415 class forum

 

Schedule

Week One

Monday, Jan. 23

In class

  • Introduction: document genres & information design
  • Register for the class forum
  • To learn about using online forums, review the following:
    Forum tutorial
    Forum FAQs
  • Post a reply to the "Introductions" thread on the forum, introducing yourself (e.g., major or likely major, career plans, interests, technical experience)
  • Use SSH to make coursework folders on Eden:

    Note: Don't use spaces or upper-case letters in file names!

    1. Open SSH Secure File Transfer Client on your computer and
      (a) click on "Quick Connect"
      (b) for "Host Name" enter www.eden.rutgers.edu
      (c) enter your Eden username
      (d) click "Connect" and enter your password.
    2. Check the Remote (right) side of the SSH window for a "public_html" folder.
    3. Create a "public_html" folder there if you don't have one already see the GetIT SSH Tutorial for help. Note that public_html must be spelled exactly that way: lower-case letters with an underscore (no quote-marks).
    4. Check that your "public_html" folder's permissions are 755.
    5. In your "public_html" folder make a "415" folder and set its permissions to 755.
    6. In your "415" folder make a "hw" folder (where you'll store your homework) and set its permissions to 755.
    7. Double-check that you didn't use spaces or upper-case letters in your filenames!
    8. Check that everything worked: in a browser, enter
      http://www.eden.rutgers.edu/~your username/415
      You should see your "hw" folder listed inside your "415" folder.

  • Next we'll look at some sample documents
  • Sample document (1): paper money
  • Sample document (2): NMD debate map
  • Sample document (3): Another argumentation map
  • Sample document (4): Tri-fold brochure
  • Next . . .

  • A quick online visit to RU Libraries
  • If you haven't done so already, review the instructions for how to find an article
  • Finally . . .

  • Begin work on the trifold brochure assignment (note that we'll be making the brochures using Adobe InDesign rather than MS Word)
  • Rather than preparing a brochure for researching (and doing) information design specifically, however, each group may choose to prepare one on resources for some other field of design; in other words, what resources does the library offer the Rutgers student researching and/or practicing graphic design or industrial design?

 

Homework

  • Buy the textbooks: The Williams, Lascasio, and Tufte can be ordered online from Amazon, Buy.com, B & N, etc.
  • If you need to, download SSH for home use from RU Software (login with your NetID and search under keyword "SSH")
  • Find a trifold brochure to bring as an example to the next class
  • Read Horn (pdf) — and make at least one comment on him in your Usability Notes: e.g., what could his article do better; does he tell you as a student what you wanted to know?
  • Read Toms on recognizing genre (access on campus or log-in with NetID through RU Libraries page)
  • Complete the Initial Research, and make both a printout and electronic version of your Usability Notes and sources/blurbs (use SSH to save to your Eden webspace)
  • Review the Brochure Requirements and (in a word-processing file) begin a brochure draft to review in class
  • To get ahead, read the first half of Non-Designer's Design Book
  • Note: I'm going to simplify (and hopefully clarify) the brochure project a bit. Talking with a few of you after class has convinced me that right now the assignment has too many pieces. I'll put the modifications online tomorrow (Tuesday), so you might want to hold off on the work until then.

    Update (Tuesday night): I've posted a revised brochure assignment on the class forum. Please read and respond.



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Week Two

Monday, Jan. 30

We meet in the Satellite Computer Room, 151 College Ave

In class

Planning the Brochure

  1. Begin work on the brochure assignment
  2. Review the brochure planning guidelines on the Business & Technical Writing website
  3. In your groups: circulate and examine the sample brochures you brought in (as well as handouts from last week). Make a list of 6 to 10 conventions of the brochure genre (try to come up with spatial, textual, etc.). Exclude the obvious ones: e.g., two-sided, double-folded, three-paneled, landscaped. This shd take about 5 mins
  4. When finished: post your list to the class forum and compare your group's list with those of other groups
  5. Next: plan the common design for your group's brochure set: in particular, determine the categories of information you'll include in your brochure and determine which category should go in which part of the brochure (page, part of page, etc.)

In-Design Warm-Up

  1. First, open Adobe InDesign and read this online InDesign CS tutorial to familiarize yourself with basic InDesign features
  2. Set the InDesign measurements from picas to inches (follow these instructions)
  3. Then complete the InDesign brochure tutorial (see handout)
  4. To keep things simple for now, you only need to do steps 1, 2, 7, and 11, and the first paragraphs of steps 12 and 13 (the other steps are optional)
  5. Completing these steps will produce a basic black and white brochure layout you then can modify to suit the needs of your group
  6. Finally, in your groups begin to draft your brochures — and arrange to email or otherwise share whatever parts you need to share
  7. You can draft your brochure either in MS Word or the more versatile Adobe InDesign CS
  8. Whichever software application you choose, however, you'll still need to complete the InDesign warm-up

