Exercises

Writing for the Web


Exercise 1

The following exercise comes from Price and Price's supplement to Hot Text!. The exercise is taken from "Taking a Position on Brevity." Using the questions below as a guide, please post a 300-500 word response to our wiki by midnight on September 30.

"Brevity matters — but only when the user wants information. Writing short can help your users pick up facts, ideas, instructions, trouble-shooting advice, recommendations, and data in tables. But users also go to the Internet to be entertained, inspired, aroused, even inflamed.

Webzines, hobbyist sites, marketing pages appeal to the imagination. And when looking for an emotional buzz, users seem to prefer a looser, more subtly shaded, intimate, even passionate prose. They want to get an impression of the writer — a sense of personality — rather than "seeing through" the prose to the facts beneath."

Consider several articles (preferably by one person and as time allows) on Slate.

    • How would you characterize the style of these pieces? Please give examples, by quoting passages, and analyze the examples, by explicating the quoted passages.
    • Does the writing style allows you to browse these pieces? How? Please give examples.
    • Does the writing style allows you to read closely? How? Please give examples.
    • Does the writing style spark an emotional response? How? Please give examples.
    • Do you find the Slate prose style reasonably easy to read on the screen? Or would you prefer to print the pieces out and read them on paper? Please explain your choice.

Due: By midnight on 30 September.
Please post to the appropriate forum on our wiki.

Exercise 2

You have been hired as a web site usability consultant by the Virginia DMV (such would be quite the irony in my case) — specifically, the 5 Safe Points Driving School. Given what you have learned about usability from in our class, please provide a 300- 500 word analysis of the usability of the 5 Safe Points Driving School site.

Due: By midnight on 11 November.
Please post to the appropriate forum on our wiki.

Web Writing