Web Analysis: Exploring Real Technical Rhetoric in Your Major.

Worth 10% of your grade. Updated 3/24/09

Group Assignment (Assigned 4/8/09; post on CourseMine forum by 4/27 before class)

Working as a collective, find a technical website related to your major or profession (or the major of a member of your collective).

 Analyze your chosen website based on the following criteria:

1. Analyze and evaluate the website as a work tool:

    a. Analyze the content of the website. What does it contain? What is the purpose of the website? What sort of text and graphics or media does the website contain? Who was the author (if indicated)?

b.. Analyze the structure of the website. What comes first? What comes after? How is it built? at? Does it offer a logical sequence of menus, a search engine process, a simple list of items, or does it simply jump back and forth chaotically? How are the pages and links divided? How good is the spelling, grammar, vocabulary and punctuation?

2. Evaluate the content of the website

a. Clarity: How clear is the website? Is it easy to understand or is it confusing and mysterious? How effective is the text in accomplishing the purpose for which it was created? How effective is the text in communicating the main idea to the intended audience, or to another audience?

b. Grandeur: How strong, educated, mature and vigorous is the language? Why? What style (tone) of language is used (high, medium, or low)? Are the graphics impressive or just cutesy?

c. Beauty: How attractive is the form and appearance of the website ( type-faces, menus, graphics, etc.)?Is this website a pleasure to visit? Or, does the author use any annoying, bureaucratic, distracting or ugly words and graphics? Are the text and graphics lively and do they serve the purpose of the website, or are the graphics just boring clip-art included only to break up boring blocks of text?) Use quotes or examples to illustrate the quality of the website as art or beauty. Of course, be aware that some websites are not meant to be artistic or beautiful--a news report or textbook, for instance, may be neither beautiful or artistic, but may still be important and successful.

d. Speed: How fast does the website load? Do the text and graphics flow along easily, making the website easy to read, or does the text drag along with extra words, phrases and sentences? Did you find any errors, typos, dead links, or problems navigating within the website itself? Are there unnecessary graphics, tables, videos or features that slow down use of the website or distract the user? Does the website keep you at the edge of your seat, or put you to sleep? Why?

e. Character: How is the character of the sponsoring agency or company reflected in the text? Whom does this website serve best? Who does it not serve, or even put down, ignore, pretend not to notice or shove aside? Is everyone who visits the website assumed to be English-speaking, or computer-proficient, or sighted, or to have high-speed Internet access?

f. Truth: How true and up to date are the facts used in the website? How well does the website use facts? Or does it just give generalities? Does it have a FAQ or "Help" link? Are sources provided for information or data on the website? Is information on the website freely available to any visitor, or is it passworded or pay-per-view?

g. Gravity: Does this website pass the "who cares?" test? How much does the content of this website really MATTER? Does it inform you, help your work in some way, or make you agree more with what the website says? Why or why not?

3. Sum up: what is your overall reaction to the website

Remember; reading and writing "critically" does not mean the same thing as "criticizing," in everyday language (complaining or griping, fault-finding, nit-picking). Your analysis can and should be positive and praise the website if possible, as well as pointing out problems, disagreements and shortcomings. Would you read something else like this or by this sponsor in the future or not? Why or why not? To whom would you recommend this website?

When writing a web analysis or evaluation, write as a professional addressing other professionals or fellow scholars.  As a student,, if you write that a technical website is useless or does not pass your "Who cares?" test, but many other people think that it is important , readers will probably not agree with you that the website is dull or boring, but they may conclude instead that you are dull and boring, that you are too immature in your professional development or too uneducated to understand what important things the website contains. 

If you did not like a website, that is fine, but criticize it either from principle (it is outdated or incomplete,  includes factual errors or outright lies, it is too specialized to ever use) or from form (it is poorly designed and hard to navigate, it contains too much unnecessary detail or is hard to navigate, it contains irrelevant or distracting graphics, or wanders around without making a point).  In each of these cases, do not simply criticize, but give examples. But, always beware, as a student, of analyzing any website as "confusing" or "boring," since readers might simply conclude that you are too ignorant or slow to understand and appreciate what the website has to offer! 

(Partially (based on the Seven Ideas of Hermogenes.)

O.W.  12/08 rev 3/09

For educational purposes only.
Owen M. Williamson - Education Bldg 211E - phone: (915) 747 7625 - fax: (915) 747 5655
The University of Texas at El Paso - 500 W. University Ave. - El Paso, TX 79968
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