Fall 2019
2 W 13th St.,
Room 1201

Jacob Heftmann
Office hours by appointment

Fall 2019
2 W 13th St.,
Room 1201

Jacob Heftmann
Office hours by appointment



This course teaches students intermediate and advanced methods in typography and interactive design to successfully meet the ever changing challenges of designing successful products and services for screens. These comprehensive methods will also support students to complete their projects in other studio classes. Students will learn how to address design problems meaningfully within the context of current design practices, while working towards developing an individualized working methodology. They will use their newly acquired design vocabulary to critique and critically discuss work produced by themselves and others.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the semester, you will be able to:
1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of and be able to critically analyze type, form, and interactivity as it applies to screen-based media.
2. Have the ability to create clear user interfaces appropriate for a given product/service.
3. Incorporate user-driven interactivity on a website.
4. Have an understanding of contemporary discoverability patterns and how to successfully determine when to employ this tactic.
5. Understand the use of input and output devices in communication design practice.
6. Use a sophisticated vocabulary of visual language and typography to analyze, critique, and frame constructive conversations about contemporary graphic design work.
7. Ability to give, receive, and respond to criticism in a productive manner.

Course Outline

Hierarchy & Clarity

The first segment of the course helps students to become familiar with creating visual hierarchy and clarity to help guide users toward the information that is most useful to them. Students will explore typographic forms to create meaning and purpose.

Affordances & Nudges

Affordances are the visual representation of all the possibilities a product/service offers, while nudges help to guide users toward a desired outcome. In this segment of the course, students will explore interface patterns that appropriately communicate the featureset of a product/service. They will also address how interactivity can be constructed via user-centered design, mental models, and user feedback in order to create unique experiences that reinforce meaning.


A good product or service encourages discoverability. Thinking about how a user moves through content is as important as the affordances and nudges offered to the user. In this segment of the course, students will consider onboarding, zero states, payoffs, lateral and dynamic navigation strategies to ensure the user always has the opportunity to take an additional step should they want to.

User Experience & Delight

Whether a user is just signing up or completing a transaction, the experience should be a satisfying one. Every microinteraction the user takes influences their perception of a product/service. A product/service that is functional, but lacks a point of view isn’t memorable or sticky. In this segment of the course, students will consider how to make room for surprise and delight to create an engaging experience that keeps users coming back.


Full project descriptions will be provided before the project is assigned, and can be found on the PROJECTS page.

All assignments will be presented for critique. Please be prepared to share your work every week.

Because of our focus on working methodologies and critique, it is important that you save all of your work, not just the final outcomes. You will need to document your sketches, iterations, versions, notes, photographs, etc. and submit them with your projects.

Studio (class)

Studio time will be used for discussion, making, and critique.


Assigned reading

There will be occasional reading assignments. Please see the schedule and project pages.

Full reading list

Tools and Resources

Required readings, software, etc. will be linked from the schedule and/or weekly class notes.

Additionally, I keep a continually updated list of reference material, useful tools, readings, etc. on the CLASS RESOURCES page.


I have made the information for this course public in the hopes that other people will find it useful. If you re-use any of it in your own practice or course, please credit appropriately.

Thanks to Paul Soullelis, John Caserta, Laurel Schwulst, Brendan Griffiths, and Tiff Hockin for inspiring and guiding.

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