CS 6967 - Fall 2018
Special Topics in Communication Design for Computer Scientists

Instructor:Cem Yuksel (Office hours: by appointment, MEB 3116)
Time:Tuesday & Thursday @ 3:40pm - 5:00pm
Location:Large Conference Room, a.k.a. LCR (MEB 3147)


Visual communication, in the form of presentations, posters, web pages, graphs, and other illustrations, is regularly used by many computer scientists for promoting their projects and disseminating information and ideas. While communication design is often considered an art form, and thus overlooked by most scientists, its fundamental principles are in fact relatively simple and straightforward. Following these principles, anyone can create effective and professional-looking designs, and avoid common mistakes that make the designs look amateurish and cluttered, making the ideas behind the visuals harder to express.

This course is intended for computer science students, who may or may not have artistic ability or interest in becoming designers. As such, we will NOT be covering topics on how to become a designer, but we will be concentrating on how to become effective visual communicators as computer scientists.

This is a project-based course. The first part of the course includes lectures that discuss the fundamental principles. The second part involves in-class discussions of student design projects in a studio setting. This second part is essential for learning the concepts presented in the first part.

At the end of this course, students will have the necessary knowledge and experience to create professional-looking and effective designs for their future projects. Thus, the materials they present after this course will stand out among others and the ideas they communicate will be much easier to follow, giving them an edge amongst their peers.

Textbook (not required): The Non-Designer's Design Book (4th Edition) by Robin Williams

Click here to go to the Canvas page for the course.

Schedule (subject to change)

1Aug 21Introduction
Aug 23Technical Background
2Aug 28Proximity
Aug 30—No Class—
3Sep 4AlignmentDeadline: Assignment 1: Proximity
Sep 6Alignment (cont.)
4Sep 11RepetitionDeadline: Assignment 2: Alignment
Sep 13ContrastDeadline: Assignment 3: Repetition
5Sep 18TypographyDeadline: Assignment 4: Contrast
Sep 20Color Theory
6Sep 25Project Discussions
Sep 27Project Discussions (cont.)
7Oct 2Design Studio 1
Oct 4Design Studio 1
8Oct 9— Fall Blreak —
Oct 11— Fall Blreak —
9Oct 16Design Studio 2
Oct 18Design Studio 2
10Oct 23—No Class—
Oct 25Design Studio 3
11Oct 30Design Studio 4
Nov 1Design Studio 4
12Nov 6Design Studio 5
Nov 8Design Studio 5
13Nov 13Design Studio 6
Nov 15Design Studio 6
14Nov 20Design Studio 7
Nov 22— Thanksgiving —
15Nov 27Final Project PresentationsDeadline: Projects 2-7
Nov 29Final Project Presentations (posters)Project 1 poster presentations


There will be five design projects. Student will independently prepare their designs. Collaboration between students is encouraged, but joint projects are not permitted.

The students will be free to determine the technical content they would like to use for these projects, which can stem from their ongoing research. These design projects will be completed through multiple iterations. During each class session, we will examine the designs, identify the concepts they do not align with or violate, and offer constructive suggestions on how to improve them.

The following is the list of design projects in this course:

Projects 1 and 2 are required for all students. Of the remaining projects (Projects 3 through 7), students can skip up to two of them and must complete at least three of them. In total, students are required to complete at least five of the seven projects (including the first two projects).


Since this is a studio-type class, all projects, except for Project 1, are due at the same time, November 27, 2018 at noon. The deadline for Project 1 is November 26, 2018 at noon. No extention will be permitted. Yet, the students are expected to have a progress on their projects EVERY week.


Students are required to submit an update on at least one of their projects every week. Each update must demonstrate a sufficient amount of effort. The submissions will be presented and discussed in class.

Class Participation & Attendance

Students are required to attend each lecture. Up to 4 absences (including late arrivals and early departures) are excused without any need for requesting permission. Students are expected to engage in class activities during lectures.


Students must prepare a project web page for each project. The project pages must include a preview of the current design in PNG image format, along with a link to the design page or material. Below this current design, the project page must also include the preview images of all prior submissions of the same project.

All project web pages of a student must be under the same web directory. The naming convention for the project web pages is prjN.html, where 1 ≤ N ≤ 6. Students should also prepare a 252x326 pixel thumbnail image for each project and put it in the same directory with the name convention prjN.png. For example, if the student's web directory is http://www.cs.utah.edu/~myname/courses/cs6967/, Project 1 submission must be in the following location:
and the project thumbnail must be at

Project 1 must also be submitted on canvas.

Using material prepared by others as inspiration is permitted and encouraged. Students must include (links to) such reference material on their project pages. Including material prepared by others without any reference to the source is considered cheating and warrants a failing grade for this class. See the School of Computing Academic Miscondact policy.


5 Projects 5 points each
Assignments 5 points
Final Presentation10 points
Class Participation30 points
Progress 30 points
TOTAL100 points

School of Computing Policies and Guidelines

The School of Computing Policies and Guidelines represent important information that students taking courses in, or seeking degrees from, the School of Computing, must be aware of. It is important that you read, understand, and adhere to this information.

Safe Classroom Environment

In this class, derogatory comments based on race, ethnicity, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, (dis)ability status, age, citizenship, or nationality will not be tolerated, nor is it permissible to state one's opinion in a manner that silences the voices of others. Further, egregious disrespect, including, but not limited to, racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, etc. will not be tolerated.

University of Utah Disability Accommodation Policy

The University of Utah seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services, and activities for people with disabilities. If you need accommodations in the class, reasonable prior notice should be given to the Center for Disability Services, 162 Olpin Union Building, 801-581-5020 (V/TDD), http://disability.utah.edu/. CDS will work with you and the instructor to make arrangements for accommodations.