Course Syllabus

INFO 360 A: Design Thinking

***Reading Choice List***

Example Diagrams for Design Specs

Marked up example of Design Spec

Outline for Design Specs

Storyboard Scenario PowerPoint 



This is a class about design thinking. You'll learn how envision, explain, and evaluate solutions to a wide range of human problems involving information and interaction. These skills include user research methods, visual and interaction design skills, methods for evaluating designs, and skills for communicating your designs. The course will be a balance between lectures, classroom activities, critiques, and a quarter-long team project.

You should bring to each class:

  • an extra fine red pen
  • a black sketching utensil (pen, pencil, charcoal, or whatever you're comfortable with)
  • a sketchbook, no lines, at least 60 pages. Perforated pages are preferred, to make it easy to remove them when necessary.
  • digital devices (e.g., laptops, tablets, smartphones) are helpful for the class, but will be asked to be turned off at certain portions of the class. 

Contact Information for instructors

  • Primary instructor: Jason C. Yip -
  • Teaching assistant: Nikita Redij -
  • If you email us, please use Canvas. Otherwise, your mail may not be answered. 

Office Hours

  • Primary instructor: Wednesday, 12:30 - 1:30 pm (Mary Gates Hall 015B) or by appointment
  • Teaching assistant: By appointment


Week Lecture Lab Critique

Week 1

January 4 and 6


January 4

Lecture 1.1: What are design problem

Activity 1: Brainstorm design questions related to the project

Reading 1 assigned (Buxton and Design)

Homework 1: Skills questionnaire (due Monday 1/4 at 11:59 pm PST)

January 4

Lab 1.2: Observations


January 6

Meet team members

Discussion on Reading 1

Critique 1: Choosing a design problem

Lecture 1.3: Interviews and Contextual Inquiry

Homework 2 assigned: Contextual inquiry or semi-structure interview due on 1/13

Week 2

January 11 and 13

January 11

Lecture 2.1: Where do design ideas come from?

Activity 2: The worst ideas

Reading 2 (Empathy) and Reading 3 (Ideation)

Guest speaker: Dr. Andrew Miller

Homework 3 assigned due on 1/20

January 11

Lab 2.2: Brainstorming


January 13

Reading 2 due at 8:00 am

Presentation on Reading 2

Critique 2: Team strategizing

Homework 2 due

Reading 3 assigned

Week 3

January 18 and 20

January 18

NO CLASS (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)






January 18

NO LAB (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)

January 20

Reading 3 due at 8:00 am

Presentation on Reading 3 

Homework 3 due and discussion

Homework 4 assigned: Prototype development (individual) - due 1/27

Lecture 3: What are ideas?

Critique 3: Compare and contrast ideas

Week 4

January 26 and 28

January 25

Lecture 4: Prototyping

Activity 3: Personas

Work on Homework 4 

Reading 4 - Prototyping

January 25

Lab 3: Test prototypes





January 27

Reading 4 due

Presentation Reading 4 

Critique 4: Go through Homework 4, due today

Homework 5 assigned: Prototype development (group) due 2/3

Strategize together 

Week 5

February 1 and 3

February 1

Lecture 5: How do I know this idea will work?

Activity 4: Primary Scenario

Reading 5 - Usability and end user experience

February 1

Lab 4: Test prototypes 2 for Homework 5




February 3

Reading 5 due

Presentation Reading 5

Homework 5 due 

Homework 6 assigned: Draft 1 of design scenario

Critique 5: Plan for Homework 6


Week 6

February 8 and 10

February 8

Lecture 6: Does this idea work?

Activity 5: Practice task-based usability testing

Reading 6 - Usability testing and evaluation 




February 8

Lab 5: Plan for diagramming




February 10

Reading 6 due

Presentation Reading 6

Guest speaker: Dr. Carmen Gonzalez

Reading 7 - Visual Design

Homework 7 assigned: Testing (due 2/18 at 10:00 am)

Homework 8 assigned: Draft 2 of design specification 

Critique 6: Discuss the results of your prototyping, user testing, and specification

Critique 6 notes

Week 7

February 15 and 17

February 15

NO CLASS (Presidents' Day)






February 15

NO LAB (Presidents' Day)






February 17

Homework 7 due

Reading 7 due

Presentation Reading 7

Lecture 7:How do I communicate this idea? 

