About this Course
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Subtitles: English

Course 1 of 1 in the

100% online

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.

Beginner Level


Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

17 minutes to complete

Course and Specialization Overview

Welcome! In this first module I will summarize the assignments and expectations of this course, as well as the UI/UX Design Specialization.

2 videos (Total 6 min), 4 readings
2 videos
Course Introduction2m
4 readings
About this course3m
About the assignments3m
Required Tools2m
About CalArts and the Program in Graphic Design3m
2 hours to complete

What IS a user interface anyway?

In this first week we will look at some basic broad concepts and contexts for user interfaces, looking at examples both on and off-screen. We will look at basic principles of interaction theory, discuss the relationship between UI and UX, and examine the relationship between coding and designing. We will discuss the roles of functionality and aesthetics in interface design and outline a "form-first" philosophy to user interface design. This week will focus on background information and terminology and will give you the context and vocabulary necessary before you start making great interfaces!

9 videos (Total 44 min), 2 readings, 2 quizzes
9 videos
What is a User Interface?3m
The Relationship Between UI and UX5m
Roles in UI/UX5m
A Brief Historical Overview of Interface Design4m
Interface Conventions: Theory6m
Interface Conventions: Application7m
Template vs Content7m
Aesthetics & Functionality3m
2 readings
About UI vs UX graded quiz1m
Interface Conventions: Review15m
2 practice exercises
UI vs UX20m
Interface Conventions20m
4 hours to complete

Formal Elements of Interface Design

This week we are going to examine the various formal elements that make up an interface. We’ll start out with the larger questions of content, context and audience that frame any UI/UX project. In other words: What is it? Who is it for? And, where does it live? And we’ll look at the big picture of overall design direction, what is often referred to as “look and feel”. From there we’ll go into detail of how the basic components of how visual design works in the context of interface design: language, shape, color, imagery, typography, and icons. These areas will be the formal building blocks you will use to create the more complex visual structure of a screen-based user interface.

8 videos (Total 52 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
8 videos
Design Before Design4m
Look and Feel8m
Language as a design tool5m
Color and Shape8m
1 reading
Project Brief3m
5 hours to complete

Active Elements of Interface Design

This week we are going to take our static interface elements and begin to think about how a user interacts with them. In other words, how to bring these elements a stage closer to having a life on the screen. We’ll be looking at navigational conventions, such as menus, buttons, and icons in different states. Our focus will move from what the graphic interface looks like, to include how it works and how it responds to the user. By adding interactivity to our static designs, the idea is to think more deeply about the role the designer plays in shaping a user’s interactive experience.

8 videos (Total 53 min), 4 readings, 1 quiz
8 videos
Static to Active1m
Speed and Style7m
Composition and Structure7m
Not Buttons12m
States and Changes7m
4 readings
Try it Yourself: Define the Interaction15m
Pattern Libraries10m
Designing Better Buttons10m
Try it Yourself: Examine an interface10m
5 hours to complete

Composing the Elements of Interface Design

This week we are going to take our individual interface components and see what happens when we try to put them together into a more complex structure. We’ll be looking at how to get our components to work harmoniously as a family, figuring out how hierarchy works in the interface, and discussing conventions and expectations of contemporary interface design. We’ll also be examining how to navigate to different screens and how to build visual relationships between different kinds of content within a single site. Finally, we’ll be discussing different platforms, how to create variable content for different screen sizes, and looking at how to organize complex bodies of content into user-friendly structures.

7 videos (Total 41 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
7 videos
Invisible Complexity: Making a Whole from Many Parts2m
Hierarchy of Content7m
Conventions and Expectations6m
Structure and Grids10m
Platforms and Screen Sizes4m
Putting it All Together: Slice 'n' Dice7m
2 readings
Try it yourself: UI Inventory20m
Next Steps2m
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Top reviews from Visual Elements of User Interface Design

By JNNov 21st 2018

I never thought this is possible. I am very grateful to Coursera and Calarts. This is a starting milestone to changing my career life for better. I am ready to pursue more and more with your support.

By LCOct 19th 2018

This course is a good start for the beginner. I hope everyone in the class enjoyed it as I do. Thanks all of my classmates who have reviewed my peers. I look forward seeing you in the next course.



Michael Worthington

Faculty, Program in Graphic Design
School of Art

About California Institute of the Arts

CalArts has earned an international reputation as the leading college of the visual and performing arts in the United States. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. ...

About the UI / UX Design Specialization

The UI/UX Design Specialization brings a design-centric approach to user interface and user experience design, and offers practical, skill-based instruction centered around a visual communications perspective, rather than on one focused on marketing or programming alone. In this sequence of four courses, you will summarize and demonstrate all stages of the UI/UX development process, from user research to defining a project’s strategy, scope, and information architecture, to developing sitemaps and wireframes. You’ll learn current best practices and conventions in UX design and apply them to create effective and compelling screen-based experiences for websites or apps. User interface and user experience design is a high-demand field, but the skills and knowledge you will learn in this Specialization are applicable to a wide variety of careers, from marketing to web design to human-computer interaction. Learners enrolled in the UI/UX Design Specialization are eligible for an extended free trial (1 month) of a full product suite of UX tools from Optimal Workshop. Details are available in Course 3 of the Specialization, Web Design: Strategy and Information Architecture....
UI / UX Design

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.

  • When you enroll in the course, you get access to all of the courses in the Specialization, and you earn a certificate when you complete the work. Your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

  • Since this is a graphic design course, to complete the assignments you will need access to a desktop or laptop computer with the appropriate software installed. You can't really do graphic design work properly on a smartphone or tablet. Adobe CC software is recommended for these courses, but alternatives are available. Software will be reviewed in greater detail in the first week of the course.

More questions? Visit the Learner Help Center.