- Analyze the rhetorical tactics of a controversial site.
- Using the earlier questions, analyze the website of a company that’s recently been in the news in a negative way. Examples might include oil and gas companies (BP, Exxon), big banking companies, news sites and blogs with a distinctive political leaning (Fox News or Breitbart for the conservative side, the Huffington Post on the liberal side), organizations that promote controversial ideas (the National Rifle Association, Planned Parenthood), and controversial products (Monsanto, fast food companies like McDonalds or KFC, pharmaceutical companies, producers of high-fructose corn syrup).
In writing your analysis, first search for recent news and opinion articles about the company and provide a summary of the main issues identified. Then answer these questions:
- How does the site acknowledge the controversy, either overtly through its content or less explicitly through its interface?
- What is the site’s primary message, and how does this correspond to what’s been said about the company in the news?
- How does the company attempt to manage its reputation or reframe the issue through its website?
- Do a comparative analysis of competing websites. Visit the websites of two groups with opposing views on the same topic (the most obvious example of this would be the websites of a Democratic and Republican candidate for the same political position). How does each construct its ethos differently? Using the framework for analysis above, consider the intended user and purpose of the site in light of its interface and the interplay of the various modalities. Write a brief essay explaining the differences in the sites.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of a website or app. Imagine that you are a consultant charged with analyzing the effectiveness of a website or app. Using the earlier first determine the intended audience and purpose of the site or app, and then evaluate its effectiveness in enabling the intended audience to achieve its purposes. Assess the content, the interface, and the interplay of the various modalities. Present the conclusions of your analysis and evaluation in a memo to the leader of the company or organization, along with recommendations for improving the site (or commendations for how well it meets the needs of its target audience).
- You might also recommend other audiences that the company might want to consider and provide suggestions for how the current site might be revised to meet the needs of these Does the site include video or audio components? What is the relationship between the text, navigation, the visuals, and the sound? How do these, along with the typography, layout and design elements, textual content, visual representations, and sound, contribute to the quality that one author refers to as “point(s) of view or voice” (Pauwels 257).
Analyze and Evaluate Websites
- Identify the basic type of site.
- Identify the site’s owner, rhetorical purpose, and target audience.
- Examine the site’s content.
- Study the site’s interface (navigation, layout, color scheme, typography).
- Examine the interplay of all the various modalities included in the site.
- Identify the Site’s Owner, Rhetorical Purpose, and Target Audience
- Purpose and audience for websites are (as with all communicative acts) intimately linked. All websites aim to get a certain group of people to do, think, or feel something. Identifying the purpose and audience of the site will give you a means of understanding the site’s design choices (and vice versa—analyzing the design choices will help you identify the purpose and audience).
- Understanding who owns the site might begin to give you a clue about the site’s intended purpose.
- To identify the site’s rhetorical purpose, you might start by asking what problem the site aims to solve for its audience. What does the audience want or need that the site provides?
- To buy something?
- To find a date?
- To be entertained?
- To feel like part of a community?
- News or gossip?
- Information about a product, service, event, or phenomenon?
- To store photos online?
- To waste time at work?
- Something else?
- Problems (and websites that grow in response to them) are always changing and are deeply dependent on ever-evolving contexts, including both cultural events and the development of technologies.