All posts by Quinn Warnick

Week 15 and Finals Week: Wrapping Up the Client Project and the Best Practices Article

We’re almost there — the end of the semester is less than two weeks away! It’s been a great semester, and I’m excited to see your finished client projects and read your best practices articles. At this point, you should be making steady progress on both assignments, and our last two class sessions will be structured to help you put the finishing touches on your site and your article. Here’s how we’ll spend our time:

  • On Monday, I will hold team conferences with each team, so please be prepared to show me a complete draft of your site and the compiled results of your usability tests. The rest of class will be dedicated workshop time for your team to make progress on Unit #3. (Plan wisely in order to use this time well!) I will be available to answer brief, specific questions related to your client project, but I won’t be able to spend a lot of time with each team during class, so if you need serious technical help with your site, please come see me during office hours on Tuesday (1–4) or Wednesday (9–12).
  • On Wednesday, we will dedicate most of class to a peer critique workshop for Unit #4, so please come to class with a solid draft of your article, which should be located somewhere on your Reclaim Hosting site. As you write your article, refer to the assignment details and do your best to follow the guidelines of the publication you are targeting. If time allows, we will use the remainder of class for one last Unit #3 team meeting.

We will not meet as a class during Finals Week, so please remember to submit both of your assignments online before their due dates:

  • Your best practices article is due no later than 11:59 p.m. on Monday, December 16. Your article should be formatted as a simple, one-page website, hosted on your personal website. To submit your article, please email me the URL for your finished project.
  • Your client project is due no later than Wednesday, December 18, at 4:25 p.m. Please submit your team’s memo of transmittal any additional materials (usability results, wireframes, screenshots of early drafts, client feedback, or anything else listed in your team’s MOU) by placing them in your team’s shared Google Drive folder (which should also be shared with me). Your individually completed “Team Evaluation Form,” which I will distribute during Week 15, should be slid under my office door (Shanks 427) or placed in my department mailbox (#8, located next to Shanks 323) before the due date.

As always, if you have any questions about these items, please drop me a line. I’ll try to be in my office as much as I can for the next week, so let me know if you need to come by during a time other than my “official” office hours. Good luck wrapping things up!

Week 14: Conducting Usability Tests; Finalizing Topics for the Best Practices Article

I hope you’re enjoying your Thanksgiving break! When we return next week, we will be down to our last four days of class, so we’ll need to make every minute count. I plan to keep our schedule as open as possible, which should give you the time you need to coordinate much of your team’s work on the client project. Your individual work on your best practices article will primarily take place outside of class, but we’ll check in on that assignment during Week 14 to make sure that everyone is on track. Here’s how we’ll proceed:

  • On Monday, the protocol for your team’s usability tests is due, but not until the end of class. You should be making progress on this task over the break (using Steve Krug’s sample script linked on the Resources page), but you will have the full class period on Monday to finalize your protocol and submit it for my approval. When you leave class, you should be ready to begin testing your site with real people. I will spend a few minutes meeting with each team during class, so if you have questions about your client project or problems you’d like me to help you resolve, please be ready to talk about them. Finally, for those of you taking Exam #2, your completed exam is due at the beginning of class. To submit your exam, carefully follow the instructions contained at the top of the exam.
  • On Wednesday, we will briefly consider how to apply the results of your usability tests to a revised draft of your site. Before you come to class, please review at least two of the sample usability reports linked on the Resources page and take notes on how you can apply these examples to your client project. The remainder of class will be dedicated workshop time for your team to make progress on Unit #3. While you work in your teams, I will meet with each of you individually to confirm your plans for Unit #4. Please be ready to describe the topic you have chosen, the publication you are targeting, and the progress you have made so far.

If you have any questions about the exam, or about our plans for Week 14, just let me know. Otherwise, I’ll see you in class on Monday!

