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New Interactive Web Design Curriculum

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A New Design Discipline

The graphic design industry has been shifting over the last fifteen years to include a new branch of design: interactive web design. This branch includes the following careers:

  • Graphic/Web Designer – typically a combination of traditional graphic design and web design. Experience with print-based approaches as well as web layout and HTML/CSS is normal.
  • Web Designer – a focused web design position that usually expects strong design skill as well as advanced abilities with HTML and CSS. JavaScript skills may be required as well.
  • Front-end Designer – Similar to the Web Designer, but most likely to require JavaScript skills and a knowledge of programming environments including the ability to collaborate successfully in application development settings.
  • Front-end Developer – Typically a more programming-focused position that expects HTML/CSS and JavaScript skills and might also expect additional programming skills. However, the emphasis is more on the aspects of the system (website or application) that the user sees, so strong abilities with aesthetic elements and user experience are preferred.
  • Interactive Designer – most likely to require skills similar to the positions above but with a greater interest in user experience.
  • User Experience Designer – likely to expect applicants to have abilities with design and font-end development, but the emphasis in these positions can be more focused on planning, researching, and testing concepts with users.
  • and others…

As the field matures, these positions and others should continue to settle into more distinct domains. But right now, the lines are blurred. What is in common between them all is…

  • a strong sense for effective visual communication and interactive design
  • intermediate to advanced skills with HTML and CSS
  • beginning to intermediate skills with JavaScript and other programming skills
  • experience with designing and implementing interactive solutions using these skills in combination
  • a high value for user-centered design and experience with usability and user testing
  • the ability to learn on the job and take on new challenges
  • the ability to collaborate well with peers from other disciplines

Our new Interactive Design Curriculum aims to prepare students to succeed in entry-level positions that require these skills.

The following diagram shows the course sequence and offering plans, effective Fall 2016. 

Curriculum sequence and offering schedule for new Interactive Web Design courses.

Note: VCD-2700 will be offered out of normal sequence in Fall 2015 and VCD-3600 will be offered out of normal sequence in Spring 2016. VCD-2600 and VCD-3700 will be offered every semester beginning Fall 2015.

Course Descriptions

We’ve revised existing courses and added new courses as follows:

VCD-2600 Web Design I

(previously GDES-2600 Web Design)

Students learn foundational concepts and skills for building usable and beautiful user-centered websites by exploring the differences between graphic design and interactive design, gaining experience with designing webpage layouts, and practicing the skills necessary for constructing and publishing web pages with HTML and CSS. Offered Fall and Spring semesters. No pre-requisites.

VCD-2700 Scripting for Interactivity (new)

Students are introduced to the disciplines of interaction design and front-end development and learn how to use current technologies and best practices to apply principles of interaction to achieve simple, user-centered, interactive effects on real-world projects. Offered Fall 2015 and Spring semesters afterwards beginning Spring 2017. Pre-requisites: VCD-2600 Web Design I.

VCD-3600 Web Design II

(previously GDES-3600 Advanced Web Design, but revised and with new prerequisites)

Students will learn advanced concepts and current techniques in web design including visual design, usability, grid layout, advanced CSS techniques, design for multiple devices, and other skills necessary to produce beautiful and professional user-centered websites quickly and efficiently. Students explore design styles for different genres of websites including sites for small businesses, corporations, service providers, ministries, news and blogs. Offered Spring 2016 and Fall semesters afterwards. Pre-requisites: VCD-1000 Graphic Design for Non-majors or VCD-2400 Graphic Design I; VCD-2600 Web Design I; VCD-2700 Scripting for Interactivity.

VCD-3700 User Experience (UX) and Interface Design

(previously GDES-4600 Interactive Interface Design)

Students will study the principles of user experience and interface design, including processes, research methods, and concept testing. They apply principles through conceptualizing, testing and prototyping real-world projects for websites, web applications, mobile applications, gaming consoles and other emerging technologies. Pre-requisites: VCD-1000 Graphic Design for Non-majors or VCD-2400 Graphic Design I; VCD-2600 Web Design I.

VCD-4600 Web Design III (new)

Students survey current trends and developments in the fields of user experience, web design, and interactive design, and apply new knowledge and skills to create an experimental interactive project. Offered Fall semesters beginning in 2016. Pre-requisites: VCD-3600 Web Design II.

VCD-4700 Interactive Design Capstone (new)

Students complete a capstone project that combines skills from previous classes. They will research, plan, conceptualize, prototype, test, develop, and implement a fully functional real-world interactive project. Offered Spring semesters beginning Spring 2017. Pre-requisites: VCD-3700 User Experience and Interface Design; VCD-4600 Web Design III.