I gave the following assignment to both the 309M: Computers and Writing Course as well as my E309K: Writing About Cyberpunk course.
Paper Two
Evaluating a WWW site

Paper 2 presents an argument supporting an evaluation. You will work to develop appropriate criteria and argue convincingly for your judgment, responding to readers' potential questions about the criteria and objections to the writer's judgment. Your evaluation will argue for the outstanding quality of a World Wide Web site on the Internet. This means that you will need to do quite a bit of browsing in order to form a judgment, and you will need to develop criteria on which to base your judgment.The criteria must be appropriate and substantial enough to convince your audience. The handouts and lecture I gave on design should be a good starting place.The collaborative component of this assignment involves both research and revision: be generous in sharing the URLs of interesting sites you discover, and be prepared to offer significant help with drafts in the workshop. Things to consider:

This is very similar to the definition paper. Your topic should answer the following:
X is/is not a good Y because it meets/fails to meet criteria A, B and C.
Use the following strategies:
  1. Determine the category in which the object being evaluated belongs. (standard of measure)
  2. Determine criteria and weight accordingly.
  3. Once you've established criteria, determine how well X meets them.
  4. Conditions of rebuttal - will audience accept criteria? Will audience accept criteria but reject match?
Your paper should be 2-3 pp in length. You will also be required to author one html page as well. This page will be a source document from the site you choose. Make changes you think would be appropriate and be prepared to demonstrate this to the class. This will be a semi-formal presentation. I will help you with this part of the assignment as well. In addition, you will need to provide an annotated list of Web sites you have visited as you conducted your research. This list will take the place of a conventional bibliography.

This can be a difficult assignment, but one that helps ease students into the transition from text to HTML. They have to author an evaluative argument on paper as well as defend it using HTML. They don't always do this perfectly, but when the assignment is completed, they have a HTML version of their paper as well as a physical rendering of their claims. It is not enough to point out what a site lacks, but they must also attempt to fix one page on that site using their own criteria.

What follows are examples from the two classes (ranging in ability). The paper will appear in this window and the original page from the web site will appear in the bottom left frame. Their HTML redo will appear in the bottom right frame. To get back to this page merely click on the "reset" link at the bottom or go "back" in the next frame that appears here. Links to the original and redesign web pages from their papers will also work in these frames.

From the Computers and Writing course:

Greg Smith's paper The Kaplan Homepage.

Danielle Viglione's paper The Click of a Mouse or the Flip of the Remote.

Claire Benedikt's The Cyberspace Opera, or The Search for Harmonious Web Design.

From the Cyberpunk course:
Chris Chase's paper Cyberpunk on the Web.


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