Major Assignment #1: Evaluation of a Website
For your first major assignment, you’ll select a select a website for a product, service, or
organization connected to your field, your projected profession or your personal interests and
write a thesis-driven evaluative argument in which you examine the rhetorical strategies of the
site.
For example, if you’re a pre-pharmacy or pre-med major, you might select a website for a
medication like Zoloft (www.zoloft.com/), a medical school like or a fill-by-mail prescription
service like Express Scripts (www.express-scripts.com/). If you’re a travel buff, you might
choose a budget vacation finder like Travel Zoo (www.travelzoo.com/), a new fancy suitcase’s
site (www.awaytravel.com). If you love Houston and never want to leave, consider the online
presence of a Texas-based glossy magazine like Texas Monthly (www.texasmonthly.com/), a
local coffee roastery (https://xelaroasters.com/) or a brewery (www.saintarnold.com/). If you
dream of one day being a famous chef, you might choose a celebrity chef like Guy Fieri’s
website (www.guyfieri.com/), a cookware company’s site (www.lecreuset.com/) or a site that
aims to sell people pre-portioned cook-at-home meal kits (www.hellofresh.com).
Each of these websites is making an argument: “(You should) buy this” or “(You should) trust
us” or “(You should) join us.” The purpose of this essay is to evaluate how effectively your site
persuades viewers to “do this” or “do that” by analyzing and evaluating the rhetorical elements
in the site.
The paper must be 3 to 5 pages, double-spaced, font size 12, standard 1” margins and follow
MLA format conventions. You must include the url of the website used. Use the strategies for
evaluation outlined in RRW, Ch. 8, Seyler’s discussion of rhetorical strategies in Ch. 3 and
guidelines for reading photographs and advertisements in Ch. 5 to guide your thinking.
A successful essay will:
• Bring readers into the context of the website, briefly summarize the website’s content, and
make a claim (thesis) for the site’s rhetorical effectiveness or for the most significant rhetorical
features of the site. A strong claim is both contestable – reasonable people might disagree – and
predictive – it will set up expectations for the direction of your essay.
• Develop your main points around specific criteria for evaluating the site. Consider how the site
makes its argument, not whether or not you agree with the content. Analysis and evaluation rely
on your objective judgments. Remember also that rhetoric encompasses any tools available for
persuasion. Talk about the argument in terms of ethos, logos, pathos. Remember to state the
criteria you’re using to evaluate the site. Observe and analyze the impact of the design and
images used. Consider who might be the target audience.
• Support your main points with concrete examples (evidence) from the website. To develop and
support your own points, you will need to include visual features and details (color, design, and
images) as well as short quotations from the site. You must include 2+ images and 2+ quotes
pulled from your site to illustrate and support your argument. Think of your own ethos and logos
as you develop your argument and design your final document.