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Learner Reviews & Feedback for The Language of Design: Form and Meaning by California Institute of the Arts

418 ratings
128 reviews

About the Course

In this course, critique is defined as a detailed, objective analysis of a work of graphic design and its effectiveness. Critique is an integral part of the making process for designers: it’s not just how we determine if a work of design is or is not successful, it’s how we move our work forward. Critique is also where other voices and opinions can be brought into the design process. This course will introduce a lexicon (or vocabulary) in order for you to demonstrate clearer and more considered ways of talking about graphic design in the context of critique. Through this lexicon and a provided Critique Framework, we will model and then practice objectively describing how well a work of design functions based on specific, clearly articulated criteria. By refining this skill, you will enhance your ability to communicate about design with peers, colleagues, and clients. This course is essential to anyone looking to develop and refine a critical vocabulary around talking about art and design, such as: - practicing graphic designers at all levels - future and current students of art or design programs - teachers teaching visual art, design, or related subjects - any stakeholder in a design project that needs to communicate effectively with designers on their team. This course is recommended to learners enrolled in either the Graphic Design Specialization or UI/UX Design Specialization on Coursera to further develop their skills in graphic design. You may take this course before, during, or after completing either Specialization. Note this is not an art appreciation course for a general audience. While no prior experience is required to begin, the knowledge and skills taught in this course is useful only if you have some relationship to design in a professional context, i.e., practicing, studying, or teaching design, or working directly with designers. No specific software or tools are required to complete this course....

Top reviews


Jul 11, 2020

With this course, I've learned to critique 'design work' in a meaningful framework. The course was informative and clear. The examples and explanations are helpful. Thank you for this course.


May 07, 2020

A very thorough journey toward the very core of visual communication. It gives you the vocabulary and criteria to embark on an effective and objective design critique.

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1 - 25 of 126 Reviews for The Language of Design: Form and Meaning

By Minjeong K

Mar 10, 2020

This is the course I wish I had taken before I pursued a career in design! My education and work has primarily been in designing for (digital / mechanical) functionalities, and I have been wishing to become more articulate in understanding art direction and style. This course taught me how to approach looking at a piece of visual design and how to talk about it. Now that I understand the approaches, I feel more confident moving onto making work that consciously uses specific languages of visual design to convey meaning.

By Jia Y G

Jun 16, 2020

The videos were very clear in explaining the lexicon and frameworks we can apply to critique the design. It also helps that numerous examples were used to demonstrate the application and pop quizzes were available throughout to test our immediate understanding of these concepts. Given also this is a qualitative course, the explanation provided by the instructors in the official quizzes were also very helpful and informative. A good first course to take to expose yourself to the terms and a brief introduction to principles of design and how to use them. Users can benefit from the course especially when they apply them immediately to their surroundings i.e. Instragram pictures/advertisements as we are all surrounded by design-related experiences.

By Michelle E

May 05, 2020

This course is easy to follow, very clear, and very elaborated. The teachers are very good and communicates the point clearly and slow enough to understand and digest. Thanks to the nature of the course which is "design", the awesome visual contents showed in the lectures kept me interested all the way and excited to be shown the next art.

This is very recommended for people pf all ages and skills that are interested in design and want to have more vocabulary to communicate to others about a work. I learned so much and hoping to learn more from CalArts.

By Kseniia S

Nov 12, 2019

A good course in addition to Graphic Design. There are minor problems with the sound, it is interrupted between phrases and slightly cuts off the beginning of phrases, for a non-native English speaker, this complicates the process of listening.

By son t

Jun 08, 2020

As a graphic designer working professionally in the field for over 15years I found this course to be very insightful. I genuinely feel that I grew a little bit more into my craft after having taken it. There is no doubt that you'll be working with a wide range of personalities in the world of visual communication. Objective critique is an invaluable skill and this course will set some standards that if you employ and more importantly share in your day to day work, you'll be better for it.

By Leidy C S

Jun 18, 2020

This course was excellent, it was a little hard if you haven't study something about Art it can be really hard but at the end the instructors explain good and you end having the idea of how to do it on your own. I recommend it

By Sally P

Apr 13, 2020

The only design course that looks at practical real world design, such a WOW course. All the dash dot comma dash design primers never got me anywhere. Thanks so much for this course!

By J-Man

Oct 15, 2019

A deeper lok into graphic design which helps create a language for assessing other peoples work as well as your own. The examples used here show range of interesting works and assessing thier elements was both helpful and inspiring.

