Spring 2013

Visual Design for the Web

Course Overview

The current Web Design landscape is extremely diverse. There is a website or mobile application for seemingly every entity in the Western world. Worldwide, over 2.4 billion people use the Internet every day. Almost all of these people interact with the sites and pages that we visually design every day. The undeniable commonality across the spectrum of Web Design is Visual Communication Design. Visual design on the Web has become a persistent, ever-present aspect in the lives of many people in today’s culture. As designers and creative individuals, we have a responsibility to design useful, usable, beautiful, and relevant interfaces that will enhance the lives of our users. This course is crafted to help you understand your responsibility as a Visual Designer and learn how to hone your creative skills in the landscape of the Web.

In addition to working on visual design skills, you will also learn how to apply the Design process to the development of new Web products. Design research methods will be discussed and implemented to discover new opportunities for Web sites or applications. This course is intended for students outside of Visual Communication Design. However, VCD students may take the course and will have heighten expectations regarding the utilization of deign principles. Projects in this course will require you to utilize a design process to craft visual solutions for a variety of digital interfaces. In addition to design work, you will also be expected to demonstrate an ability to communicate decisions, respond effectively to critique, and utilize the appropriate software tools. Emphasis will be placed on the importance of teamwork in the web development space.



Herron School of Art and Design


All Levels (Design Elective)

Course Number

HER-R 201 Sec. 31950

Credits + Contact

3 Credits / TR 12:30-3:00

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be
able to:

  • utilize the principles of Design specifically in the context of web and digital media
  • both verbally and visually communicate relevant, meaningful, and appropriate design solutions in response to communication problems
  • utilize a divergent design process to produce meaningful deliverables
  • provide useful and relevant critique of own work and that of colleagues in the context of web design
  • recognize and utilize–at an introductory level–appropriate development methods (HTML & CSS) for proposed digital solutions
  • develop a research plan and analyze data to better understand the users of digital media
  • develop empathy with the users of proposed design solutions by integrating the concepts of usability, usefulness, and context
  • leverage Designerly creativity and curiosity into innovative design proposals and solutions


It should also be understood that software skills will not be covered in this course. Any practice that needs to be done in order to work efficiently and accurately with course software should be done outside of class. Basics of front-end development will be covered but if you wish to go beyond introductory level code, that will also fall on you to investigate. This is not a ‘Dreamweaver’ course nor is it a course solely devoted to programming or web development. It is a Design course.

"Designerly Curiosity" Component

The Web is not a static environment. There are new methods, approaches, ideas, and formats developed on an almost constant basis. The best way to stay on top of this industry is to simply be involved in as many ways as possible. Being engrossed in web culture will constantly expose you to new ideas and design solutions. Simply being around good web design can help you becoming an infinitely better Designer. With that in mind, I have integrated ‘Designerly Curiosity’ component into your grade. 

At the end of the semester, you will need to prove to me that you have made a significant effort to surround yourself with web design during the semester. You can choose to present your proof of effort in any way you find useful. I should be able to concisely and easily read through your efforts or achievements while having sufficient rationale or support for each line item.

To help, I am providing you with a working list of the types of things I am expecting. I would expect that you would complete at least 5 of the types of actives listed below. Keep in mind though, I know the difference between real and minimal effort. I’m not looking for you to tick boxes, I want you to grow in areas that are pertinent to your education.

  • Blog about design. Customize your blog.
  • Read a book.
  • Read blogs.
  • Watch videos.
  • Open and use a Twitter account.
  • Open and use a Dribbble account.
  • Open and use a Wookmark account.
  • Use apps or websites with a critical eye.
  • Listen to design podcasts.
  • Complete HTML or CSS tutorials on Lynda.com.
  • See the syllabus for detailed list. 

Project Sheets

Course Syllabus (PDF)

Website Redesign: Project Brief (PDF)

Website Redesign: Final Deliverable (PDF) 

Innovation for the Web: Project Brief (PDF) 

Innovation for the Web: Final Deliverable (PDF) 

Presentation Slide Decks

Course Introduction; History of the Web (PDF)

Web Terminology (PDF)

Webpage Layout and Organization (PDF) 

About Innovation on the Web (PDF)

Introduction to the Mobile Web (PDF) 

Required Textbook

Relevant readings will be provided on a regular basis throughout the course. You will also be expected to research and identify a variety of sources in print and online as you conduct research. Recommended additional reference resources for this course will be noted on individual project briefs, and/or cited in supplementary readings provided by the instructor.

Student work

Hover to see description and student recognition.