Visual Design for the Web

Instructor Aaron Ganci
Office hours by appointment or via Skype
Office: HR 154
Institution Herron School of Art and Design, IUPUI
Term Summer 2015, Session 1
Course HER-L 210 & -R 511
Section 15009 & 15072
Time TR 9:00am-2:00pm
Location HR 253

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.

Learning Objectives

At the end 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


Week Class Topic
1 14 May Intro to course. Getting familiar with visual language of the web.
2 19 May One site, two designs
21 May Analog + Digital
3 26 May Analog + Digital
28 May Connecting people online
4 2 June Connecting people online
4 June Connecting people online
5 9 June Responsive Design Plus
11 June Responsive Design Plus
6 16 June Responsive Design Plus
18 June Responsive Design Plus
7 23 June Final Critique
24 June Summer Session 1 courses officially over.

Assignment Links


Your grade will be broken down into the categories below*. Participation includes: being present and on time, asking and answering questions, helping to improve understanding of course content for others. Your full attention is expected during class time.

Category % of total
One site, two designs 10%
Analog + Digital 20%
Connecting People Online 30%
Responsive Design Plus 40%

*Categories and percentage breakdown subject to change.

How Attendance might impact your grade

Because this course is so short, attendance is critical. The course will heavily revolve around in-class actives, discussion, and critique. That said, there is only one unexcused absence allowed throughout the session. Because the course is so long (5 hours/session), it is possible to break up the one unexcused absence across multiple days (e.g. miss 9-11 one day and 11-2 another). Each subsequent absence will result in following reductions:

Number of absences Overall reduction
1 0%
2 -5%
3 -20%
4 -30%
5 -40%

Late work

Every assignment in this course will be due at the beginning of the class of its defined due date. Work that is not handed in via the method requested by the instructor (OnCourse, email, etc) by the predetermined time will be considered late. The consequences of late submission fall on sliding scale, increasing in severity over time. If late work is handed in within the following parameters, the grade will be reduced in the following ways:

Due date/time – same day, end of class -10%
Same day, end of class – same day, end of day (11:59pm) -15%
Next day (midnight – 11:59pm) -20%
Any subsequent day -50%
Grading scale
A+ 100-98
A 97-93
A- 92-90
B+ 89-87
B 86-83
B- 82-80
C+ 79-77
C 76-73
C- 72-70
D+ 69-67
D 66-63
D- 62-60
F 59-0


Brian Miller Above the Fold (Amazon)

John Duckett HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites (Amazon)


General Course Policies

All university approved course policies apply to this course. To reference the policies about course withdrawal, disabilities, academic integrity, and more, please see

Academic Integrity

Pay careful attention to the university policies on Academic misconduct. Cheating, fabrication, dishonesty, interference, and especially plagiarism will not be tolerated in this course. You can find more information about these topics in Indiana University's Code of Student Rights, Responsibilites, and Conduct.

Other important links

  • For students with documented disabilities, please visit Adaptive Educational Services.
  • The university has several policies and procedures when dealing with emergencies. You can find many of them, including Active Shooter situations, Bomb threats, Fire, and more at Protect IU. If you have not signed up for IU-Notify, you should now. This service keeps you informed of emergency or weather related events happening on campus. You can sign up here.
  • Find more details about withdrawal dates and more on the Summer 2015 Academic Calendar.