TYMCEUC-User Centred Design Methods

Module Provider: Typography
Number of credits: 30 [15 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Prof Eric Kindel

Email: e.t.kindel@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:


This module develops students’ knowledge and skills in the practice of information design with a user-centred, evidence-based approach. Systemic and creative thinking are emphasised in this module. Students will gain knowledge of a variety of user-centred design methods, enabling them to specify and conduct appropriate user research that informs their concept development and supports their design decisions. Students will develop complex information systems from an experiential standpoint across media, as well as crafting specific instances of communication for print, screen or in the environment

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module students should be able to:


•    conduct critical analyses of the communication and business goals, intended users and contexts of use of an information design project that deals with the development of a complex system

•    develop personas and user scenarios and develop detailed user journeys, as well as specifying and applying appropriate user-centred research methods to inform design decisions


•    demonstrate independent initiative and an iterative approach to a design project

•    apply synthetic skills in proposing a creative, appropriate, and persuasive solution to a design problem, showing evidence of sensitivity to users’ and stakeholders’ needs, visual judgement, and the ability to recognise and design with genre attributes


•    demonstrate craft skills and professional competence in producing design prototypes, specifications and well-documented files of process work

•    communicate effectively via visual and verbal means, in the form of oral presentations, written reports and design documentation

Additional outcomes:

Students should be able to work as part of a team, effectively contribute to meetings, build their own additional learning objectives into a project, and manage time and resources effectively to execute a project to completion.

Outline content:

The main component of the module is a practical design project. The brief for this project will vary from year to year, but the issues that the project addresses will remain the same. Students will consider the macro perspective of designing for a customer experience with touchpoints that may span across media, as well as crafting specific instances of communication for print, screen or environments.

In this module, information design is viewed as a means of supporting users to learn, carry out tasks and procedures or navigate in an environment in order to achieve their intended goal. It is also viewed as a means to support businesses in establishing customer relationships, managing resources, improving customer experience and invoking a desirable brand image. Systems design will form a major part of the project: the development of a set of principles and standards across various component parts of a user experience, with clear design specifications. Examples of genres include wayfinding and signage systems, application forms and instructions, learning resources, instructional manuals, billing systems, guide books, etc.

User-centred design techniques such as ethnographic research, participatory design, focus groups, personas and scenario development, customer journey mapping, task flow analyses, usability testing will be introduced and discussed. Students will apply appropriate techniques to support design decisions in the practical project, involving real or proxy users. Stakeholder involvement, pattern libraries, heuristics, expert evaluation and user interface inspection will also support design development and decisions.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

There are three main vehicles for teaching and learning

1.    Practical design project: A practical investigation into information design issues, simulating a professional design studio environment, where design principles and research methods are applied. The final submission will include a project report that documents the development of the project, the user-centred methods used to support design decisions, intermediary and final prototypes as well as the specifications of the final solution. Teaching modes include tutorials, small-group discussions, critiques and presentations.

2.    Usability research and report writing: Students will specify and apply appropriate user testing methods as part of their practical project to support design decisions. This will be documented in the form of a usability report. Tutorials will be the primary teaching mode for this component.

3.    Seminar: Oral presentation based on directed reading, supported with visuals and a printed handout. Discussions are encouraged on the ideas, principles and methods introduced in the assigned readings.


Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 17
Tutorials 15
Supervised time in studio/workshop 33
Guided independent study 235
Total hours by term 300.00
Total hours for module 300.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Report 33
Project output other than dissertation 67

Other information on summative assessment:

Both the usability report and the practical design project will result in a final summative mark after submission.

Formative assessment methods:

Formative assessment on the usability report will typically be provided by one session advising on the choice of usability research methods and the testing plan, and one in-progress feedback session. Formative feedback on the practical design project will be provided orally at iterative critique sessions, typically alternating between plenary and one-on-one sessions.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:


Reassessment arrangements:

An individual item of coursework will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of not less than 50%, otherwise it must be resubmitted by a date to be notified.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 27 July 2017

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