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I found some excellent tips last night while surfing about Writing for the Web. Jakob Nielson's and Jonathan Fox's Writing for the Web appears to be the top pick of others out on the web. The nine chapters include excellent information for beginners, and some (maybe all?) of it is available on the web. I'll have to order a copy of the book and see if there's more here. "10 Tips on Writing the Living Web " by Mark Bernstein is a site I will definitely share in class.

And of course, I'll keep looking. I would like a text that presents all of the information in one place, but as you can see, there are fundamental differences between Writing for the Web and "10 Tips." And my students need both, since we'll be blogging and creating websites. But my question is this, how different, really are blogging and creating dynamic websites?

Writing for the Web covers more than the actual writing on a site. It also concerns itself with design and navigation. Yet the book's main focus is for creating a site and the content, and is more clearly focused for users of html coding or Dreamweaver. We will need this, as students will create a site (a web zine? a political site? I'm not sure yet, and I'm open to suggestions here.) in a collaborative project. However, "Ten Tips" is focused on blogging more than dynamic web sites and provides excellent advice for novice bloggers.

But even for a blog, I don't think we can throw aside discussing design. Students can either allow WordPress to host their sites or download them for greater control and possibly employ technorhetorical strategies. They could easily do this and let the university host it for them. (Should I let them have this much control? This would require extra class time to lead them through downloading and setting up their html folders, but since this will need to be accomplished in the end, it is workable.)

Either way, they'll need to choose a template either to keep or adjust. Some tough design issues will need to be addressed, because the colors and the layout wil affect how their readers approach their blogs. And if I'm letting them blog on a topic they choose, they'll need to do quite a bit of audience analysis. There's really no way to separate these issues from the writing, whether the medium is a blog or a website.

I'm not sure we can separate the issues for "blogging" versus an html page created in Dreamweaver. And I'm not sure we should, so I'm still looking for my "ideal" text. Unless I refuse to see a difference and treat a blog as any other website we would create. And yet, I do see a difference…..

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5 Comments

  1. First, thanks for the links. Two very helpful sites.

    Personally, in my own surfing/reading, I can see a connection between writing a blog and design of a site. I’ll probably avoid a site that is too busy with distracting images and color schemes. The design of the site / content of the blog should reflect the purpose of the site / blog. For example, your blog is clean, easy to read, and you don’t overwhelm the reader. You’re presenting serious material and I don’t have to click on clown pop-ups or floating balloons to get to the content.

  2. Are there really blogs out there with clown pop-ups? I’d love a laugh about now!

  3. I’ll let you know if I find one!

  4. I think taking the time to teach students elaborate coding is a mistake; however, basic rhetorical design principals which can be applied to any site, including blogs, is worthwhile and should not consume too much time.

    A lot of students have already spent a great deal of time customizing sites such as http;//www.livejournal.com, http://www.myspace.com, and of course blog sites such as this one and http://www.blogger.com . Many actually know more about basic coding than they do about design principles. Check out those sites and feast your eyes on an appalling array of illegible text and flashing graphics over busy backgrounds that render everything meaningless. Of course there is a difference between a site for fun and a professional site, but the priciples are what’s more important, IMHO.

  5. Wow! Nancy, I couldn’t believe it. Sure, I’ve heard there are sites out there like some of these, but I’ve never actually looked at them. What I found personally appalling were the negative comments on some of these sites. Whatever happened to, “If you don’t have something nice to say….” I know a good enemy can be your best friend in a debate, but these comments certainly were not of that genre.


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