Final Exam (this is not a test)

Design your own domain, or, if you already have one, conduct an experiment in digital avant-garde scholarship or poetry (see Alternative Assignment below)

  • Domain Design & completed Website Rubric *or* Alternative Assignment & Reflection Essay due by Dec. 14, 5:15 pm (the end of exam period); category = final-exam


Your final exam is not a test of anything but your own vision and creativity. Your task is to design and build your own Domain, building a website that you may use for the rest of your time at Davidson (and after) as a way of communicating your interests and accomplishments to the public. This is your chance to begin a narrative about who you are and what you’ve done at Davidson—including but not limited to your work in this course. If you already have a Domain that is drastically outdated or unsatisfactory to you, you may also conduct a major renovation.

The goal of this assignment is for you to build a website that you can expand, develop, or fully renovate as you go through life. You are always learning and changing, so your website should grow and change with you. This is YOUR DOMAIN, so the site should reflect WHO YOU ARE.

Step 1: Read

Download and read the articles on website design available on the Readings page: “Principles of Information Architecture,” “Information Architecture Guide,” and the excerpt from Steve Krug’s  Don’t Make Me Think. Review the slide presentation I showed in class UX Design: Basic Principlesand Instructional Designer Sundi Richard’s slide presentation Designing Your Domain. If you are really interested in good design, you may also enjoy exploring 52 Weeks of UX.

Step 2: Choose a Content Management Systems (CMS)

To design your own domain, you need to choose a content management system (CMS). Here is a list of some of the more popular CMS on the web:

There are many others, but I recommend WordPress because there is such a large community of practice at Davidson and beyond, with many free plugins available to allow you to add functions and customize your site. I can also help you with WordPress.

Step 3: Evaluate a Website

Study and evaluate one website running your chosen CMS. You can start by looking at the Examples above. Think about and answer the following questions:

  • Who is the author of the page?
  • What is the intended audience?
  • What kind of information is the author sharing?
  • Is the chosen CMS well suited for the chosen materials and audience? That is, is it easy for the user to navigate, search, and find answers? How so, how not so?
  • How would you improve the presentation and/or design?

Step 4: Sketch a WireFrame

Drawing upon what you learned from the readings about website design and your own evaluation of a specific sample site, sketch a wireframe for your own website (see the reading on Information Architecture). Make sure your wireframe include all the elements in the rubric (see Step 5).

Step 5: Refer the Rubric

Your website should include the following elements:

  • An “about me” page indicating who you are and what purpose your website serves. You may want to include your major(s), minor(s), and concentrations(s) in your narrative bio.
  • resume page. Here, you can install a PDF Viewer, so that you can upload new versions of your resume as it changes.
  • portfolio of the work you’ve done in ENG 394.
    • You must include at least one exemplary work from each of your four courses.
    • To make the work intelligible to audiences outside our class, you may want to indicate what course you wrote the work for and what the nature of the assignment was.
    • I recommend that you transfer ALL the work from the ENG394 course sites to your own domain, to assume ownership (I will archive the site after the semester, so you will no longer be able to access your work on my course site).
      • If you are using WordPress, you may be able display digital projects in a post or page by creating an iFrame linking it to another subdomain or even to your collaborator’s domain, but making it appear like it’s on your own domain.
    • You may keep, delete, or relocate your course work after I have evaluated your site.
  • list of courses you have taken at Davidson with short descriptions of each (catalog copy is acceptable).
    • You may arrange the list of courses thematically, chronologically, or in whatever organizational form allows you to foreground your most significant work and initiate a clear, compelling “map” or “timeline” of your academic development. Think about what makes sense for your users, not for you.

The following elements are optional:

  • narrative that embeds all your courses within the progress of  your academic development.
  • personal blog
  • A section dedicated to extracurricular activities
  • portfolio of your art, music, theater, or other activities/work

If you are stuck or overwhelmed, you may find it helpful to explore other Davidson student domains, including (Sundi Richard’s slides, linked above, include links to other student sites):

Step 6: Set up a Subdomain*

*You may also install the CMS at the domain level, if you want your website to correspond with the URL for your domain.

