The mission of the UK Ministry of Justice is “to protect the public and reduce reoffending, and to provide a more effective, transparent and responsive criminal justice system for victims and the public.”1 In the digital age, this involves online representation (Kastberg 2010; Ditlevsen 2011), communication and mediation of legal knowledge via online content, especially intended to assist citizens with “making sense of justice,” the law and one’s rights.2 Hence, the Your rights and the law pages of the UK Ministry of Justice,3 maintained by the Government Digital Service (GDS) on the Gov.uk platform4 as part of the Government Digital Strategy 2010-2015 and 2016-present: their mission is to create and deliver standardized user-friendly content that addresses the specific socially-grounded knowledge construction needs of specific lay users (UK citizens, permanent residents, tourists, etc.) (Cabinet Office 2012; GDS-a; GDS-b).5 It goes without saying that ability to deliver relies on successful mediation (Engberg and Luttermann 2014) of legal knowledge via a type of sense-making intertextual recontextualization (Linell 1998; Calsamiglia and van Dijk 2004; Gotti 2014) that takes place across different cultures, discourse communities and communities of practice. Textual changes such as simplification, condensation, elaboration and refocusing (Linell 1998, 155) enable provision of accessible knowledge in effective asymmetric, intercultural and inter-discourse communication between experts and lay people (Scollon and Scollon 1995). Linguistically, the process is readily understood as ‘intralinguistic’ translation (Jacobi 1987; Mortureux 1982, ed.), whereby exclusive expertise translates into intelligible knowledge, suitable to the background and experiential knowledge of the addressee. In this respect, research in the dialogic tradition has long identified strategies such as intertextual paraphrasis, intratextual reformulation (Adam and Herman 2000) and reconceptualization of terms. But, if the user cannot find the information or cannot find it easily due to poor interface and/or content design (Nielsen 1995; 1997; 1999; 2002; 2011; 2012), the information is not there (Tognazzini 2014). If interface design, layout arrangements, content design and linguistic strategies run together, then the obvious question is, how do visual and written mode play out in the Your rights and the law (YRL) pages of the UK Ministry of Justice? Set against the backdrop of reflection on context-dependent trust (Section 2), the paper therefore provides a qualitative investigation into selected YRL articles and subdirectories. As hyper(multi-)modal texts (Lemke 2003, 301; Engberg and Maier 2015), the pages conflate multimodality and hypertextuality. This justifies integrating notions from multimodal analysis (Martinec and Salway 2005; Bateman 2014) with insights from research on web design and web user interfaces (Nielsen 1995 ff. and associates at NN/g) in order to discuss layout arrangements and the visual representation of mediated knowledge in the YRL pages (Section 3). Moving on to the written representation of mediated knowledge, we postulate that factual language is used to address topics of concern to the end-user, and specialist terms come with (shortcuts to) expository definitions within dictionary-like microstructures (or articles) to address the knowledge and cognitive-oriented needs of lay users. Thus, a counterpart of mature sitemaps for legal mediation would be dialogic reference to other texts (Bres 1985; Bres and Nowakowska 2005: interdiscursive dialogism) via intertextual paraphrasis and intratextual reformulation in several types of expository definitions (Loffler-Laurian 1983; Jacobi 1987; Adam and Herman 2000). Another way to attend to the asymmetric relation between competent institution and end-users with varied experiential backgrounds is recourse to interlocutive dialogic devices (Bres 1985; Bres and Nowakowska 2005), also in headings and keyword lists. Section 4 takes a brief look at these issues. Section 5 summarizes the main findings of the paper.
Webpage usability and utility content: Citizens' rights and teh law on Gov.uk / Cacchiani, Silvia. - In: IPERSTORIA. - ISSN 2281-4582. - 12(2018), pp. 1-14.
|Data di pubblicazione:||2018|
|Titolo:||Webpage usability and utility content: Citizens' rights and teh law on Gov.uk|
|Citazione:||Webpage usability and utility content: Citizens' rights and teh law on Gov.uk / Cacchiani, Silvia. - In: IPERSTORIA. - ISSN 2281-4582. - 12(2018), pp. 1-14.|
|Tipologia||Articolo su rivista|
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