The Government Lies

Group paper on Pudues Online Writers Lab

A Successful Discourse Community: A Review of Purdue’s Online Writing Lab

Purdue University, one of the most prestigious universities in the nation, is the first university to implement an online writing lab (OWL).  The website, www.owl.purdue.english.edu, is not only the first OWL, but is the largest OWL available on the internet.  An online writing lab is an attempt to bring all materials available at a lab to a student or writer virtually.  OWL’s offer all the benefits of physically going to a lab without going.  These communities were first designed to help college students who had time conflicts with the writing lab with their writing skills and processes.  The service is now designed to support writers with their writing processes whenever support is needed.  The website not only offers aid with the writing process such as brainstorming, formatting, grammar or vocabulary, but also offers the support of tutors available through e-mail.  Since 1994, when the Purdue OWL was launched, it has grown with more resources and aides available not only to Purdue students, but to writers in general.  In 2005-2006, the internationally ranked site received 31 million views from over 125 countries and is continuing to grow each year.  The website receives countless views as a result of its effectiveness as a whole. A well designed website displays effective characteristics such as easy to find information, credible content, and quick loading time.  It is important for a website to have an effective and positive impact on the web surfer.  A web surfer can become discouraged if the web site has long load timing or the content they are searching for is hard to find.  The Purdue OWL is an effective website due to the websites clear focus on the intended audience and purpose, credible content, soothing visual design, and its easy readability with quick navigation.    

The Purdue OWL targets a wide range of audience.  The targeted audience is English language writers in general.  Yet, the website has a close focus of targets consisting of Purdue’s students, teachers, trainers, and community members.  Users worldwide are also welcome to use the website and benefit from the valuable information it provides.  The Purdue OWL recognizes six major groups of audience. These groups are listed in the top left corner of the main page.  These groups are:

·         Grades 7-12 instructors and students 

·         English as a second language 

·         Non-Purdue instructors and students 

·         Purdue instructors and students 

·         Workplace & professional writers 

·         Parents 

Each of these groups is listed as a link leads to the group’s own web page on the website.  Each web page is full with very rich resources and information in order to help the targeted audience members reach what they are looking for easily.  Audience can and are encouraged to submit any writing question or comment to the OWL to receive an academic professional answer.  The Purdue OWL website is free of charge for all audience members and can help a wide range of audience including business people who need to create a presentation or develop an outline for a report.                                                                                                          

   Purdue website’s viewers come from around the world. According to The Web Information Company (Alexa), 48.7% of the website’s viewers come from the United States. The rest of viewers come from different countries as shown in fig 1.

 

 

 

Fig 1 

The Purdue OWL website, having a wide array of viewers, has a very clear purpose with two characteristics, informative and persuasive.  The website’s purpose is to offer instructional materials and writing resources free of charge to all targeted audience. The website is proved to be very informative with all the information provided about writing, writing styles, research, teaching writing, grammar, English as a second language, and professional writing.  The website provides very detailed instructions on specific types of writing such as writing a resume, creating an academic cover letter, and developing a thesis statement. Most of these features are accompanied with presentations to provide maximum benefits to interested viewers.  

Even though the main characteristic of the Purdue OWL website is informative, it is persuasive on some level. The website persuades its audience to get more involved in the information and resources provided. The website also encourages its viewers to submit all questions about writing to be reviewed and answered by the OWL knowledgeable staff.   

            Although, the Purdue OWL keeps a clear focus on its audience and purpose, a viewer must keep in mind that a website is constructed of multiple and diverse parts. The content is arguably the most integral facet to the website as a whole. The content of a site is vital because it includes: information, topics, ideas and the general message of a website. The general message, or purpose, of the OWL website portrays to the online audience that the main intention of the site is to assist all members of the writing community by offering information on how to improve compositional skills, regardless of ability level or past experience as a writer. The title (Purdue Online Writers Lab) and logo are the primary words that the viewer identifies on the OWL website, and this title allows the viewer to understand that this site is going to be a helpful guide to all writers. The additional content on the homepage is divided into six well organized sections, and all of the sections will be expanded upon with more detail to provide adequate examples of why the content located on the OWL website is truly effective for the online user.