 

Homework

  • Read Kostelnick, "Supra-Textual Design: The Visual Rhetoric of Whole Documents," Technical Communication Quarterly 5.1 (1996): 9-33 (find through RU Libraries)
  • As the article title suggests, Kostelnick discusses large-scale conventions of information design and uses a mini-brochure, a smaller variant of the trifold brochure, as one of his main examples
  • Once you've read the article, think of popular magazine or type of magazine you know well (sports, fashion, gaming, entertainment, news, etc.) and list about 12-15 of its "supra-textual" conventions; which of these conventions help to distinguish the magazine from other kinds of document? from others kinds of magazine? Print out your list for next class
  • Don't worry about the promised second article; we'll save it for next time
  • Read Williams (Non-Designer's Design Book), 10-86, 105-108
  • Complete draft of brochure; have your electronic copy saved in Eden and a printed and folded two-sided "demonstration" copy for next class


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Week Three

Monday, Feb. 6

We meet in the Satellite Computer Room, 151 College Ave

In class

 

Homework

  • Read Williams 121-173 ("Designing with Type")
  • Handwrite answers to Little Quiz # 7 (Williams p. 173)
  • Read E. R. Brumberger, "The Rhetoric of Typography: The Persona of Typeface and Text," Technical Communication 50 (2003): 206-223 (find the article on the RU Libraries website)
  • For help finding the article, review "How Do I Find an Article"
  • Read Schriver on typography and grid layout (handouts)
  • Finish revised brochure and design script (remember that you can use a copy machine to make a 2-sided copy).
  • Complete prep work for second assignment


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Week Four

Monday, Feb. 13

We meet in the Satellite Computer Room, 151 College Ave

In class

 

Homework

  • Construct first draft of Reference Book design in InDesign; bring dummy copy to class
  • To save InDesign CS2 files in an InDesign CS compatible format: Save CS2 file "backwards" using the INX export feature (File > Export) and select InDesign Interchange as the format (see LoCascio p. 126)
  • Here is what Adobe says
  • Find three examples of useful and interesting document layout that suggest ideas or starting point for your design; bring actual documents or photocopies to class

    These examples can come from reference books or from other document genres

  • Using Kostelnick and Roberts' model, fill out a visual language matrix for your reference book article; list all significant textual, spatial, and graphic elements at the intra-, inter-, extra-, and supra-levels
  • Reading: Kostelnick (handout)


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Week Five

Monday, Feb. 20

We meet in the Satellite Computer Room, 151 College Ave

In class

 

Homework

  • Revise and complete Von Neumann reference article
  • Design script (DS) should be in 1-2 page memo format addressed to the instructor (high-contrast logo optional)
  • The DS should use page design features to amplify its readability: e.g., text broken down into labeled sections, bulleted lists
  • Refer to the handout from the first class for an example of good page design of this type
  • As with the previous assignment, you should draw on the readings to support and clarify your decisions. Quote at least three times each from at least two of the readings.

    Again: The design script should include a short MLA style works cited identifying the sources of any visual material used in the design. It should also include the materials you drew on for design inspiration (models, etc.)

  • Reading: Kostelnick & Roberts (handout); LoCascio, chaps. 10 (esp. pp. 246-47) and 11


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Week Six

Monday, Feb. 27

We meet in the Satellite Computer Room, 151 College Ave

In class

    User Manual Group Project

  • Humorous instruction set from McSweeney's 6
  • User manual planning worksheet
  • User manual style checklist
  • Readings on preparing procedures, instructions, and user manuals:
    1. Task Analysis Matrix (Quine)
    2. What Makes a Well-Written Procedure (Quine)
    3. General Guidelines for Writing Instructions (Mackiewicz)
    4. Writing Instructions (Campbell)
    5. The Four Components of a Procedure (van der Meij and Gellvij)

    Find this last article in IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication 47.1 (2004). Look over the other articles in this issue as well; they apply to the current project.

    See also: Steehouder and Van der Meij, "Designing and Evaluating Procedural Instructions with the Four Components Model," 2005 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference Proceedings (2005): 797-801; find the article through IEEE Xplore


    User Manual Group Project

    Produce a user manual (UM) in booklet format for some device (hardware or software), job, game, or activity. For an overview of the UM genre, see this online guide.

