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Amy Goodloe
August 21, 2013
What do the following examples
have to do with teaching writing?
They show that good interface design,
like good writing,
requires rhetorical awareness
 Encouraging students to see the value of
“rhetorical awareness” in their writing can be
difficult
 Especially given tha...
STUDENT BELIEFS
ABOUT WRITING
 Purpose: learning
 Audiences: obligated to
read
 “Design” considerations:
following the ...
Connect rhetorical awareness to familiar reading
situations: digital interfaces
 "Interface" - any space where users inte...
 Good writing, like good interface design, is:
 usable: easy to comprehend
 persuasive: influences attitudes or behavio...
 Gather sample resumes and show each to students
for 10 seconds
 Ask them to record:
 what they remember about the cand...
 no document design =
 can't remember anything
 rhetorically clueless document design =
 remembered the wrong things d...
Strategic use of formatting elements
 headers and sub-headers to reflect hierarchical
importance
 font size and weight a...
 Gather sample blog posts and show each for 20
seconds
 Ask students to record:
 How likely they would be to choose tha...
Prefer to read posts that are "usable" and "persuasive”
 Engaging subject lines, short and focused paragraphs,
helpful fo...
 Gather sample web sites and show each to students
for 20 seconds
 Ask them to record:
 Which sites they’d most likely ...
Not a sample web site but a sample teaching tool
From: xkcd.com
From: theoatmeal.com
 More likely to choose and to trust sites that meet
principles of usability and persuasiveness
 Similar to Dave Underwoo...
Familiar designs are more inviting and user-friendly
because they meet audience expectations regarding:
 Layout
 Navigat...
TypicalWeb Page Layout
From: webstyleguide.com/wsg3
Typical Blog Sidebars
What rhetorical purpose do these serve?
What should you put in the space
opposite the “golden triangle”?
TypicalWeb Reading Habits
Menus and menu items are in familiar spots
 top menu most common
 "home" button on left
 easy access to about, contact,...
TypicalTop Navigation Menus
 Students start to understand
 the importance of following conventions (and the
consequences of not doing so)
 the rhet...
Principle: Rhetorical awareness extends beyond web
sites to:
 The design of spaces and objects
 Software interfaces
Acti...
Handles are
for pulling…
right?
From baddesigns.com
What “reading problem” does this design address?
So… do I upload by
creating?
These activities use concepts from “interface design”
to help students meet the learning goals common to
our discipline:
...
Be sure to practice what you preach:
follow the principles of good design
in all your course materials!
 References and resources, along with a copy
of this presentation, to a post on:
http://digitalwriting101.net/teaching
 ...
The Rhetoric of Interface Design
The Rhetoric of Interface Design
The Rhetoric of Interface Design
The Rhetoric of Interface Design
The Rhetoric of Interface Design
The Rhetoric of Interface Design
The Rhetoric of Interface Design
The Rhetoric of Interface Design
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The Rhetoric of Interface Design

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Subtitled: Teaching rhetorical awareness through design analysis.

These are notes for a presentation I delivered to faculty as a member of the Digital Composition Committee for the writing program at CU Boulder.

Published in: Education, Technology, Design
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The Rhetoric of Interface Design

