This class focuses on producing rhetorically effective communication by concentrating on the way documents are designed. We will use readings, hands-on activities, and projects to study and apply various approaches to visual communication and storytelling, with emphasis on typography, page and screen layout, data displays, pictorial communication, and usability testing for both print and online documents. Design theory will inform our critique and evaluation of the work of others as well as the production of documents for class projects or students’ work in their disciplines. Students will publish design projects to their own personal web domain using readily available, easy-to-use tools. This class participates in the Domain of One’s Own initiative. No prior technical knowledge or media-making experience is required.

By the time you finish this course, you should be able to

  • Think and write critically about how various media shape the message you’re delivering.
  • Tell stories and forward arguments using visual displays of data.
  • Choose an appropriate combination of delivery methods for your messages.
  • Know how to arrange objects on the page/screen to achieve intended effects.
  • Explain how color scheme, typography, layout, and picture choices can change how readers perceive and use designed materials.
  • Develop basic competency in software packages that allow you to create messages in online and print media.
  • Test your designs so that you can determine the impact their work has on actual audiences.