human centered design

junior level course
kansas city art institute

3 credit hour studio course
6 contact hours per week

This studio explores the capability of graphic design to create meaningful messages and experiences for the user, whether purely visual, or possibly tangible. The dialogue between designer and audience is studied for the purpose of pragmatic and appropriate design decisions. Ethnographic design research methods (direct observation, writing, video, interview) and gathering audience information and feedback informs the design process. Class exercises will push initial experimentation through the sense of touch, with special consideration to human factors. Projects will address a spectrum of content from social to commercial and across a range of media.

key skills

  • design research
  • rhetoric
  • design systems
  • identity
  • print & digital typography
  • motion (after effects)
  • package design

course objectives

  • Clearly communicate a message for the intended audience and context.
  • Visually communicate using logos, pathos, and/or ethos and rhetoric.
  • Exemplify refined and engaging illustration, typography, hierarchy, composition and color sensibilities that are project-appropriate.
  • Understand at a basic level the process for and value of user feedback.
  • Engage fully in the design process – research, conceptual and formal iteration and breadth, refinement, and preparing a professional presentation of final work to the client.
  • Design a cohesive, yet varied, system that is scalable across size and media.
  • Properly mangage files and properly prepare files for print and screen.
  • Reinterpret concepts across media types.
  • Address messaging hierarchy & legibility and engage viewers’ eyes across 3-dimensions.
  • Further develop presentation and craft skills – physical prototyping, digital and physical craftsmanship, project photography.

Folly Jazz Series

Design and produce a poster and collateral materials for one of the Folly Theater jazz series concerts or the Folk Alliance Music Fair. This project is an exercise in: 

1. visual translation of the material
2. marrying innovative form and concept
3. building concepts based on user feedback
4. working with “real world” clients

Packaging series redesign

Re-design an existing grocery store package series to clearly communicate one primary mode of appeal to your audience. This project is an exercise in: 

1. understanding the retail context.
2. designing dimensionally and systematically.
3. appealing to viewers in a specific way.