Week 13: WordPress Workshop, Usability Testing, and Exam #2

We are now in the home stretch of the semester, with only six class sessions remaining before finals week. We will need to use our time wisely to make sure that your client projects stay on track. Our in-class exercises will help us accomplish that goal, but your team will need to make solid progress outside of class, too. If you haven’t been meeting regularly as a team, that needs to change ASAP. At this point, your team should have a completed content inventory, wireframes, and a good sense of which software or framework you plan to use for your client site. All members of your team should have specific assignments and know exactly what they need to accomplish between now and our next class session.

During our last week before Thanksgiving break, we’ll cover a lot of ground:

  • On Monday, we will wrap up our discussion of The Elements of User Experience, so please read Chapters 7 and 8 (pp. 130-63) before you come to class. We will spend the rest of class in a WordPress workshop, learning how to evaluate and modify themes and plugins. At this point, all of you have a working installation of WordPress on your personal site, so spend some time this weekend familiarizing yourself with the WordPress dashboard, the difference between posts and pages, and the process of switching themes and activating plugins. If you run into problems or find yourself confused, I recommend watching the “WordPress Essential Training” on or visiting the WordPress Codex and WordPress Forums. (Bookmark these sites! They will be your best friends if your team decides to use WordPress for Unit #3.)
  • At the beginning of class on Wednesday, your team should be ready to show me a rough first draft of your client site. I expect that these drafts will be very rough, but having a draft means that your team will need to finalize some key decisions about your site: Static files or content management system? Which static framework or which CMS? Which theme(s) might work best? Which content stays, goes, or gets revised? During class, we’ll focus on usability testing by watching a usability expert conduct a test, then conducting a usability test of our own. Before you come to class, please read “Super Easy Usability Testing,” by John S. Rhodes, and review the “Usability Testing,” “Planning a Usability Test,” and “Running a Usability Test,” sections of

Finally, a few words about our second exam: Because we have a limited number of class sessions left, Exam #2 will be an open-book, open-note (but not open-classmate), take-home exam. As we discussed earlier in the semester, the exam will be optional, which means that you only need to complete the exam if you are unhappy with your score on the first exam. If you are satisfied with your grade on that exam, I will simply duplicate that score for Exam #2. However, if you would like the opportunity to raise your exam grade, you can take home a copy of the exam at the end of class on Wednesday and submit it at the beginning of class on Monday, December 2. (Please note that although a take-home exam is likely to produce higher grades than an in-class exam, a higher grade on Exam #2 is not guaranteed.)

As always, if you have any questions about these plans, or if you want to meet to discuss your team’s progress on the client project, please let me know.

Week 12: Information Architecture and Content Management

I ran out of time at the end of class on Wednesday, so I didn’t get a chance to formally introduce Unit #4, the Best Practices Article. Please review the assignment description this weekend and begin thinking about potential topics for your article; we’ll discuss this first thing on Monday.

At this point, your team should have met with your Unit #3 client to finalize the details for your memorandum of understanding. If you have not submitted your MOU, please do so (either electronically or in print) no later than the beginning of class on Monday.

Next week we’ll move from “big picture” questions about strategy and scope to specific questions about site architecture and functionality. Here’s how we’ll spend each day in class:

  • On Monday, your team should submit the two personas you created at the beginning of class. We’ve talked a bit about information architecture and interface design this semester, but we’ll dig deeper into these topics during class. Before you come to class, please read Chapters 5 and 6 (pp. 78–131) in The Elements of User Experience and be ready to apply the concepts in these chapters to your client project.
  • On Wednesday, your team should submit its wireframes (at least two options) at the beginning of class. During class, we will explore the pros and cons of using content management systems to power your client sites, so please read the following articles before you come to class: “Why Do I Need a Content Management System?” and “Designing for Content Management Systems.” In addition, we’ll be installing some CMSes on your Reclaim Hosting sites, so please be sure to have your login credentials with you.

Last but not least, please remember to stay in close contact with the members of your team to discuss your plans (and problems) related to the client project. Each time you meet (virtually or in person), get in the habit of holding a quick “stand-up meeting” by answering three simple questions: What have I done since we met last? What am I going to do today? What are the obstacles standing in my way?

