Fundamentals of UX



Anyone who has ever been frustrated when they’re unable to easily get something accomplished with an app or website (Ticketmaster, we’re talking to you) has been a victim of a poor user experience. Bad UX can cause the loss of a sale and, over time, it can erode positive feelings a brand has been able to build (iTunes, we’re talking to you). In a time when people expect a higher level of service, utility, and enjoyment from their digital experiences, great UX is more necessary than ever.

Extra $45 fee for new students / non members included


Designing successful user experiences requires research, teamwork, creative thinking, evaluation and iteration — exactly the same methodologies that we’ll practice during this course. The goal will be to give you experience working in collaborative teams, and to develop an ability to apply UX fundamentals to your current and future work. Each class session will include a lecture, a group exercise, and take-home activities as we emphasize hands-on experience to help you master these topics:

  • The purpose, theories, and processes of user experience
  • Research and analysis
  • Ideation and concept exploration
  • Wireframes and Rapid Prototyping
  • Usability Evaluation
  • Becoming an advocate for user-centered design

Prerequisites – None

Who should take this class?

Anyone interested in learning about current user experience theory and gaining hands-on experience with UX sketching and prototyping.

Detailed Class Outline

Please note that this section of the syllabus is subject to change throughout the course. The online syllabus will not necessarily be updated with changes once the course begins. Please refer to course handouts for the most current assignment details.

Week 1: Overview

Overview of Course

  • Instructor and class introductions
  • Review syllabus
  • Discuss what people most want to get out of the course

Overview of UX

  • What is “User Experience”?
  • Why is it important?
  • What is user-centered design?

The UX Design Process

  • How do good designers create a great user experience?
  • How do you know if a user experience is good or bad?
  • A survey of design documentation methods
  • The role of documentation in design

Exercise: Design Challenge

UX Research Introduction

  • What is UX Research and why is it important?
  • Survey of research methods
  • Research Planning

Assignment: Teams will select from a list of software programs, hardware, websites, applications, or handheld devices. Teams will discuss anticipated or known issues with each experience. Before the next class, students will independently observe people using their chosen experience and will capture their thoughts about their experience.

Week 2: Research Analysis & Modeling

  • Research Outcomes
  • Personas and Scenarios
  • Communicating your findings
  • Making research have a lasting impact
  • Common barriers to research
  • How to fit in research when it seems impossible
  • Some tools and services to consider

Design Patterns Introduction

  • What are design patterns?
  • Examples and sources of patterns

Exercise: Analysis of research findings, developing a user model, and defining design goals Assignment: Based on your findings, think about ways to improve the design of the user experience you observed last week. Sketch out some ideas and bring them to class on Week 3.

Week 3: The Design Process

  • Brainstorming
  • Sketching
  • Storyboarding

Exercise: Team brainstorm, sketching, storyboarding and presentation Assignment: Select one or more key interactions in your storyboard and sketch out the screens to a level of detail that demonstrates how your solution will actually work.

Week 4: Prototyping Tools and Techniques

  • Why we create prototypes
  • Guiding principles
  • Common pitfalls
  • Survey of methods and tools
  • Tool demonstrations

Exercise: Students select aspects of their team’s solution to prototype on their own.

Lab time: Start building a prototype

Assignment: Pick a prototyping method that interests you and try using it to develop your team’s prototype concept.

Week 5: Final Class

Volunteers present their prototypes to the class

Evangelizing user-centered design

  • How to communicate UCD principles
  • The business case for user-centered design
  • Applications of user-centered design methodologies

Resources for getting deeper into UX

UX Experience and Career Advancement

Open forum for additional topics of interest

Course wrap up

Suggested Reading

  • The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web, Jesse James Garrett
  • Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning, Dan M. Brown
  • Designing for the Digital Age: How to Create Human Centered Products and Services, Kim Goodwin
  • About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design, Cooper, Reimann, and Cronin
  • Designing Visual Interfaces, Mullet and Sano
  • Designing the Obvious, Robert Hoekman, Jr.
  • The Design of Everyday Things, Donald Norman
  • Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Steve Krug
  • Prototyping : A Practitioner’s Guide, Warfel and Gray
  • Remote Research: Real Users, Real Time, Real Research, Bolt and Tulathimutte
  • Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research, Mike Kuniavsky
  • Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design, Bill Buxton
  • Understanding Your Users: A Practical Guide to User Experience Methods, Tools, and Techniques, Courage and Baxter

You may receive a partial refund of your tuition if you drop a class or your enrollment is terminated by SVC due to lack of progress or disciplinary problems. In these cases, this is the schedule for determining the amount of your refund:

Cancellation and Refund Policy for Classes:

SVC will refund all money paid if the student is not accepted. This includes instances where a class is cancelled by the school.

SVC will refund all the money paid if the student cancels within five business days (excluding Sundays and holidays) after registration and/or an initial payment is made, as long as the student has not begun training.

SVC will retain the established $45 registration fee if the student cancels after the fifth business day after registration and/or making an initial payment.

