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December 5, 2013 / compassioninpolitics

How Can Rhetoric Inform Web Design and Web Communication?

How can rhetoric inform web design and web communication? How can it bring us closer to better communication and a better understanding of our communication effectiveness. I think it can help by providing focus and framework. It also has guiding principles, which can help:

• Audience
• Communication
• Common Ground
• Community
• Context
• Culture
• Cultural Values and Wisdom
• Identity
• Metaphor
• Theme
• Logic
• Emotion
• Credibility
• Character/Goodwill
• Place/Location
• Timing/Kairos (Rhetorical Situation(s), Scenarios)

I think ideally its combined with human-centered design which thinks, talks, and conceptualizes through the lense of empathy.

I also like Stewart McCoys analysis of the situation from the context of the canon of rhetoric developed by Aristotle here:

Since the time of Aristotle, five principles have guided the parts and functions of intentional and effective communication; these principles are referred to as the five canons of rhetoric. The following definitions and explanations consider written and visual communication, although traditionally these principles concern verbal communication.

Invention is the method of discovery. You have to know what has been said before deciding what to say. Invention is about what you will say. Arrangement is the method of organization. For example, when journalists write news stories they begin with the conclusion, the most important information people care about.

Style is the method of presentation. Style is about eloquence and sits at the intersection of graphic design and information design. Elements of style include word choice; sentence and paragraph length and arrangement; image quality, content, and context; as well as document formatting through the use of typography and layout.

Memory is the method of improvisation. On the web, memory is about contextual messaging. Think of how Amazon greets logged in users versus users who haven’t signed in/up.

Delivery is the method of effective voice. During a presentation, delivery is concerned with speech and gestures. On the web, interaction design provides methods of delivery. For example, the redesigned Twitter changed the delivery of the communication it’s facilitating by adding a second column to see tweets in context.

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