Syllabus : COM 3533

Web Design & Layout

OBJECTIVES: This course is an introduction to basic web site design for beginners. No previous knowledge of web site design is presumed. Fundamental design, usability, and accessibility principles will be introduced, explained, and learned through hands-on activities including some simple coding. With design, it is often best to learn through doing.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Create a website using
  • Critically evaluate web sites
  • Register a domain name and use a server provider.
  • Create a website using
  • Modify a website using basic functions of WP.
  • Accomplish basic changes on a site using HTML and CSS
  • Complete Codecademy course.
  • Use typeface effectively
  • Use white space effectively
  • Use colors effectively
  • Use graphic elements effectively
  • Learn how to be comfortable on the Web and how to teach yourself and others new skills beyond this class

REQUIRED MATERIALS: Printed, Electronic & Otherwise

  • SUGGESTED to add to your library:
    • Build Your Own Web Site The Right Way Using HTML & CSS (3rd ed.) by Ian Lloyd
    • The WordPress Anthology by Mick Olinik & Raena Jackson Armitage
    • Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug
    • The Principles of Beautiful Web Design by Jason Beaird
    • User-Centered Website Development by Daniel McCracken & Rosalee Wolfe
  • Your technology fee for this course will allow you to register your domain name and maintain Bluehost service for one year. This timeline allows anyone to maintain their site through the school year and have it for Web Marketing in the spring.
  • USB flash drive

Bring this to class each day. You’ll be saving your work to this drive and to a second backup, not the lab computer hard drive. You are responsible for saving your work. Deadlines will not be extended due to loss of data. Always maintain at least two copies of important files on two separate volumes. You may want to look into cloud storage options (see the course wiki “Cloud Storage” page for more details).

  • E-mail account that you can access at anytime – I suggest a gmail acct – not your NU acct.
  • Internet access
  • Persistence, Patience, Optimism, and an Active Mind: Most of our work during the semester will take place in the computer lab. Computers are fairly elaborate machines, which means that there are many ways in which they can break down. In this course, we will be placing heavy demands on the lab’s hardware and software – as well as on our network capabilities – so be prepared for many strange and wondrous things. We will be discussing basic trouble-shooting techniques in class as issues arise. In many cases, however, you will need to be your own technological problem-solver – identifying problems and figuring out ways they can temporarily or permanently be solved. Techno-whining will not be tolerated.


There will be several projects for the course, including the following:

  • “Sandbox” site created on
  • Website analysis
  • Worksheet completed at time of / Bluehost registration
  • Evidence of Codecademy assignments.
  • Web site created using your own domain on
  • Presentation of site.
  • Final summation paper.
  • Quizzes on readings.

Further details will be given as the semester progresses.

Homework and Quizzes

Please note that the number of quizzes is not set in stone.  This means that it is impossible at the outset of the semester to determine how much each individual quiz or assignment will be worth.

Course Requirements: 1000 points possible

Class participation                                  (100 points)

Throughout this course as we meet in the computer lab you will:

  • take part in in-depth discussions of key concepts from the course.
  • work in small groups on in-class assignments.

These pieces will add up to your participation grade – it is only possible to do well in this area if you attending regularly and arrive to class on time. Set up                          (50 points) Due by 12 midnight on 9/1

Website Analysis                                     (200 points) Due 12 midnight on 9/15 Worksheet    (50 points) Due 12 midnight on xx


Codecademy Exercises                           (100 points) Due 12 midnight on 11/20

Website on                    (300 points) Finished 12 midnight on 11/24

Site Presentation                                     (50 points) Various


Quizzes (likely 5 quizzes)                       (50 points) Various

Final (take home)                                   (100 points) Due 12 midnight on 12/10


The final is very straight forward, but in order to do well you must be in class for the all presentations.

A          940 – 1000                                        C          736 – 769

A-        906 – 939                                           C-        702 – 735

B+       872 – 905                                           D+       668 – 701

B          838 – 871                                           D         634 – 667

B-        804 – 837                                           D-        600 – 633

C+       770 – 803                                           F          599 or below

Revision and re-submission of written assignments will not be permitted. Any dispute regarding points on an assignment (aside from a simple math error) must be conducted in person (make an appointment for time during office hours).


  • In the professional world, if you can’t show up on time and make your deadlines, you won’t keep your job. Assignments must be completed on time in the format specified. Projects and homework are due at the beginning of class on the due date unless otherwise specified in Discovery or online. In this class your grade on an assignment will drop 10% each day it is late.
  • Reading assignments are to be completed by the day they are assigned.
  • Each assignment must be clearly labeled with your name, the assignment, the date, the page number and the total number of pages.
  • Spelling and grammar count, in your assignments and your e-mails. Grades will be reduced for spelling and grammar errors. If it is clear you have not proofread your work (spelling errors, capitalization errors, etc.) your mark will have 20% taken off right away.
  • If you know you will be absent when an assignment is due, arrange to complete and hand in the assignment early.
  • You are responsible for keeping all handouts and graded assignments.
  • If my recorded grade differs from yours, the only way to get your grade changed is to show the grade marked (or the Turnitin record) on the assignment. You must see me in person to contest a grade.
  • Please note that the number of exercises, assignments, and quizzes is not set in stone. This means that it is impossible at the outset of the semester to determine how much each individual quiz or assignment will be worth.

Remember that attendance is required and missing to many classes can result in a grade reduction or even a failing grade. If you miss more than 8 class sessions without an approved absence you will fail the course.


