Reading Born-Digital Scholarship: A Study of Webtext User Experience

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Born-digital scholarship follows ideals of multimodal, interactive design, embodied in the webtext, that open new possibilities for individual and collective reader experience. However, author-designers often fail to consult actual readers about their experiences using born-digital scholarship to assess whether the realities of webtext use measure up to the ideals inspiring webtext design. User-centered design approaches offer opportunities to examine webtext user experience and design for new rhetorical engagements between born-digital designers and users. Findings from think-aloud testing show that users engage webtexts through hyperreading practices of skimming, scanning, and close reading, and experience a sense of placelessness when navigating webtexts, unfamiliarity with webtext designs, and a freedom to read nonlinearly across fragmented texts that can unsettle readers accustomed to a single, linear narrative. These findings suggest implications for webtext designs that facilitate users’ reading practices and suggest that user-centered design approaches can reveal and, in turn, expand the scope of rhetorical engagements possible in born-digital scholarship.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102601
JournalComputers and Composition
Volume58
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • User-centered design
  • born-digital scholarship
  • usability
  • user experience
  • webtext

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