Design(er) Identifications

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Design(er) Identifications

REMEMBER: You will want to sign up for your Designer ID assignment due dates. Here is the link for you to do this.


Throughout the semester, students will sign up for five dates for completing Designer Identifications. Each assignment is worth 20 points for a semester total of 100 points. These assignments serve two purposes: (1) to help you pay attention to and apply  principles we discuss in class in the world at large and (2) to give you an opportunity to share your expertise with your colleagues. You may choose to split these as you see fit so long as you complete at least one of each. For example, you may end the semester with 4 Design Analysis submissions and 1 Designer Application submission, or vice versa.


To complete a Designer Analysis submission, you should first identify an interesting piece of design from the “real” world—something we have not previously discussed in class. Interesting means that the design of the document can be really good, really bad, strange, out-of-touch—the only requirement is that the artifact you select helps you apply and understand a concept or term from class discussion or readings. In the past, students have brought in playbills, wedding programs, stickers, posters, pictures, boxes, websites, mail flyers. The goal is for you to pay attention to those mundane objects you encounter in your daily life and notice how those documents have been designed.

You should post the design (or a link to it) in your Dropbox folder before class on the day you are assigned to present. Your written analysis should include a short explanation of how you found the artifact and why you find it so interesting. The bulk of your written analysis should be the application of terms and concepts from class: guide me through what you see going on with the design using the vocabulary from our textbooks. Please note that you may be asked to talk for 3-5 minutes during class about your find.

To keep your Dropbox folder organized, each post should follow this format: Date Last Name, First Name. For example, if I am presenting on Thursday, August 30, then my entry and explanation would be named: 08/30/2012 McCracken Moriah. This file would then be placed in the appropriate Dropbox folder: 2329 / Design(er) Identifications / 08/30/2012 McCracken Moriah.

NOTE: As you search for interesting pieces of design to share, I’d like you to keep this criteria in mind: Would you be embarrassed explaining this piece to my mother? This is my way of cautioning against bringing explicit materials into class.


Software is constantly changing, and this class aims to teach you how to learn software programs rather than teaching you software programs. Even as you learn and perhaps master InDesign or WordPress or Illustrator, certain aspects will change. That said, there are certain things that you’ll likely want the software to do, and rather than asking me, the goal of the class is for you to find new and reliable ways to teach yourself those shortcuts. Want a textbox in your WordPress page? Google it. Once you figure out how to do it, write up a set of step-by-step instructions for me to share with the class, and this will serve as your Designer Application entry.

There is already a running list of student-generated tips available to you, and I would like to encourage you to improve upon and refine those instructions.

Here are some of the sample instructions already created this semester:

How do I create a heart shape in Illustrator?

How do I publish posts in the future?

How do I create compound objects?


20 points: Spent a good deal of time finding a compelling design and/or teaching self a trick. Analyzed it using the ideas of the class and of the textbook; analysis is deep, accurate, and thorough. Instructions for trick are relevant for the assignment in class; tips and instructions are thorough, offering a rationale and answering anticipated questions.

10 points: Quickly found a design through googling “bad design” or something similar; used existing tip or trick without considering assignments and/or tasks faced by colleagues. Analyzed design using ideas we’ve discussed, but only shallowly and/or incorrectly. Analysis is brief, may miss a major element of the design, or seriously misjudged the rhetorical situation. Instructions are unclear and/or incomplete.

5 points: Design was literally the first thing you saw on your computer. Analyzed it using shallow, non-disciplinary ideas. Applied little to no ideas from the class. Only a cursory consideration of the design and its context. Instructions or tips are verbatim from online source with not discussion of our local, contextual needs.

0 points: Didn’t do it.