UC Davis Design Major Advising Sheet

Case Study, Print

The new UC Davis Design Department has taken into account the high demand for classes by removing the emphases & pooling the classes together into 2 main lists: prepatory subject matter + depth subject matter. This is currently the new advising sheet for the department.

The need for students to have a simple & visual guide to the new program drove me to pick the Design Advising Sheet for my final project redesign.


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During my first round of research, I knew I had to redefine my primary and secondary audiences and reconsider my original approach of designing for the function of the student.

My new primary audience was the advisors. The advising sheet was for them to keep their records and for them to use. They are the ones that need to be able to navigate through it quickly during one-on-one student meetings. My new secondary audience was new students entering the major. There was less of a focus on the navigation of the sheet for a new student because even if the sheet is completely horrible the student becomes accustomed to it. It is something they have never seen before, so over time, the more they see it the more they would get used to it.

My new approach was to create a progress checklist that functions correctly in all the technical aspects for the advisors and as a reinforcement sheet for the students after they have met with the advisors. Through the guidance of the advisor, the redesigned design major advising sheet will give students a better chance at understanding the courses. They will be more confident in their decision at a specific path or general path.

Prototypes Below ↓

I wanted my prototypes to lead to a progress sheet that a new design student could only get from the advisors. A student is not meant to navigate through the sheet by themselves.

The first thing I added was an introductory paragraph about the function of the form. I used casual language to make the whole sheet more inviting. It was difficult fitting all the information on the same side, especially since I wanted to keep the classes subtlely sectioned in Visual Communication, Fashion, Interiors, and Exhibition classes. Thinner rules acted as dividers between sections. Leading letters (A, B, C) were introduced in an attempt to provide hierarchy and guide the student through. Just as a comparison, I tried landscape versions. At first, I thought the information would fit better within a horizontal space, but I was wrong. The limited height forced me to break up the long depth subject matter lists of classes into at least 2-3 columns. This made groups of courses appear disconnected and cluttered.

Final Proposal ↓

This version was well received by the Design Advisors and Design Department, becoming the new advising sheet.

My final proposal displays all of the course names, has room for custom information (curriculum year, grade, quarter taken), has a sense of hierarchy, refers to the website, uses casual inviting language, and integrates non-design courses with design courses. Most importantly, the sheet takes into consideration the role of the advisor to be the navigator. It is designed to be able to be used for at least the next couple years.

How does it make them feel about the Design Program? Do they want to take the classes? Ideally, the website will act as a supplement to the progress checklist. Since the website is easier to update constantly, the checklist will just have the most important information on it that is not expected to change too drastically in the next few years.

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