web site design & implementation (4002-409)
fall quarter 2002 (021)

information technology department
rochester institute of technology

lecture notes

& meeting
Dan Bogaard
primary e-mail: dsb@it.rit.edu
office phone: 475-5231
office location: 86-1139

Section 02: Class meets Tues/Thurs, from 2:00-3:50pm, in 70-2130

Section 70: Class meets Tues/Thurs, from 6:00-7:50pm, in 70-2130

My office hours this quarter are Tuesday and Thursday 4:00-6:00 in my office (86-1139).

Description &

This course builds on the basic aspects of HTML, web design, and multimedia programming that are presented in ICSA 320 & 330 (330 is not required for students who took 320 prior to 991; it is a prerequisite or corequisite for students who took 320 from 991 on). It provides an overview of web design concepts, including usability, accessibility, information design, and graphic design in the context of the web. It also provides an introduction to important and emerging web site technologies. Note: Students who took ICSA 535 prior to 991 cannot take ICSA 409 for credit; they can, however, take the newly revised version of ICSA 535.

Important note regarding prerequisite knowledge for IT students: As of fall 991, the curriculum for 320 was changed to include significant basic HTML coding and use of UNIX in a command-line environment. If you took 320 prior to 991, or had 320 waived, I will expect you to bring yourself up to speed on those topics. You should be familiar with basic HTML coding (using text editors!), web graphics creation/optimization, and basic design principles for the web, as well as UNIX commands for creating, deleting, renaming, and changing permissions for files and directories. I recommend the Visual Quickstart books on HTML and UNIX as a good reference for these topics, along with the Non-Designer's Web Book (an optional text for this course). All of those books have been required texts in the 320 course. If you don't feel comfortable teaching yourself this material quickly, I strongly suggest that you defer taking this course until such time as you have acquired the prerequisite knowledge, either by retaking 320 in its current form, or working on your own to master the material. In addition, in this course I assume that you have basic programming skills--the language is not important, but the understanding of object-oriented programming concepts is. That's why 330 is a prerequisite--it's almost impossible to create high-quality web sites without a solid understanding of programming concepts.

Important note for non-IT students: This course is not intended for students wanting a one-course introduction to web site design. All prerequisite knowledge listed above applies to all students. Non-IT students wanting a web-design elective should take 4002-320 (Introduction to Multimedia), not 4002-409.

  • Information design & architecture
  • Graphic design, including typography
  • Cascading style sheets (CSS)
  • Basic JavaScript
  • Dynamic HTML (DHTML)
  • Web-based forms
  • Server-side technologies (CGI, SSI, XSSI, authentication)
Texts &

The following required texts are available at the bookstore, or via online booksellers such as amazon.com and bn.com:

Don't Make Me Think (Krug)
Que, ISBN: 0789723107

Webmaster in a Nutshell, 2nd ed (Spainhour)
O'Reilly & Associates, ISBN: 1565923251

In addition to the texts, online readings will be assigned in class and linked from this page.

You can find additional information on the topics we cover in class on Elizabeth Lawley's web sources page:

You should purchase at least one Zip disk to store your work on; I recommend two in case you have problems with the first.

Grading &

Your grade will be based on your individual assignments (40%), your group project (40%), and your attendance, participation, and attitude in class (20%).

It's important to understand that if you complete all the requirements for an assignment, that entitles you to a grade of "B" (i.e. "satisfactory work"). To receive an A for an assignment, you must go beyond the basic requirements, and demonstrate creativity, initiative, and excellence--the grade of A is intended for work that is superior, rather than average.

Assignments submitted after the due date/time, without prior approval from me, will lose one full letter grade for each day that they are late. If you know that a situation will prevent you from turning something in, contact me in advance of the deadline to make alternate arrangements.

If you wish to dispute your final course grade, you must do so before the end of the quarter following this one; otherwise documentation of your work may not be available.

Last Day to Drop the Class: For this quarter, you can drop the class on or before September 12, 2002 . After that date, you must withdraw from the course, which will show on your transcript as a W.

Last Day to Withdraw: The deadline for withdrawing from a course with a W grade is the end of the 6th week of the quarter. Forms may be obtained from the IT office, and must be signed by your instructor. Completed forms should be returned to the IT office no later than October 18, 2002 . After that date, a grade will be assigned based on the work that you have submitted.

"Incomplete" Grades: You may request an incomplete, or "I" grade, only in cases where exceptional conditions beyond your control, such as accidents, severe illness, family problems, etc., have kept you from completing the course. You must alert us to these circumstances as soon as possible--telling your instructor in November that you were sick in September is not acceptable. If your request for an incomplete is granted, you must complete the work for the course within the time limits set by the instructor. The maximum time is two (2) academic quarters. Unfinished "I" grades automatically become "F". Incomplete grades are not given to students who have simply fallen behind in their work.


Assignments will be discussed in class, and posted here on a regular basis. They will always be due at 5pm on the due date; My grader or I will check at 5pm to make sure they're there.

