Erin E. Karper

‘Ordinary people do this’: A rhetorical case study of novice web design

Erin E. Karper

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 2004; pp: 220
  • Advisor: Blakesley, David
  • Source: DAI-A 65/10, p. 3787, Apr 2005
  • Subjects: Language, Rhetoric And Composition (0681)
  • ProQuest Document Number:
  • ISBN: 0-496-10995-2
  • UMI Number: AAT 3150785

Abstract:

    The processes of Web design have been studied from usability and educational perspectives, but little research exists which considers Web design as a unique rhetorical and composing process. Most existing rhetoric and composition scholarship treats the processes of Web design as being a transfer of existing composing processes for print rather than seeing it as a unique process shaped by the new rhetorical situations which arise in writing on/for the Web. In order to understand, research and teach Web design, particularly with novices, it is necessary to study it as its own unique composing process. This study observed the composing processes and rhetorical choices of 13 beginning Web designers who worked in a semester long working group. Designers were surveyed and interviewed at the beginning and end of the group, were observed as they worked collectively and individually, and had their materials archived at weekly intervals. The major findings were that while Web composing processes do share some features with print composing processes, beginning designers tend not to transfer existing schemas and strategies and instead devise new strategies for composing in this new medium. A key strategy was the use of identification and modelling during invention and planning, where designers copied the “look and feel” of Web pages created by other designers in their discourse communities. Another key finding was how Web page editors mediated the designers’ abilities to move from idea to virtual reality, and how designers learned the language of Web design. A model for the Web-based composing process is presented, and implications for research and pedagogy are discussed.