By James W

Jul 06, 2020

Short course that gives a good introduction to analyzing design elements. This will give you the framework and vocabulary to clearly convey points in your analysis,

By Pallavi

Jul 30, 2020

A beautifully designed course for all those who wish to learn design, graphics, posters, journals etc. The pace of the course was just right. The professors delivered the content in easy understandable language while using a lot of pictures and graphics. I liked the assignments too as they pushed me to think differently and understand the various elements used in graphics designing. I relished every bit of this program. Thanks to the CALArts Team and Coursera!

Best Regards,

Pallavi Chauhan

By Hamis E

Jul 06, 2020

If you're working in an industry where you have to collaborate or interact with designers, this course is for you. While it was a little hard for me to grasp an understanding of things, I eventually got my grip thanks to both the instructors, especially Randy who began explaining with the most common things possible and then proceeding towards more complex examples which felt like a walk in the park. For anyone who really wants to understand art, this is THE COURSE for you!

By Pratap P

Jul 14, 2020

This course is a short period of time and it's highly recommended for the Graphic designer. It gives excellent introduction to analyzing design elements. Basically It will helps to understand and how to implement the Critique framework in the real life . it was a little bit hard to understand first time , but if you didn't study something about Art before as liked me however if you focus the instructors explain than you will get the all point clear.

By Anurag B

Apr 27, 2020

I am a self-learned designer with years of professional experience, but I realized I need more knowledge and practice of articulating various elements of design to be able to work with people better. This course has been of immense help. I think if you are a designer, you will finish it faster but it will take a month of practice with different designs to get fluent with it. Thank you Coursera, Calarts, and professors for making this available.

By Bojan B

May 18, 2020

Whole course is really amazing ! I never had opportunity to learn art on that way and there is not similar course anywhere. It is unique, maybe a little short because it makes us more hungry to learn from mentors. This course is pure gold and I hope that will be more. By the way I will enroll to more CalArts content because CalArts is amazing. Thank you guys. I feel more advanced now as graphic designer.

By Alexey M

Jun 06, 2020

A wonderful and very approachable course both for beginners and for people who are well versed in the worlds of design and art. I am myself a visual communication graduate, but the course helped me wrap my head around topics I was either to shy to ask or topics I vaguely understood but very much needed to be explained about in a simplistic and well-structured manner.

By Taru B N

May 08, 2020

Thank you, Yasmin and Randy, for your time and expertise in giving us the knowledge for LExicon and how to use the Critique Framework. It has been very knowledgeable and interesting to see how a simple design has secrets hidden. We got the learning of how to use the right framework to understand the image. Thank you once again.

By Natasha H

Jun 03, 2020

Excellent content. I was challenged more than I expected and felt like the instructors put a lot of thought into the course. My only criticism would be the final assignment being graded by other students in the course was not ideal; still I understand it's usefulness in a course with so many students.

By Raquel R G

May 10, 2020

The provided material is really good. The videos are very useful: specific, short and well explained. Many references and examples of pieces of work are given, which makes it much easier to follow the course. The bibliography is diverse and interesting. I have enjoyed it and learn a lot from it.

By Ojasvee J

Apr 10, 2020

This course helped me to learn the nitty-gritty of visual communication and graphic design. Every week I have learned something new which would surely help me to improve my work. I would definitely recommend this course to everyone who is interested in learning visual communication in-depth.

By Massimo D F

Aug 04, 2020

I found the course very useful to understand how to read through a piece of graphic design and the basics of language design. Materials and lessons are really valuable content that explains meanings in a strong and clear manner. I'm very happy with the concepts I have learned.

By Farah S

Jul 02, 2020

I've learned something new and valuable. This course definitely worth it. It taught me how critique for a work of design is a huge deal and how a person confronted with a design should be aware of what to look at before address the critique. Superb effort! Thank you very much!


Aug 02, 2020

This class was great in introducing vocabulary and concepts of visual arts and design that allows for a formal structure of how to make a critique about them. It helps to also identify meaning, function, purpose, composition, and visual language in an efficient way!

By Tejas W S

Apr 07, 2020

I like this course because as a graphic designer, I learned a few important subjects and it's will very use full, well designed and explained by our tutors, I will suggest this other also for learning sole of graphic design,

note: thank you for CALARTS & Coursera

By karan k

Jun 02, 2020

I develop my skills a lot through this course by learning about how to read any poster, a design related article, and a lot about graphic design. so i want to say a huge thanks to both tutor's prof. Yasmin Khan and prof. Randy Nakamura.

By Rita F M

Sep 25, 2020

The course is based on a friendly language and its content consists of videos and quizzes that ensure understanding of the subject during classes. The tests and tasks are very creative!

The course function was strong / clear ;)