Handlist of the Rhetorical Features of Web Page and Site Design

started aug, 2005. major rev oct 2005 rev Aug 2006 rev and additions Sept 2008

This handlist focuses your attention on features to help describe and characterize the message. It is not meant to be filled in like a survey so much as a checklist. Use it to guide your attention on those aspects of the page and site that you're considering.

url construction


site architecture

organizational schemes

from Wurman, Sume, and Leifer: LATCH. Also called 5 Hat racks

from Rosenfeld and Morville

from Lynch

types of sites / genres (Lynch)


kinds of pages: generic

parts of page

consider placement on page. consider source of ads when looking at ethos

page design elements and arrangement

Sketch the page to indicate what's placed where and to what effect

common page layouts


types of layouts
adapted from Exploring Web Design, Vest, Crowson, Pochran



navigation devices

navigational nomenclature: the terms used to lable global and local navigation

Characterize the terms, especially global terms.

text layout linking motifs

site entry points and paths

Visual design

basic visual design terms

color in design

color schemes / palettes


How are images used on the page

Text and Image

  • placement on page with respect to the text
  • What's the relationship of image to text? to illustrate? supplement? illuminate text?

Text legibility

  • line length
  • line spacing
  • contrast of text color to background color
  • font
  • size


  • Look at how a continuous text is broken up
    • on the page
    • across pages
  • how paragraphs and sections are indicated
  • how headings and subheadings are used
  • how bullet lists and numbered lists are used

nomenclature of heading and subheadings Quick and Dirty Rhetorical Analysis characterize the text in general by looking at
characterize the rhetorical stance: the attitude of the prose towards reader and subject


usability - consider


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