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Course Description

Although the course name emphasizes the design aspect of document creation, this class more broadly concerns rhetorically effective communication in a variety of print and online genres.  Our work throughout the semester will focus on strategies for evaluating and developing documents that engage and inform readers/users in a variety of circumstances. 

Throughout the term we will use readings, hands-on activities, and course projects to learn about and apply various approaches to visual communication.  We will spend considerable time discussing readings and the design principles highlighted by these authors.  We will use this material as a basis for critiquing and evaluating the document design work of others, as well as for learning how to apply and/or adapt such strategies to our own work.  Our focus will be on learning to craft texts that integrate effective visual and written strategies to create complete and compelling messages.

Please keep in mind that while the term document has connotations of print-based texts, visually-oriented and multimodal digital texts are increasingly central to our communication landscape.  For this reason, the course will include attention to paper- and screen-based texts and the technological tools used to create them. 

Course Goals
By the end of the semester students will:

  • be able to identify and apply basic design principles

  • know how to evaluate the effectiveness of a document’s overall design for a particular rhetorical situation

  • develop strategies for integrating visual and written communication in ways that are attentive to the needs of a given audience and purpose

  • become familiar with research on design, usability, and visual communication

  • become comfortable designing and producing a wide variety of document types according to conventions of the relevant genre

  • understand both when and how it is appropriate to break with conventional approaches to design