Roger Williams University

DSGN. 300 Web Design Communications

Spring 2024

M/W 12:00 PM – 1:50 PM

Global Heritage Hall, G12 Studio

Instructor: Erik Kowalski



cell. 508.965.6642

Office Hrs:

Monday – 2-3 pm

Office GHH 325

or by appoint on zoom


Building upon skills acquired in the pre-requisites, this course requires students to translate problem-solving design skills to the user interface of websites. Current industry standard technology is used to explore assignments emphasizing image and type in the visual design, site-planning, and usability. Demonstrations and lectures on multi-media and web design are presented. Final comprehensive visual solutions that include in-depth content and structure are created for use on the internet and subsequently for use in student digital portfolio. 

Course Objectives

-Gain a basic understanding of the many underlying principals of web design.

-Become familiar with HTML, CSS & what you can do with Javascript

-Learn the principals of designing for screen based media

-Gain an understanding of site mapping, site architecture and information architecture.

– Learn how to employ effective typographic and layout solutions to interactive screen based design.

-Learn how to create and upload a website with an FTP client to your own domain and hosting.

Students will explore principals of both the visual and technical aspects of web / screen based design. Projects will introduce students to wire-framing, information architecture & visual prototyping as well as technical aspects of web design such as HTML, CSS & Javascript.

Course Structure

This is a studio course that meets twice a week as a group. Instruction will be delivered in person and, if necessary, via Zoom. Over the course of the semester, the course format will vary based on the topic or issues being covered. Elements may include lectures and demonstrations, group projects and discussions, individual work time, small group work and critique sessions, and final critiques.

The workload for this class entails 2-3 hours of outside work for each hour spent in class, totaling 8-12 hours of work outside of class per week. This amount may increase depending on the subject matter and the steep learning curve required for mastering the necessary skills. A substantial portion of project development—including research, sketching, ideation, and final execution—will occur outside of class. While class time can be used for various aspects of project development, the emphasis will be on the process and final analysis. Each student is expected to work productively during in-class work sessions.

Students are expected to develop highly innovative and conceptual solutions for each project. This can be achieved by understanding and adhering to the principles of good art and design processes, as well as dedicating the necessary time to each assignment. Quick fixes and hastily executed ideas will not yield successful solutions for complex problems. It is crucial to generate multiple ideas for each visual solution and to thoroughly investigate each stage of the visual problem-solving process.

Your performance will be evaluated in three different areas throughout the semester, each affecting your final grade: Attendance, Participation, and Studio and Critique Performance, as well as Assignments. Please be aware that you are 100% responsible for your work and contributions in this class, as well as in any other class. The onus for success is on YOU.


In keeping with the format of this studio course, students are expected to attend class and be prepared to work. Unlike a standard academic class, a participatory demand is placed on the student to engage in in-class studio development. Therefore it is mandatory that students attend, produce and discuss work in class. In addition, homework and/or outside of class work are required and project specific.

Three unexcused absences will result in the lowering of your grade, one letter grade. Six unexcused absences will result in automatic failure. There will be no excuse for missing class unless approved by the instructor. Students must directly speak to the instructor in advance of the absence or within 24 hours of a missed session to have it approved. In the event of illness, a doctor’s note is recommended. An email message or voice mail message does not necessarily constitute an approved absence. Chronic lateness or leaving early is disruptive to the class as a whole…thus, three tardies shall be considered one absence. You will be also be marked absent if you are over half an hour late, leave class early, not prepared for critique and/ or to work in class.


Deadlines are a major factor in the operation of any work environment. Therefore, all assignment deadlines are absolute. No work will be accepted beyond its due date. Turn in your work by the deadline even if you feel it is unfinished. It’s better to be present and participating during class discussions.  Assignments turned in on time can be revised during the last three weeks of the semester. If you are unable to turn an assignment in at it’s proper time for a legitimate reason, you must make arrangements with the instructor beforehand and must receive permission for a different due date.

Also never attempt to plagiarize; as the cliché goes: In the larger picture, it will only hurt you. Do not throw away any work completed during the semester.

All work for critiques is due at the beginning of class.

Students seeking class and lab assignments, attendance, or other course requirements and deadlines due to religious observances should notify the professor to arrange options for alternative submission deadlines.

All work for critiques is due at the beginning of class.


Each assignment will be graded according to the following criteria (when applicable): design principles, preliminary sketches (willingness to explore many directions at an early stage of a project and the ability to communicate and develop those ideas on paper), risk taking, research, writing, originality, visual aesthetics and craftsmanship, based on the criteria established in the assignment statement and project objectives. Projects will be weighted in importance based on the complexity of the concepts and the solutions required.

Each project will be given a letter grade. You will receive a written grading sheet/evaluation for each assignment, in addition to verbal evaluations during critiques. Any time a student does not understand the nature of the grades given or comments that were made concerning their work, they should see the instructor during office hours or make an appointment for an individual assessment of those comments.

You should be aware that I have high expectations that each of my students follow the guidelines we’ve just laid.  This syllabus is our own little contract with one another.

A: Excellent This is  work done by a highly motivated student meeting all of the performance criteria as set forth by the assignment. Work shows through exploration and growth beyond set/expected perimeters. Work is finely crafted, conceptually strong and visually interesting.

B: Good This work is above average but lacks the qualities that give it the stamp of excellence. It shows better than average design sensitivity and meets all of the performance criteria as set forth by the assignment.

C: Satisfactory This work is average. Work is handed in on time and has fulfilled all or most of requirements of the project, but it lacks strong conceptual and/or visual interest and thoughtful and imaginative resolution. This work may also have significant problems with basic design principles and craftsmanship.

D: Poor Below Average This work is handed in on time, but lacks many or most areas that show understanding of design principals, craftsmanship and/or does not meet the criteria for the assignment.

F: Unacceptable Work that is not handed in on time or at all and has not met any of the guidelines and standards of design set for the assignment.


The University commits to providing reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Students with disabilities (including medical conditions) who need accommodations to fully participate in this class are urged to contact Student Accessibility Services, as soon as possible, to explore the arrangements needed to be made to assure access.

If you are a student that requires academic accommodations and are not currently registered with Student Accessibility Services; please complete the Registration form and upload documentation following instructions after clicking on the yellow Clockwork button on the SAS website

If you are already registered with SAS please click on the yellow clockwork button on the SAS website and request your Faculty notifications letters for this course. If you do not request your letters, faculty are under no obligation to provide academic accommodations.

Student Accessibility Services is located on the first floor of the University Library and is open Monday through Friday from 8:00AM to 5:00PM. They can be reached at and 401-254-3841. For any further questions please reach out to

Information on The Tutoring Center:

The Tutoring Center, which is comprised of the Math, Science, Writing and Modern Languages Centers, is located on the second floor of the Library on the Bristol campus. The Center provides walk-in peer and faculty tutoring at no charge. You are encouraged to visit the Center to ask questions, whether it’s about course-specific in-person tutoring or to make an appointment for Zoom tutoring.

In addition, the Writing Center also offers an email tutoring system at this website: The WritingHelp email system is not in-person tutoring (for in-person help, please come into the Writing Center); it provides an email address to send your paper to a tutor for help.

The Tutoring Center offers assistance Monday – Thursday 9 am – 8 pm; Friday 9 am – 3 pm; Sunday 2 pm – 8 pm. For more information, including schedules, please use this site.

Title IX at RWU

Roger Williams University fosters a campus free of power-based personal violence including sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship/domestic violence, stalking, and/or any form of sex or gender-based discrimination. If you disclose a personal experience as described above, either verbally or in writing, the course instructor is required to notify the Title IX Coordinator.  To disclose any such violence confidentially, contact one of the resources listed below:

Additional information regarding your rights and resources are available at:  RWU Title IX

Mental Health and Wellness

If you are feeling stressed, worried, or down during the semester, or if you notice signs of emotional distress in someone else, here are some campus resources:

Office of Student and Family Assistance 401-254-3042

The Counseling Center 401-254-3124

Public Safety (available 24/7/365 at 401-254-3333.

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text or call 988 or chat for a free, confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7.

You can also call the Counseling Center at 401-254-3124 after hours, following the prompts to be immediately connected to a professional who can provide crisis intervention.  If you are off-campus in the Bristol area, call East Bay Center (available 24/7/365) at 401-246-0700.

Additional resources are available on the RWU Counseling Center website.

Statement on masking

Mask wearing (high quality N95 or KN95) in indoor settings is considered an effective and recommended practice by the Centers for Disease Control and the American College Health Association and has been proven effective at RWU. The University reserves the right to require mask wearing in any indoor setting when deemed necessary, and we support any individual who chooses to wear a mask to protect themselves or others.


We, the undergraduate students of Roger Williams University, commit ourselves to academic integrity. We Promise to pursue the highest ideals of academic life, to challenge ourselves with the most rigorous standards, to be honest in any academic endeavor, to conduct ourselves responsibly and honorably, and to assist one another as we live and work together in mutual support.

Inclement weather / cancellations

In case of inclement weather, there may be a cancellation of our session in the lab with expectations that all students should via text message from the RWU alert system. You will be given ample notice of such cancellations as best possible. If you have not been notified that class is cancelled, and I’m not present at the beginning of class it should be assumed that class will be held (that I’m just late for some reason). Notifications of cancellation will occur via an email from me or someone from the office will post a notice.

RWU utilizes an RWU Alert system which serves as the University’s primary communications tool for alerting campus community members to urgent situations. When activated, the system sends phone, email, and text messages regarding incidents that could affect their safety. The University also hosts an emergency siren warning system that broadcasts alarms and voice instructions when activated. In the case of a fire alarm, individuals should proceed outside of the building. All buildings include instructions on what to do in the event of each type of emergency.

Additional information regarding what to do in the event of a campus emergency can be found here:

Campus emergency contact information is located on the website here:

The numbers for campus emergency contacts are as follows:

Emergency:                 401-254-HELP (4357)

Public Safety:               401-254-3611

Health Services:          401-254-3156

Environmental Health

     & Safety:                 401-254-3611 or 401-254-4357

Facilities:                     401-254-3136

Counseling Center:      401-254-3124

Class Materials

Students are responsible for obtaining a license for Adobe’s suite of tools.  Information on student discount pricing for the Creative Cloud apps can be found at:

Note:  The Design Labs in GHH have the Adobe applications installed, for those who are on campus and wish to work from GHH 12 or GHH 13.

You will need purchase a domain name and hosting a hosting account.


Computer storage device of your choice:

External hard drive, Cloud based storage (such as .Mac), CDs,

flash-drives (beware that these are not always reliable, and are very easy to loose)

WARNING!! Saving to the lab computers is not reliable

you may loose work.