Electronic Edition of a Text (Part 1)


We will discuss literary websites in class. Before you propose your own edition, however, I'd like you to look at existing sites and do a quick critique: Does the site achieve its objectives? How does it do that? What doesn't work on the site and how/why would you change it? To do this, you’ll have to start evolving your own rhetorical standards for how you would evaluate a site, and that means figuring out what criteria count for you when you try to decide on a site’s quality.

Johndan Johnson-Eilola has kindly loaned us his handy "Gestalt Theory Guide to Website Design," a neat little two-page handout that helps you identify principles of web design. 

I am allowing you to pick the literary website, but I have final approval. I’d like you to try to present your analysis in one of the following formats: 1) a web page linked to your blog so that you can practice putting your standards to work on your own materials (if you haven’t used ExpressionWeb before, here's a manual to help you use the program); 2) a Storify presentation, or 3) an explanation of your choices, coupled with the screenshot, as a page on your blog.

Here’s what you should do when creating your analysis:

  1. Create a main heading for your entry and style the heading so that it's appropriate for the visual design of the page (i.e., the hierarchy).
  2. Take a screenshot of the main web page, crop and resize as necessary, then  save it as a 500 px wide jpg.
  3. Put the screenshot (jpg version) in your analysis, under the main heading, centered.
  4. Put a clickable link to that website below the screenshot.
  5. Select some major design and arrangement aspects to analyze. You won't be able to analyze every aspect of the site, but you should pick at least five points to examine. For example, you might discuss the use of the design grid (covered in the Gestalt Theory handout), the font choices, the kinds and locations of links, etc. Describe your general standards for judging that aspect, then analyze how well the web page you're looking at adheres to those guidelines.Remember that any of the resources we've covered in class can help you pick these aspects!
  6. Use headings to separate each of the points you cover. The headings should also be appropriate for the visual hierarchy of your page.  
  7. Choose a text presentation style (bullets? paragraphs? wordles?) that allows you to present your analysis of each point, followed by an overall assessment.

Resources to help you set your standards:

Anne Frances Wysocki, “Monitoring Order: Visual desire, the Organization of web pages, and Teaching the Rules of Desire,” Kairos 3.2 (1998): http://english.ttu.edu/kairos/3.2/binder.html?features/wysocki/mOrder0.html

The Usability Professionals’ Association “Resources: About Usability,” http://www.upassoc.org/usability_resources/about_usability/what_is_ucd.html

Some short readings from Paul Krug’s great book on website design, Don’t Make Me Think: ch 8, ch9, and ch 10 (separate .pdf files).

A standard textbook on web design, Lynch and Horton’s Web Style Guide 2.0, http://www.webstyleguide.com/index.html?/.

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