Course Policies

Course Staff

Name Role Contact
Michid Byambajav Instructor
Sophia Matthews Instructor
Aditya Mavalankar Instructor

For general questions, students are encouraged to make a private post on Ed. They can also reach out to course staff at, though posts on Ed will receive faster replies. Contact information for the TA’s will be published later on the course website.

Office Hours

We’ll offer many slots of office hours throughout the week for you to drop in and ask questions about anything you want! Details will be posted on the course website at the start of the semester.

About the Course

This class is an 11-week introduction to design theory and design practice, with a focus on human-centered design. The course will have an emphasis on digital design but concepts of physical design will also be covered. The course meets weekly for two hours for discussions, guest speakers, activities developing fundamental design skills, and project “crit” sessions. This class will provide its students with a fun and comprehensive look into all facets of design, experience working on design projects, and potential portfolio pieces.

No previous design experience is required, however, it is imperative that students have an open mind, a willingness to get out of their comfort zone, and a sense of humor.

The class meets in Jacobs 310 every Monday from 7 PM to 9 PM.

Information about the DeCal, including course materials like slides and readings, can be found at

Evaluation and Grading

This class can only be taken P/NP. Students will be evaluated based on attendance, participation in discussions, activities, and crit sessions, as well as weekly homework assignments and completion of projects.

Weekly homework assignments will be key to understanding and putting into practice the design concepts taught in class. Two design projects must be completed by the end of the semester, with each project reflecting an increasing level of conceptual refinement.

  • 30% Homework Assignments

  • 30% Group Project (midterm)

  • 40% Individual Project (final)

Students must receive at least a 70% score to pass the DeCal.

You’re allowed a MAXIMUM OF ONE UNEXCUSED ABSENCE, no questions asked and no makeup assignment needed.

If you exceed one unexcused absence/missed makeup assignment, you may fail the course. Please see below for more information.

In addition, there will be an introductory, midpoint, and final survey, designed to gauge the students’ progress and identify ways the DeCal can be improved. Completion of all three surveys is required to pass.


Attendance is mandatory and will be recorded every week. If you exceed 1 unexcused absence, you may not pass the course.  For every class you miss, you will be assigned a makeup assignment for that week, to be completed by the next class.

The final showcase during class time on April 22nd is MANDATORY. If you are unable to attend this session, you will not pass the course.


Throughout the semester, students will be expected to participate in class discussions, hands-on activities, workshops, and provide constructive criticism to each others’ design projects during design crits. Everyone is expected to participate and contribute to the class each week, in some manner or form.

We recommend getting a small notebook for taking notes as well as brainstorming and sketching throughout the semester and beyond. There will also be career development activities, with a class session focused on developing a portfolio and presenting your work, and another session being a panel with industry speakers.

Design Projects

Throughout the semester, you’ll go through two cycles of the design process in a group midterm project and individual final project, with increasing levels of conceptual refinement.

The midterm project, completed in groups of 4-5, focuses on user empathy. In a group, students will pick a problem scope, develop a “how might we” statement, create and conduct a research plan, synthesize the research, and present their findings to the class on the attendance mandatory midterm presentation.

The final project, completed individually, builds off the midterm project. Students take their insights and get to work, ideating prototyping, evaluating, and improving their ideas. Students’ work will evolve from concepts, to low-fidelity prototypes, to high-fidelity prototypes. Finally, students will create a case study of their work and present it in the last week of class in a symposium style showcase.

More information about this will be provided later in the semester.

Course Schedule

Here is the planned schedule for Spring 2024. Changes may be made due to unforeseen circumstances.

Week Concepts & Activities
1 Introduction to Human-Centered Design + Needfinding
2 Research + Synthesis Methods
3 Using Figma + Visual Design Principles
4 More Figma + Design Ethics
5 Storytelling
6 Mid-Point Presentations
7 Ideation: Convergent + Divergent Thinking
8 Prototyping
9 Concept Validation
10 Guest Speaker Panel
11 Final Showcase

Course Readings & Materials

In addition to lectures, assignments, and projects, there are also weekly readings to supplement the content discussed each week. Readings will vary from case studies to academic writings to career perspectives. Students will discuss and engage in the readings via discussion boards on bCourses. The assigned reading schedule goes as follows:

Week Reading(s)
1 “The ‘OK’ Computer” by Adi Robinson; “Beyond ‘Good Job’: How to Give Impactful Feedback” by Zach Adams
2 The Design of Everyday Things,” Chapter 1, by Donald A. Norman“; “I was Meant to be a UX Researcher” by Eshita Priyadarshini
3 “Accessibility vs. Inclusive Design” by Therese Fessenden; “The death og Glitch, the birth of Slack” by Johnny Rodgers
4 “Deceptive Patterns in UX: How to Recognize and Avoid Them” by Maria Rosala
5 “Design in Action Case Studies” by Stanford
6 n/a
7 “Ideation in Practice: How Effective UX Teams Generate Ideas” by Aurora Harley
8 “How Do I Prototype My Ideas?” by IDEO
9 “Ten Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design” by Jakob Nielsen
10 “6 Ways to Develop Your UX Design Career” by Google Design
11 n/a

Instructor Supervision

The DeCal instructor of record, Professor Kosa Goucher-Lambert, will attend class intermittently to observe student progress. He will be invited to each of the project presentations and critique days to provide feedback for students and instructors and view the student projects. The facilitators will meet with him during his scheduled office hours to update him on course progress and establish techniques to more effectively engage the students.