DES 303

Roski, USC

DES 303 -
Web Design

Roski School of Art and Design

University of Southern California

Lecturer: Ian Besler


Classroom: Watt Hall 105

Class time: Monday, -

Office hours: Monday, - (by appointment)


: JavaScript, jQuery, and Parallax
  1. jQuery Emoji Story 😃 (Download HTML/CSS Files)
  2. Step-by-Step Instructions: jQuery Emoji Story 😃
  3. jQuery background-color: Buttons (Download HTML/CSS Files)
  4. Step-by-Step Instructions: jQuery background-color: Buttons
  5. jQuery Mouse Action Events (Download HTML/CSS Files)
  6. jQuery Smooth Scroll Easing (Vertical) (Download HTML/CSS Files)
  7. jQuery Smooth Scroll Easing (Horizontal) (Download HTML/CSS Files)
  8. Step-by-Step Instructions: jQuery Smooth Scroll Easing
  9. jQuery Scroll Snapping (Download HTML/CSS Files)
  10. Step-by-Step Instructions: jQuery Scroll Snapping
  11. jQuery Sticky Positioning (Download HTML/CSS Files)
  12. Step-by-Step Instructions: jQuery Sticky Positioning
: JavaScript, jQuery, and Parallax (Continued)
  1. jQuery .stellar(); Parallax (Download HTML/CSS Files)
  2. Step-by-Step Instructions: jQuery .stellar(); Parallax
  3. Skrollr JavaScript Scroll Animation (Download HTML/CSS Files)
  4. Step-by-Step Instructions: Skrollr JavaScript Scroll Animation
  5. Skrollr JavaScript Animated Nav Menu (Download HTML/CSS Files)
  6. jQuery Fancybox Lightbox Photo Gallery (Download HTML/CSS Files)
  7. Step-by-Step Instructions: jQuery Fancybox Lightbox Photo Gallery
  8. jQuery Fotorama Photo Carousel (Download HTML/CSS Files)
: Project #2 Presentations
: Final Project Presentations


: Webpage Composition, Positioning, and Layout
: Project #1 Presentations, Basic Interactions
: Project #2 Presentations
: Final Project Preparation
: Final Project Presentations


Exercise #1: “Just ASCII About Me” (20 points)


Exercise Brief

Becoming acquainted with web browser developer tools is an important skill in learning how to read markup and navigate HTML and CSS documents. Start making a habit of looking at the source documents for websites that you regularly visit (for example Craigslist, Facebook, Wikipedia, etc.).

Read the following article: Tom McCormack, “Emoticon, Emoji, Text II: Just ASCII,” Rhizome (2013).

ASCII art (ASCII Art Instructable) is just one example of information that you can find “hidden” in website markup. Spend at least one hour visiting as many major websites as you can, viewing the source markup in the browser developer tools, and taking note of ASCII marks, logos, art, or other hidden messages in the source comments. ASCII logos are generally found inside of <!-- comment tags --> and often are near the top of the document.

Collect at least three (3) examples that you find. Then, using Sublime Text, design your own ASCII mark as a brand for yourself (do not use an online ASCII generator; you must design your logo “by hand”). You will include your ASCII mark at the top of all of the website HTML and CSS documents that you create throughtout the semester as a way of “branding” your projects.

Here are a few examples of sites that display ASCII logos, marks, and messages as comments in their source files:


Create your personal website for the class. Create a link to a sub-page called just-ascii-about-me.html and in the <!-- comments --> on that page paste:

  • At least three (3) examples of ASCII marks that you found hidden in the HTML comments of popular websites (NOT from the example websites provided above)
  • Your own ASCII logo or brand for your web design studio, which we will include in our HTML and CSS source files for all of our exercises and projects

Exercise #2: “Getting to Know U(RL)” (20 points)


Exercise Brief

Create a simple, multi-page website with a consistent navigation interface as a way of introducing yourself to the rest of the class. The pages should be organized so that there is one webpage for each of the following prompts:

  • Your name my-name.html
  • Your ASCII logo (either as an image or as characters) my-ascii.html
  • A list of a few brief details about your educational or professional background my-background.html
  • A designer or design studio that inspires your work (include an anchor link to their website and some images of their work) design-inspiration.html
  • A non-designed object that you admire (it is up to you to interpret what a “non-designed” object might be) (include at least one image) non-designed.html
  • An “everyday” design object that most people use or encounter on a regular basis that you think is not adequately appreciated for its design qualities (include at least one image) design-object.html

Exercise #3: “D for DIV: Art Forgery with CSS3” (20 points)


Exercise Brief

Use only HTML5 Semantic Tag DIV (Document Division) elements with background-color, border, height, margin, padding, and width specifications in a linked CSS stylesheet to create at least two digital works of art forgery on two separate HTML documents.

