Is Web Usability Persuasive? Let’s ask FedEx.

Can web usability be persuasive? Honestly, I hadn’t really thought about it up until a few weeks ago. We think of great writing and speeches as being persuasive. . .but usability?

J. Anthony Blair in “The Rhetoric of Visual Arguments” (a chapter from Defining Visual Rhetorics, edited by Hill and Helmers) takes on the question of rhetoric, argument and persuasion in regards to images. He explains that historically, rhetoric, argument, and persuasion have all been connected to “verbal phenomena” (41). Ultimately, Blaire concludes that “arguments” can only be assigned to words not images, because images “cannot provide reasons for accepting a point of view” (44).  Although visuals can “[supply] grounds for beliefs, attitudes, or actions,” visuals arguments cannot be a substitute for verbal, and the two work best when combined together.

So what does this have to do with usability (and FedEx)?

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