Advanced Interface Design: Course Syllabus

Course Description

ART 434 is the concluding course in the graphic design sequence. It is an advanced exploration of interaction and information design focusing on user interfaces for interactive platforms, from mobile devices to larger dynamic informatics and interpretive media installations. Via hands-on, collaborative problem-solving, students will gain skills needed to work in contemporary digital environments. Topics covered include human-computer interaction (HCI) and user-experience design (UXD) principles. Students will design and build interactive prototypes, while continuing to build a strong foundation of graphic design fundamentals through practical application.


You must complete ART 334, ART 336, and ART 337, with a grade of “C” or better and complete the Visual Arts Milestone (portfolio review process) before taking this class.

Learning Objectives

Required Texts

In lieu of required textbooks, you will have required tutorials from that relate to the software you be expected to learn.

Department of Visual Arts’ EXCLUSIVE ACCESS to In partnership with UMBC’s Division of Information Technology (DoIT) ALL students enrolled in ART courses in Fall’17/Spring’18 will have access to, the on-demand learning provider. Take full advantage of this resource, not only to complete the assigned tutorials but also to expand your knowledge and skill-set beyond classroom expectations by browsing for additional learning opportunities.

There are several books available, but not required, that will expand upon what you learn during the course of the semester. Many, if not all of the A Book Apart collection is available in the library so check them out.

There are quite a few recommended magazines and blogs you should be following if you are serious about web design and development.

If reading isn’t your thing, but you still want to learn more about web design there are quite a few podcasts worth following.


You will need the following software and supplies.

Policy on Classroom Expectations

24 hours prior to a project or exercise being due I will not answer project related questions via email or before/during/after class. You should not be starting a project 48 hours before it’s due! I will still answer project related questions regardless of deadline if you stop by during my office hours.

FYI, 5 classes is considered a typical course load 15 credits a semester x 8 semesters = 120 credits. Each class is 4 contact hours 4 hours x 5 classes = 20 hours. Each class also has 4 hours of outside work each week 20 classroom hours + 20 outside work hours = 40 hrs). I will assign projects and readings each week to fit within that formula. If you can’t commit to a minimum of 4 hours of outside work each week you won’t do well in this course.

Finally, read the class blog first. 99.9% of your questions have already been answered and are on the blog, including your grades and my office hours and contact info! If you email me a question that is already on the blog I’ll remind you to read the blog.

Policy on Progression of Work

You will be expected to show the progression of your work on a per class basis. The following is a list of terms we will use throughout the course to describe the stages of your design process. Our projects will generally follow these steps:

Present Concepts

Your “big picture” for the project including written narratives, research you’ve carried out, background information, target audience and influences. Your design is not set in stone at this point but you have laid the groundwork and have a clear idea of what you intend to do.

Preliminary Layout Sketch/Rough

A detailed sketch (may incorporate collage but should not be done on the computer) that is to scale and shows placement of content including images and text and interactions. For example you’ll need to diagram what happens when a user clicks, swipes, goes to a new page, etc.

Computer Rough/Tight Rough

A working wireframe in HTML/CSS of your design with all the type and images placed. It’s not expected to be refined at this point.

First Final

A fully functional, non user tested final version of your design.


A fully functional, deployed, user tested final version of your design. You may have had to make minor adjustments between the First Final and the Final.

Policy on Grading

Over the course of the semester you will earn points by completing assignments (this could include process work such as sketches, downloading software, computer mockups or working prototypes) and quizzes. Assignments and quizzes will range anywhere from 5 to 20 points depending on complexity with clearly identified point values on the specific assignment/quiz blog post. Quizzes turned in late will be given a 0, no exceptions, so save your quiz confirmation emails!

Because every assignment is different, each individual assignment will have a grading rubric describing how I will be assessing the assignment. Be sure to carefully review each assignment blog post and it’s grading rubric to ensure you have successfully completed the assignment.

Policy on Late Work, Incompletes, and Make-Up

Professionalism will be stressed. Treat this class as you would a job. Late arrival to a client meeting or missed deadlines will cost you a job and your ex-employer a client. Therefore, all assignments must be completed on time, and are due at the beginning of class.

An assignment not ready for the start of class will be considered late. Assignments lose 10% each day not class period they are late. Assignments over 7 days late will be given a 0, no exceptions. Turn in your Assignments even if you aren’t finished, it’s better to turn in something. Getting partial points is better than getting a 0.

The semester grading scale is as follows:

Policy on Attendance

Students must be on time to class, prepared with all the tools and materials necessary for that day’s work and have completed personal conversations so class can begin on time. If a student does not have materials to work with, or is talking away ignoring the start of class, it will be noted. Unless UMBC officially closes, there are no excused absences for weather.