Jason's version
Daisy's version

Process books (bring draft in on March 2)

Activity 6: Visual design

Week 8

February 22 and 24

February 22

Lecture 8: How do I communicate this design through video?

Homework 9 assigned: Storyboard videos (due 3/2)

Activity 7: Plan for storyboarding

Reading 8 - Design for All

February 22

Lab 6: Planning video storyboard and/or process books





February 24

Homework 8 due Thursday 2/25 10:00 am PST

Reading 8 due

Presentation Reading 8

Critique 7: Transitions and movement.  

***IMPORTANT*** Class will be held in Mary Gates Hall 228.




Week 9

February 29 and March 2

February 29

Lecture 9: When doesn’t this idea work.

Homework 10 assigned: Difficulties (due 3/9)

Activity 8: Limitations in design

February 29

Lab 7: Work on storyboarding and/or process books





March 2

Critique 8: Video and process books critiques




Week 10

March 7 and 9

March 7

Lecture 10: How can I realize this idea?


March 7

Lab 8: Finalize materials (design specs, process books, and video)


March 9

Video presentations 

What is design thinking?

Course evaluations

Finals week

March 14


March 15 (Tuesday)

Design spec due at 8:00 am PST on 3/15.

Process books due on Wednesday 3/16 at 11:59 pm PST




Your grade is based on 100 points, which break down as follows:

deliverable points due grader notes
activities 1 point each
8 points total
end of 1st lecture each week TA individual
miss up to 2 without affecting your grade
labs 1 point each
8 points total
during lab TA individual
miss up to 2 without affecting your grade
critiques 1 point each
8 points total
end of 2nd lecture each week TA individual
miss up to 2 without affecting your grade
reading 1 point each
7 points total
start of 2nd lecture each week TA individual
reading presentation 3 points start of 2nd lecture each week All  team
homeworks 2 points each
20 points total
start of 2nd lecture each week TA individual
design specification 24 points 1 hr before final exam period All team
process book 12 points 1 hr before final exam period All individual
video prototype 10 points 1 hr before final exam period All team


All work will be graded and posted on GradeBook no later than one week after submission.

Late work is not accepted, except for personal or medical reasons that are communicated in a timely manner to the instructor. Activities, labs, and critiques can not be made up, but you can miss up to 2 activities, 2 labs, and 2 critiques without it affecting your grade.

The 100 points above will be converted to grade points with the following formula:

grade point = truncate To Tenths((total points - 60) x 0.089 + 0.7)

The score is truncated to the nearest tenth; for example, a 96.75 is truncated to a 96, even though it is closer to 97. This formula produces this mapping:

total grade point
≥ 97 points 4.0
86 points 3.0
75 points 2.0
63 points 1.0
60 points 0.7
≤ 59 points 0.0



The centerpiece of this class is a team design project in which you'll formulate a design problem, address it with high fidelity prototype, and describe your solution to a level of detail that someone could create a fully functional version of it. Teams will have 3 students each (or possibly 2, if the numbers don't work out) and will be assigned by the instructors.

Theme for this quarter

The theme for this quarter is health and wellness. The World Health Organization defines health and wellness as "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

What you design to help address these challenges is up to you, but the best designs will be those grounded in a deep understanding of other students ' struggles in school, and not exclusively your own.

My expectations

Most of the course deliverables will have something to do with moving your team's project forward. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you select a design problem:

  • your grade won't depend on how well your design solves your design problem. This is because neither you or I can really know if it does solve the problem without deploying the design into the world. This means that an "unsuccessful" design can still get an A grade, as long as it clearly describes, justifies, and communicates one specific solution.

  • you don't have time to solve everything. No designer does. A good design project will clearly specify it's scope and design everything within that scope completely. This means that the scope you started off with at the beginning of the quarter will become increasingly narrow throughout the quarter.

  • you're not expected to implement your solutions. You can if you want to and have time, but you'll only be evaluated on your decisions about what your solution does and how it does it, not on how your design is manifested in the real world. That said, prototyping your solutions is a great way to find out if they're effective.

