Course description

WRT 351 emphasizes learning rhetorical structures best suited for writing for the web. Students practice professional writing as they learn to build web documents for community and commercial internet audiences, while covering topics such as designing with HTML/CSS, building websites with content management systems, user experience design, and search engine optimization. 

After successful completion of the course, students will be able to…

  • describe the nature of readers’ interaction with typical website content and how that changes the way effective writers compose content for websites. 
  • evaluate the effectiveness of good writing in a website environment.
  • identify basic features of development platforms or content management systems (e.g., Drupal, WordPress, etc.)
  • assess the effectiveness of an existing website and its navigation according to website design and content principles.
  • compose webpages in a content management system using basic HTML tags.
  • compose effective content and navigation options in a content management system.
  • prepare a basic usability study of a website.

University policies

This course is subject to the university policies listed on the Course Policies page of the GVSU website. 

Class policies

In addition to the university policies, the classroom policies described below also apply to our course.

Staggered Hybrid Format: WRT 351 will meet in a staggered hybrid format due to social distancing requirements. This means that half of the class will attend our class meetings in HRY 114 on Tuesdays from 1:00 pm  – 2:15 pm and the other half of the class will attend on Thursdays from 1:00 pm  – 2:15 pm. In addition, there will be online assignments and discussions to fulfill the course goals. While your in-person meeting will only take place once a week, I highly suggest to keep the same time frame on the alternate day open, as this will provide a natural time for group meetings when we start working on the group project. Also, in case we need to move the course online during the semester, I will utilize the same hours for Zoom sessions and group and individual consultations.  I will plan to do the same activities on both days, though you should plan to attend class on the day you are assigned to preserve social-distancing in the classroom. Please do not assume at any point of the semester that you can attend the Thursday session instead of Tuesday’s (or vice versa) without speaking to me first.

Classroom Conduct: We have all learned lasts semester that in-person leaning is a privilege. To ensure that we can continue this form of education, we all need to comply with social distancing rules. When you come to class, wear a mask. As per university policy, face coverings that cover the mouth and nose are required indoors. If you forget your mask on a given day, be sure to get a disposable one from the nearest campus office before entering the classroom. When you are in class, devote your time and attention entirely to the class in order to receive maximum learning benefits. Turn off your phone and use computers only for purposes related to the class.

Attendance: Due to the ongoing pandemic, our fist responsibility is to keep everyone safe. For this reason, the attendance policy has been revised so that students who have to miss class for health reasons (to keep themselves and others safe) are not penalized for this absence. I will still take attendance at all class meetings, but your absence will not affect your grade. I assume that you all appreciate the chance to be back in the classroom, and you will not abuse this policy. In any case, if you have to miss a class, please let me know as soon as possible. All class material is available on our course website and on Blackboard; this will allow you to keep up with the class even when you have to be absent.

Due Dates are specified on each Weekly Unit page. Generally, they are on Mondays and Fridays at midnight. Late projects will not be accepted.

Professional Integrity: As collaborative writing is common in today’s workplace, we will prepare for it in this course through team projects. Team members should not be “free riders.” As a last resort, a team may fire such a person, and likewise, a member with good cause may quit the team. However, neither of these “final solutions” may be taken without first consulting me. In any case, those estranged from the team must still complete all assignments by themselves. To avoid team work issues, be sure to reach out to me early if team members don’t participate as expected.

Required textbook

Redish, J. (2012). Letting go of the words: Writing web content that works. Second Edition. Waltham, MA: Morgan Kaufmann. (Additional assigned readings will be available online.)


Your grade in this class will include the points you receive for your individual projects and as a member of a team.  Each major project is described in detail on the Projects page.

Point Breakdown:
Blog post and commenting: 200 points
Guest blog post: 100 points
Website usability report: 100 points
Team website project: 300 points
Bb discussion participation: 100 points
Weekly learning activities: 200 points

TOTAL: 1000 points


Grading Scale:


Additional Resources

Each weekly unit will contain additional links to resources about that specific week’s topic. Another valuable resource is a book available online through the GVSU library. It is: Lynch, P. J., Horton, S., Marcotte, E. (2016). Web style guide. 4th Edition. Yale University Press. You can view the book after logging in to the library’s page using a link to ProQuest books.

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