GD for the Web


GD for the Web
Thursday 01:10PM – 06:10PM
Design Center, Room 404
office hours : Thursday 9-12 and by appointment


This course is an introduction to the history, theory and practice behind building communicative media for the web. Through readings, discussions, visiting designer talks and student presentations, we will explore the social, political, and historical contexts around network technologies and and look at designers, artists, hackers, cultural activists, and collectives that have used the web as a medium in various ways – from neen sites, to tumblers, to 4chan, to wordpress to flickr, looking for interesting, novel and alternative approaches to web design. Through workshops you will learn the fundamental design principals and technologies required to build web sites. This class will focus on exploring networks not just as a series of technical tools and codes, but as a new landscape, a new public space, a new medium. This space is tremendously graphic, making designers the architects of this complex new public forum.


  • to give students an understanding of how information is distributed online, and how good design can harness these modes of structuring information
  • to discuss with the students how the web as a very specific public space, with its own communities, forms of engagement, modes of communication
  • to familiarize students with the design principles relating to dynamic media
  • to enable students to produce working prototypes of web pages
  • to give students a working knowledge of HTML, CSS and Javascript/Jquery
  • to give students a firm understanding of the technology involved in implementing a website


  • no coding requirements
  • basic photo editing, video editing (knowledge of imovie will be sufficient) and vector editing knowledge
  • a willingness to explore the past, present, future of the web, as well as a whole array of alternative and out of the ordinary sites


  • a laptop
  • a webhost (risd provides hosting space for all students. However, this hosting is limited, and by the mid-term break you will have to purchase your own web-host)
  • ftp software such as fetch, filezilla, cyberduck, transmit
  • a text editor for coding -textEdit on macs will NOT work, but you can download Sublime Text 2, Text Wrangler, Smultron, Text Mate
  • accounts to the following services: twitter, youtube or vimeo, flickr


Readings will be assigned every week. We will discuss the readings in class, in relation to specific websites and artworks and each other’s class work. Each student must submit 3 questions to the class website BEFORE 8am the day of class. The questions should be discussion question. They will act as prompts for the in-class discussion. The questions should NOT be questions for the instructor, but should be for your fellow students. You must come to class prepared to discuss the texts.


There will 4 assignments over the course of the semester.


Each student will give a 10-15 minute presentation on a particular topic during the course of the class. You should research your topic and present the class with at least five works that use the web as a medium that illustrates your topic. You can present in a format of your choice (pdf, keynote, website, etc…), though this must be uploaded to the course website.

I have provided a list of topics here. Below each topic is a list of designers and artists and works that can serve as a starting point for your research. You must also find works not from the list to include in your presentation.
You may propose your own topic subject to my approval.

Sign up for topics here: link


  • Participation 20%
  • Assignment 4 15%
  • Presentation 15%
  • Assignments 1-3 10%
  • Reading Questions 10%


  • F – frequently late and/or absent. insufficient pariticpation. little to no understanding of the coding and technology.
  • D – occasional lateness and more than one unexcused absence. basic understanding of coding and technology.
  • C – occasional lateness. demonstrated an understanding of coding and technology. failed to take risks. work holds together. makes only obligatory contributions to discussions
  • B – always present. work in on time. demonstrated a solid understanding of coding and technology. was able to seek out new coding principles and technologies. work has good form and content, and took some risks. able to make interesting contributions to the class
  • A – always present. work in on time. demonstrated a solid understanding of coding and technology. was able to seek out new coding principles and technologies. work has excellent form and content, and took major risks. always makes interesting contributions to the class, and frequently led class discussions