Unit #4: Best Practices Article

(Worth 15% of your grade; due on Monday, December 16)

Several online publications provide excellent information for web developers. The best of these sites, like A List Apart and Smashing Magazine, do more than just offer tricks or tutorials; they help readers understand why they should adopt a specific technological approach to developing content for the web. For your final assignment in this class, you will follow in the footsteps of these publications by writing a substantive article on some aspect of web design, information architecture, usability, content strategy, etc… Your article should draw on the readings and exercises you have completed throughout the semester and be written for your peers (other beginning students in web development).

Assignment Guidelines

Imagine that you are a professional writing student with experience and interest in web design and development (this shouldn’t be too hard!). You like to experiment with markup and/or style, usability, colors, images, videos, content management, responsive design, etc… As a productive and innovative author, you have a great idea for an article and plan to submit it for online publication.

Your first task is to become familiar with your target publication’s guidelines for authors (A List Apart; Smashing Magazine). Avoid duplication by reviewing the articles the site has already published on topics similar to your chosen topic. Then begin drafting a piece that talks about something you think can improve, problematize, or challenge related to design, content, structure, usability, delivery, mobile devices, browsers, etc… If the topic is related to anything we have discussed this semester, it’s fair game for this assignment.

The sole deliverable for this assignment is a helpful, well-written article (approximately 800–1,200 words long), with screenshots or other images to enhance your written text. You do not have to submit the article to your intended publication in real life, but I hope some of you will choose to do so. (Please wait to submit it until after I have evaluated it!) You should include a few external sources to support your claims, but this is not a traditional, academic research paper. Again, do your best to model the tone and content of your article on the types of articles featured in your intended publication.

Submitting Your Project

Your finished 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, located somewhere on your personal Reclaim Hosting site. To submit your article, please email me the URL for your finished project.

Evaluation Criteria

I will use the following criteria to evaluate your completed article:

  • Content: Does the article address an original topic related to one of the concepts we have studied this semester? Is the information in the article accurate and well supported? Does the article meet the guidelines for length?
  • Audience: Is the article appropriately tailored for an audience of the author’s peers (students in an introductory web development class)?
  • Visual Design: Is the article visually appealing? Does it include helpful, captioned images that enhance the written text? Does the site make effective use of color, typography, and spacing?
  • HTML/CSS Markup: Does the article follow best practices for marking up HTML and CSS files? Does the page pass the W3C Validator tests?
  • Correctness: Does the article adhere to the standards of professional written English (spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.)?

Thank you to Professor Carlos Evia for allowing me to adapt his original assignment for this course.