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 Cultural Evaluation of Websites


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Cultural Evaluation of Websites

As you may have already learned in your ENG 105 class, the Internet presents millions of different "texts" ripe for analysis. You should already have experience with doing a rhetorical analysis of a written text. Analyzing a website provides new challenges, but the process itself doesn't differ. For the following websites, begin by establishing the author, audience, and purpose based on what you see on the website. Then, move on to the rhetorical appeals. For these websites, you will want to consider colors, images, fonts, etc. None of the choices made when creating a website are accidental, so consider everything you see.

In a cultural analysis, we are concerned with how similar kinds of information can be represented in different ways. We will want to consider the effectiveness of different approaches, particularly in areas such as content, organization, audience appeal, etc.

List of Websites

Before you break into groups, let's examine one pair of websites, that of McDonald's and Burger King. Open both websites in separate browser windows so you can quickly switch from one site to the other.

Let's start with the McDonald's website. What do you notice about the content of the website? Right away, we can see that the site's home page has three sections: Corporate McDonald's, McDonald's USA, and Food, Nutrition & Fitness. Examine the first two sections. Do they discuss the restaurant at all? The first section links to numerous press releases concerning McDonald's dedication to diversity, as well as their commitment to providing nutrition information in all of their stores. The second section details McDonald's philanthropy work. What do you think is the purpose of McDonald's site? How does McDonald's attempt to appeal to the audience for this website (think rhetoric)?

Now, look at Burger King's website. This site utilizes a navigation bar at the top of the page. What is the first link after "Home"? It's Burger King's menu! Where was this information on McDonald's website (you might have to look hard to find it)? What does this suggest about the purpose of Burger King's site? As you can see, these companies are quite similar, but both present information in drastically different ways. McDonald's emphasizes its corporate face (thus increasing its ethos), while Burger King would rather just show you its menu!

In groups, analyze any of the following websites. The websites below are presented in pairs. Pick a single pair of websites and analyze them, noting similarities in design that might point to a shared audience or purpose.

1) Non-profit Websites

2) Deodorant Websites

3) Fast Food Websites

4) Soft drink Websites

5) News Websites

6) University Websites

7) Navy Websites

8) News Magazine Websites

9) Political Websites

10) Political Pundit Websites

Discussion Questions

  1. What similarities/differences did you find in the pair you analyzed?
  2. What differences in language use can you find in each homepage?
  3. What rhetorical appeals can you find in the text? Images?
  4. How do the graphics/images differ on each site?
  5. What do you think is the purpose of each site?
  6. How does the audience differ for each homepage?






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