CUNY | Fall 2016 | Mondays, 6:00-8:50pm

Design &

Class one | Aug. 29

Basic design principles

We'll cover four fundamental principles of design: proximity, alignment, contrast and repetition. This class pulls heavily from the classic text, The Non-Designer's Design Book, which I highly recommend (but don't require) you to read.


Class slides: link

For next class

Redesign your resume using the four design principles we learned about in class. Email it to me or send a Dropbox link before next class.

Please also bring one example of good (or bad) design with you to class next week and be prepared to talk about it. This can be anything: a neighborhood flier, a magazine cover, a piece of visual journalism.

Please read:

Class two | Sep. 12

Design principles II

Typography, layout and color play an important role in setting the tone of a project and communicating meaning. After an introduction to Illustrator, we'll cover the basics of typography and layout design, then we'll dive into color theory.


Class slides: link

Before next class

By Friday, send me a pitch for your final project. Feel free to send over one or two ideas and I'll give you feedback by next class. Project requirements can be found in the "course details" section of this page.

By next Monday, please redesign the Wikipedia page for CUNY J-School using Illustrator to the best of your abilities. Pull inspiration from this week's class: use a grid system for your layout and think about how to best employ typography and color. More info here. Email me the file or share it via Dropbox before class.

Please install Sublime Text before next class.

Please read:

Class three | Sep. 19

Designing for the web

We'll review HTML/CSS and talk about best practices when designing for the web. We'll also open up our web inspectors to get a better look at how some of our favorite sites are structured and styled. Lastly, we'll take some time to talk about Photoshop and optimizing images for the web.


Class slides: link

Before next class

By Friday, send me a rough draft or sketch of your final project. This can be a mock-up in Illustrator or an HTML/CSS web page; it can be a hand-drawn sketch, if that's your style. I'll give you feedback by next class.

Please read:

Bonus readings (optional):

Class four | Sep. 26

Interaction design & usability

What good is beautiful design if no one knows what the heck to do with your website (or graphic)? We'll put our audience first in this class as we learn to design for successful user experience.


Class slides: link

For next class

No assignments other than the final project! I'll set up an office hours between now and Thursday, October 6th, for anyone who wants to talk more about their projects.

Please read:

Class five | Oct. 6*

Information graphics & data visualization

*Please be advised that this class is on a Thursday

We'll survey the data and interactive journalism landscape and talk about effective design, from bar charts to robust news apps. You'll learn how to pick the best chart for your data and hear about the design decisions, big and small, involved in building interactive graphics.


Class slides: link

Course details

This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of design, layout and presentation for print and the web. At the end of this course, students will be able to identify the components good design (and bad) and apply design principles to their own work.

Class meets on Mondays, August 29 - October 6, from 6:00 - 8:50pm, except for CUNY-observed holidays.

Final project

The final project will be due on the last day of class, October 6, Sunday, October 8, and will require you to design a web page for a piece of your own journalism.

This can be a written article, designed according to the principles we've covered in class, or a data visualization or information graphic. You are welcome to redesign an existing project from another class, or you can report out a new piece.

Please turn your project in by 10pm on October 8. There will be no extensions. You can submit your project via Dropbox or as a zip file by email.


In addition to your final project, participation in class discussions and completion of exercises will be an important factor for your final grade.

The grading breakdown:

  • 50% Homework assignments & readings
  • 25% Class participation
  • 25% Final project

How letter grades will be assigned:

A: High quality student work with minimal editing required

B: Good quality work, requiring moderate editing and revisions

C: Unsatisfactory work, requiring heavy editing and revisions

F: Unacceptable, un-editable work


Feel free to email me with any questions or comments.

This course is adapted from Lena Groeger's Design & Presentation curriculum.