Uncategorized

Rhetorical Analysis of Multimodal Texts

Why analyze the rhetoric?

Analyzing the rhetoric of a text can explain why the text is successful or not because it lets us see how well the author addresses the rhetorical situation. Four key circumstances a communicator must anticipate are: (1) the purpose for the communication, (2) the audience, intended or not, (3) the genre, or similar texts, and (4) the context surrounding the communication. Understanding these and the design principles that support them are vital to creating a successful, persuasive multimodal project.

I chose to analyze University Usability Lab facility web pages because I’m currently rewriting the page for #1, Texas Tech’s Usability Research Lab. I thought it’d have higher stakes if I put the results of this analysis within the context of my actual job!

1. Texas Tech University – Usability Research Lab Facilities

Screenshot (87)

 

Let’s start by identifying some rhetorical elements:

  • Purpose: Entice clients with a wealth of technologies
  • Audience: clients and students of the URL
  • Genre: Usability Lab Facilities web page
  • Context: Web page, read on computer or phone

These elements are supported by key design techniques like emphatic design, high contrast, clear organization, object alignment, and object proximity:

  1. Notice the big red title, which emphasizes that the subsequent information belongs to it. It draws the eye and demands attention. Compared to the other examples, the red is most eye catching which makes it stand out in context.
  2. The long list by nature emphasizes the sheer number of technologies the lab offers clients and students, fulfilling its purpose of coming across as well endowed.
  3. The white background and black text highly contrast. This is standard for the genre as you can see in examples two and three, which adds to its credibility with the audience.
  4. The organization is clear and consistent with genre norms. The left-aligned, bulleted list is easy to read, making information easier for the audience to find. Nothing is cluttered or out of line.

2. Bentley University – User Experience Center Facilities

Screenshot (85)

 

Again, let’s identifying some rhetorical elements:

  • Purpose: Convince clients of credibility and professionalism
  • Audience: clients and students of the Usability Lab
  • Genre: Usability Lab Facilities web page
  • Context: Web page, read on computer or phone

These elements are supported by key design techniques like emphatic design, high contrast, clear organization, object alignment, and object proximity:

  1. Bold text is used to emphasize shifts in content.
  2. The bold text’s organization also makes it easier for the audience to scan for specific information.
  3. Bulleted lists contrast with the paragraph texts, emphasizing their services.
  4. Every item is left-aligned which lends itself well to someone reading in the context of a phone screen.
  5. The observation of strategic white space is genre appropriate and proximity aware, making it look credible and professional to the audience.

3. California State University, Long Beach – Center or Usability in Design and Accessibility Facilities

Screenshot (86)

 

 

Finally, some rhetorical elements:

  • Purpose: Describe the lab succinctly
  • Audience: clients and students of the Usability Lab
  • Genre: Usability Lab Facilities web page
  • Context: Web page, read on computer or phone

These elements are supported by key design techniques like emphatic design, high contrast, clear organization, object alignment, and object proximity:

  1. There is less information on this site than is common for the genre. It fulfills the purpose of being succinct, but the audience might not know enough about the lab.
  2. Emphasis is given to titles which helps the audience find information quickly.
  3. The long organizational bullets would be difficult to read quickly in the context of a phone screen.
  4. The bolded text highly contrasts the paragraph text in size, but not in color. This gives it less emphasis and might make it less eye-catching in the context of a web page.

Why is any of this important?

Knowing the rhetorical elements of persuasion is important for successful communication. Design tools fulfill the needs of those elements. Understanding how they interact in multitudinous ways can help you become a more effective communicator. For example, If your audience is a group of busy executives, bulleted lists organize information in a way that allows them to save precious time. Understanding the values and expectations of your audience or any of the other rhetorical elements makes choosing an effective design tool easier. Improving this communication will make you a more successful rhetor.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s