CS 4634 – Design of Information


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CS 4634

Design of Information

Fall 2016


Course Info:

CRN: 82206

Meeting times: TuTh 11:00-12:15

Meeting room: 31 PAM


Course Description (from catalog): Survey of the higher-order properties that allow data to become information, that is, to inform people.  The course focuses on the design of user interface systems, and on the design of texts and hypertexts, as well as on the information development process.

Course Goals: Computers are a medium of communication. The course prepares students to think about information abstractly and to present it appropriately.This course takes a design-centered approach. While the project may include designing and deploying a web site, this is not a web site design class, per se. Topics include: audience, voice, structure, narrative, gaming, clutter and visual noise, competing elements, excessive detail, contrast problems, visual interference, spatial tension, grouping and gestalt, display density, symmetry and balance, window sizes and layouts, visual language, visual consistency, grid-based layout, using images for abstract concepts, needs analysis, browsing and search, design of information modules, link designs, information layering, progressive disclosure, metaphors, dialog design, hypermedia navigation, help systems, computer-based instruction, and information overload.


Prerequisite: CSCS 3724 (Intro to HCI) NOT IN THE SAME SEMESTER.CS 3744 strongly recommended;


Recommended: CS 3744, CS 4624.


Useful skills : knowledge of XML, CSS, PHP, SQL , Javascript, Flash, HTML5, JSTOR, JSON. other javascript frameworks and libraries


Instructor: Steve Harrison



Office Location: 121 VTKW II, 2202 Kraft Drive (in the CRC)

Office hours: Fridays 2:00-3:30 ("Hack 'n Snack") in the ICAT Learning Center, 253B Moss Art Center


Course Public Website: http://courses.cs.vt.edu/~cs4634/

Course Private Website:


Required Textbooks:

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, 4th edition

Jorge Arango, Louis Rosenfeld & Peter Morville

O'Reilly, 2015 (expected delivery 2015.10.01. Previous editions are woefully out of date - DO NOT PURCHASE.)


Lecture Notes and Readings: Lecture notes and readings will be available on the schedule page. Readings should be prepared in advance of the class for which they are listed. Lecture notes may be printed and brought to class for your own personal notes if you wish.



o        41% - Group projects

o        24.5% - Homework assignments – 5 assignments worth 3.5 points each + 1 asignment worth 7

o        03% - reading assignments

o        03.5% - Practicum/In-class activities – attendance and participation worth 1 point each

o        12% - Midterm exam – covers the first half of the semester

o        16% - Final exam – using your journal as source material

  See the grading page for more details.


Schedule of In-Class Activities

This course meets on a Tuesday/Thursday schedule. Typically, Tuesdays will involve lectures and/or discussions of readings, and Thursdays will be used for in-class activities. However, be alert for changes to the schedule.




Assignment submissions: Homework and project reports are due by class time (12:30 PM) on the due date. Ten percent (10%) of the maximum grade will be deducted for each day an assignment is late, up to a maximum of three days; weekends count as two days. Homework and project reports will typically be turned in by hard copy to the TA. Check each assignment description for details on submission.



Attendance at all classes is important for students to succeed in this course. Please show respect for the instructor and the other students by arriving on time and prepared. Attendance is required for the in-class activities, and this will be part of your grade in the course.


Honor Code

All work in this course is to be your own, and the university honor code is in effect. Groups will collaborate on projects, but the other graded aspects of the course are based on individual work. You will be required to sign an honor code statement on the midterm and final exam.


Special Needs

If you have any special needs or circumstances (disability accommodations, religious holidays that will cause you to miss class, etc.) please feel free to visit the instructor during his office hours.



rev 2016.06.16

  Copyright © 2016 Steve Harrison