Students with different abilities

To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services: 448 Schmitz, 206-543-8924, 206-543-8925 (TTY). If you have a letter from DSS indicating that you have a disability which requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me so we can discuss the accommodations you might need in the class.   

Academic accommodations due to disability will not be made unless the student has a letter from DSS specifying the type and nature of accommodations needed.

TA concerns

If you have any concerns about a course or the TA, please see the TA about these issues as soon as possible.  If you are not comfortable talking with the TA or not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the instructor of the course. 

If you are still not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact Matthew Saxton, the Associate Dean for Academics in 015M Mary Gates Hall, by phone at (206) 685-9626 or by e-mail at

You may also contact the Graduate School at G-1 Communications Building, by phone at (206) 543-5900.

Grading Criteria

General grading information for the University of Washington is available at:

The iSchool has adopted its own criteria for grading graduate courses:

Academic Conduct

Academic Conduct:

The following paragraphs discuss matters governing academic conduct in the iSchool and the University of Washington.

Academic Integrity:

The essence of academic life revolves around respect not only for the ideas of others, but also their rights to those ideas and how they are attributed and shared. All of us engaged in the life of the mind must take the utmost care that the ideas and expressions of ideas of other people always be appropriately handled, and, where necessary, cited. For writing assignments, when ideas or materials of others are used, they must be cited. The specific format for the citation will vary – what is important is that the source material can be located and the citation verified. In any situation, if you have a question, please feel free to ask. Such attention to ideas and acknowledgment of their sources is central not only to academic life, but life in general.

Please acquaint yourself with the University of Washington's resources on academic integrity:

Students are encouraged to take drafts of their writing assignments to the Odegaard Writing & Research Center ( for assistance with using citations ethically and effectively.


All of the expressions of ideas in this class that are fixed in any tangible medium such as digital and physical documents are protected by copyright law as embodied in title 17 of the United States Code. These expressions include the work product of both: (1) your student colleagues (e.g., any assignments published here in the course environment or statements committed to text in a discussion forum); and, (2) your instructors (e.g., the syllabus, assignments, reading lists, and lectures).  Within the constraints of "fair use," you may copy these copyrighted expressions for your personal intellectual use in support of your education here in the iSchool. Such fair use by you does not include further distribution by any means of copying, performance or presentation beyond the circle of your close acquaintances, student colleagues in this class and your family. If you have any questions regarding whether a use to which you wish to put one of these expressions violates the creator's copyright interests, please feel free to ask the instructor for guidance.


To support an academic environment of rigorous discussion and open expression of personal thoughts and feelings, we, as members of the academic community, must be committed to the inviolate right of privacy of our students and instructors. As a result, we must forego sharing personally identifiable information about any member of our community including information about the ideas they express, their families, life styles and their political and social affiliations. If you have any questions regarding whether a disclosure you wish to make regarding anyone in this course or in the iSchool community violates that person's privacy interests, please feel free to ask the instructor for guidance.

Knowing violations of these principles of academic conduct, privacy or copyright may result in University disciplinary action under the Student Code of Conduct.

Student Code of Conduct:
The Information School encourages an environment of academic integrity and mutual respect.  As a member of the iSchool and UW learning community, students should read and follow the behavioral expectations identified in the University of Washington Student Conduct Code.  The UW Student Conduct code oversees both academic and behavioral conduct of students. iSchool students are expected to act with integrity, respect the rights of others, and conduct themselves in a professional manner.

All incidents of alleged academic misconduct are reported to the Associate Dean for Academics who will investigate the situation. Academic misconduct reviews will adhere to the policies outlined in the Student Conduct Code and managed by the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct:

Behavioral misconduct is not tolerated in the iSchool and any violations of UW policy are reported to the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct for investigation. Misconduct that is a violation of state or federal law is reported to the University police.

Evaluation of Student Work:

You may expect to receive comments on and evaluations of assignments and submitted work in a timely fashion. All work from the course will be returned, with comments, within two weeks of the last class of the quarter.


Course Summary:

Date Details Due