    User Manual Contents

    • A title page (title, authors, "publisher," other conventional elements)
    • Table of contents
    • Introduction/preface
    • Mechanism description
    • Illustrated instruction sequence / tutorial
    • Supplemental section(s): warnings, tips, advanced applications, maintenance procedures, troubleshooting suggestions
    • Glossary of technical terms
    • Works cited/further reading/reference (inc. online sources, if applicable)
    • Contributors' bios
    • Index

    Design Process

    1. Form teams of 3-4 members
    2. Come up with about three possible topics for the user manual (UM)
    3. Research each topic idea online as necessary
    4. Consult with the instructor for approval of (and recommendations for) one of your UM ideas
    5. Review the linked guidelines and expert advice for writing instructions and designing a UM
    6. Plan your UM, using the linked UM planning worksheet and Task Analysis Matrix
    7. Divide duties among members of the design team: each team member is responsible for at least one duty/procedure (at least 3 pages) and at least one non-procedural element of the UM (contents, glossary, index, background info, etc.)
    8. Prepare an initial task analysis of the UM topic and a task-assignment list for the team (i.e., what each team member is planning to work on) using Task Analysis Matrix (by the end of today's class)
    9. Write first-draft of instructions and other content (for next week)
    10. Find examples of UM designs and other designs that help with your project (for next week)
    11. Design first draft pages (for next week)
    12. Revise first-draft of content and design (in class next week)

      For the class after next (i.e., week 8):

    13. Complete the UM
    14. Write the project design script (DS)
    15. Prepare 3 visuals to supplement your DS (more on this next week)

 

Homework

  • Due: First draft text for User Manual
  • Due: Two sample user manuals or instruction sets
  • Due: Use IEEE Xplore (or another suitable index/database if you prefer) to find an article on UM design that gives you some useful advice for this project.

    Read the article and write a 150-word abstract of the article that makes clear its value for your design process. (Note: you'll need to quote from this article for support when preparing your DS)

  • Reading: LoCascio, UM readings


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Week Seven

Monday, Mar. 6

We meet in the Satellite Computer Room, 151 College Ave

In class

 

    Things to avoid in your Document Design

  1. Too many fonts (try other methods to achieve contrast)
  2. Too little vertical spacing
  3. Too little space between text and image or edge of another element
  4. Inconsistent repetition (e.g., spacing between sections)
  5. Low quality images (find high resolution images or scan your own)
  6. No page numbers (etc.) on a document that by convention has page numbers
  7. A lackluster design (even reference articles need to be visually exciting!)

 

    Things to do in your Design Script

  1. Quote from at least THREE of the readings and give page numbers for quotes
  2. When quoting use MLA in-text citation style
  3. Quote often
  4. Be specific (e.g., when explaining your selection of a font be sure to name the font)
  5. Follow CRAP principles when designing your design script memo
  6. Show how your research (i.e., your found models) inform your design by listing them and refering to them in your self-analysis

 

    User Manual Project

  • Compare/discuss the sample user manuals you've found and brought to class
  • Work on User Manual project

 

Homework

  • Complete your User Manual and Design Script (see above for updated DS guidelines)
  • Note: One of your three (or more) DS readings should be the article you located using IEEE Xplore (remember to quote from this source)
  • Also: Your DS needs to make very clear the specific audience and rhetorical context of your UM: who will read it? where and in what circumstances? why will they need the UM? etc.
  • Read the new Schriver handout on combining text and image; how might Schriver's remarks apply to the UM design?


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Spring Break

 

Week Eight

Monday, Mar. 20

We meet in the Satellite Computer Room, 151 College Ave

In class

    Preview Final Project

  • Take a look at the Final Project assignment
  • For next week: Think of a possible final project idea and at least one back-up idea
  • Class exercise: CRAP and Slide Presentations: Bad Graphing Presentation

  • Finish UM Project

  • As noted last time, there'll be about 30 minutes for final edits to your UM and DS and for you to co-ordinate any final alterations to your UM designs
  • Review good and bad table/chart samples

    Source: Kenneth W. Houp, Thomas E. Pearsall, Elizabeth Tebeaux, and Sam Dragga, Reporting Technical Information (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006): 284.

  • Review Tufte on data-ink: page 1 and page 2

    Source: Edward R. Tufte, Visual Display of Quantitative Information (Graphic Press, 1987): 93-94.

  • In class activity: Draft a Gantt chart and a work breakdown statement for your UM project (print these out and submit them with your UM and DS)
  • Sample work breakdown statement:

    Task
    Description
    Who Estimated
    Person
    Hours
    Resources
    Glossary Jim, Frank 3 MS Word, Firefox
    Etc.

