iWitness – website analysis as related material


This site, http://iwitness.usc.edu/SFI/, holds over 1300 video testimonies, multimedia activities and digital resources to encourage deep knowledge through active learning. It allows students to connect with the past, engage with the present and motivates them to build a better future.

There are direct links with the teaching of Advanced Mod C: History and Memory and The Fiftieth Gate; my current Advanced English class is analysing the site and individually chosen testimonies as related material.

We are working through a series of questions, based on ideas from Paul Grover’s The Heinemann English project: visual texts, 2004.

Website Analysis

As collections of various text types, websites offer the depth of complexity required to demonstrate your understanding of a range of different language features. Websites are read in a non-linear way, with a reading path chosen by using links and menu bars. It is estimated that a particular site has only a few moments to attract and hold an audience.

Consider the following questions when evaluating the visual aspects of a website:

  • Is there a common pattern in the visual design?
  • What is given visual importance?
  • Which visual features are being used (for example icons, graphics, colours, hyperlinks, animations, video streaming, rollover menus, moving text boxes)?
  • How do the visual features relate to the intended audience?
  • Are there multimedia features used? Why?
  • Do the different visual design and navigation features on the web pages combine to  make this an easy to use site?
  • Are the web pages visually interesting? Why or why not?

Ask yourself:

  • What do you like and dislike about the visual design? Explain.
  • What is the function or purpose of this website?

Consider these ideas when evaluating the written language of a website – knowing the purpose and audience of the website helps us understand the choices made in using written text.

  • Is the website informative? Persuasive? Formal? Colloquial? Personal? A combination of these? Or something else?
  • Are different fonts used for different language uses? Why?
  • Collect quotes and examples of different language techniques (for example puns, alliteration, jokes or humour, repetition, paragraphing, sentence structure)
  • Explain the effect of these quotes and examples – what is the reader meant to think or feel?


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