 The first section in the upper left hand corner of the homepage is titled “Suggested Resources” and it offers several links that are available to a wide variety of writers ranging from students grades 7-12 to professionals. Thus, it is evident that the OWL website is inclusive and covers a broad audience by offering helpful writing resources to many writers. For example, when the link labeled “Grades 7-12 Instructors and Students” is selected, a new webpage opens to reveal a list of fifteen links that are incredibly useful and crucial in the realm of 7-12 grade writing. These content links include many helpful writing tips concerning the writing process such as: grammar and mechanics, developing an outline, rhetoric and logic, and citations. All of the links mentioned are appropriate for their target audience of 7-12 grade pupils. The OWL also illustrates that the information displayed on the website contains relevant and consistent material. All content (links, titles, resources) on the OWL site pertains to helping writers improve their writing skills by offering helpful information about any stage of the writing process.

The next section of content is located immediately beneath the “Suggested Resources” box. It is labeled, “Featured OWL Resources” and it has a link titled “Conciseness” that when clicked on takes the viewer to a webpage with a detailed list and examples of how to create a concise essay. Once again, this link is an example of how the OWL site continues to provide consistent and relevant writing information to the viewer. The next section is located under the title and it too contains relevant information relating to the field of writing. This particular box contains a list of resources and topics offered by the site that can be accessed through the search engine. The topics include: writing and teaching writing, research, style guides, ESL (English as a Second Language), job search and professional writing. All of the previous topics are concise and immediately let the online viewer know what kind of information the site has to offer and the type of content that can be further explored and developed by clicking on one of the easily accessible topic links. It should also be mentioned that all of the links displayed on the homepage that lead to more extensive content are easily located on the screen and are very well organized. The boxes allow the viewer to quickly and accurately identify what section they need, and the user can then click the link that will direct them to the content of their choice.

The section located beneath the logo provides rhetorical content that communicates the ethos of the OWL site to the viewer. This section develops the credibility of the site therefore leading to the overall effectiveness of the site. This small section displays a paragraph describing that all content located on the site is taken directly from the “award winning” Purdue Writer’s Lab. This credibility allows the viewer to trust the site because it is renowned for providing both professional and reliable content. The last two sections of organized content are labeled, “Most Popular Resources” and “Contact the Purdue OWL”. The former section reflects the resources that have been accessed so often that OWL has listed them on the homepage as a helpful way for the online surfer to quickly access a common content link. Some of these links include: how to write a business letter and how to avoid plagiarism. Both of these content links are very helpful in the field of writing because all writers will at some time have to create a professional business letter and all writers must be aware of the dangers of plagiarism. The final content box located in the lower right hand corner of the homepage is extremely helpful and must be mentioned. This box provides the links to the coordinator of the site and other contact information of the Purdue Lab. These links are helpful in case any user wishes to contact the lab with questions or concerns. This section of content is appealing to the user’s pathos, because if the site cares enough to offer its direct aid and assistance to the user, then the user feels the site truly cares about the quality of the user’s writing. Overall, the content displayed and offered on the OWL website is relevant, consistent, well organized and undeniably sufficient for the use of online writers. However, it is also important to note that the visual effects of the OWL website are equally effective in adding to the sufficiency of the site.

      The visual design of the website can determine the length that a browser will stay on a site. The visual design of a website is the color schemes, focal points, and structure of the web page. The OWL’s opening page has a white foundation with light orange and green tones. The Navigation bar is visible and offers links to anywhere else on the site. The pages information, or the focal point, is centered on the page making the sites options easily visible. The site has three main branches, online writer’s lab, Purdue writing lab, and Purdue OWL news, united by the main page. The color schemes are different for each branch. The color schemes are important for the visual design of a site; the colors are based on html colors, X11 colors and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). “A hex triplet is a six-digit, three-byte hexadecimal number used in HTML and CSS, and other computing applications, to represent colors. The bytes represent the red, green and blue components of the color. One byte represents a number in the range 00 to FF (in hexadecimal notation), or 0 to 255 in decimal notation. This represents the least (0) to the most (255) intensity of each of the color components. The hex triplet is formed by concatenating three bytes in hexadecimal notation, in the following order: Byte 1: red value Byte 2: green value Byte 3: blue value” (wikipedia.org web colors).

