Elon’s PWR Website Recommendation Report
As a project for the Center for Undergraduate Information and Design, I was tasked with completing a recommendation report for Elon University’s Professional Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) website. The website is periodically updated, but some of the information regarding the history of the program and resources was outdated. I worked with one other student for several weeks to conduct research based on six other professional writing programs’ websites. Based on this research, we determined the best ways to inform potential students about Elon’s PWR program. We used rhetorical strategies to revise current content and to create mock-ups for new content that would help highlight the benefits of Elon’s PWR program and how it can provide helpful skills for a career.
Before we did anything, we analyzed the current PWR website, including what information was presented and how it was conveyed to the audience. After this initial assessment, we began the process of conducting research. This was one of the most important steps for the project because it was crucial for us to have an understanding of how other professional writing programs use the genre of websites. It also gave us context for our recommendations, specifically enhancing our ethos by showing that we did our research and understood how content was presented on other websites.
With our list of rhetorical strategies used by other programs, we began to compile several recommendations based on techniques that multiple programs used. At this point, it was important to consult our client, a professor in the PWR program, because we had several questions to ask, such as: the intention behind including certain information, why content was organized the way it was, what information needed to stay and what could be deleted or revised, etc. After obtaining her input about the flexibility we had, we began to come up with specific recommendations for the Elon PWR website.
One of our recommendations was to update the FAQ page. Instead of telling the PWR program to update this page themselves, we wanted to provide a mock-up FAQ page for them. Therefore, we conferenced with other members of the class to see what sorts of FAQs they wondered when they were considering PWR and what questions would help showcase the unique opportunities Elon’s program has to offer. We also advised adding an Experiential Learning page with a section on current student projects. This gave the program the opportunity to highlight the successful projects students have completed in a variety of areas, and it also serves as a promotional tool to show potential students the kinds of projects they could be working on and the skills that they would learn. Therefore, with these two major recommendations we made sure to keep the audience of potential students in mind because when examining other websites, it was evident that the information was catered towards marketing programs to potential students.
With a complete list of recommendations and mock-ups, we compiled all of the information into a recommendation report. The final report that we delivered to our client reflected our skills of using research and analysis of the current state of the website to create an enhanced website that would attract more students to the program.
This project was fulfilling on many levels. Being part of the PWR program, I felt a connection serving this community that helped me put passion into this project. I had practice writing a recommendation report before, and I understood the importance of using a positive tone with each suggestion instead of pointing out what is wrong and what needs to be fixed. However, my partner was a freshman and did not have this experience, so I had to take time to explain to her how to go about phrasing suggestions as to not offend your reader by telling them what they have been doing wrong. Overall, we received positive feedback from our client and the PWR program, and although they may have to make edits based on their administrative understanding of the program, they said that several of our suggestions could be implemented soon. Therefore, this project gave me the opportunity to address our client’s need and use my knowledge of audience awareness and rhetoric to help produce an enhanced PWR website.