GD 153 Course Syllabus

Interactive Design: Data and Design

Instructor: Rusty Robison

California State University, Fresno

Catalog description: Introduction to programming as a platform for graphic design. Emphasis on fundamental programming concepts, data visualization, creative exploration, and web integration.  (6 hours) (Course fee $30).

Prerequisites for the course: GD 150

Course Specifics

If you’re using someone else’s software, you’re living in someone else’s dream. 
John Maeda

Why learn to code?

  1. As designers of interactive experiences, the point at which the interaction occurs is the point where programming is required. It is needed to create the behaviors that guide the user’s experience.
  2. As designers of interactive experiences, the tool of your craft is the computer. Like any good artist, you must master that tool. Logic and algorithms are the language of the computer. Learning to program give you the ability to understand how the computer thinks and use that knowledge to execute your creative visions.

The course teaches the fundamentals of programming with a focus on applying these skills creatively to various design projects. By using “Javascript” and its various flavors, your pieces will be able to live on the Web.  

Course goals: By the end of this practicum, students will have had the chance to...

  1. Students will learn basic computer science, and understand the potential of computation as a tool for creativity.
  2. Students will understand fundamental programming concepts, such as variables, conditionals, iteration, functions, and objects, and apply them to their own work.
  3. Students will design various interactive pieces, both on an exploratory and professional level.
  4. Students will learn how to work with data sets to create impactful visualizations.

Student Learning Outcomes:

Students will experience the full spectrum of a professional design project; from analysis to complete execution. Students will evaluate the goals, identify problems and choose the appropriate design process to apply. [GDO 2.1]

Application of terminology, tools and materials is intrinsically critical in this course. Students will learn to communicate their analysis and goals both within their groups and to the client. The selection of appropriate tools will require research and testing. [GDO 2.2]

The interactive user experience design process is an iterative one, with many methodologies to choose from, each targeted at specific phases and types of projects. Student will learn to identify the appropriate ones, apply those methods, evaluate the results, then reapply within the overall iterative process. [GDO 2.3]

Each project will be focused on a specific audience within our community. Students will learn to identify this group in order to provide inclusive design solutions to their specific needs. They will do this through analysis involving user testing and written descriptions of personas and scenarios. [GDO 3.2]

Technical solutions will be a large part of this course, involving typography choices (interface readability), proper use of iconography (illustration) and, of course, proper software and coding skills. [GDO 4.1]

Course requirements: Course work will include weekly assignments, video lessons, and larger individual projects. Attendance is mandatory. Success in this course relies on learning skills that build on each other over time.

Grading policy: The final grade will made up of 40% weekly assignments, 20% individual project, and 40% final project.

Required Course Materials

Students will need to have access to a computer with an internet connection.

Course Policies & Safety Issues

Students who miss class must keep up with the material by consulting the class website and fellow classmates. If a student misses a technical lesson/tutorial, they are responsible for finding other tutorial resources in order to complete the assignment on time.

Technical difficulties (i.e. computer crashed, jump drive lost, etc.) will not be accepted as excuses for not finishing assignments. There are many resources available to you on campus, and numerous cloud storage services. My intention is to prepare you for the professional world where these situations are unacceptable. Always have a Plan B.

Adding and Dropping Classes: Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about the adding/dropping of classes, academic renewals, etc. Students can find more information on adding and dropping at .

University Policies and Services

For information on the University's policy regarding cheating and plagiarism, refer to the Class Schedule (Legal Notices on Cheating and Plagiarism) or the University Catalog (Policies and Regulations)." You may also direct students to the online  required syllabus policy statement page ( )


At California State University, Fresno, computers and communications links to remote resources are recognized as being integral to the education and research experience. Every student is required to have his/her own computer or have other personal access to a workstation (including a modem and a printer) with all the recommended software. The minimum and recommended standards for the workstations and software, which may vary by academic major, are updated periodically and are available from Information Technology Services ( or the University Bookstore ( In the curriculum and class assignments, students are presumed to have 24-hour access to a computer workstation and the necessary communication links to the University's information resources.

Subject to Change Statement

This syllabus and schedule are subject to change. In real-world situations like this, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy towards the design process. The schedule defined below provides an umbrella framework under which student teams will articulate their own methodologies and timelines.

Student Handbook

Information on student rights, responsibilities, academic honesty, etc., can be found on the Fresno State Student Handbook web page. The web page is located at: .

Tentative Course Schedule



Week 1

Intro to Programming
& Computers

How Computers Work, How Computers Think

Week 2

Logic; Codeless Programming

Week 3



Week 4

Conditional Statements

Week 5


Week 6

Project: Timepiece

Week 7

Week 8


Week 9


Week 10


Week 11

Web Applications

Native Javascript

Week 12


Week 13

Data Visualization

Intro to Data Viz

Week 14

Final Project

Week 15

Week 16

Finals Week