If I can do anything to help your team make progress on Unit #3, please email me or come to see me during office hours (T 1–4, W 9-12).

Week 11: User-Centered Design; Introduction to Unit #4

Yesterday’s team-forming exercise came together even better than I hoped. I’m excited to have five teams of three students, and I think we’ve identified five excellent projects that will allow you to put your skills to use! From now until the end of the semester, we’ll be working our way through the Unit #3 project with lots of checkpoints along the way, and we’ll be using our second textbook to help us take a “user-centered design” approach to developing these sites. In addition, each of you will be working on an individual article that will help you deepen your knowledge on a particular aspect of web development. Here’s how we’ll proceed with both projects next week:

  • On Monday, your Unit #2 project is due before you come to class. Please review the assignment guidelines and make sure your site functions properly after you have uploaded it to your Reclaim Hosting account. Also, don’t forget to upload your memo of transmittal to your shared Google Drive folder, along with any additional materials you’d like me to review when I evaluate your site. In class, we will dive in our next book: The Elements of User Experience, by Jesse James Garrett. Please read Chapters 1 and 2 (pp. 1–33) this weekend and be ready to discuss them in class.
  • On Wednesday, we will continue our discussion of The Elements of User Experience, so please read Chapters 3 and 4 (pp. 35–77) before you come to class. By Wednesday, your Unit #3 team should have met with your client (face-to-face if possible; virtually if necessary), and you should have a draft of your memorandum of understanding ready for me to review and sign. (If you anticipate problems with this deadline, please let me know in advance.) I will meet briefly with each team to review your MOU, and we will wrap up by discussing the details for Unit #4, the “Best Practices Article.”

If you have any questions about these plans, or if your team wants to meet with me to discuss your client project, just let me know.

Weeks 9 and 10: Wrapping Up the Website Modernization Project; Introduction to the Client Project

We’ve covered a lot of ground in the past few weeks, and I hope all of you have reached the point where the principles of responsive web design and the intricacies of the Bootstrap framework have “clicked” for you. During the final two weeks of this project, you’ll be pulling together everything you’ve learned so far this semester: site structure, typography, color, images, etc… Remember: the difference between a good site and a great site lies in the details, so when you’re done marking up your content, make sure you spend enough time customizing the site header, the menus, the sidebars, and the other little features that will improve the appearance and functionality of your site.

I will be traveling for part of next week, so I’m taking this chance to share our plans for the coming two weeks. You’ll be completing some of this work while I’m gone, but if you have any questions, I will be available by email. Here’s a quick overview of the next two weeks:

  • Your homework for Monday (10/21) is to finalize the Bootstrap template(s) you plan to use for your new site and assemble all of the pages you think you will need for this project. If you have been keeping up with our checkpoint assignments, this task shouldn’t be too difficult. As you finalize your template(s), the following sites might provide some inspiration:

    In class, I will demonstrate how to create a private, protected subdomain on your Reclaim Hosting account for uploading your Unit #2 files, and we will experiment with some tools that will help you add custom CSS to your Bootstrap site.

  • On Wednesday (10/23), I will be at a conference, so I have designed a class activity that you can complete without me. Please come to class ready to share your favorite strategy for customizing a Bootstrap site. The tip, trick, or workaround that you share should be something you’ve learned while working on Unit #2 and something your classmates might be able to use on their sites. Plan to take no more than five minutes demonstrating your method(s) for working with Bootstrap. Any remaining time can be used helping each other solve technical problems on your sites.
  • On Monday (10/28), we will conduct a peer critique workshop on your Unit #2 websites. Please come to class with a complete site, ready to be tested and reviewed by your peers. In order for everyone to see your site, it should be up and running on your Reclaim Hosting account before you come to class. This workshop will help you iron out any final wrinkles in the design and functionality of your site.
  • On Wednesday (10/30), your Unit #2 project is due before you come to class. Please review the assignment guidelines and make sure your site functions properly after you have uploaded it to your Reclaim Hosting account. [UPDATE: The due date for Unit #2 has been pushed back to Monday, November 4.] In class, we will begin discussing the Client Project, so please read the following articles:

    You don’t need to print out all of these articles, but you should be ready to discuss them when you come to class. (When you’re done reading those, if you need a little diversion, check out Clients from Hell.)