The dimensions of the work must be responsive to the browser window (i.e. they should not be composed with fixed-width wrappers) and all of the elements on the page should be interactive with a background-color change in response to the user's hover.

In-Class Example Exercise:

Peter Halley, Laws of Rock,

You must choose two (2) of the following examples from the list below to recreate or “forge” in markup. Upload your HTML and CSS files to your class directory and make sure that the documents are properly linked from your main index HTML.

Project #1: “Show, Don’t Tell” Image Essay Gallery (30 points)


Project Brief

Gather 20–30 images as a set or series that tells a story, conveys a message, or evokes a series of emotions in the viewer. The images can be photographic, illustrative, digital, or created through some other means. These can be images that you have created, or they can be appropriated, but you must credit the original creator of the images if you are using appropriated images.

Design an interactive photo gallery that showcases that series of images. Your interactive photo gallery must make use of the concepts of Functional Animation, and appropriately implement CSS3 Transforms, CSS3 Animations, and CSS3 Transitions.

Process Deliverables, Due

  • Written project proposal (minimum 300 words, printed): Describe your photo gallery concept and your goals for the project
  • Website wireframes/comps (At least two (2) sketches or prints): Hand-drawn sketches of printed documentation of two different ideas that you have for how to design and layout your photo gallery project

Project Precedent

Project #1 Precedent

What is a Photo Essay?

Themes to Think About:

  • Duration/Time
  • Narrative/Journey
  • Repetition/Difference
  • Layout/Navigation
  • Interface/Interaction
  • Expectations/Surprise
  • Novelty/Conventions

Project #2: “Go with the Scroll” (30 points)


Design Brief

Create a single page scrolling or parallax website that communicates a narrative or gives step-by-step instructions for some process or procedure. The design should take into account both image and text, and respond to the pacing and structure of the source material.

Your scrolling site must effectively and correctly implement:

  • At least two (2) jQuery or JavaScript libraries with the HTML <script> tag
  • At least one (1) custom font using the CSS3 @font-face Rule
  • At least one (1) CSS3 transform property
  • At least one (1) CSS3 transition property
  • At least one (1) CSS3 @keyframes Rule
  • animation

Process Deliverables

  • Due
    Written Project Proposal (minimum 300 words, printed): Describe your single page scrolling or parallax concept and your user experience goals for the project
    Research References, Mood Board (both printed, full-color): Provide a list of at least five (5) interesting web sites that you cite as inspiration for the project, either visually or functionally. For each website, provide a brief two sentence statement of what specifically you find inspirational. Additionally, create a visual research “Mood Board” with at least ten (10) reference images. These images should start to suggest the mood/tone of your project, exploring design components such as possible color palettes, typefaces, and descriptive adjectives
  • Due
    Wireframes (printed, black/white): Wireframes are a simple diagram of the structure of the site
    Comprehensives (printed, full-color): Comprehensives (comps) should depict the visual design of the website, including layout, typefaces, images, colors, etc.

Project #3: “Make Your Homepage!” (40 points)


Design Brief

Design a website to showcase your web design portfolio (feel free to use this website as a showcase for projects from other classes, as well, such as graphic design, fine art, photography, music, etc.) You will need to include:

  • Professional practice standards (functional directory folder structure, no broken links, bandwidth-appropriate file sizes)
  • Your personal ASCII logo/brand hidden in <!-- comment tags --> in the <head> on all pages
  • HTML5 Semantic Tags (i.e. <header>, <h1>, <h2>, <nav>, <ul>, <main>, <section>, <article>, <figure>, <figcaption> <footer>, etc.)
  • Flexible elements (dimensions specified in percentage % units or viewport width vw and viewport height vh units)
  • Interactive components (pseudo-class :hover)
  • CSS3 @font-face Rule embedded fonts (at least two)
  • CSS3 @media Rule media query breakpoints (at least two)
  • CSS3 transform Property (at least one)
  • CSS3 transition Property (at least one)
  • CSS3 @keyframes Rule animation (at least one)
  • jQuery Library (at least one)
  • A logo for your design “studio”
  • Page anchor links for all class projects, demos, and exercises. Each project link should have an image and a statement of what the project is about.
  • An “About” yourself page or section, with a biographical statement and a brand graphic or profile picture
  • A “Links” page with at least five (5) links to inspirational and reference websites

