Courtesy: Boston Museum of Science


Rhetoric of the Internet

Spring 2004

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Group Assignment #1

Group Assignment #2

Group Assignment #3

Website Analysis

Impact of Internet

Final Exam

Class Discussion

Weighting of Grades


Academic Integrity


James F. Klumpp

Department of Communication

College of Arts and Humanities

University of Maryland


Website Analysis Assignment

Objective of Assignment

To permit you to demonstrate your mastery of the material from the first third of the course including the Benum book and work on rhetorical approaches to web design.

Due Date

At beginning of class on Thursday, March 18. All papers submitted after 12:30 will be late.


Based on the knowledge you have acquired about rhetorical dimensions of design you are to do a two part process:

  • Write an evaluation of the website. Your evaluation should be 1500-2000 words (6-8 pages, 10 point, double-spaced). The best papers will evaluate the strategic decisions made in the webpage design, will recommend changes, will provide rationale for those changes based in what you have learned about such design. General rules of scholarly citation apply: that is, when you rely on information acquired from other sources you should credit those sources in a citation method.

  • Redesign the home or welcome page plus 2-4 other pages on the website to implement your recommendations. This part of the assignment is designed to illustrate your recommendations on the other part.

Submission Format

  • This evaluation paper should be submitted in hard copy and in electronic form by email attachment or disk. Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, or.rtf files are acceptable.
  • Redesigned pages should be submitted in .html format either on a floppy disk or as an email attachment. Do not post these to the web.

Criteria for evaluation of project:

  • the degree to which your mastery of the material from the course is reflected in your product:
    • the thoroughness and quality of support for your analysis of sponsors and users
    • thoroughness and support for your analysis of strengths and problems in the site
    • quality of your recommendations and support for their appropriateness for the sponsors and users
    • rhetorical quality of your redesigned pages and degree to which they respond to your evaluation
    • the degree to which your analysis reflects your understanding of rhetorical issues in web design
  • the quality of writing in the evaluation including
    • organization of your paper
    • clarity of your presentation in the evaluation
    • support for your claims throughout
    • following of all rules of English grammar
    • proper spelling and other elements of presentation
  • the presentation of a carefully prepared paper including following of proper form. You may use either the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers or the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for your form manual.

"A" projects will be outstanding on all three criteria.

Weight in Final Grade

Total project is 35 percent of semester grade.

Recommended procedure for completing assignment:

Step 1: Select one of the following websites for analysis:

Step 2: Do the analysis of your users

Identify and perform the required research for your analysis of sponsors and users. Remember that claims about the sponsors and users must be supported. Your research will probably include some web work, some library work, and in some cases contact with sponsors and/or users through email. You may analyze your users with the persona strategy recommended by Benum, an appropriate segmentation strategy, or even generalizations about them, but whatever strategy you use must be supported by your research.

Step 3: Analyze the website

Identify strengths and weaknesses of the website based in your analysis of the interests, needs, values, and capabilities of the sponsors and users. Your analysis should also reflect your familiarity with the rhetorical concerns in web evaluation. Then generate a short list of possible changes in the website based in this analysis. Remember all recommendations for changes should be justified.

Step 4: Prepare the first draft of your evaluation

  • Remember your evaluation should:
    • Identify strengths and rhetorical problems in the website
    • Recommend changes to address those problems
    • Justify your identification of problems and your recommendations for changes in rhetorical concerns and in your analysis of sponsors and users
  • These papers should be 1500-2000 words (equivalent of 6-8 pages, 10 point, double-spaced). The text should be available to be submitted in WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, or rtf format.
  • Although there is no specification of how the report is presented, my best guess is that you will use about half your space on analysis of sponsors and users and about half presenting and justifying your recommendations.
  • Sources employed in research should be cited with a note structure drawn from MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers or the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

Step 5: Prepare your redesign of the home/welcome pages and 2-4 other pages from the website

Your changes should implement and illustrate your rhetorical evaluation of the website. Your redesigns should be in html format although you can use Netscape Composer or other preparation software to produce the html code. Note you are not graded on the quality of the html coding, nor on your ability as a web page designer beyond the rhetorical elements of web design.

Step 6: Revise the evaluation as needed

Prepare your paper for final submission. Rewrite for clarity and sufficiency of support. Reread the list of criteria above to assure that you have attended to them. Check carefully to make certain your notes and the format of your paper follows the specification of the MLA or APA manual you chose for your paper.

Step 7: Submit your work

Paper should be submitted in hard copy and as email attachment. WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, or .rtf files will be accepted. Submit your redesigned pages in html format as an email attachment. In the email grant or deny your permission for your work to be shared with the webmaster of the website you have analyzed and include the honor pledge.

Honor Pledge

  • You are authorized to discuss general principles of the assignment, of web design and use, or of rhetorical evaluation with anyone including but not limited to classmates or the instructor. Discussions with others in the class, however, must be restricted to general principles rather than the specifics of the website you are analyzing.
  • You are authorized to ask anyone connected with the sponsor or anyone who is among the target users of the site about their responses to the website (except if those people are enrolled in this class).
  • Preparation of the report on the site should generally be your own work without assistance from classmates or others. Any assistance you receive on the project, including that authorized above, should be acknowledged in a lead note in the report.
  • You are authorized to receive assistance of a consulting or instructional nature in preparation of your web pages from anyone including your classmates. Actual preparation of the pages, however, should be your work.
  • Include the honor pledge in your email submitting the work. This email must be sent from your University registered email address and sending the message from that address will indicate your signature on the pledge.

Last revised February 12, 2004

James F. Klumpp, Webmaster
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