If you have any questions about these plans, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We’ll also have a chance in class on Monday to make sure that everyone knows what’s going on for the next few weeks.

Week 8: Wireframes and Bootstrap Theming

We’re midway through the Website Modernization Project, and at this point you should be working on three interrelated tasks:

  • Downloading or copying/pasting all usable content from your client site. Depending on the state of client site, tools like SiteSucker and HTTrack might be helpful, but whatever method you use, you should have local copies of everything you plan to include in your new site.
  • Separating the content into usable “chunks” (pages, sections, etc.) and cleaning up the HTML for each chunk. Each chunk should be saved as a separate file, ready to be dropped into your Boostrap template.
  • Experimenting with the Bootstrap framework until you feel confident creating new pages by combining various elements.

Here’s how we’ll spend our time in class next week and what you need to do to prepare for each day:

  • On Monday, we will spend most of class in a wireframing workshop. Before you come to class, please read “Sketching: the Visual Thinking Power Tool,” by Mike Rohde, and “Using Wireframes to Streamline Your Development Process,” by Eric Shafer. (See the “Wireframing” section of the Resources page for more links.)
  • At the beginning of class on Wednesday, you will submit wireframes for at least two different pages (e.g., home page, blog page, contact page, image gallery) of your Unit #2 site. (If you have created additional wireframes, I would love to see those, too.) During class, we will experiment with some tools for theming and extending Bootstrap, so if you’d like to get a jump start on our workshop, you should familiarize yourself with Jetstrap, Bootswatch, and Bootstrap Magic.

As always, I’m happy to meet with you during my office hours if you feel like you need extra help on this project. Next week I need to modify my office hours due to some departmental meetings, so I will be available on Tuesday and Wednesday from 9-12. Feel free to drop by during those hours or email me if you’d like to reserve a specific time slot.

Week 7: Boostrap Workshop, Plus a Taste of Tables

Now that our first exam is behind us (hooray!), we can shift our focus back to the Website Modernization Project. Based on the very small number of you who successfully completed the Week 6 homework assignment, it’s clear that most of you have some catching up to do, and that needs to happen this week. So…

If you haven’t completed the following tasks already, please do so before we meet on Monday:

  • Select a “client” for the Unit #2 project and claim that business or organization in our class’s shared Google Drive folder. (Look for the “Potential Clients for Unit #2″ file.) If you have an idea for this project that isn’t on the “pre-approved” list, contact me via email. Only six of you have finalized your clients for this project, which means that the other nine of you are a week behind schedule.
  • Carefully review your client’s site and start thinking about how you might reorganize the site, revise the content, and reimagine the visual design.
  • Get comfortable with Bootstrap. I know this stuff is complicated, but there are plenty of resources online to help you. I suggest reading (or re-reading) the “Getting started” and “CSS” sections on the Bootstrap site, then moving on to video tutorials if you’re feeling lost. There is a video series on YouTube called “Learn Twitter Bootstrap in 2 Hours,” and four different Bootstrap-related courses on (just search for “Bootstrap”), any of which will help you get up to speed before class on Monday.

Here’s a quick overview of how we’ll spend our time in class:

  • On Monday, we will quickly review the results of the first exam, then we will spend the rest of class working with Bootstrap. Before you come to class, please review Chapter 16 in Learning Web Design, focusing specifically on grids, fluid layouts, and elastic layout. If you weren’t able to complete the Week 6 homework during Week 6, give it another shot and bring your files to class.
  • On Wednesday we will hop in our time machine and visit web design’s former best friend: the table. Today, table-based layouts are widely considered verboten, but you shouldn’t leave this class without understanding why good designers don’t use them anymore and, more importantly, how to use them effectively for displaying tabular data. Please read Chapter 8 in Learning Web Design and “Bring on the Tables,” by Roger Johansson, before you come to class. (When you get to class, download the files for our in-class workshop.)

