ADS 300 Kirkland Syllabus v2.0 20220107

ADS 300, UX Design Methods, Spring 2022
Tuesday / Thursday @ 4:00-5:15pm
Marvin 216B
Matt Kirkland /


This course is an overview of user experience design and its methods; we'll look at the fundamental principles and methods underlying the interactions between people, artifacts, and systems. We will survey the landscape of design methodologies available in the world that you can apply to all of your design projects.

That sounds a bit formal, but really we can think of this as an introduction to a bag of tools that you can use when you're tackling any kind of design project.

Design mockups are a hammer. Let's talk about calipers. Angle grinders. Voltmeters. Geiger counters. Excavators.

The course will be primarily lecture and reading, but you'll also have a chance to try out a few methods that sound interesting to you and put them into practice.

This syllabus site will have all the resources you'll need for the class, and will be updated regularly throughout the semester.

Course Overview

Who this course is for

This course is for undergraduate designers in ID, Viscom, and other fields within KU's School of Design. You might be a sophomore or junior. You want to design stuff for people to use. You might be from outside the school of Design, but want an introduction to what User Experience is and how to do it!

What you'll learn

When this course is complete, you'll have a new toolbox of ways to approach a design project. You'll have broad familiarity with specific user-centered design practices, some experience using some of them, and most importantly you'll have an idea of when it's appropriate to use what kind of tool.

You will hopefully be obsessed with USERS.

What we'll do

Each week we'll tackle a content area covering the basics of UX design methods. There will be a short lecture, with one or more assigned readings and video links for more details. Each week you'll get a little practice using some of those methods, and record your thoughts about your experience.


We meet Tuesdays and Thursdays, at 4:00pm - 5:15pm, in Marvin 216B.
See the full Schedule for details.

The World's Tiniest Quizzes

Every Thursday we'll have a very short quiz on the reading assigned that Tuesday. These won't be hard, they'll just verify that you actually read the thing. We should have ~12 quizzes. I'll drop your 2 lowest scores.

Your Workbench Project

You'll be assigned one of four possible projects to work on throughout the semester, and each week you'll try out one of the design methods we talk about. This isn't a studio class, so I don't expect you to have a nice portfolio project at the end of this - it's just an excuse to pick up the tools we're discussing and see what they DO. You'll record findings about the methods you try out. You'll write briefly about what you learned and document the process, and submit some text about your experience once per week.

See more about your Workbench Project and what we'll do there here.

Spring 2022 Schedule

This is a rough plan; we'll go faster if possible! This schedule will be updated as we progress through the semester.

Week Dates Target
Getting Started
1 Jan 18 / 20 ๐Ÿ Let's Get Started!
The Fundamentals
2 Jan 25 / 27 ๐Ÿ‘ด Meet Uncle Don
3 Feb 1 / 3 ๐Ÿ‘ฏ How do I design for people with bodies?
Design Research
4 Feb 8 / 10 ๐Ÿ”ฌ How do I research users?
5 Feb 15 / 17 AND Feb 22 / 24 ๐Ÿค How do I research WITH users?
6 Feb 22 / 24 ๐Ÿ—„๏ธ How do I make sense of all this research?
Making stuff and Testing stuff
7 Mar 1 / 3 ๐Ÿ’ก How do I define the vision for a design problem?
8 Mar 8 / 10 โœ๏ธ Can I just make something already?
- Mar 15 / 17 ๐ŸŒด Spring Break
9 Mar 22 / 24 ๐Ÿงช I made something. Does it work?
10 Mar 29 / 31 ๐Ÿ”Ž How do I make it closer to the real thing?
- Apr 5 / 7 ๐ŸŒด๐ŸŒด Spring Break II: 2Spring 2Break
11 Apr 12 / 14 ๐Ÿš€ Does it work better now?
12 Apr 19 / 20 ๐Ÿค– People are complicated, what if I want to deal with numbers instead?
13 Apr 26 / 28 ๐ŸŒ Bonus round: are there other fun design methodologies?
Wrap it Up
14 May 3 ๐Ÿ“œ Review & Exam prep on May 3.
โ›”๏ธ NO CLASS on Thursday May 5.
Here are the review slides I used (sorry it's a 50MB keynote!)
Monday May 9, 2022 - 1:30pm ๐Ÿ’ฏ Final Exam


House Rules

We're all adults here, let's act like it. Put your phones down unless we're using them for something in class.


KU has rules about attendance and we'll follow them. We're all working together here so it's important that you actually show up. Don't be late, it's rude to everybody. I won't be taking attendance, but you will get quizzes in class that can't be made up other ways. Will we have to adjust this because there's a raging pandemic? Probably.


Most weeks will have a reading quiz on Thursday in class, and a Workbench assignment over the weekend, which is due on Tuesday at 8am. This is almost entirely based on completion; if you have your workbench form submitted on time and it covers the topics you need, you get 100% of credit, if it's not there on time, 0%.

We'll also have a final exam that covers the big ideas and methods discussed over the semester.

  • 50% Workbench completion
  • 30% Tiniest Quizzes (we'll drop the 2 lowest)
  • 20% Final Exam

You know that phrase, '80% of success is just showing up?' That's what we're doing here.


Your reading assignments are due by Thursday at class time, in time for your Tiniest Quiz. Workbench assignments are **always due at 8:00am on Tuesday mornings**. You'll turn in your Workbench assignemtns by submitting a form online. If it's not done, no questions asked, you just don't get credit for it. No questions asked, no excuses.

Make Ups / Extra Credit

Need to make something up? You can do a book report on one of Matt's 'books every designer should read' list. If you'd like to tackle one of these, talk to me and we'll work it out.

Office Hours

I will be available for 1-1 meetings over zoom or in person as needed - email me, please! I am really delighted to chat about design. Otherwise I will be available for an extended time on Tuesdays after our class.


We'll follow the regular KU Design departmental policies. You can reference them here.


You can contact me at