Web Design

Course Rationale:
Web Design is a broad term covering many different skills and disciplines that are used in the production and maintenance of websites.  The different areas of web design include web graphic design; interface design; authoring, including standardized code and proprietary software; user experience design; and search engine optimization.  Often many individuals will work in teams covering different aspects of the design process, although some designers will cover them all.  The term web design is normally used to describe the design process relating to the front-end (client side) design of a website including writing mark up, but this is a grey area as this is also covered by web development.  Web designers are expected to have an awareness of usability and if their role involves creating markup then they are also expected to be up to date with web accessibility guidelines.

Course Description and Objectives:
Web Design is a project-based curriculum where students learn digital communication skills in the context of the professional web design and development process, using Adobe web tools.  Students develop skills in four key areas:
  • Project management and collaboration
  • Design
  • Research and communication
  • Professional web-authoring tools

Students develop these key skills in a spiral—each project adds more challenging skills onto the foundation proficiencies.  Web Design addresses each of these areas, using a project-based approach.  Each project has phases that follow a design and development process, from project planning to evaluation and launch.  To simulate a professional work environment, students gradually migrate their design work from an individual process to a group process.  Design and technical work by its very nature is iterative (each process may use the results of the previous processes, and each process may affect or cause changes to the previous and/or future processes), so the projects contain activities that require students to evaluate and then redesign and rework their communications. 

Students will initially develop skills that lay the foundation for producing web-ready communications:  design principles, design documents, storyboards, web development, shared project management skills such as interviewing and project scheduling, peer review, and redesign.  Project activities focus on developing effective communications that can be deployed on the web.  Students develop a widget, a variety of graphic images, a client website, and a web portfolio.  A great deal of flexibility is implied in this curriculum.  The key skills emphasized initially are:

  • “Soft” skills such as interviewing and responding to feedback
  • Designing a website for clients
  • Problem solving that helps support multiple perspectives
  • Reflection about the design process and effective communication
  • Peer teaching and evaluation in a collaborative environment
  • Technical web publishing

The last part of the course builds on student design and development skills by focusing on rich media development.  Students continue to work individually or on teams and produce rich media communications such as interactive games, digital narratives and mobile applications.  They focus on effective rich media design, multimedia storyboarding, design specifications, and iterative development with clients.  They produce design documents and visual comps that clients review.  They develop rich media designs that solve specific communication challenges.  They build technical skills to address client needs.  The key skills emphasized in this semester are:

  • “Soft” skills such as interviewing and responding to feedback
  • Communication with clients, using design documents or specifications
  • Design and redesign according to client specifications
  • Technical multimedia skills such as film effects and transitions
  • Design solutions, including effective navigation systems and digital narratives


Duane Schnabel,
Aug 2, 2016, 3:02 PM
Duane Schnabel,
Jun 27, 2017, 12:46 PM