FADN303 Web Design
Roski School of Art and Design
University of Southern California Spring, 2017

Instructor: Joe Potts, Email: josephpo@usc.edu
Classroom: Harris Hall 112D
Class time: Friday, 2:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.
Office hours: Friday, 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. (by appointment)

Course Description

FADN 303 Web Design is a workshop based course that focuses on advanced software applications in design through the exploration of design germination, ideation and application/execution. Students will gain a thorough understanding of design software usage, as they are applied in the field of design - specifically through web and interaction design. This course covers basic methods for the design and construction of user-centered internet websites using HTML5, CSS3, Javascript and Photoshop.

The course begins with students analyzing and exploring the source documents (HTML, CSS) of web sites that they regularly visit in order to understand fundamental relationships between mark-up, semantics, and structure. It continues with an overview of software utilities used in the design and development of websites including text editors, FTP clients, and Adobe Photoshop, as used for digital imaging and compositing of artwork/photos. It then moves on to topics that include web design principles, architecture, navigation and advanced graphic techniques. This is followed with intensive instruction on creating websites using HTML, CSS and CMS. In-class instructions include class lectures, assignments, deconstructing case-study websites, and readings. Students will be given exercises and projects to be completed during and outside of class. This is a design studio course and projects will be graded based on execution of design as well as software proficiency.

Learning Objectives

  • To explore the most effective and current computer tools used in creating design for imaging and websites.
  • To explore the tools and techniques available through graphic software programs.
  • To raise awareness about design and its implementation in the digital environment.
  • To critically analyze and evaluate website designs.
  • To create a personal website showcasing student's work by using dynamic web design techniques.
  • To gain a thorough understanding of web authoring and related graphic programs and to explore best practices for creating websites and digital files.

Prerequisites: FADN 203 - Digital Tools for Design & FADN 202 - Design II

Best Practices

  • Additional critique, feedback, and troubleshooting cannot be effectively conveyed through email. Please email the professor to arrange a meeting during office hours to address these requests
  • Close all tabs, windows, and applications and restart your computer at the beginning of each class
  • Clear your browser history completely at the beginning of each class
  • Browse in "Private" or "Incognito" mode, and use a script blocking extension (NoScript, ScriptBlock)
  • Install and test on as many browsers (Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Opera) and devices as possible. If you're encountering issues, try running it on another browser.

Standard Procedures and Ground Rules

Students are expected to attend all classes and arrive promptly. Attendance will be taken and can impact your grade. Due to the limited number of class hours and contact time, the in-class instruction will focus on lectures and critiques. Students are expected to complete projects, exercises and additional studio time outside of class - a complete listing of computer labs / hours on campus will be provided. Mutual respect in the classroom is critical. Critique is inevitable. Criticism will be constructive, and is based in the appropriateness of the idea and not the dignity of the individual. It is imperative to meet the deadlines given, every class day a project is late the student will be penalized one grade (10%) on their assignment. Every week the class will engage in a discussion topic that explores the impact that computing and the world wide web has had on culture at large, and design practice in particular. Discussion topics will be given during the class meeting the previous week.

Software tools to be utilized include:


  • Laptop computer
  • Sketchbook
  • Pens, pencils
  • USB thumb drive

Course Requirements & Grading

Grades will be assigned according to strength of the concept/design, process/implementation and presentation/craftsmanship.

Grading will be based on the following:

  • 40% - technical exercises
  • 40% - creative projects
  • 20% - class participation, homework, involvement

Students are responsible for all assignments, including homework, in-class work, critiques, presentations, demos, readings, process and archiving work on removable media. It is the student's responsibility to submit missed work and information missed if absent. Attendance is crucial for the success of this class; students must attend class since information exchanged in a group discussion or setting may not be imparted through handouts or notes.

