Approx. 2 weeks

Assumes 6hrs/wk (work at your own pace)

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Course Summary

Everyone designs. Design occurs anytime you deliberately change an environment to make things better. When you decide what seat to take in an auditorium you’re designing your experience. When you rearrange the furniture in a room or draft an email, you’re designing.

This course provides a summary of key concepts from the first two chapters of The Design of Everyday Things (Revised and Expanded Edition, November 2013) by Don Norman. It’s intended to be enjoyable and informative for anyone curious about design: everyday people, technical people, designers, and non-designers alike.

Why Take This Course?

This course will provide you with the knowledge needed to start recognizing the role of design in today’s world, and to start making better design decisions in your own life. In addition to learning basic design concepts such as affordances and signifiers, you will also gain practice in observing and applying design principles.

Prerequisites and Requirements

There are no prerequisites for the course; it’s for anyone curious about basic design principles.

See the Technology Requirements for using Udacity.


Lesson 1: Affordances and Signifiers (4 hours)

Lesson 2: Conceptual Models and the System Image (4 hours)

Lesson 3: Gulfs of Evaluation and Execution (1 hour)

Final Project: Design the User Interface (UI) for a Timebank (7 hours)

*The times include watching instructional videos, completing the course exercises, and finishing projects. In total, this course should take an average of 16 hours.

Instructors & Partners

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Chelsey Glasson


Chelsey Glasson is Lead User Experience Researcher at Udacity and Associate Managing Editor of User Experience (UX) magazine. Her user research skills have impacted a wide variety of web, mobile, enterprise and consumer technologies at diverse companies. Chelsey has a Masters in Human Centered Design and Engineering from the University of Washington, and she’s excited to help with this class because she’s confident it will inspire those new to design to explore user experience and design careers. She often writes about UX careers on her blog: You can also find her on Twitter @chelseyglasson.

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Kristian Simsarian


Kristian Simsarian is a design leader, educator and consultant. He is currently the founder and chair of the undergraduate Interaction Design program at California College of the Arts (CCA). Kristian co-founded the Software Experiences practice at IDEO as an Associate Partner, and led design innovation initiatives for many of the world’s most impactful organizations, including: Microsoft, Nokia, Lily, Pfizer, Samsung, Yahoo!, XBOX, SAP, AT&T, Procter & Gamble, the FBI and the National Institutes of Health. After a decade at IDEO he shifted his focus to education while continuing as an IDEO Fellow and independent consultant. As co-teacher of this course, he brings the first steps of actually taking action and becoming a designer yourself.

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Don Norman


Don is the author of The Design of Everyday Things. He is both a businessperson (he has worked as a VP at Apple, an Executive at HP and UNext) and an academic who has been a faculty member at Harvard, UC San Diego, Northwestern, and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, an IDEO fellow, and a trustee of IIT’s Institute of Design. He can be found at

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