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Course:IXDS724: Visual Hierarchies and Digital Affordances
Credits:5 credit hours
Description:To create effective and successful digital designs and experience, designers must successfully integrate a thorough understanding of visual design principles and digital media theories in the technical execution of digital experiences. In this course, students explore methods for synthesizing visual hierarchy, layout, and typography with contemporary digital practices of information organization. Utilizing user-testing methods and strategies for content presentation, students investigate ways to maximize the functionality and usability of the digital experience. Prerequisite(s): IXDS 710.
Department:Interactive Design and Game Development
School:Digital Arts
College Mission:The Savannah College of Art and Design exists to prepare talented students for professional careers, emphasizing learning through individual attention in a positively oriented university environment.


  1. Students will investigate design principles as related to visual hierarchy in screen design and typography.
  2. Students will explore theories related to the use of affordances and signifiers in a digital medium.
  3. Students will learn how to utilize user-testing methods to gain insights on the effectiveness of applying visual hierarchy and affordance best practices.


  1. Students will apply visual design principles to design and iterate screen-based experiences using sketching, wireframing, and industry-standard prototyping.
  2. Students will create user interfaces that apply visual hierarchy, affordance principles, and best practices.
  3. Students will develop, test, and iterate digital design solutions through a design thinking process.

Project A, Part 1: SketchingIdea generation for small user interfaces
Creation of interface sketches
Project A, Part 2: Medium-Fidelity PrototypeCreation of functional medium-fidelity prototypesApplication of visual-hierarchy principles to digital interfaces10%
Project A, Part 3: Hi-Fi PrototypeCreation of functional high-fidelity prototypesApplication of visual-hierarchy principles to digital interfaces

Exercise 1: Visual EssayBiographical research of user interface or user experience innovators
Layout of informational text according to visual-hierarchy principles
Project B, Part 1: Design Drawings and Problem StatementIdea generation for digital interface that exists in a physical context
Creation of concept sketches to communicate design ideas
Application of visual-hierarchy and affordance principles to interface design
Project B, Part 2: Pitch PresentationVerbal presentation of product and interface ideas10%
Project B, Part 3: Low-Fidelity Prototype and SketchesDevelopment of low-fidelity prototypes for digital interfaces
Sketching how interfaces will be used in a work or home environment
Project B, Part 4: Final Prototype and SketchesDevelopment of high-fidelity prototypes for digital interfaces
Sketching how interfaces will be used in a work or home environment
In-Class discussions, peer review of student work10%