  • Use the advice of Tufte and Houp et al. to guide your chart/table designs

  • Begin Poster Project

  • See the Poster Project assignment
  • Form groups of two and begin planning and researching the project
  • Some extra guidelines:

    1. The poster can be portrait or landscape orientation
    2. It needs to be in color
    3. It needs to be at the very least twice as large as a typical letter size page
    4. It cannot be boring to look at; nor should it be garish

 

Homework

  • If you have not done so already, order Tufte's Visual Explantions from your prefered online book vendor (you do not need to order it from the official Tufte site)
  • Note: If you wish, as a way of saving money, you may share copies of this book; just be aware that you'll need to use Tufte for the group presentations and your final individual project
  • Also: as noted, if you already have a copy of Tufte's Envisioning Information, you may use this book instead of Visual Explantions

  • Draft rough version of your Poster Project section
  • If you already have one of the Tufte books, select one of the chapters/essays to read and think about how you apply its lessons to your Poster Project
  • Read overview of Tufte's Principles 4-6 & 9-16; and read Gary Klass's examples of Bad Charting


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Week Nine

Monday, Mar. 27

We meet in the Satellite Computer Room, 151 College Ave

In class

 

Homework

  • Finish poster and DS for Apr 10
  • Draft formal proposal in memo format for your FP and post to "FP Proposal" thread on the Class Forum (due Apr 3)
  • Complete virtual class work on the Class Forum by Wednesday, Apr. 5


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Week Ten

Monday, Apr. 3

Virtual Class

In class

  • FP proposal memo (post to the Class Forum)
  • Complete the "Virtual Class" assignment on the Class Forum (due Apr 5)
  • Find two models for your final project; analyze one of these according to the "Virtual Class" guidelines on the Forum
  • Work on poster and DS
  • Example: Poster Presentation
  • Perform research and other preliminary work for your Final Project

 

Homework

  • Complete poster and DS (penultimate draft)
  • Make preliminary sketches of pages (or whatever) of your FP
  • Bring two model documents related to your FP to class
  • Research for FP


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Week Eleven

Monday, Apr. 10

We meet in the Satellite Computer Room, 151 College Ave

In class

  • Due: Poster and DS, penultimate draft
  • Have poster in electronic form ( save/export as a PDF) and a one-page, shrunken printed version to hand in
  • Post a link to the PDF version of your Poster Project in the "Poster Project" thread of the Class Forum
  • Due: preliminary sketches of pages of FP (either pen on paper or printout)
    1. Ragged edges, numbered instructions 1
    2. Numbered instructions 2, blank space
    3. Numbered instructions 3
    4. Numbered instructions 4
    5. Constrastive typography
    6. Pictures on left
    7. Pictures on right
  • We'll go over the graded UMs, take a look at your posters, and then . . .
  • Work on Final Project
  • Homework

  • Make final revisions to posters
  • Draft first draft of FP
  • Tufte exercise 1:Browse Tufte and select a chapter that offers useful ideas for designing your final project

    1. Write a one-paragraph (200-word) summary of the chapter
    2. Write a second paragraph (variable length) describing how Tufte's argument about information visualization applies to your project
    3. Post your paragraphs to the Forum's "Tufte" thread by the start of next class

  • Note: A version of your Tufte comments should become part of your DS for your FP; this DS will need to draw on at least 2-3 chapters from Tufte


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Week Twelve

Monday, Apr. 17

We meet in the Satellite Computer Room, 151 College Ave

In class

  • Due: Final draft of poster and poster DS
  • Due: Tufte exercise
  • Due: rough draft of at least one complete document (or large document section) for your FP; evidence of other "inchoate" documents or document sections
  • Note: A late rough draft today will lower final grade for project by half a letter grade (e.g., B+ to B)
  • Individual in-class conferences: Be prepared to discuss the following with me:

    1. Why wasn't your audience being served (or well-served) before?
    2. What is your most important design/usability challenge?
    3. How is your analysis of related documentation affecting your design process?

  • Work on Final Project


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Week Thirteen

Monday, Apr. 24

We meet in the Satellite Computer Room, 151 College Ave

In class

 

Week Fourteen

Wednesday, May 3

We meet in the Murray 038 Computer Lab: 4.30 pm

In class

  • There is no official class this week, but as noted: you'll need to stop by Murray 038 at 4.30 pm on Wednesday afternoon to turn in your Final Project
  • Due: Final Project and DS
  • Note: You need to save easily web-viewable PDFs for all Final Project documents in a "final" folder in your "415" Eden folder
  • To make PDFs easily web-viewable (without loss of quality) either select the "optimize for fast web view" option when exporting your file as a PDF or use the compression menu (see LoCascio p. 364)
  • Note on the Final DS

  • The DS will need to draw on (quote from, discuss, and relate to your design process) at least two Tufte chapters and three other readings readings
  • To clarify:

    1. Your DS should include two or more paragraphs in which you discuss your visualization strategies in terms of the two Tufte chapters you select
    2. Your discussion of Tufte will need to contain at least three images (with numbers and captions) of parts of your project that illustrate your use of Tufte

  • Have fun with the Final Project; make it both informative and visually exciting; and I'll see you on Wednesday, May 3


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    information design

 

Final Office Hour


Source: George McManus, Bringing Up Father, January 7, 1940

There will be a final office hour on Monday, May 8, 3.30-4.30 pm, in Loree 010. At that time you'll be able to learn your final grade and get feedback from me on your final project.

 



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