Process Deliverables

  • Due
    Written Project Proposal (minimum 300 words, printed): Describe your website concept and your user experience goals for the project
    Research References, Mood Board (both printed, full-color): Provide a list of at least five (5) visual references (these could be websites, apps, video games, fine art, graphic design, etc.) that you cite as inspiration for the project, either visually or functionally. For each reference, provide a brief two sentence statement of what specifically you find inspirational. Additionally, create a visual research “Mood Board” with at least ten (10) reference images. These images should start to suggest the mood/tone of your site, exploring design components such as possible color palettes, typefaces, and descriptive adjectives
  • Project #3 In-Class Research Share-Out
  • Due
    Comprehensives (printed, full-color): Comprehensives (comps) should depict the visual design of the website, including layout, typefaces, images, colors, etc. Seperate comprehensives are required for each media device (mobile, tablet, laptop)


Articles, Books, and Readings



  • Beirut, Michael, et al., ed. Looking Closer 3: Classic Writings on Graphic Design. New York: Allworth Press, 1999.
  • Blechman, Nicholas, Christoph Niemann, Paul Sahre. Fresh Dialog One: New Voices in Graphic Design. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, American Institute of Graphic Arts, 2000.
  • Bush, Akiko. Design is Super. Metropololis Books, 2002
  • Gomez, Edward M. ed. New Design. Los Angeles. Gloucester MA: Rockport Press, 1999.
  • Green, Stephen. Information Design Systems. London and Boston: International Thomson Computer Press, 1996.
  • Heller, Steven. Design Literacy (Continued): Understanding Graphic Design. New York: Allworth Press, 1999.
  • Jacobson, Robert, ed. Information Design. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.
  • Kennedy, Bill. HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide (6th Edition). O'Reilly Media
  • Lawson, Bryan. How Designers Think: The Design Process Demystified. Oxford: Architectural Press, 1997.
  • MacDonald, Mathew. Creating a Web Site: The Missing Manual. Pogue Press
  • McLuhan, Marshall. The Medium is the Message.
  • McNeil, Patrick. The Web Designer's Idea Book, Vol. 2: More of the Best Themes, Trends and Styles in Website Design. HOW Publisher
  • McNeil, Patrick. The Web Designer's Idea Book: The Ultimate Guide To Themes, Trends & Styles In Website Design (Web Designer's Idea Book: The Latest Themes, Trends & Styles in Website Design). HOW Publisher
  • Mills, Jason. WebWorks Typography. Gloucester, MA: Rockport Press, 1998.
  • Peterson, Bryan. Using Design Basics To Get Creative Results. Cincinnati, OH: North Light Books, 1996.
  • Pirouz, Raymond, Lynda Weiman. Click Here: Web Communication Design (Lynda Weinman's Web Design Guides). New Riders Publishing, 1997
  • Robbins, Jennifer Niederst. Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to (X)HTML, StyleSheets, and Web Graphics. 3rd Edition. O'Reilly Media Publishing
  • Sparkle, Penny. Design in Context. Chartwell Books, 1987
  • Spiekerman, Erik. Stop Stealing Sheep. Mountain View, CA: Adobe Press, 1993
  • Tonfoni, Graziella. Information Design: The Knowledge Architect's Toolkit. Lanham, M: Scarecrow Press, 1998
  • Ware, Colin. Information Visualization: Perception for Design. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufman, 2000
  • Wong, Wucious. Principles of Form and Design. Van Nostrand Rienhold, 1993.



Course Description

DES 303 Web Design is a workshop based course that focuses on advanced software applications in design through the exploration of design research, ideation, application, and 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 HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. 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: DES 203 - Digital Tools for Design & DES 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:

  • 30% - Technical Exercises
  • 50% - Creative Projects
  • 20% - Class Participation

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.

  • A  ……… 95-100
  • A- ……… 90-94
  • B+ ……… 87-89
  • B  ……… 83-86
  • B- ……… 80-82
  • C+ ……… 77-79
  • C  ……… 73-76
  • C- ……… 70-72
  • D+ ……… 67-69
  • D  ……… 63-66
  • D- ……… 60-62
  • F  ……… 59 and below

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.:


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 / / (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 / / (213) 740-9153 with any questions about majoring in art. Applications are due October 1st and March 1st every year.


Some elements of the syllabus may be changed at the instructor’s discretion. If there is any aspect of this syllabus which you do not understand, or to which you take exception, please let the instructor know within the first week of class.



This syllabus was developed from curricula originally created by Jeff Cain, with additional material developed from curricula by Jamie Cavanaugh and Aaron Siegel.


: Webpage Composition
: Webpage Composition (Continued)
: Project #1 Presentations
: Project #2 Presentations
: Final Project Preparation
: Final Project Presentations