Rhetorical analysis of a website

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When you write an argument, you are faced with a number of rhetorical choices; you have to decide which arguments will be most effective in persuading your audience and what kind of language is most appropriate for them. If you decided to convert your written argument into an electronic argument (i.e. a website or other web document), you would be faced with a multitude of additional rhetorical choices. You would have to consider what images might work best with your argument. You must decide what color scheme would best complement your tone and style.  You should ask yourself if you should include links to other sites and what those sites suggest about your own ethos.

In this assignment, you will examine a website and the choices made by its creator; in other words, you will be writing a rhetorical analysis of a website. While analyzing the website, you must create an argument to show how the creator’s visual design choices affect the author’s ability to effectively reach his/her audience.

In your essay, you might focus your claim around one of the following questions (these are examples and should not limit what you might argue):

  • What is the purpose of the website and did it succeed in achieving its goals?  What elements in the design and text either helped it succeed or kept it from doing so?
  • Does the website claim to be for one audience but really speak to another?  Is this a failure on the part of the website?
  • Does the website include content that contradicts or undermines its overall claim?  How does this affect the website’s ability to achieve the author’s purpose?

You should not pick just any website for this assignment. You must pick a website that advocates a particular point of view; rather than a social networking or shopping website, you should choose a website that is clear in its purpose to persuade. You do NOT have to pick a website that is necessarily credible; addressing the ethos of the writer might be something you need to address in your analysis to show why the website lacks credibility. The following are some examples of argumentative or persuasive websites:

  • http://www.i-hate-walmart.com/
  • http://www.rickperry.org/
  • http://prolife.com
  • http://prochoice.com/

Please note that you cannot choose Petakillsanimals.com for your essay since we have discussed this website as a class.

Minimum Requirements

Length: 3-5 pages, not including the Works Cited page. Style: Essay needs to conform to MLA standards, including double spacing in Times New Roman font, and must include a Works Cited page with correct in-text (parenthetical) citations for all quotes, paraphrases, and/or summaries. Sources: Two outside sources are required in addition to your website, for a total of three sources. 

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