As you can see, both of our class sessions will be packed next week, so much of your work on the Website Modernization Project will need to take place outside of class. If you have fallen behind on this project, or if you’re feeling confused at any point along the way, please come see me during office hours (T 1–4, W 9–12) to get some help on your project. If you’d like to reserve a specific time to meet with me, just drop me a line.

Week 6: Learning Bootstrap; Exam #1

This update will be short and sweet, but feel free to contact me if you have any questions about our plans. Here’s a quick overview of how we’ll spend our time in class next week:

  • On Monday, I will be away from campus at a professional conference, but I encourage you to use our class time to help each other prepare for the first exam. Take some time this weekend to review and summarize the chapter you claimed in our shared Google Doc, then come to class on Monday ready to quiz your classmates on that material. (Putting your chapter summaries in our shared Google folder would be helpful, too!) In addition, please complete two short homework assignments to help you get started on Unit #2:
    • Read through the Bootstrap website, especially the “Getting started” and “CSS” sections.
    • Using the Bootstrap Starter Files I compiled, try to recreate the structure (not the styling) of the Unit #2 assignment description using elements from the
      “components.html” page. At minimum, your page should have a horizontal navigation menu, a main content area, and a sidebar. (You can “view source” on the Unit #2 page and copy the raw HTML for the content area and the sidebar directly into your Bootstrap file. It might be easier to create the navigation menu from scratch using one of the Bootstrap components.) Be ready to show me your finished page at the beginning of class on Wednesday.
  • On Wednesday we will have the first exam of the semester. Please arrive ready to spend the entire class period on the exam, which will consist of three sections: multiple choice questions, short responses (definitions and mini-essays), and a markup exercise. Everything we have covered during the first five weeks of class is fair game for the exam, so please review your notes, reread textbook chapters, and form study groups with your classmates to ensure that you are prepared.

I won’t be back on campus until Wednesday morning, but if you need to reach me, I’ll be checking my email while I’m away.

Week 5: Introduction to Unit #2, Frameworks, and Responsive Web Design

We have used Unit #1 as a platform for applying the basic principles of HTML and CSS covered in our textbook. At this point, none of you knows everything there is to know about web design (spoiler alert: you probably never will), but you should feel confident in your ability to look at HTML, CSS, and image files and understand how they fit together. Next week, we’ll dive into our second unit, the Website Modernization Project, which will introduce you to various web design frameworks and the concept of “responsive” web design. Here’s a breakdown of how we’ll get started:

  • Your Unit #1 project is due before you come to class on Monday. Please review the assignment details before you submit your project and don’t forget the final piece of the assignment: a one-page memo explaining and justifying the choices you made as worked on your résumé and landing page. (You have no other homework this weekend for ENGL 4814, so make sure that your Unit #1 project is perfect down to the last CSS semicolon!) In class, I will introduce Unit #2, the Website Modernization Project, and we will explore several sites that could serve as the starting point for your work on that assignment.
  • On Wednesday, we will take our first steps into the world of responsive web design. Before you come to class, please read Chapter 18 in Learning Web Design, “Responsive Web Design: What It Is and How To Use It,” by Kayla Knight, and the article that started it all, “Responsive Web Design,” by Ethan Marcotte. Those last two articles might make your brain hurt a little bit (especially if you’re math averse), but don’t just skim them — Unit #2 will be much easier if you comprehend the content in those pieces. Update: Before you come to class, take a look at several responsive sites linked in the Media Queries directory. We’ll talk about these in class.

If you want to talk about any of these plans, just let me know. Otherwise, have a great weekend!