You get two personal days (unexcused absences). On your third absence your final course grade will be lowered by one full letter grade. Your fourth unexcused absence will lower your final course grade by two full letter grades, meaning if you had an A, the highest grade you can receive is a C. Your fifth absence will result in a failing course grade. There are no exceptions to this policy. The only excused absences—illness or participation in UMBC organized mandatory activities—must be accompanied by a note from the UMBC Student Health Center, another health care provider, or UMBC faculty/coach.

Attendance will be taken within the first 10 minutes of class. Students who show up after attendance is taken are already marked absent. Being late disrupts the flow of class for the students who are on time if I have to stop everything to update your attendance from absent to late. To avoid disrupting the class to change your Absent to a Late you will need to use the class blog to submit a late notification. Failure to do this in a timely manner upon arrival to class will result in your late arrival remaining an absence. There are no exception to this policy. Lates will be recorded in ten minute increments. For every ten minutes you are late, you will receive one-tenth of an absence. Ten one-tenths of an absence equal one full absence. Lates will be recorded in twenty minute increments. For every 110 minutes you are late, you will receive an absence. Unlike absences in grade tracker, lates will not be automatically tallied into your final grade.

Just as important as being on time is staying for the entire class period. By the latter half of the semester I will give open class time at the end of each period for working on class related projects. You are expected to be working during this time. Leaving early will be treated the same as a late. Two early departures from class will result in one absence.

A grade of Incomplete will only be assigned to students who currently have a passing grade of a B or higher who are unable to complete the course due to a serious illness or personal tragedy that is well documented and out of their control.

Policy on Final Exam Attendance

The final exam will be held during the final exam period posted on the UMBC website for our class. The final exam could consist of a critique, in class quiz or simply turning in assignment files. In person attendance for the final exam is mandatory. Failure to attend the final exam will result in lowering your final course grade by one letter grade.

The only excused absences—illness or participation in UMBC organized mandatory activities or a common final exam with an overlapping time—must be accompanied by a note from the UMBC Student Health Center, another health care provider, or UMBC faculty/coach.

Policy on Use of Stock Photography and Other Imagery

Your portfolio is just another word for your reputation, which is just another word for your integrity. @monteiro

While there is a very small place in the industry for the use of stock photography, imagery and code, as a designer your are hired on you ability to create visual content, not use content created by others. There aren’t any legitimate design jobs for designers who use the work of others either claiming it as there own, or using it because you don’t want to create your own. If all designers had to do was buy or steal the work from others, why would anybody need a designer?

In this class, this means that all imagery used during the semester must be your own or supplied by me. If I suspect that you have copied the work of others I will ask to see your original sketches and digital files. If you find work that is listed as creative commons, technically you are free to use it if you cite the original author, but again, you are designers and you are the content generators.

Copying the code—HTML/CSS/jQuery—of others is a legitimate way to learn to design and develop for the web. There are tons of repositories and tutorials out there such as Code Pen and Pattern Lab available to you. However, you should never simply cut and paste the code from one of these sources and say it’s your design. While you learn from mimicking these sources you are still expected to significantly change the visual look and context of use.

UMBC Statement of Values for Academic Integrity

By enrolling in this course, each student assumes the responsibilities of an active participant in UMBC’s scholarly community in which everyone’s academic work and behavior are held to the highest standards of honesty. Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and helping others to commit these acts are all forms of academic dishonesty, and they are wrong. Academic misconduct could result in disciplinary action that may include, but is not limited to, suspension or dismissal. To read the full Student Academic Conduct Policy, consult UMBC policies, or the Faculty Handbook (Section 14.3). For graduate courses, see the Graduate School website.

Access and Accommodations

UMBC is committed to eliminating discriminatory obstacles that disadvantage students based on disability. Student Support / Academic Accommodation is the UMBC department designated to:

Course Calendar

Weeks 1–8

User Research & Process Webpage

Weeks 9–15

Personal/Group Interventions

Week 16

Final projects due.

Visiting Artists and Designers: Fall 2017 Schedule

The Gun Show: Opening Reception

Thursday, September 17th at 5:00pm Center for Art Design and Visual Culture

Visiting Artist talk by Barbara Hammer

Wednesday, September 13th at 5:30pm PAHB Room 132

Visiting Artist talk by Brandon Morse

Wednesday, Ocotber 4th at 5:30pm FA107

Visiting Artist talk by Wayward Wild’s Brad Smith

Monday, October 16th at 12:00pm UC310

Visiting Artist Talk by Julia Adeney Thomas

Thursday, December 7th at 4:00pm Library and Gallery, Albin O.Kuhn : Library Gallery

Talk by James Smalls

Wednesday, November 15th at 4:00pm Library and Gallery, Albin O.Kuhn : Library Gallery

Anything and Everything is Subject to Change and posts to the class blog supersede the syllabus!*

*The Really Big Disclaimer