Individual Assignments:

  • Assignment 1: Create a new directory named 409 in the www directory of your grace account for your assignments, and place in that directory an index.html page from which you will link all subsequent assignments. (That means the url to the index.html page will be http://www.rit.edu/~yourid/409/ .) The page must include a picture of yourself, your name, and your preferred e-mail address (the one you check most often, and would like me to use). Do your best to use the principles of design you learned in 320; I want to see the best you can do (that does not mean putting in every type of bell and whistle you can imagine; keep it simple and clean.) E-mail its URL--the full URL, please, complete with the http:// prefix--to the FirstClass conference for this course. If it doesn't show up in the conference, my grader won't know it's there, and it won't count as turned in--do not e-mail me directly! (You only need to send the URL for this page, however--future assignments will just be linked from the first one.) Due Sunday, September 22nd .
  • Assignment 2 ("Midterm"): Create a promotional website for a movie of your choice. The website should include at least 5 separate pages linked. You will be graded on your basic design, organization of information, content, navigation and use of CSS (both text and positioning). Include as a part of your project a separate linked page documenting what you have done in each category. Due Sunday, October 13th .
  • Assignment 3 ("Final"): Create a revised and expanded version of assignment 2, incoporating a variety of technologies covered in class. Due Sunday, November 10th .

Grading Guidelines:

  • 20% Clean, standards-compliant HTML (passes HTML validator check)
  • 20% Documentation of process and citations to code sources
  • 30% Content and design
  • 30% Technology implementation

Based on the information you provide to me in the pre-test, I'll divide the class into five or six groups of 5-6 people each. You'll find out your groups in class in week 2.

Your group project grade will be based on the assignment grades (60%), and a peer evaluation that will be filled out by each group member (40%).

  • Group Assignment 1: Site Design Document with page mock-ups. Due in class, Thursday, October 10th . (25%)
  • Group Assignment 2: Prototype of site for in-class critique. Due in class, week of Thursday, October 31st . (ungraded)
  • Group Assignment 3: Final presentation of site, during final exam slot. (35%)
  • Peer Evaluation: You will evaluate each member of your group based on their effort and the quality of their work. Due along with final presentation at final exam time. (40%)

Section 2 (T/R 2-4):

Section 70 (T/R 6-8):

I will post announcements related to class in our class conference on the IT FirstClass server, rather than sending mass e-mails. I will also set up conferences for each group; I strongly suggest that you use them for group communication. If you do not yet have an IT account (or an NT account, which you'll need to use the PCs in the lab), you can get accounts set up in the IT learning labs in building 18.

It is important that you understand what consitutes academic dishonesty, and what the penalty associated with it is. Read this policy carefully. Please note, in particular, the definitions of cheating and collusion. There is a fine line between asking for a classmate's help in solving a technical problem, and using their work as your own. Don't cross it. Similarly, while it's fine to get ideas from web sites, you must credit your source. If you violate the academic dishonesty policy, you will fail the course. It's just not worth it.


The readings for each week should be completed before that week begins, so that you're prepared to work with examples and exercises, and to ask questions.

Unit 1
Week 1

Course Overview

HTML Review & Standards

Web Accessibility

WebStandards.org FAQ
Browser Support Chart
DOCTYPE Explained
XHTML: Our Last, Best Hope for Clean Code
The Web Accessibility Initiative
A Primer for Accessible Web Pages

Assignment 1
Due Sunday, September 22nd

Unit 2
Weeks 2-5

Information & Graphic Design

Week 2:
Web Typography
CSS Type Formatting
CSS Positioning

Week 3: Visual Design

Week 4: Usability & Navigation

Week 5: Information Architecture



Week 2 Readings:
Why Type on the Web is So Bad
Setting Type Online
Webmonkey CSS Tutorial
Introduction to CSS Layout
Webmaster Book, Chapter 9

Week 3 Readings:
Death of the Web-Safe Color Palette?
Inspiring Design
Borrowed Brilliance (Web Shui)
Choosing Color Schemes

Week 4 Readings:
Krug chapters 1-5
Guerrilla Usability
Are Users Stupid?

Week 5 Readings:
Krug chapters 6-11
Webmonkey IA tutorial

Assignment 2

Due Sunday, October 13th

Unit 3
Weeks 6-8

Javascript & DHTML

  • The Document Object Model
  • Javascript Basics
  • HTML Forms
Webmonkey JS Tutorial
Webmaster Book, Chapters 6 & 11
W3Schools Form Tutorial
The Future of Forms
Building the (new) Webmonkey Toolbar

Group Assignment 1
Due Thursday, Octrober 10th

Unit 4
Weeks 9-10

Web Servers

  • basic server operation & configuration
  • CGI and other server-side scripting methods
  • SSI and XSSI
  • .htaccess files for server-side authentication

Webmaster Book 12-13, 17-19
.htaccess on Grace
Webmonkey XSSI Article
Webmonkey XSSI Extensions

Assignment 3
Due Sunday, November 10th

Group Assignment 2 (Prototypes)
in class, Thursday, October 31st

Finals Week Presentation/Critiques of Final Group Projects Group Assignment 3
©2002 Elizabeth Lane Lawley
Updated by Dan Bogaard - used with permission