  1. 1. Amy Goodloe August 21, 2013
  2. 2. What do the following examples have to do with teaching writing?
  3. 3. They show that good interface design, like good writing, requires rhetorical awareness
  4. 4.  Encouraging students to see the value of “rhetorical awareness” in their writing can be difficult  Especially given that very little in their 20+ years of writing for school has required it
  5. 5. STUDENT BELIEFS ABOUT WRITING  Purpose: learning  Audiences: obligated to read  “Design” considerations: following the handbook format is sufficient  Writing is "student- centered" REALITIES OF WRITING BEYOND SCHOOL  Purpose: communication  Audiences: need to be enticed to read and believe  “Design” plays a significant role in audience response  Writing is “reader- centered”
  6. 6. Connect rhetorical awareness to familiar reading situations: digital interfaces  "Interface" - any space where users interact with technology, typically for the purpose of reading and writing Both writers and designers need to know how to:  anticipate the needs and expectations of end users (or readers)  design interfaces (or messages) that will meet these needs
  7. 7.  Good writing, like good interface design, is:  usable: easy to comprehend  persuasive: influences attitudes or behaviors  Examples:  Document design  Blog posts  Web sites  Physical and software interfaces
  8. 8.  Gather sample resumes and show each to students for 10 seconds  Ask them to record:  what they remember about the candidate  their impressions of the candidate  Ask them to study the samples more closely  To identify traits that make some more usable and persuasive than others
  9. 9.  no document design =  can't remember anything  rhetorically clueless document design =  remembered the wrong things due to misplaced emphasis  rhetorically aware document design =  remembered the right things  had a more positive impression of writer
  10. 10. Strategic use of formatting elements  headers and sub-headers to reflect hierarchical importance  font size and weight as well as font type  bulleted lists to emphasize key qualifications  balanced overall layout (not too dense or sparse) General observation: if you could've prepared this on a typewriter, you're doing something wrong!
  11. 11.  Gather sample blog posts and show each for 20 seconds  Ask students to record:  How likely they would be to choose that post to read and respond to  Their impressions of the person who wrote the post  After closer study, ask them to identify:  The traits that make some posts more usable and persuasive than others
  12. 12. Prefer to read posts that are "usable" and "persuasive”  Engaging subject lines, short and focused paragraphs, helpful formatting, good use of web conventions Steer clear of poorly designed messages  Appear harder to comprehend  Convey impression of disorganized writer Revelation for some: what they prefer to read is not how they typically write
  13. 13.  Gather sample web sites and show each to students for 20 seconds  Ask them to record:  Which sites they’d most likely gravitate towards  Their impressions of the site’s credibility  After closer study, ask them to identify:  The traits that make some sites more usable and persuasive than others
  14. 14. Not a sample web site but a sample teaching tool From: xkcd.com
  15. 15. From: theoatmeal.com
  16. 16.  More likely to choose and to trust sites that meet principles of usability and persuasiveness  Similar to Dave Underwood’s principle of good visual design:  Made you look  Made you stay  Made you believe
  17. 17. Familiar designs are more inviting and user-friendly because they meet audience expectations regarding:  Layout  Navigation  Text formatting  Conventions Good design also reflects typical reading habits
  18. 18. TypicalWeb Page Layout From: webstyleguide.com/wsg3
  19. 19. Typical Blog Sidebars What rhetorical purpose do these serve?
  20. 20. What should you put in the space opposite the “golden triangle”? TypicalWeb Reading Habits
  21. 21. Menus and menu items are in familiar spots  top menu most common  "home" button on left  easy access to about, contact, and search  external links are on sidebar, not top Menu items reflect  logical site structure  interests of target audience
  22. 22. TypicalTop Navigation Menus
  23. 23.  Students start to understand  the importance of following conventions (and the consequences of not doing so)  the rhetorical power of logical organization  Students see writing as "creating a user experience”  Peer review becomes a process of "user testing”  For usability and persuasiveness
  24. 24. Principle: Rhetorical awareness extends beyond web sites to:  The design of spaces and objects  Software interfaces Activity: Ask students to analyze examples  how they function as “messages” with “writers” and “audiences”  how they illustrate concepts of usability and persuasiveness
  25. 25. Handles are for pulling… right? From baddesigns.com
  26. 26. What “reading problem” does this design address?
  27. 27. So… do I upload by creating?
  28. 28. These activities use concepts from “interface design” to help students meet the learning goals common to our discipline:  rhetorical knowledge  critical thinking  genre conventions  digital literacy End result: Students see "rhetorical awareness" as a concept useful well beyond the classroom
  29. 29. Be sure to practice what you preach: follow the principles of good design in all your course materials!
  30. 30.  References and resources, along with a copy of this presentation, to a post on: http://digitalwriting101.net/teaching  See also:  Rhetoric of Presentations http://digitalwriting101.net/content/tips-rhetorically- effective-presentations/

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