The Html colors are the original web colors and they consist of sixteen colors. These colors were originally picked as being the standard 16 colors supported with the Windows video graphics array (VGA) palette. The X11 colors brought more options of colors taking the ten colors and adding numerous shades of each color. CSS created the color orange for web design use. A website can now consist of 256 different colors. The importance of this information is that it is how color schemes are even possible in a web design. The bottom of the OWL homepage it claims all these color assortment names, and this is why the three color schemes that this site uses is possible. The colors used by the OWL website are orange, green, purple, and white with mainly black text. The colors themselves carry elegance, peace, and tranquility which will make the browser feel comfortable surfing the site. The color schemes are also consistent amongst each of the three branches. The OWL site’s has a white background with a orange overtone and black text with some orange text. The Purdue Writing Lab also has a white background but has a green overtone with mainly black text scattered with some green texts. The Purdue OWL news has a white background with a purple overtone consisting mainly of black text with patches of purple text. The focal point of every web page is focused in the middle. The centering of the information makes things organized and easier to find on the site. The use of visual images is the only problem with the site. The site has a trademark owl that is seen and has search and navigation tools but no real visual images like pictures. The use of the website is for writing help and to offer writers examples, tips, hints, and tools to write effective academic papers. The lack of visual images does not deter the effectiveness of the website because in order to accomplish the site’s purpose pictures are not really needed. The easy to find search tools and the centered information of each webpage and the mellow and inviting color tones of the website make the site a great tool for a writer’s community.

The website’s navigation is another reason why the Purdue’s Online Writing Center is great.  The home page contains all necessary links to further information you are looking for and also contains all information on the purpose of the website as well as how to use it.  This is important for navigation because you learn where to find the information you need making it easy to use and specific enough for various types of writing.

      Another great feature this website uses in regard to navigation was discussed in the content of the style.  This is the color coding for different websites.  When entering the Online Writing Center the background color is orange.  Also all links off this cite are orange as well.  This is a great way to keep organized when navigation through the website.  A viewer can see how important this can be when looking at the on campus information is in green and the newspaper information is in purple.

      One thing the website can improve on is more links.  It often will explain things on the homepage but will not have a link to further information.  When it speaks about the purpose of the website and what it can be used for they can use links to further information and help.  This can be seen on the main page when it talks about the resources included.

Overall, the navigation of the website is great.  It is simple to use and shows all the information upfront.  Also, the color coding makes it easy for the user to organize the website.

The online writer’s lab website readability is a positive for the website.  Quite often many websites will try to make a website look too pleasing but it has an opposite effect.  This website is great because most of the text is just black on a white background which is very similar to reading a paper.  The contrast is one that makes it very legible.  Also, the margins are sufficient as well.  The paragraphs are not to thin or to spread out.  They are right down the middle of the screen and many are bulleted which assist in understanding the text and gaining key concepts.

            Most paragraphs on the website are sufficient length.  One problem that is found is that many of the paragraphs may be divided up or put into bullet points.  This can be a real problem because one’s eye may look over some important information when scanning the screen.

            When reading the text headings are used a long with colors to show where you are in the website.  This is important because you can know the importance of the particular page in reference to your paper.  Also, the color coding makes sure you are in the section you need.

            The readability of the website is overall well.  The problems you come across form non-bulleted text and paragraphs a bit to long are not a great issue when examining the website.  Margins and contrast make the website legible and the margins are a good size for reading.

 

     In conclusion, the Purdue Online Writing Lab targets a wide range of writers of the English language.  The website viewers are not limited to the US, but also available to people all around the world.  The main purpose of the website is to inform while persuading the intended audience (writers of the English language) to get involved with all the resources and information provided by the website.  The credible content of the website is the most valuable portion due to its immense amounts of sufficient information that aid writers are their writing journeys.  The visual design consists of color schemes, focal points, and structure.  The colors used are orange, green, purple, and white with mainly black text.  The colors themselves represent elegance, peace, and tranquility, which are all important qualities to have on a web page to make a web surfers feel more comfortable while visiting the page.  Finally, the navigation is quick and easy to use.  Taken as a whole, the website, www.owl.purdue.english.edu, is an effective website that displays a clear focus on the intended audience and purpose, contains credible content, has soothing visual designs, and it has easy readability with quick navigation.  

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Propaganda is all around you question everything and formulate your own views and morals.

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