kimberley crofts


an information and communication designer living in London


Carliner, S, & Boswood, T (2004). ‘Genre: A useful construct for researching online communication for the workplace’. Information Design Journal, 12(2), 124-136.

Genre: “a familiar pattern, a way of organising information that has become so common that readers will probably recognise each new instance as belonging to the genre”. Price & Price (2002:272) Hot Text: web writing that works

“Genre serves not only to understand convention but to understand the surrounding social and cultural conditions that create the need for that genre”. (paraphrased)

“a customary form… and configuration… that members of an audience expect”. Kostelnick & Roboerts (1998:33) Designing Visual Launguage: strategies for professional communicators

How to research effectively using genre
“Three methods can help researchers understand the nature of online genres: (1) discourse analysis to identify the features of the genre, (2) usability studies to assess whether features promote effective user performance, and how, (3) design team research identifies why features were included and which other alternatives were considered, rejected, and why.” paraphrased

p129″specifically, research on genre should validate users’ navigational strategies, identify users’ notivations and expectations for content within the context, identify conventions that users expect, and identify designers’ motivations and plans, all within the specific context of specific genres.”

Ways that captions could be referred to for an online medium: electronic performance support (Gerry 1991) and embedded user support (Mobley & De Loach).

Discourse Analysis
Look for consistent characteristics of:

  • social context that initiates creation
  • type of content
  • the way that designers organise the content
  • the way that it is presented

Look at Gee, Michael, O’Connor. Discourse Analysis (2002) for a good methodology.

“Usability research confirms whether the features identified in discourse analysis are the ones that concern users and that they expect to see in a particular type of communication product”.

Carliner suggests triangulation of sources in order to generate credible recommedations, especially when it is not feasible to do studies of enough people to generate statistically significant results. He suggests that looking at three different industries that produce documents that contain the genre artifact of note (business, non-profit, government, for example) will yield good recommendations.


Filed under: genre, research techniques, , ,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Twitter Updates

Flickr Photos

%d bloggers like this: