Are you interested to explore basic graphic design elements, color theory, images, publication design and techniques for creating effective layouts? You will also learn about typography, the creative process, the importance of brainstorming, and how to discuss and critique design in a professional setting. Page layout software and online sites will be used to incorporate and manipulate text, color, photographs and images.

Long term online programme: Graphic Design Elements for Non-Designers

Dates: any time

Duration: 4 months

Rating: 4.7/ 5.0 out of 1200 ratings (see top rating courses here)

Participating countries: any country

Organizer: University of Colorado Boulder at Coursera


  • FREE
  • $49 with sharable certificate

Graphic Design Elements for Non-Designers

If you are curious about the design process, work on a team with designers and need to speak some of their language, or want to empower the creatives on your team to be even better, this long term programme is made for you.

You will design a business card or one-sided flyer, an advertisement, a brochure and an outline for a website. In addition, this course will include optional discussions with fellow students and a peer review process for each assignment. We encourage you to take advantage of all of these opportunities, and immerse yourself in the design process!




  • Basic Elements of Design: Design Principles and Software Overview. Designing for an organization, while requiring technical skill, is not just about knowing how to use a pagination program such as InDesign or manipulate photos using Photoshop. A designer is a visual storyteller, a person who pairs words with images and typography to best convey information to an audience. Good design evokes emotion and presents the news of the day with clarity and the proper tone. A business card, brochure, or website that has good design provides content that is more inviting, more easily comprehensible and is faster to process. Design isn’t about “making it look pretty,” it’s also about content, layout and audience analysis.
  • Graphic Elements of Design: Color Theory and Image Formats. Examining and exploring the various types of images and graphic elements will be the focus of this course. We will start with color theory to distinguish between CMYK, Pantone and RGB color options and their usages. Then we will review the various types of images used in both print and digital design projects. Finally we will look at logo designs to determine what makes for the best images and graphic elements for corporate branding and imaging.
  • Textual Elements of Design: Fonts, Typography, and Spacing. Graphic design is telling a story by using both images and text. With that definition in mind, this course will focus on the textual elements of graphic design. From the history of typography, the difference between type, fonts and text as well as exposure to typography spacing, students will learn the value of selecting the best kind of type and combinations of fonts to get their message across in a visually pleasing manner.
  • Print and Digital Elements of Design: Branding and User Experience. Graphic design projects can be delivered in either a printed format or a digital format, or both. This course will look at how to work with creative professionals to get the ideal usage out of a design to use in print medium such as logos, brochures and larger printed projects that will also carry over as seamlessly as possible into the digital realm of websites and social media. We will also cover the user experience and how to keep the end result in mind when working on creative endeavors.