Week 4: CSS Positioning, Advanced Typography, and Finishing Unit #1

I hope our workshop yesterday helped you hone your CSS skills. For some of you, it also served as a reminder that you need to read the textbook a little more carefully and work through the practice exercises at the end of each chapter. If you didn’t complete the 10 tasks in the workshop instructions, please do so this weekend and be ready to show me your files at the beginning of class on Monday.

During Week 4, you should be putting the finishing touches on the content of your résumés and landing pages, then carefully reviewing your markup. (The W3C Validator is a harsh master!) It’s the week when your Unit #1 projects should go from good to great. Here’s how we’ll get there:

I know we’ve been moving very quickly through a lot of material lately, but these first few weeks in class are designed to help you understand the fundamental concepts of HTML and CSS, then apply those concepts to your Unit #1 project. If you’re not sure where you should be focusing your energy between now and September 23 (when Unit #1 is due), here are a few tips:

  • Two of the most basic aspects of style sheets are color and typography, so I’ll be looking for evidence that you know how to go beyond the default colors and fonts imposed by your browser.
  • We haven’t spent much time on CSS positioning (and getting positioning right can be really tricky), so I don’t expect to see incredibly complex page layouts. Your résumé doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective.
  • Along the same lines, remember that you’re creating a professional résumé designed to be seen by potential employers. Yes, you should inject some of your personality into the design, but a résumé may not be the best place to take big risks with an outlandish design.
  • This first assignment is intended, in part, to see how well you’ve been paying attention to the readings in our textbook. Your markup should be clean and well organized, and your HTML and CSS should validate.
  • If you aren’t comfortable with moving files from your computer to your Reclaim Hosting account via FTP, practice this skill over the weekend. (Reminder: the “public_html” directory is where your “live” files should go.) If you need help with this, come see me before you need to upload your final files when the project is due.

If you have any questions about where we’re headed, or if you want to reserve a time to see me during office hours (Tuesday 1-4; Wednesday 9-12), let me know.

Week 3: Links, Images, Color, and the Box Model

We covered a lot of ground during Week 2, and I know that this is challenging material for many of you. Don’t worry, though — we still have two weeks of class sessions to help you apply the concepts in our textbook to your Landing Page and Online Résumé projects. Next week, we will review several topics and add a few new ones to the mix. Here’s what we’ll cover each day in class and what you need to do to prepare:

  • On Monday, we will focus on the “landing page” for Unit #1, so please start thinking about what you want your website’s readers to see when they visit your site. Draft a “welcome” paragraph or two, and find an image (preferably of yourself) that you would like to use on your site. In addition, please read Chapters 6 and 7 in Learning Web Design before you come to class and make sure that the HTML file for your résumé is fully “marked up.” (This might mean undoing some of the markup mistakes you made last week.)
  • On Wednesday, we will return our attention to CSS, focusing on colors, backgrounds, and the box model. (When you get to class, download the files for our in-class workshop.) Before you come to class, please read Chapters 13 and 14 in Learning Web Design and try to incorporate some of the concepts in those chapters into your style sheet. When you come to class on Wednesday, you should have two completed HTML files (one that includes an image) and a CSS file that is starting to take shape. [Update: Please take a look at some of the "Personal Page Examples" on the Resources page and find a few that you would like to discuss in class.]

Remember, as you work your way through the textbook, you should be practicing, not just reading, the material. If you have fallen behind, please take some time this weekend to catch up. If you’ve been diligent with your homework and you’re still feeling lost, please come see me during office hours (Tuesday 1-4 or Wednesday 9-12). Oh, and if you find resources online that help you understand new concepts or make progress on your Unit #1 project, don’t forget to share them with your classmates on Twitter by using the class hashtag: #engl4814.

Week 2: HTML and CSS Basics; Résumé Workshop

I hope our first two class sessions haven’t left you feeling overwhelmed! I’m taking things very gently for the first couple of weeks, but if we’re moving too fast, please let me know. Some of you who have experience building websites may find the next few class periods moving a bit too slowly, but trust me — you’ll have plenty of opportunities to push yourselves in the coming weeks. And if you feel like you aren’t being challenged enough, please come see me and we’ll find ways to make this introductory assignment valuable for you.

