Design Plan Guidelines

Your design plan is NOT an outline of your essay or other composition.  Instead, it is a document that helps you think through your design choices, make rhetorical decisions, and articulate those decisions for an audience.  The audience of your design plan is your instructor who will read an offer feedback to help you in drafting your composition.  Your design plan should approximately one page and be written in paragraph form, single-spaced.

Statement of Purpose (Part 1)
 The statement of purpose should summarize what you’ve detailed in the next two sections about the rhetorical context and your production strategies.  In many ways, this is the executive summary that is detailed in the rest of your plan.  Write this last, after you’ve composed the rest of the planning document.  Move beyond being “basic” here and work for a better, more detailed statement of purpose as shown below.

sample statement of purpose
Sample Student Statement of Purpose

Rhetorical Context (Part 2)
Here you will discuss your audience— who they are, demographics that matter, and how you will connect with (hook) your audience based on their values, beliefs, and positions, and background knowledge about your topic. Next, you will discuss your purpose. What, specifically, should your audience know, do, think, or understand after engaging your composition?  Why?  What is the context of this communication event?  Immediate context–when, where, and how will they receive your message and why does that matter?  Abstract context— what will likely be on their minds as they read, watch, or engage?  What is the larger conversation around your topic?  Why is it necessary for you to compose this piece at this time and place?

Production Strategies (Part 3)
Ethos— how will you, as the author(s) present yourself to your audience? How will you establish authority, credibility and trustworthiness?  What tone will you take and why? Logos— what is your overall line of reasoning?  What kinds of claims (arguable positions) and evidence will you provide and how are those appropriate to your audience and purpose?  Pathos— how will you use emotion to engage your reader and make your argument matter?  Medium: Which medium have you chosen (or are required) to work in (a video, website, brochure, academic paper, etc.)?  Why is that medium appropriate for the rhetorical situation? What are the common conventions and expectations of this medium that you are keeping in mind as you compose?  Mode— are you working with text, sound (music, voice, sound effects, ambient noise), still image (photos, graphics, drawings, etc.), moving images (video, film, animation)?  Why or why not?  Arrangement: How are you organizing the parts of your composition?  Why does this make sense for your rhetorical situation?  What kind of common pattern are you working with to help your audience move through your composition (lists, comparisons, juxtapositions, problem-solution, repetition, chronology, big-to-small, small-to-big, before-and-after, near-to-far, far-to-near, topical, sequential, etc.)?  Why is that pattern most effective for your rhetorical situation?

If you are struggling with any of these terms or concepts or with applying them to your composition-in-progress, ask your professor and/or work with the University Writing Center.  Be as specific and detailed as possible to get early feedback to make sure your drafting process will be fruitful.  A strong design plan is a BIG stepping stone to a draft that will meet the requirements for your badge.

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