  • 95 - 100 A  = 4.0
  • 90 - 94  A- = 3.7
  • 85 - 89  B+ = 3.3
  • 80 - 84  B  = 3.0
  • 75 - 79  B- = 2.7
  • 70 - 74  C+ = 2.3
  • 65 - 69  C  = 2.0

Requirements for Assignments

  • Do not discard any of your work or research. You will be asked to turn in all research and iterations of your progress with each project. Research may be stored in sketchbooks, documented through photos or in e-journals formats such as blogs by other digital means.
  • All homework and assignments must be submitted on time, in the format outlined. Late assignments will be docked one full grade for each week they are late.
  • All work to be critiqued must be ready for display at the start of class. Hardcopies should be cropped and pinned to the wall by the start of class. Project images should be saved in the appropriate formats and ready to present. Please consider presentation and its display.
  • Please proof read and spell-check your work. Writing and designing use different sides of the brain. It is common for designers to misspell familiar words. All cited work must include a bibliography.
  • Label all work that is handed in clearly! Work submitted via email attachment should include the student's name in the document name. (e.g.: lastname_firstname_assignmentname.zip)


This is a studio-based class. Attendance is crucial to the success of the student. Please note that the design area adheres to the following attendance policy:

  • After missing the rough equivalent of 10% of regular class meetings (3 classes) the student's grade and ability to complete the course will be negatively impacted.
  • Being absent on the day a project or assignment is due can lead to an "F" for that project or assignment. Absence will be excused if accompanied by a doctor's note.
  • It is always the student's responsibility to seek means (if possible) to make up work missed due to absences, although such recourse is not always an option due to the nature of the material covered.
  • It should be understood that 100% attendance does not positively affect a final grade.
  • Any falsification of attendance may be considered grounds for a violation of ethics before the University Office of Student Judicial Affairs.
  • Tardies can accumulate and become equivalent to an absence. 3 tardies = 1 absence.
  • Attendance will be taken using sign-in sheets available the first 20 minutes of class and may be circulated again at the end of class.
  • After a first warning, students who persist in the following disruptive activities: sleeping, texting, emailing or online browsing for purposes other than class research, will be given a tardy for that class session.
  • Students will be considered absent if they leave without the instructor's approval before the class has ended.

Academic Conduct

Plagiarism – presenting someone else’s ideas as your own, either verbatim or recast in your own words – is a serious academic offense with serious consequences. Please familiarize yourself with the discussion of plagiarism in SCampus in Section 11, Behavior Violating University Standards. Other forms of academic dishonesty are equally unacceptable. See additional information in SCampus and university policies on scientific misconduct.

Discrimination, sexual assault, and harassment are not tolerated by the university. You are encouraged to report any incidents to the Office of Equity and Diversity or to the Department of Public Safety. This is important for the safety of the whole USC community. Another member of the university community – such as a friend, classmate, advisor, or faculty member – can help initiate the report, or can initiate the report on behalf of another person. The Center for Women and Men provides 24/7 confidential support, and the sexual assault resource center webpage describes reporting options and other resources.

Support Systems

A number of USC’s schools provide support for students who need help with scholarly writing. Check with your advisor or program staff to find out more. Students whose primary language is not English should check with the American Language Institute, which sponsors courses and workshops specifically for international graduate students. The Office of Disability Services and Programs provides certification for students with disabilities and helps arrange the relevant accommodations. If an officially declared emergency makes travel to campus infeasible, USC Emergency Information will provide safety and other updates, including ways in which instruction will be continued by means of blackboard, teleconferencing, and other technology.

Disabilities and Academic Accommodations

Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open 8:30am - 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-0776.

Roski Admissions Information

For information and an application to become a Fine Arts minor, please visit the Art & Design Minors page.
Please contact Christina Aumann in HSH-101 / aumann@usc.edu / (213) 740-6260 with any questions about a minor in Fine Arts.

To become a Fine Arts major, please visit the Degrees Offered page.
Please contact Penelope Jones in HSH-101 / penelope@usc.edu / (213) 740-9153 with any questions about majoring in art. Applications are due October 1st and March 1st every year.