Next week, we will continue our tour of the basics of HTML and CSS, using the Landing Page and Online Résumé project to learn some of web design’s foundational concepts. Here’s how we’ll spend our time in class each day:

  • On Monday, we will finish applying basic HTML tags to your résumés, learn how to link two pages together, and upload drafts of your pages to the web. Before you come to class, please read Chapters 4 and 5 in Learning Web Design and finish converting your résumé from MS Word format into HTML format. (It’s OK if you’re not sure about which tags to use throughout your resume; just do your best to apply the concepts you’re reading for Monday’s homework.) Be sure to bring the HTML file containing your résumé to class. In addition, you should select a domain name (Domainr can help you see what’s available) and register it through Reclaim Hosting. (If you already have your own domain, please let me know.) You don’t need to do anything with your new site yet — we’ll work on that in class.
  • On Wednesday, we will learn how to alter the visual appearance of your résumés using cascading style sheets (CSS). Your only homework for Wednesday is to read Chapters 11 and 12 in Learning Web Design. A word of warning: these chapters mark the point at which the textbook begins to get a little more complicated, so you’ll need to spend enough time with each chapter to really understand the new concepts before you come to class each day.

By the end of Week 2, you should have a fully marked-up résumé and the makings of a well-styled résumé. If you’re doing all the reading and paying attention in class but still feeling lost, I recommend watching the tutorial videos titled “HTML Essential Training” on If you need additional help beyond that, please come see me during office hours. The material in this class will only get more complex as the semester progresses, so if things aren’t clicking for you, now is the time to address the problem.

In order to complete your homework, you should download and install one of the following programs on your own computer:

  • Komodo Edit (Available for Mac, Windows, and Linux — this is what we will use in the computer lab.)
  • TextWrangler (Mac only — my personal favorite.)
  • Notepad++ (Windows only — highly recommended by my former students who are Windows users.)

Finally, consider this one last reminder to sign up for Twitter and add a comment to last week’s post if you haven’t done so already.

If you have any questions about our plans for next week, please send me an email or contact me on Twitter. Otherwise, I’ll see you in class on Monday!

Welcome to Developing Online Content!

Welcome to ENGL 4814: Developing Online Content. This website will function as the online headquarters for our class this semester. Each week, I will post an update to the website with details about coming week, deadline reminders, links to helpful resources, etc… I plan to use Virginia Tech’s Scholar site to record your grades, but otherwise, everything related to this course will be posted here. And given that this class is about developing content for the web, it seems appropriate that you should help me build this website as the semester progresses. (We’ll talk more about that goal soon.)

A bit about me: I’m starting my second year at Virginia Tech, and I love it here. My research focuses on how people use rhetoric in online environments, and all of the classes I teach have something to do with technology. I have been building websites since 1999, and I do some web consulting for small businesses and nonprofit groups that need help getting (or getting up to date) online. When I’m not staring at a computer screen, I love to cook, read, and spend time with my wife, a brilliant freelance writer, and our two daughters.

Each week (typically no later than Thursday evening), I will add a post to this website that explains what we will be doing in class the following week, and what you need to do to prepare for those class sessions. I’ll show you the Week 2 post next time we meet, but here are a few things you need to do to before class on Wednesday:

Finally, a quick note about this website. Throughout the semester, we’ll be holding class discussions online. To help you get comfortable with that process, please add a comment to this post that introduces yourself, links to your Twitter profile, and answers the following question: What is one specific thing you want to learn to do in ENGL 4814?

Before you post, a couple of warnings: (1) Your classmates will see what you write, so don’t include anything intended just for me. (2) This website is public, so we will stick to using first names only. Also, please be sure to use your email address every time you post to the class website. Once I “approve” your first comment on the site, you will be able to post comments for the rest of the semester without waiting for me to approve them.