Herron School of Art and Design

People-Centered Experience Design Capstone

Syllabus / Spring 2018


HER-V 413
HER-V 422




MWF 12:00–2:30pm


Aaron Ganci
Helen Sanematsu

Capstone: the highpoint, crowning achievement. Ex: the capstone of her career.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Dec. 2017

Overview + Content

Note: This syllabus replaces the syllabi for both V413 (Digital Experience Design II) and V422 (Designing People-Centered Services II).

This course is the culmination of your four-year undergraduate training in Visual Communication Design. Since entering this major, you have been trained in ‘best practices’ in two-dimensional design and typography; you have learned and applied basic principles in color theory; you have expanded your ‘mark-making’ palette and explored how the visual makes meaning; you have been introduced to design histories and theories; and you have learned about the fundamentals and principles of time-based media, interactivity, and mass-production in print. Along the way, you have been made aware of the central role played by the viewer/audience—or, ‘user’—in current design practice. ‘People-centered research’ was the focus of our activities in our previous term, both in Digital Experience Design and Service Experience Design.

We aim to build off all of the above in your capstone project.

Your capstone should reflect the depth and breadth of your learning in application to a project that is deeply meaningful to you. Your capstone work will be the core of your senior show.

Structure + Process

This class meets 7.5 hours each week. Most class sessions will be structured with individual advising sessions and presentations at each project milestone. As you are in in control of the progression and outcomes of your project, you should utilize class time effectively: meet with the instructor(s), prompt a critique, pilot you solutions, ask questions, and work smart. Additional activities (lectures, tutorials, critique, etc.) may be added to class session at the instructor’s discretion. You are expected to work a minimum of 9 hours outside of class per week to achieve the class goals.

You (YOU!) determine the structure of your capstone experience. Your responses to the Typeform ‘topic’ survey, and those from the ‘Jump-Start’ questionnaire (from day 1 of this term) are designed to help you do this. These two tools will help you determine:

  1. A defined context and problem space.
  2. Intended modes of ‘making’.
  3. A rough plan for how to engage with people in order to learn about your problem space (design research).
  4. A week-by-week schedule, including phases for research, making, and documentation.

Learning Objectives

Because of the individualized nature of the projects, learning outcomes from the capstone course vary greatly, and depend on the student’s choice of topic and design practice (digital experience, service experience, branding, motion graphics, etc.).

Some outcomes will be common to all students, however. By the end of this course, all students will be able to:

  • Define a problem context area that is both urgent and personal.
  • Combine human-centered research methods together to develop a unique and appropriate research plan.
  • Use digital experience and interaction design industry terminology knowledgeably.
  • Think critically about emerging trends in communication delivery (media) and service.
  • Apply concepts from service design to complex, systems-based problems.
  • Write personas that inform the design of experiences (‘real life’ and digital).
  • Use a concept scenario as a tool to describe an interaction design concept.
  • Prototype artifacts for design development/evaluation (‘minimum viable product’).
  • Conduct evaluative tests to evaluate the success of a design solution.
  • Translate a complex, messy research and design process into a succinct narrative.


In the schedule below, you can see each day's class activity. When assignments are due or you need to bring materials to class, it is noted in the schedule with this icon:

Schedule is subject to change at the instructor's discretion

Week Class Topic

8 Jan

Course Introduction; Discussion: the senior thesis process

10 Jan

Individual discussions about project direction

12 Jan

Individual discussions about project direction


15 Jan

No Class: Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

17 Jan

Individual discussions about project direction

19 Jan

Individual discussions about project direction

Conduct primary or secondary research within context


22 Jan

Conduct primary or secondary research within context

24 Jan

Conduct primary or secondary research within context

26 Jan

Conduct primary or secondary research within context

4 29 Jan

Conduct landscape analysis

31 Jan

Writing refinement

Rough draft of paper due

2 Feb

Introduction to prototyping process; begin low-fidelity prototyping

5 5 Feb

Low-fidelity prototyping

7 Feb

Low-fidelity prototyping

9 Feb

Open Critique

Evaluative Process - Justification Paper due

6 12 Feb

Evaluative testing or individual discussion with instructor

14 Feb

Medium-fidelity prototyping

16 Feb

Open Critique

Exploratory Process - Justification Paper due

7 19 Feb

Medium-fidelity prototyping

21 Feb

Medium-fidelity prototyping

23 Feb

Open Critique

8 26 Feb

Medium-fidelity prototyping

28 Feb

Medium-fidelity prototyping

2 Mar

Open Critique

9 5 Mar

High-fidelity prototyping

7 Mar

High-fidelity prototyping

9 Mar

Discuss presentation format

10 12 Mar

Spring Break

14 Mar

Spring Break

16 Mar

Spring Break

11 19 Mar

No class: Faculty retreat

21 Mar

Individual discussion with instructor

23 Mar

Individual discussion with instructor

12 26 Mar

Discuss final deliverables. Final revisions to design; Individual discussion with instructor

28 Mar

Prototyping process overview document.

Discuss final deliverables. Final revisions to design; Individual discussion with instructor

30 Mar

Final revisions to design; Individual discussion with instructor

13 2 Apr

Final revisions to design; Individual discussion with instructor

4 Apr

Final revisions to design; Individual discussion with instructor

6 Apr

Presentation Day 1

14 9 Apr

Presentation Day 2

11 Apr

Presentation Day 3

13 Apr

Presentation Day 4

15 16 Apr

Document Refinement, Show Prep, or Poster design

18 Apr

Document Refinement, Show Prep, or Poster design

20 Apr

Document Refinement, Show Prep, or Poster design

16 23 Apr

Thesis Document Due

Show Prep

25 Apr

Show Prep

27 Apr

Show Prep

Finals 2 May

Capstone Exhibition: Professional night

3 May

Capstone Exhibition: Public night

12 May



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
Justification Document 20%
Process overview document 10%
Senior Thesis Presentation 10%
Senior Thesis Document 60%

*Categories and percentage breakdown subject to change.

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


Cooper, Alan. 2014. "About Face 4: The Essentials of Interaction Design."

The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed. (Website)

Garrett, Jesse J. 2010. "The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web and Beyond" (2nd Edition).

Hanington, Bruce, and Bella Martin. 2012. “Universal Methods of Design: 100 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions”

Kalbach, James. 2016. “Mapping Experiences: A Complete Guide to Creating Value Through Journeys, Blueprints, and Diagrams.”

Lo Min Ming. "UI, UX: Who Does What? A Designer's Guide To The Tech Industry." http://www.fastcodesign.com/3032719/ui-ux-who-does-what-a-designers-guide-to-the-tech-industry

Luca Leone. "How do you design Interaction?" http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/07/21/how-do-you-design-interaction/

Rogers, Yvonne, Helen Sharp, and Jennifer Preece. 2014. Interaction design: beyond human-computer interaction. Chichester: Wiley.

Saffer, Dan. 2007. Designing for interaction: creating smart applications and clever devices. Berkeley CA: New Riders.

Stickdorn, Mark, and Jakob Schneider. 2010. “This is Service Design Thinking”


Attendance Policy

Being present and active in this class will have a positive impact on your design skills and abilities. What you learn in this class and your growth as a designer is directly related to your engagement with course projects and in-class discussions. We plan the semester around how we can most effectively impact your learning within the time we have together (a.k.a. our class sessions).

Attendance will be taken every day so we can track trends. If you start missing a significant percentage of class sessions or we see a decline in your work, we will request a meeting with you to discuss the cause. As with all IUPUI courses, we follow the Administrative Withdrawal Policy. This policy basically says that if you miss 50% of the sessions in the first quarter of the course, you may be administratively withdrawn from the course. That withdrawal may have financial ramifications as you may no longer be eligible for a tuition refund. Read more about Administrative Withdrawal Policy.

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 http://registrar.iupui.edu/course_policies.html.

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, Responsibilities, 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.
  • Here are links to the Spring 2018 Academic Calendar and Finals schedule.

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