Lab, 11/22

Brainstorm four or five (or more) “uses” your site might afford visitors. Some of those uses may include being informed of something, being persuaded of something, but what else? Consider the broader affordances websites offer in comparison to a research essay.


Web Interventions

In class today your team is going to synthesize your knowledge of vizrhet (i.e. CRAPHATS) and new media writing styles and usability  (i.e. from Nielsen, Lynch & Horton) to redesign some mediocre web pages. We need five teams to redesign the following Purdue pages:

    1. ITaP “Gold Answers” Support Page: (I made a link because the real URL was ridiculous.) You must click on “home” and enter Purdue career credentials to see this home page.
    2. Confucius Institute:
    3. PMU Green Initiative:
    4. PUSH’s Home Page:
    5. Purdue Libraries:

1. Read the page and click around the site (follow its navigational links, see where they lead you) to get a better idea of the site’s overall vibe as well as its primary uses. Consider if any of the pages’ content should go elsewhere.

2. Focusing on the homepage, sketch out how you’d rewrite the text and redesign the page. I have large (11″ x 18″) paper on which you can sketch out your redesigns. If you have additional time, you can outline redesign recommendations for other pages on the site.

3. Conclude by making three lists:

  • What does the page do well (before you intervened)?
  • What needs the most work?
  • What further research should be conducted in order to better accomplish this redesign/rewrite project?

We’ll spend about 20 minutes redesigning/rewriting. If time permits, we’ll use the remainder of class for teams to briefly present their redesign sketch and giving their synopsis to questions (what the page does well, does poorly, and further research required) and make connections to the Lynch & Horton readings.

Team 1: Elizabeth, Jordan, Sanah, Rina

Team 2: Megan, Kelsey, Fitz

Team 3: Sri, Amanda, Kristen, Monica

Team 4: Matt, Brad, Daniel, Emily

Team 5: Liz, Nick, Katelyn, Natasha


Week 13 Overview

Monday: Conferences as usual

Tuesday: Lab Day to finalize Infographics (remember to attach a cover letter) or begin on your Presentation, Web Site, or Comprehensive Reflection Essay

Wednesday: No class; use class time to finish reading chapters 4, 7, and 9 from Lynch & Horton’s Online Style Guide  & do a reading response

Thursday: No conferences

Friday: Purdue Website Intervention–in class, you’ll apply your understanding of Lynch & Horton to analyze, critique, and offer redesign advice for some of Purdue’s least helpful websites

Monday Conferences, 11/14

For conferences Monday we’ll review your “Twitterative Designs” that you started composing in class last Wednesday. Please bring some way to present your tweets, whether that be on a print-out of them or a device to view them on, and be prepared to discuss what “uses” you designed your tweets for as well as your revision strategies a la Jakob Nielson.

Groups & times:

10:30a–Sri, Kelsey, Kristen

10:45–Nick, Liz , Jordan

11:00–Megan, Emily, Sanah


Reading Response: Lynch & Horton’s Web Style Guide chapters 4, 7 & 9

Be careful with this reading as there are multiple pages to each chapter. You have to "turn to" each "page" by clicking on its link in the "Chapter Contents" box in the top-right corner. 

Between the three chapters, there are 18 pages total. You should peruse all of chapter 4 on "Interface Design," all of chapter 9 on "Editorial Style" and all of chapter 7 on "Page Design" except for the pages on Document Design, Page Frameworks, and Page Width and Line Lengths--those are super-interesting but a little too technical and beyond the scope of what we'll be doing in Project 3 with our WordPress sites.

Chapter 4, “Interface Design”

1) How is navigating a web site similar to finding your way around a real, physical, geographical place–like a city? How is it different?

2) Consequently, what are some best practices for aiding users in navigating through your web site? What are some no-no’s?

Chapter 7, “Page Design”

3) What, in a sentence or two of your own paraphrasing, is gestalt theory? How does it apply to visual rhetoric?

4) What are some best design practices that Lynch and Horton recommend for creating effective, trustworthy, user-friendly web pages?

Chapter 9, “Editorial Style”

5) What’s one reason many people find reading on a computer uncomfortable?

6) What is the inverted pyramid that journalists abide by?

7) In this chapter, Lynch and Horton discuss ways that writers can accommodate the habits of online readers. How do they practice what they preach?

Feedback 201

As you sample your peers’ infographics-in-the-making today, here are some questions to help you generate feedback:

  1. Time yourself. How long before you grasp the main point of your colleague’s infographic? Is their infographic readily interpretable? Does its main point “jump out” right away?
  2. Time yourself again. Is their enough information substantiating that main point that you could spend 2 minutes taking it all in? Although its main point should be obvious, does the infographic still contain enough information to engage a reader in a longer, more contemplative reading? Does it allow for a “closer look”? Does the information presented raise any questions that should also be addressed with additional information? What information is lacking that you would want to see included, whether that’s to provide some clarity, fill in some blanks, or offer larger context?
  3. Are visual elements like size, color, contrast, icons/symbols, headings, discrete sections, negative or white space, alignment, typography, repetition, and proximity used to positive effect? Does anything appear disruptive to or at odds with the overall purpose?
  4. How is their infographic organized? Does it use an overall structure that is fitting to the type of narrative it trying to tell? (Refer to this 12-Types-of-Infographic PDF for more info.) Does the infographic teach you how to read it? That is, does it provide a logical way to navigate its information?
  5.  Is their infographic visually appealing? Are the visual elements used appropriately? Do they contribute to an overall theme? Are contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity used to create meaning and show relationships between data?
  6. Is their any information on their infographic that could be presented visually but isn’t?
  7. Do you find the information presented on the infographic trustworthy? Why or why not? Is the infographic “data transparent,” that is, do you know where this information is coming from? How has your peer incorporated citations?