Teaching Visual Interaction Design

Combine an Interaction Design program, with a crash course in visual design, mix it up with how visual design principles, practices and approaches intersect and influence designing the full user experience and you get the class I am teaching. We are doing a crash course in the basics – gestalt principles, typography basics, type history, wireframing basics, prototyping basics, color theory and application. Later in the semester we are doing a full brand personality – brand development module, creating style tiles and a web style guide, data visualizations and dashboards and then designing mobile and web. It’s a great refresher for me to pull together everything I know in this space from my graphic design degrees and from my practical work experience the last 20+ years and try to distill it all down into a semester. It’s an exercise in simplicity design.

I am posting my presentations after each week’s module. Follow along if you will.


Type History

As part of the class I am teaching – Visual Interaction Design – we are doing a module on typography and type design. Tangential to that is type history – not specifically relevant but great background for the designers. So starting with the type history deck provided by Ellen Lupton, which is part of her curriculum for Thinking With Type which we are using as a textbook, I adjusted, added, modified and extended the information up to current times and eventually created a presentation of type history from the beginning of writing in cuneiform to webfonts and typekit. The deck is overlaid with my voice over which is done in the software VoiceThread and then exported as a movie. Hope you find it interesting and maybe it will spark an interest in more type.

Reading List

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Starting today I am teaching Visual Interaction Design at CCA (California College of the Arts) – which is a crash course in visual design for interaction designers. As I have put my curriculum together and shaped the class, I have referenced a lot of great books that I think are worthy of having on the shelf. Some old standards have gone by the wayside for being too outdated, but many are evergreen as the basic principles underlying good design are timeless. I’m sure I am missing some but here is my master list:

General Design

Universal Principles of Design
William Lidwell, Kritina Holden and Jill Butler
Rockport Publishers

The Laws of Simplicity
John Maeda
MIT Press

Designing for Performance
Lara Callender Hogan
O’Reilly Media

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People
Susan M. Weinschenk, PhD
New Riders

Understanding Comics
Scott McCloud
Harper Perennial

Responsive Web Design
Ethan Marcotte
A Book Apart

The Sketchnote Handbook: the illustrated guide to visual note taking
Mike Rohde
Peachpit Press

The Sketchnote Workbook: Advanced techniques for taking visual notes you can use anywhere
Mike Rohde
Peachpit Press

The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently
Sunni Brown
Portfolio Press

Design Fundamentals: Notes on Visual Elements and Principles of Composition
Rose Gonnella
Peachpit Press

Color Theory

The Elements of Color
Johannes Itten
Van Nostrand Reinhold

Design Fundamentals: Notes on Color
Rose Gonnella
Peachpit Press


Thinking with Type
Ellen Lupton
Princeton Architectural Press

Type on Screen
Ellen Lupton
Princeton Architectural Press

On Typography
Jason Santa Maria
A Book Apart

The Elements of Typographic Style
Robert Bringhurst
Hartley & Marks Publishers

The Elements of Typographic Style applied to the Web

Design Fundamentals: Notes on Type
Rose Gonnella
Peachpit Press


Lean Branding
Laura Busche
O’Reilly Media

The Brand Gap
Marty Neumeier
New Riders

Building Strong Brands
David A. Aaker
Free Press

Brand Identity Essentials
Kevin Budelman, Yang Kim and Curt Wozniak
Rockport Publishers


Mobile First
Luke Wroblewski
A Book Apart Press

Mobile Pattern Gallery
Teresa Neil
O’Reilly Media

Designing for iOS

Google Material Design

Information Design & Information Visualization

The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don’ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures
Dona M. Wong
W. W. Norton

Design for Information: An Introduction to the Histories, Theories, and Best Practices Behind Effective Information Visualizations
Isabel Meirelles

Information is Beautiful
David McCandless

Knowledge is Beautiful
David McCandless
Harper Design

The Visual Miscellaneous
David Mccandless
Harper Design

Infographic Designers’ Sketchbooks
Steven Heller and Rick Landers
Princeton Architectural Press

The Best American Infographics 2014
edited by Gareth Cook

Envisioning Information
Edward R Tufte
Graphics Press

Visual Display of Quantitative Information

Edward R. Tufte
Graphics Press


Nancy Duarte
O’Reilly Media