September 6th, 2015
If you have some background in journalism or mass-media communication you probably heard about the popular rule of the 5 wh-questions: any news story should provide an answer to the questions “who?”, “what?”, “why?”, “when?” and “where?”. But you may not know that such rule was taken from Cicero’s De Inventione, a kind of handbook for orators containing lots of hints on how to do a public speech in the 1st Century BC.
In particular, Cicero wrote that any good speech should contain a set of 6 properties used to determine the completeness of the exposition (expositio). These properties, or loci, and their relative questions, represent a classical principle of rhetoric that can be very useful for evaluating a website in all its aspects, too. It may be surprising, but any website in 2015 can be not so distant – as a communication process – from a speech in the ancient Roman Senate.
- QVIS (Who?) » IDENTITY
- QVID (What?) » CONTENT
- CVR (Why?) » SERVICES
- VBI (Where?) » LOCATION
- QVANDO (When?) » MANAGEMENT
- QVOMODO (How?) » USABILITY
This is the so-called 2QCV2Q Model, from the initial letters of the Ciceronian loci on which it is based, originally developed by L. Mich and M. Franch at University of Trento (Italy). It’s based on the fact that the design of a website, too, can be viewed as a series of answers to the question contained in Cicero’s rule. In fact, the original model identifies a set of evaluation elements for each of the 6 properties and the resulting checklist has 4 important features:
- it is general, so that it can be applied to any kind of website (corporate, ecommerce, individual portfolios, blogs, etc.)
- it is domain independent, meaning that it can be easily applied, for example, to the tourist sector as to non-profit organisations, to the automobile sector as to the public administration.
- it is easy to use, in fact it does not require highly specialised expertise, neither from a technical nor from a marketing/creative standpoint.
- it is robust, meaning that it contains all the basic elements needed to guarantee the quality of a website.
The following presentation sums up the whole methodology. Note that I updated the evaluation elements in order to include some modern principles of web design and UX that were not present when the original model was created.