Fall 2020 - IAT 235 E100

Information Design (3)

Class Number: 7789

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 9 – Dec 8, 2020: Tue, 4:30–6:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Completion of 21 units and IAT 102.



Introduces theory and practice of designing visual representations of information. Students will learn to visually translate textual, numerical and evidentiary information so that it can be communicated to diverse user communities and contexts. An emphasis will be on understanding how the meaning of images can change over time and across contexts and cultures. Beginning with photographic images, interactive charts, graphs, and maps, projects progress to more complex information in media forms ranging from advanced aspects of the web to interactive 3D visualizations. The relationship between visual display is explored in relation to its technology of creation, including code and information architecture.


This is a course that will lay out the foundational elements required for a professional practice in User Experience Design, or UX_Design. This primary goal of this course will be to provide you with the basic grounding you will need for this professional practice in three areas – visual design, content design and interaction design; all specifically grounded in the context of the artform of designing (a designer's mindset, approach, process and skillsets). At term's end a minimal viable product (MVP), will be produced that synthesysizes these four elements. 


  1. Engage an intermediate level of graphic design space, typography, color, and grids that lead to a Visual Design approach for UX_design
  2. Demonstrate through project work an embodied understanding of design as a process, experimentation and lateral thinking,  that has clear communication, and succesful execution and professional industry quality standards as its goal.
  3. Learn to drive design-driven projects from content, art direction, copy writing, image literacy in tandem with graphical spatial compositions using and in tandem with grids, color, and design languages, semantics and syntactics.
  4. Employ user goals to drive interactions, so that Interaction Design can accomplish the more complex task of addressing behaviors and specific and micro interaction that make up a branded experience.
  5. Deploy foundational Interaction Design techniques — e.g. sketching, wireframing, wireflows, sitemaps and flowcharts, rapid realization, prototyping  - to develop a user-centred context strategy, with the explicit goal of communicating effectively to an audience through digital channels using a UX_Design approach. 


  • Quizzes 20%
  • Group Projects 60%
  • Individual Projects 20%


This course requires completing regular coursework to stay on track with the course and concepts being taught.



Notes in class must be taken by hand, a notebook and sketchbook are required. A Moleskine Classic Notebook and a sketchbook are recommended. Projects will require paper mockups and sketching.


Printing will be necessary for several of the projects for in-class critique, and for deliverables such as moodboards and copywriting exercises. A small printing budget should be anticipated. 

Computer Access
Having regular access to your own computer would be recommended. The specific software used in this course is all available free of charge.


1. Massimo Vignelli, “The Vignelli Canon”.
ISBN: ISBN-10: 3037782250

2. Ellen Lupton + Jennifer Cole Philips, “Graphic Design - the New Basics” (IAT 102 req.)
ISBN: ISBN-10: 1568987021

3. Marco Spies, “Branded Interactions:  creating the digital experience”.
ISBN: ISBN-10: 0500518173


1. Sarah Hyndman, "Why Fonts Matter".
ISBN: ISBN-10: 1584236310

2. Ellen Lupton, "Thinking With Type"
ISBN: ISBN-10: 1568989695

Josef Muller-Brockmann, "Grid Systems in Graphic Design: a visual communication manual".
ISBN: ISBN-10: 97837212014

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).