As the bulletin will tell you, this course covers, "...practices, concepts, history, and social ramifications of design. Typography, layout, identity, visual/physical structure, graphic iconography, and relationship of form to function. Theoretical and/or historical issues relevant to contemporary practice."

This particular semester we will be designing mobile applications, websites, and maybe even console game interfaces to explore the above concepts through the practice of user interface and user experience design (shorted to UI/UX in the industry). 

[Click here] to download a PDF of the course syllabus.

User experience (UX) Design

We'll begin this semester by discussing user experience design. This field of design can also be referred to as "user centered design," as it considers the demands, behaviors, desires, and even the handicaps of the end user. Questions a user experience designer asks include, but are not limited to:

  • What are the things a user is going to want from my design?
  • What is the most thing in my design and how do I connect the user with ASAP? 
  • How many ways can a user try to get what they want?
  • How would a user react to the layout, structure, and/or pacing?
  • What does the user want?
  • What will make sense to the user; what will confuse her?
  • What might one user potentially have trouble doing that another user will not? 

Take a look at the above questions and think generally about what they're describing. Do these sound familiar to you? Haven't we considered these things no matter what we're working on? Certainly websites and apps need good user experience design because people could use them in so many ways. But don't we consider these same things to some degree when texting someone? Or posting to Instagram? Or writing an email, laying out a book, writing a story, making a video... even making breakfast?! 

If you answered yes to any of the above, then congratulations: you're a user experience designer! This semester we are going start to designing mobile apps by consider their users, deciding what we want the app to do, how the user should use them to do it, and then moving on to the next phase of the course, user interface design.


User Interface (UI) design

Screen Shot 2018 01 12 at 10.38.22 AM

Once we've created a solid user exeprience, it's time to 'skin it' in an elegant way that enhances and optimizes its usability. Whereas UX consider the user's behavior, UI is concerned with how the user's behavior meshes with the logic of what is generally an interactive design. If the designed item is a tool, how does the user use it to create change? How can we optimize how usable this tool is? Is the usage visually clear or muddled? Beautiful or ugly? Pleasing or frustrating. These are the questions of a user interface desinger.

The good news: user interfaces are all around us, so we have plenty of references. Here is a short list:

  • the handle of screwdriver
  • a touchscreen with icons
  • any phone
  • any tv remote
  • a toothbrush handle
  • the surface of a basketball
  • the shaft of a pencil
  • shoelaces or velcro 

More good news? If you have ever created any work of art ever – even taken a photograph with your phone – then you have engaged in user interface design. In this case, you allowed a 'user' to 'interface' with a visual concept. Yay!