their site. Because I began this project during the early stages of becoming familiar with HTML and CSS, I fumbled a bit with adapting my design to accomodate that change.

Future Steps

Unfortunately, I am no longer a member of the forums I posted the want-ad on. As a consequence, my accounts have been deleted and my posts archived, which do not maintain coded formats. However, I would like to finish illustrating panels of the more minor roles (of which there are a dozen or more), as I greatly enjoy working on this project when time allows.