  • On Davidson Domains, create a new subdomain:
    • Go to
    • Sign in
    • Click on ‘Dashboard’
    • Scroll down and click on ‘Subdomains’
    • Select a name (keep it short). Click ‘Create’
  •  Then install your selected CMS on your new subdomain. To do this:
    • Go back to your Domains ‘Dashboard’
    • Click on your selected CMS under ‘Web Applications’
    • Click on ‘Install this Application’
    • In the first dropdown menu, select the subdomain you just created
    • At the bottom of the page, click ‘Install’
    • If you choose WordPress, make sure to install and activate the plugin WordFence to protect your sites from hackers, bots, and trolls.
  • Use that CMS to build a personal website.
    •  Remember and consult the tutorials listed above. The video tutorials at are excellent. You do not have to watch them in their entirety. You can skip the parts on installation, for example, and view only the chapters on ‘creating content,’ ‘menus,’ ‘themes,’ and the like.
    • Seek help from Media Consultants, whose expertise and ingenuity will astound you (Sun-Thu, 8-11 pm, Studio D, no appointment necessary, but they close up shop on Reading Day, so don’t delay).
  • Transfer your work from the ENG 394 website to your subdomain.
    • Click here for instructions about how to export your posts from a course website to your personal domains.
    • Ask Media Consultants for information about using syndicators.

Warning: Do Not Steal Images!

You should have permission for all images you use. Search for images in the public domain and make sure you abide by any copyright restrictions or citation guidelines provided with the image. Use the caption area to cite the source for any image you didn’t create yourself, regardless of whether the original source requests a citation. You can also link the image to its original source. But a link alone is not a sufficient citation, as links tend to fracture over time.


Having a domain requires some housekeeping, so you should periodically check your websites to update WordPress and any plugins and repair any damaged files. 


Your goal should be to produce a simple, well-designed website that is:

  1. easy to navigate,
  2. explains who you are,
  3. allows me  to review your ENG 394 coursework in one convenient location,
  4. shows what other courses you’ve taken so far.
  5. features your best work from those courses.

Alternative Avant-Garde Assignment

Davidson College policies prohibit any student receiving credit for the same work in more than one course. If you have already designed your domain, you should do an alternative project:

Conduct an avant-garde experiment in digital art or poetry.
Make something new and host it in your domain.

While everu experimental project will be different, each should contain the following elements:

  • Your project should exist on a subdomain.
  • Your subdomain should have a clear menu.
  • Somewhere on your subdomain you should include a reflection essay
    (minimum 500 words) on the work you have done. This may be on an
    ‘About’ page, or it may be a series of pages accessible through your menu; I
    leave the details up to you. However you do it, your reflection should address address:

    • what you created and why
    • your goal: what did you try to do in digital that you couldn’t do in print?
    • your process: how did you go about your creative process, how did you learn the tool, and what did you learn along the way?
    • an evaluation of the degree to which you were successful in achieving your goal (remember, your project can fail, but still be a successful learning experience).
    • the ‘So What?’ question: What is the broader artistic, intellectual, or cultural significance of your avant-garde foray? What makes it avant-garde, and by what definition of the avant-garde?
    • Note: this reflection should be concise, pithy, and well-crafted—not dashed off as an afterthought.
  • To submit your alternative assignment, create a blog post on this website containing a brief description, a link to the alternative project, and a link to your existing personal website/domain. Category: final-exam.

Thanks to Dr. Jakub Kabala, assistant professor of history, for sharing his digital studies assignments and allowing us to crib from them. We welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions for this assignment. Please do not hesitate to ask for clarification. Please also use the “Tips” category to post links to fellow students’ websites that offer good models for us.