Online course: Visual Elements of User Interface Design (part of the Long term online programme UI / UX Design)

Dates: any time

Duration: 16 hours

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 out of 3939 ratings (see top rating courses here)

Participating countries: anyone can apply

Apply: Here

Organizer: California Institute of the Arts at Coursera


  • FREE
  • $49 with sharable certificate

Visual Elements of User Interface Design

This design-centric course examines the broad question of what an interface is and what role a designer plays in creating a user interface. Learning how to design and articulate meaning using color, type, and imagery is essential to making interfaces function clearly and seamlessly. Through a series of lectures and visual exercises, you will focus on the many individual elements and components that make up the skillset of an interface designer. By the end of this course, you will be able to describe the key formal elements of clear, consistent, and intuitive UI design, and apply your learned skills to the design of a static screen-based interface.

This is the first course in the UI/UX Design Specialization, which brings a design-centric approach to user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design, and offers practical, skill-based instruction centered around a visual communications perspective, rather than on one focused on marketing or programming alone.

These courses are ideal for anyone with some experience in graphic or visual design and who would like to build their skill set in UI or UX for app and web design. It would also be ideal for anyone with experience in front- or back-end web development or human-computer interaction and want to sharpen their visual design and analysis skills for UI or UX.



WEEK 1 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.

Welcome to the UI/UX Design Specialization
Course Introduction
About this course
About the assignments
Instructor Presence and Staff Support
Forum Guidelines
Requesting Peer Reviews
Academic Integrity
Required Tools
About CalArts and the Program in Graphic Design

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!

Introduction to Week 1
What is a User Interface?
The Relationship Between UI and UX
Roles in UI/UX
A Brief Historical Overview of Interface Design
Interface Conventions: Theory
Interface Conventions: Application
Template vs Content
Aesthetics & Functionality
About UI vs UX graded quiz
Interface Conventions: Review
UI vs UX
Interface Conventions

WEEK 2 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.

Introduction to Week 2
Design Before Design
Look and Feel
Language as a design tool
Color and Shape
Project Brief

WEEK 3 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.

Introduction to Week 3
Static to Active
Speed and Style
Composition and Structure
Not Buttons
States and Changes
Try it Yourself: Define the Interaction
Pattern Libraries
Designing Better Buttons
Try it Yourself: Examine an interface

WEEK 4 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.

Introduction to Week 4
Invisible Complexity: Making a Whole from Many Parts
Hierarchy of Content
Conventions and Expectations
Structure and Grids
Platforms and Screen Sizes
Putting it All Together: Slice ‘n’ Dice
Try it yourself: UI Inventory
Next Steps