This semester, you’ll learn how to analyze users and contexts in order to design effective information products that solve specific problems.
The key terms here are
Exploring those things will be our main focus this semester.
- Lupton, Design is Storytelling. ISBN 978-1-942303-19-0.
- Wong, The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics. ISBN 978-0-393-34728-9.
We’ll work on several large and small projects during the semester; there are more details on the Projects page. Overall, projects account for 80% of your course grade. The other 20% are from quizzes and participation/attendance (see below).
Quizzes & Exercises
Each of the major, assigned course readings will be followed by a very brief quiz, either 3-7 multiple choice/short-answer questions or an exercise in which you demonstrate the layout discussed in the reading. The quizzes are pass/fail and designed to make sure that you’ve engaged with the reading so that you can participate fully in class.
Assignment Due Dates
Assignments are typically due at the start of class unless otherwise specified. Late assignments are penalized 10% per course day late.
So, for example, an assignment due at the start of a Tuesday class will be penalized 10% if it’s handed in Tuesday at 6 pm or at the start of class on Thursday.
Participation & Attendance
This class includes extensive discussion and in-class work, so attendance and participation are required. You’re allowed three absences. I don’t distinguish between excused and unexcused absences–if you’re not in class, you’re not in class. After your third absence, your grade will drop 3% per absence.
Assignments are still due even if you’re not in class on the day the assignment is due. If you’re going to be absent, make sure you get your work turned in to me on time or you’ll be penalized for lateness. In-class work and quizzes cannot be made up, although in the larger scheme of things missing a couple of quizzes or in-class assignments shouldn’t make or break your course grade.
Participation involves more than just showing up to class. I expect you to be paying attention (to me, to material videos we may be watching, to your peers in class or team discussion) and contributing in positive ways. During critiques of work, you should provide useful comments, both critical and supportive.
Example of critical but supportive comment: “The axis of the lowercase /a/ is different than the axis of the /e/ and /o/. I think what you’re using for the /a/ actually works better for the font, so maybe you could adjust the other counters to use the same axis.”
Example of non-useful comment: “Damn good pie chart.”
Pretty simple: Don’t turn in someone else’s work and pretend it’s your own. For some projects, we’ll start with someone else’s work or I’ll ask you to use clipart art of stock photography. This is a normal design practice. But it should be clear to everyone what aspects of the work are your efforts and what aspects are someone else’s. If it’s not clear, add a note at the bottom citing the source.
Penalties for plagiarism vary from failing a project or other assignment to failing the class, depending on how egregious the plagiarism is.
Important note: Don’t throw out interim drafts of assignments. Save different iterations of your digital files. You may need them to show the progress of your work if I suspect that you’ve plagiarized something. If your typeface, for example, goes from a handful of very rough sketches to a full-blown, professional typeface with extraordinarily elegant counters, swashes, and ligatures, you’ll have some explaining to do. The drafts may be an important part of that explanation.
The Cellphone Rant
Don’t let your cellphone distract you from class activities (including listening to me drone on endlessly about things like lachrymose serifs or leading options). Turn off your ringer or just turn your phone off during class if it’s going to be a problem. In general, none of us is normally important enough to need to be notified with a little ping or jingle every time someone wants to know where we’re going to eat lunch.
If you have some major life event going on–you’re waiting for an organ transplant, you have an extremely sick relatively you’re caring for, etc.–let me know beforehand and I’ll cut you some slack. Otherwise, if I see you checking your cellphone (or if your cellphone constantly interrupts class in some other way), your participation grade will suffer.