Course Description

This introductory studio course addresses the design, composition, and construction of interactivity in web-based environments. Students learn to apply the principles and processes of web design as well as concepts of user interface such as metaphor, motivation, navigation, usability, functionality, performance, narrative and spatiality.   Students learn to compose simple image, video animation and sound material, and apply introductory HTML and CSS concepts.

Interactivity: Web Essentials course addresses the common requirements for designing and building websites. The course encourages participants to view and understand the web as a new creative canvas. By deconstructing a number of websites and describing the advantages and disadvantages of various design strategies in the online space, students will learn to apply critical thinking and discover new avenues for creating websites. Students are expected to participate in all class discussions including topics like design principles and web conventions and are asked to present their work regularly to benefit from peer review in a studio-like environment.

While focusing on designing for the web this course also provides a strong emphasis on understanding the technical requirements for building websites. Students will be introduced to the basics of HTML and CSS, slicing and optimizing images for the web and various techniques for making objects on a webpage react to mouse interactions and moving objects on the screen. The course stresses the importance of using web standards to develop websites, and considering issues regarding usability, readability and accessibility.

The Web Essentials course has a strong emphasis on understanding the process of creating websites from an industry standard practise. Students are introduced to the various phases of a web project and are encourages to follow and practise these processes with the projects that will be assigned to them.

Course learning outcomes

Upon course completion students are expected to demonstrate the following learning outcomes with a basic understanding and skills:


Strategic thinking

1. The ability to describe and respond to audiences and contexts in need of web design solutions,including recognition of the physical, cognitive, cultural and social human factors that shape design decisions;

2. The ability to create and describe appropriate design approaches for presenting multiple types of content in the context of websites.

Conceptual Development

3. The ability to plan, analyze, create and evaluate websites solutions to communication problems according to the audiences and contexts for which the design is intended;

4. The ability to take risks, demonstrate originality, and create imaginative visual form that informs, educates,entertains or persuades the intended audience

5. The ability to manage and deploy software and digital technologies effectively with knowledge and skill;

Design Refinement

6. The ability to create and develop visual response to communication problems, including understanding of hierarchy, typography, aesthetics, composition and construction of meaningful images;

7. The ability to solve communication problems including identifying the problem, researching, analysis, solution generating, prototyping, user testing and outcome evaluation

Design Implementation

8. The ability to apply industry standard techniques to create websites.

9. The ability to demonstrate an understanding of proper file management and basic web hosting needs.

10. The ability to use Photoshop as a tool for creating website design compositions.

11. The ability to slice and optimize images from a photoshop mockup into optimized image files appropriate for the web context.

12. The ability to program simple effective web pages with HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).

13. To demonstrate an strong working understanding of how to upload files via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to a web server and publish a website.

Project Management

14. The ability to apply basic professional practices, including time management, punctuality and consistent attendance, class participation, resourcefulness, ethical behaviour, and realistic self-assessment.


A combination of content/concept presentations together with technical demos and presentations will offer the student a full array of knowledge components for their introductory investigation of interactive media. Along with that, most class sessions will incorporate 45-60 minutes of in-class work time to work directly with the conceptual and technical material offered in that class.
1. Content Presentation: 30 min – 60 min
A presentation of issues with supporting examples on a particular theme introducing key content and concepts of interactivity including those from such domains as culture, education, commerce, and the sciences. All together these presentations will offer a concise overview of major movements in art, design, and media, as well as the other arts, such as sound and literature, which either directly or laterally impact interactive Communication Design.

2. Workshop: 60 – 90 min
A presentation of the development and application of interactive digital skills. A guided participatory walk-through of each week’s assigned readings that expands or focus on certain technical aspects of interactive software. Students will follow along, participate, discuss and question the various skill-sets in each of the authoring environments on-screen.

3. In-class Work session: 60 min
Each week’s supervised work session begins with the presentation of homework assignment. The instructor will be available for individual assistance and support. The period allows students to immediate begin to fold in material from both the Content and Technical Presentations

Evaluation Criteria

Students are expected to spend from 3-6 hours per week outside of class time to research material and master technical, practical and conceptual principles covered in class.
To achieve the above learning objectives, students are expected to:

  • Attend and actively participate in class discussions, workshop exercises and critiques. Attendance and participation are linked. Quality participation includes being prepared to discuss your own as well as other’s work, active listening, supporting your fellow class members by participating in their learning environment by sharing ideas and technical knowledge. Intellectual disagreement is encouraged. This class is nowhere without you.
  • Submit completed assignments and projects within the allotted time. 5 points will be deducted for each day the assignment is over due. All assignments are due on the due date posed on your personal DIVA 205 website. These deliverables count towards your project and participation grade.
  • Research, read information on course subjects and study assigned Web sites – Part of the research grade will be based on demonstration of course topics and concepts reflected in your projects.

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