  • By being present and on time, reading the assigned material, making study notes, and participating in discussions, you’ll increase your opportunities to learn the course material. Active participation is critical to learning; passive learning is quickly forgotten. As trite as it sounds, the more you devote to this course the more you will benefit from this course. Some class sessions will involve group exercises in which everyone is expected to participate.
  • Cell phones must be turned off and put out of sight during class unless we are using them for an assignment. Texting policy in class: you may look at any text, but you must leave the classroom to answer it and if you leave class you may not return. This includes “bio breaks” – unless you have talked with me beforehand about a medical issue. The class is not that long.
  • Laptop computers or tablets – while not necessary for the course, may be used for the sole purpose of note taking while class is in session.  It is often apparent to the instructor when someone is digitally multi-tasking during class, and research is clear that such multi-tasking is detrimental to focus, learning, and memory, and distracting to others (see links above). Therefore, if you use an electronic device for a purpose other than note taking during class, e.g. for web surfing, chatting, facebooking, or texting, you do so at risk of your grade. Reading digital papers and other non-course texts during class is also distracting for others – not to mention simply rude. Any student who is distracted by another student’s behavior during class should ask the other student to refrain from the distracting behavior, or report the behavior to me.
  • Email/Texting Dr. Achterman: Please pay attention to the email guidelines. Emails without subject lines end up in spam folders. Grades will not be discussed via email or text (it is a violation of FERPA). Email/texts will not be answered after 9pm on weekdays nor between Friday at 9pm and Sunday at 5pm.  Therefore it is a good idea to do the 3-prong test before you write: ONE: did I check on Discovery/website/syllabus for the answer? TWO: did I review my notes? THREE: did I ask a classmate?
    • You must use your NU ID & Email account: All readings and assignment instructions for this course will be posted on the Discovery site or on a separate course website if indicated. Most assignments will be submitted online via Discovery. Additionally, I will post/email additional instructions or reminders via Discovery’s email system. Thus – you must keep up-to-date on your university email. We cannot use alternative emails – if you must use something else, arrange to have your NU mail forwarded to that address. In addition: “my internet connection was down” is not an excuse for a late assignment. There are hundreds of alternatives for free broadband/Wi-Fi connections. You must get your work in on time.
    • Class clock and disruption: I will start class on time and end it on time. I realize that you have many demands on your time, but you signed up for this class at this time and I now expect you to schedule around it. You may think that arriving late/leaving early is simply a personal issue; that you can get in or out of class without disturbing class. This is false. It disturbs everyone, so please do not arrive late and do not leave early (this includes packing up) unless you let me know prior to class. Your work schedule is not an excuse to arrive late or leave early. You are a student. Getting food is not an excuse either – I realize that some classes are around meal times – you may bring food to class, just don’t be late!
    • This classroom will remain a tolerant space where we reason through opposing arguments and encourage difficult discussions. I will not tolerate oppressive comments in the classroom that make it difficult for any student to have fair and equal access to education.
    • To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Advising. They will work with you to document this for class so I can help you with assignments and presentations.
    • As a student at Northwest University you have made a commitment to live in Christian community. As such, plagiarism is a significant violation of this commitment and will be dealt with severely in this class. It is important for you to know that plagiarism is any representation of another person’s words or ideas in a manner that makes it seem as if they were your own, in either oral or written form. This means that you may not copy another person’s paper or post without citation. Your work should be entirely your own. If it becomes evident that you have collaborated with another student and/or plagiarized work, the matter will be immediately turned over to the Provost’s office. Northwest’s policy is here.
    • Illness and Attendance: If you develop a fever or cough, do not come to class until you have fully recovered. Instead, notify me via email or text of your illness as soon as you become ill. I will often use Panopto and you may review the lecture at your leisure.
    • Illness and Assignments: You are responsible for managing the deadlines for this course, including taking into account the possibility that you might fall ill at an inopportune time. Most assignments and projects are to be submitted online; this enables you to turn them in regardless of any circumstances that might prevent you from coming to class. If you are unable to complete an assignment by its due date because of illness, you must email the me at least 24 hours before the due date in order to receive a deferred due date. All deferred assignments must be completed as arranged with me prior to the deferred due date. Any assignment not turned in by the original due date without advance notification will not be accepted for credit. After the last day of class, any missing assignments will be reflected in grades. Therefore it is a good idea to review your marks during the semester, not just at the end. Incompletes may only be given for personal or family emergencies and must have approval of the professor and advising.
    • Problems or Complaints: If you have concerns or problems related to the course, please talk with me first, but try to do it in person. If you have an issue that needs attention beyond me please make an appointment with Dean Hobson or Provost Heugel.
    • Student Athletics and Other University Activities: Student athletes, debaters, and government leaders must inform me of their travel schedules (if they cause absences) by the second week of the semester so that we can work around any issues.



Critiques are a vital part of learning. You can learn a lot from reviewing the work of others and evaluating their strengths and weaknesses. Critiques also provide the opportunity to put concepts to words, and to help you learn how to speak intelligently and knowledgeably (a necessary skill for survival in the workplace!). We will critique published work and your work. This will provide you with fresh insights and perspectives.


  • Attend class regularly.
  • Remember I am available to help you. Ask for help immediately if you don’t understand something. Waiting to “get it later” doesn’t always work and could get you into trouble.
  • Back up your work. Have two backups. Memory sticks/thumb drives work, but can break.
  • Consider saving your work under different names literally each time you work on a project. It just takes one click and could save you lots of time and frustration.
  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Try to do work for this class ahead of time. This will give you some cushion in case you have problems.
  • Sometimes things will go smoothly, other times they won’t – the important thing is to have fun and practice thinking and working with both sides of our brains.



Final Caveat: I reserve the right to change any part of this syllabus for any reason. This includes changing or deleting assignments. Sufficient notice will be given to you if changes to the syllabus are necessary.


By accepting this syllabus and staying enrolled in this course, you are indicating that you understand and accept the terms of this syllabus.




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