Comparison of Websites

This assignment asks you to analyze the effectiveness of a website’s “visual rhetoric” and compare it to another website’s “visual rhetoric.” As you analyze and compare the two, you will form an argument regarding which one is more effective in which specific areas, and you will explain and support your claims with examples from each. According to the article we will read by Patricia Sullivan, visual rhetoric is “the melding of visual esthetics and concern with rhetorical effectiveness for an audience” (109). In other words, web sites should be both visually pleasing and functional in their page organization and navigation.

Questions to consider in your analysis (you do not have to answer every question but should focus on the ones that best fit your chosen website):

  1. What is the website’s purpose? To provide information on a topic or issue? To advertise/ promote a business, service, product, person or institution? To encourage discussion or action on the part of the viewer/reader? A combination of these? Something else entirely? Finally, what is your evidence for your interpretation?
  2. Who is the site’s intended audience? Try to create a demographic profile of the audience: age, race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, education, occupation, religion (or not), political and social leanings/affiliations… Finally, what is your evidence for your interpretation?
  3. How does the website utilize Aristotle’s Rhetorical Appeals (Logos, Pathos, Ethos)?Is this done effectively for the intended audience?

The following questions about site design will help you analyze audience and purpose:

  1. What “content” does the site provide and how is it organized? How many pages does the site have and how many layers of pages? What information is on the main page? What is visible on pages without the need to scroll?
  2. How does the site provide navigation throughout? Is there a navigation menu and does it stay consistent throughout the site? Is the menu verbal or visual or both? Is the navigational system easy to understand and why or why not? If the navigation is difficult, do you believe this to be a result of poor design or is the challenge part of the site’s rhetorical purpose?
  3. Consider the visual and multimodal aspects of the site? What is the color palette? What mood or feeling do the colors create? How does the site use space–is the page cluttered or spare; is there a pattern to the way space is used? Are there photographs? Still graphics of various types? Moving images? Sound?
  4. And finally, does the site’s design meet the needs of its intended audience and work to achieve its purpose?

 Consider the following criteria (described in more detail on handout):

  1. Accuracy
  2. Authority
  3. Objectivity
  4. Currency
  5. Coverage

Lastly, take all of the aforementioned considerations and determine which website addresses the audience, purpose, and rhetorical situation in the best way. Which site is most effective? Why? It may be in your best interest to take two separate websites that are created for the same purpose, for instance, two restaurant websites, and evaluate them based on the above criteria. Compare and contrast them, and then based on the criteria, determine which one works and which one doesn’t.  

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