Too Much of a Good Thing

Too Much of a Good Thing

The website I chose to evaluate for this week's assignment is based on my favorite topic and not so much the direction of my own site. After going through the reading assignments, several of the topics came to mind as I was looking at the site over the weekend.

I LOVE GUITARS! I've been playing off and on since I was 12-years old, but I play more often and more consistently now than ever. Having my high school and college years from 1972 to 1980 naturally put me in the acoustic '70s rock era, but I've always leaned more toward the James Taylor and John Denver fingerstyle music than any other. So I chose "Guitar World" as the site to review for style, tone, clarity, layout, and the other areas of critique from this week.

In the Examples of Style Dr. Lucas lists, the style that most fits this site from the five (Scientific, Business, Journalism, Creative, and Academic) is clearly creative with a good bit of journalistic informative style.

Chris Barr in Chapter 3 (Define Your Voice) of The Yahoo! Style Guide discusses voice and tone. In that chapter, Barr states we should define our voice by:

1 - Giving your site a personality.

2 - Considering the context - brand identity, site's purpose, and audience expectations.

3 - Developing a unique voice.

4 - Translating voice into words.

Voice expresses the site's basic personality, such as authoritative, trendy, and practical. Guitar World's voice is all three. Barr's explanation for tone is that it expresses the mood or feeling of the voice, such as friendly, angry, annoyed, and excited. Guitar World's tone is friendly and excited (maybe overly so).

One of my favorite sections of the Barr reading is in Chapter 1, addressing writing for the web and the basic principles. The "eye-tracking" studies revealed that the upper left quadrant is the portion of a website's page that is the first and longest focus of the reader. I was surprised that the reader makes decisions about the page in as little as 3 seconds. I tend to take much longer and delve much deeper into a site before deciding to stay or leave.

The target audience for Guitar World seems obvious, but there is a preferential consumer of those who play electric guitars versus acoustics. That's probably because their target audience consists of young guitarists who want to learn how to "shred" like Peter Frampton. A simple Google search reveals a multitude of studies and statistics that show the largest demographic for new guitar players are between 19 and 34 years of age, with the vast majority purchasing electric guitars.

The color scheme is great given the many available options in electric guitar colors. The multimodal design choices are excellent with vertical and horizontal scrolling, numerous photos, and videos. The current page has the classic video of ZZ Top and their twirling guitars where they interviewed the people responsible for putting the fur on the bass and electric. But the layout is a bit overwhelming. It's too much of a good thing. The landing page seems choppy and offers far too many storyline options. It would be better to break the articles into category links with a much shorter scrolling page. That would produce easier navigation and a more logical approach.

Other sites would be more advantageous for teaching clarity in digital writing than Guitar World. In their book, Because Digital Writing Matters, authors DeVoss, Eidman-Aadahl, and Hicks stress the importance of "using digital tools to support proven practices in teaching writing." Students must write to learn. Digital writers still must move through the orderly phases of planning, reflecting, drafting, and revising while remaining audience-focused. A student must realize that "knowing how to create a digital text is not the same as knowing why, and it is it this intentional focus that a good writer must have to create engaging texts in any environment."

This was a very practical week of study for digital writing and I gained much insight. As a result of the reading assignments, I changed my website, RMD Writing, slightly. I narrowed my audience to grant and technical writing, which at this early stage of my studies is where I expect to focus in the future.

Randy Drummond

Randy Drummond

Randy Drummond is a graduate student pursuing a degree in Technical and Professional Writing at Middle Georgia State University. He and his wife of 44 years have two daughters and one grandson.
Lake Spivey, Georgia