If training is terminated after the student enters classes, SVC may retain the registration fee established under (3) of this subsection, plus a percentage of the total tuition as described in the following table:


# of Classes Attended

% Tuition Refunded

0 100%
1 75%
2 50%
3+ 0%


# of Classes Attended

% Tuition Refunded

0 100%
1 90%
2 75%
3–5 50%
6+ 0%

When calculating refunds, the official date of a student's termination is the last day of recorded attendance:

(a) When the school receives notice of the student's intention to discontinue the training program; or,
(b) When the student is terminated for a violation of a published school policy which provides for termination; or,
(c) When a student, without notice, fails to attend classes for thirty calendar days.

All refunds must be paid within thirty calendar days of the student’s official termination date.

There is a $75 cancellation fee for no-shows and enrollees dropping a one-day workshop without a valid excuse within 3 business days of the scheduled start time as published on the SVC website.

This refund policy is in accordance with Washington State Law, 490-105-130 (RCW 28C.10.050 (1)(b)).

School of Visual Concepts

SVC helps people already in the business of marketing, branding, design, UX, and content creation fill in the gaps in their knowledge through public full- and half-day workshops and custom corporate workshops.

If you’re looking to add to your portfolio or fill in some blank spaces in your brain, you can’t do much better than SVC.

The instructors are all top-notch working professionals who bring real world and big brand knowledge into the classroom. Our thinking is that the best people to teach you something aren't teachers. So, instead of a full-time faculty, our classes and workshops are taught by working professionals. More often than not, these are people at the top of their game, not wannabes or used-to-be-best. The connections you'll make with these pros can sometimes be as valuable as the material they'll teach you.

All this happens in an environment of friendliness, helpfulness and encouragement. Might this have something to do with the fact that 99% of SVC students say they’d recommend us?

We’re 100% certain that it does.

More classes from School of Visual Concepts

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Reviews of School of Visual Concepts

(5 Reviews)
Garth P.
Let's see... you could spend $400 on the newest iProduct, which will be unsexy and outdated within months of its unboxing, or you could spend $400 on making your brain permanently bigger, sexier, smarter and more creative. I can honestly say that I would not be in the job I'm in - nor anywhere near as successful at what I do - without the skills I learned at SVC. Whatever class you're considering or on the fence about taking: TAKE IT. You'll be a better person for it. I've taken classes nearly every quarter since graduating from UW in 2011, and I'd say that I now use more knowledge that I gained at SVC than UW in my everyday work as a Digital Marketing Manager. When you walk into SVC, you're walking into a place with good, everyone-is-here-to-improve-themselves-and-meet-­other-creative-peeps vibes, and it feels more at home than a typical classroom. I can't say enough good things about SVC or how it has enabled and enhanced my career and personal pursuits. Take a class there and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about as you sign up for your next three.
Randy J.
This School is a treasure for Seattle. The teachers are all working in their fields and so students can meet people and learn from the real deal. My daughter took classes here for a year and a half and was never disappointed in the teaching. These classes are meant to increase skills at current jobs or prepare you for a new area. I am not a designer but decided to take a beginning drawing/creativity class at SVC and the teacher is WAY above and beyond what I expected in terms of thinking about creativity and thinking about your emotions and roadblocks to creativity. Plus they have a snack bar that is over the top!!
Nio S.
First off, this school is simply amazing. Don't fooled by the size of this campus because the quality of the knowledge aquired here is unmeasurable. I have taken the HTML/CSS classes both level 1 and 2 courses. The instructors that teach here are actual working professionals outside of the school. So in many ways this benefits the student because the teacher is up to date with their skill set aside from a full time teacher who only knows whats written in text books. I first came to my HTML/CSS class thinking it was gonna be boring with just coding. is just coding but its code that I truly understand and get a grasp of to my own advantage. Each of these classes were only once a week for 5 weeks. The amount of knowledge given in one night is so crazy and unbelievably not overwhelming. In the end, you know more than you did before.
Panda B.
I love SVC! Thing I like the best is that all instructors are practicing designers so you will not be getting the "academic" perspective but rather the point of view of designers working at actual top-notch design studios around Seattle. I've been taking classes for over a year and every single one has been fantastic. Students tend to be professionals so the attitude is serious and focused which enables you to get the most out of each class. On top of that, staff at the school is fantastic and will do anything to help you achieve your goals (they helped me with my portfolio which helped in landing me my new job). If you are looking for a way to upgrade your design skills, this is the place for you.
Kenny P.
My experience at the School of Visual Concepts has been amazing. It's the perfect school for those of us who have a full time job, but still want to improve our skills. The teachers are all professionals in Seattle so it's really nice to be taught by people that are still at the top of their game. The class sizes are also pretty small so you'll get to know your instructor very well and get some great individual help. You do not have to be an artist to benefit from the classes here. I took a creative thinking seminar once that has helped me in every job I've had. If you are thinking about going back to school, you should give SVC a call or stop by to see how they can help you get to where you want to be.