web site design & implementation
(icsa 409)
winter quarter 2001 (012)

information technology department
rochester institute of technology

Class List

Lecture Notes

& meeting
Dan Bogaard
primary e-mail: dsb@it.rit.edu
office phone: 475-5231
office location: 18-1079

Class meets Tuesday and Friday mornings from 10-12 in 10-A310.

My office hours this quarter are Tues 3:30-5:30p and Thurs from 12-2.

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: 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!), use of Dreamweaver and Fireworks (version 3), 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 programming concepts is. No programming class is listed in the prerequisites because a programming course is part of the freshman year IT curriculum--we expect you to have basic programming knowledge for all of our courses, but it's particularly important in this one, since it's almost impossible to create high-quality web sites without a good understanding of programming.

  • Information design & architecture
  • Graphic design and web gestalt
  • Cascading style sheets (CSS)
  • JavaScript
  • Dynamic HTML (DHTML)
  • Web-based forms
  • Server-side technologies
Texts &

There are no required textbooks for this class. However, this means that the online readings are significantly more important. Online readings for each unit of this class are in the class outline at the end of this syllabus.

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 portfolio work in class (20%).

It's important to understand that if you complete all the requirements for an assignment, that is only sufficient for a grade of "B" (i.e. "satisfactory work"). To receive an A for an assignment, you must go beyond the basic requirements, and show some 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 December 10, 2001. 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 January 25, 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 or we will look at the date:time stamp on the file on Grace or Polaris.

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). Make links to your 2 individual projects and your group project. And, you must also make links to a portfolio page where you will post your in-class exercises. 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 by the due date. 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 once, however--future assignments will just be linked from the first one. Due Sunday, December 16th. .
  • 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, January 20th .
  • Assignment 3 ("Final"): Using the technologies we've covered in the second half of the course...javascript, dhtml, server-side includes, authentication, CGI functionality, re-create your original web site (movie promotion) and demonstrate your ability in each area. Include as a part of your project a separate linked page documenting what you have done in each category. Due Sunday, February 17th.

Grading Guidelines:

  • 10% Clean, standards-compliant HTML (passes HTML validator check)
  • 20% Documentation of process and citations to code sources
  • 35% Content and design
  • 35% Technology implementation

Based on the pre-test I will supply the first day, I'll divide the class into groups of 5-6 people each.

All groups will build the same web site based on information and guidelines that I will provide 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 Friday, January 18th . (25%)
  • Group Assignment 2: Prototype of site for in-class critique. Due in class, Tuesday, January 29th . (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%)

Your portfolio page contains your in-class exercises. I will provide you the materials during class for you to work on and finish. These portfolio materials are demonstrated evidence of your mastery of the technical materials. Porfolio work is ALWAYS due at the end of the class in which it is assigned. To gain credit for the portfolio work, you must be in attendance on the day the work is assigned. I will check the date:time stamp on your UNIX files to ensure that you were in class and you did the work on the day it was assigned.

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 Topics Readings/Assignments
Unit 1
Individual Assignment 1 (Your Course Web Page)
(Due Sunday, December 16th )

Week 1 - Course Overview
Course Introduction

Week 1 Readings:
WebStandards.org FAQ
Are Users Stupid? - Jakob Nielsen

Unit 2
Group Assignment 1 (Site Design Document)
Due Wednesday, January 18th

Week 2: Information Architecture
Organizing Information
Schemes and Structures

Week 3: Interaction Design
Storyboards and Flowcharts

Week 4: Presentation Design
Web Gestalt
Browser Considerations
Technological Limitations

Week 2 Readings:
Yale Style Guide - Site Design
The Magical Number Seven - George Miller
Information Architecture Tutorial - Webmonkey Tutorial

Week 3 Readings:
Designing the User Experience - Jennifer Fleming
Web Navigation - Tiller and Green
A Visual Vocabulary - J.J.Garrett

Week 4 Readings:
Severe Tire Damage - David Siegal
Eye Tracking Study of Web Users - Jakob Nielsen
Death of the Web-Safe Color Palette?
Choosing Color Schemes

Unit 3

Individual Assignment 2 (Initial Web Site)
Due Sunday, January 20th

Week 5 - Cascading Style Sheets
Selectors and Rules

Week 6 - Javascript
Document Object Model
Javascript Basics
Functions and Arrays

Week 7 - Dynamic HTML
Advanced Techniques
Cross Browser Compatability

Week 8 - Forms
Basic Forms and Validation
Form Processing with CGI

Week 5 Readings:
Webmonkey CSS Tutorial
A Fear of Style Sheets - A List Apart

Week 6 Readings:
Webmonkey JS Tutorial
JS Tutorial - wsabstract

Week 7 Readings:
Browser Support Chart
Webmonkey DHTML Tutorial

Week 8 Readings:
W3Schools Form Tutorial
The Future of Forms

Unit 4
Group Assignment 2 (Prototypes)
in class, Tuesday, January 29th

Final Individual Assignment 3 Due (Final Web Site)
Sunday, February 17th

Week 9 - Web Servers
Apache operation & configuration
Server Side Includes

Week 10 - Accessibility

Week 9 Readings:
.htaccess on Grace

Week 10 Readings:
The Web Accessibility Initiative

Finals Week
Final Group Assignment 3 due
Presentation/Critiques of Final Group Projects
original borrowed with permission from ©2001 Elizabeth Lane Lawley and Tona Henderson, revised by Dan Bogaard 2001.