Fundamentals of Web Design

Art 3130 Syllabus

Course Objective

This course is designed to make you think about what you create within the digital space. We will be focusing on the user experience for everything that we create, and what we create will be a result of our user research. When it comes to working in digital media and particularly on the web, the right answer isn’t always going to be a website, a mobile app, or any interface at all. Sometimes it will, but not always. The goal for this class is that you will use design thinking to take a broad view of a problem and come up with solutions that are thoughtful of the user’s experience and demonstrate your ability to think creatively and holistically to solve problems.

Course Structure

This course will consist of lectures, readings, in-class exercises, individual and collaborative projects. Assignments will range from functional to experimental design outputs, all aiming to deepen your awareness of graphic design principles in tandem with current web based practices and technology.

Learning Outcomes

  • Basic understanding of user research techniques and principles
  • Basic understanding of content strategy, information architecture, and wireframing / prototyping
  • How to apply the basic principles of graphic design to the web
  • How to document research and discovery materials in a meaningful and useful way in order to present to a client or stakeholder
  • Basic understanding of prototyping with Foundation
  • How to think outside the interface

Hardware / Software Requirements

Week 1

Introductions, class survey, computer setup, software, overview of UX principles (research, documentation, information architecture, wireframing / prototyping, testing, etc.)

Weeks 1–4

Project 1 — There’s Already an App for That

You’ll be examining an existing mobile application and redesigning it from the ground up using your own user research and analysis of the existing product.

Skills: Product research, user surveys, information design, wireframing, visual / user interface design, interactive prototyping

Weeks 5–8

Project 2 — Improve a Campus Service with a Web App

There are about a million services provided to you on campus. The goal of this project is to improve on the delivery of one of those services with the help of technology.

Skills: Product research, user interviews, creating personas, product design

Weeks 9–10

Project 3 — Iteration & Improvement

Sometimes you will be brought in on an existing product to provide insights and improvements. For this project, you’ll be assigned one of your classmates’ projects from Project 2, and you will use the previous group’s research and analysis to improve and expand upon the solution they’ve presented.

Skills: User testing an existing product, improving and iterating on an existing product

Weeks 11–14

Project 4 — TBD

Depending on some of the outcomes of the previous projects, I’ll determine later what the final project of the semester will be.


Project 1—20% of grade
Project 2—20% of grade
Project 3—20% of grade
Project 4—20% of grade
Participation—20% of grade

Since we don’t have any text books for this class, here is a list of resources for you to check out throughout the course. The field of user experience as it pertains to both mobile and website design are in constant flux, so gaining knowledge from a number of different sources is crucial to understanding the direction that the field is going and, frankly, keeping up!

UX Collective

This is a great site with a lot of articles about product design, user research, working with clients, trends, content strategy, etc.

Recommended Reading:

UX Planet

This site also has tons of great articles about UX and has a particularly interesting section for UX beginners about getting started in the field and career advice.

Recommended Reading:

Recommended Books

  • Don’t Make Me Think (Revisited) — Steve Krug
  • Design of Everyday Things — Don Norman
  • Evil by Design — Chris Nodder
  • 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People — Susan Weinschenk
  • The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide — Leah Buley
  • Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work — Indi Young
  • The Best Interface is No Interface — Golden Krishna


Class Survey: