Web Rhetoric & Usability

Analysis / Redesign / Rubric (PDF)

For this project, you will evaluate a web page for its rhetorical effectiveness (logos, ethos, and pathos) and usability. Then you will produce a mock-up of an improved design. I recommend that each member take on one or two main tasks, and the whole group revise all of the parts together. This project is worth 10% of your overall grade. It’s due on Blackboard on Friday, Oct. 10, at 9:00 p.m.

Analysis [50%]

Choose a website for any company, organization, or landmark based in the Atlanta area. It can be as big as the CDC or as small as a food truck.

  1. Map the site. See the examples in The MIT Guide to Teaching Web Site Design (handed out in class). No more than 20 items. If it’s a complex organization, map a department or division.
  2. Evaluate the website from a rhetorical standpoint (see Writer/Designer, pp. 31-37) and from the perspective of usability and accessibility (see Krug, Don’t Make Me Think! or Horton, A Web for Everyone, both on E-Reserves). Your assessment of the site’s usability will rely upon your rhetorical analysis, and vice versa. Who are the most likely audiences for the website, and what barriers might some of them face? For example, a bank doesn’t need to make its website kid-friendly, but it does need security features that that don’t rely on sight. Use the project rubric as a guideline.
  3. Communicate your findings to the organization in an essay of about 500 words or a digital presentation at least 3 minutes long. Make it as engaging as you can. Your goal is to show the organization that they’re doing something wrong (logos, pathos) and that they should trust you to help them (ethos).

Redesign [50%]

  1. Create a mock-up of a new and improved site for the same company, including the front page,  at least one secondary page, and a new map. It should be as professional-looking as possible (see Writer/Designer, pp. 93-96). Indicate any invisible improvements you would make (metadata, descriptive audio, etc.).
    No coding or software skills are required for this assignment. You are free to use pen and pencil, if you prefer. You can also use a platform such as WordPress or Tumblr, or a program like DreamWeaver. If the look of your site was inspired by another web page, or you used a template, make a note of it in a Works Cited list.
    Do not use any other images, sounds, or text for which you don’t hold the copyright (with the exception of the original company logo or slogan). You can search for free images using search.creativecommons.org. Almost everything from before 1923 is in the public domain, which is especially useful for historic sites.
  2. Explain the rationale behind your improvements in a (second) short essay. How does the new site achieve its rhetorical aims? What makes it user-friendly? Again, this can be a written text of about 500 words, or a digital presentation at least 3 minutes long.

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