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2020/2021  KAN-CINTV1805U  Creating the 'look and feel' of digital systems

English Title
Creating the 'look and feel' of digital systems

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 120
Study board
Study Board for BSc/MSc in Business Administration and Information Systems, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Rob Gleasure - Department of Digitalisation
Main academic disciplines
  • Information technology
  • Innovation
  • Experience economy
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 24-03-2020

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the highest grade possible for the course, students should demonstrate the following:
  • the ability to understand and explain why the look and feel of digital systems is important.
  • the ability to understand and explain key factors that influence the look and feel of digital systems.
  • the ability to apply theory presented during the course to deconstruct and critique different digital systems.
  • the ability to redesign and improve the look and feel of digital systems, building on both theory and empirical observations.
  • the ability to produce an illustrative prototype to communicate and test new designs.
Creating the 'look and feel' of digital systems:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance.
Individual or group exam Oral group exam based on written group product
Number of people in the group 2
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Each student may also perform the project individually, if they wish. However, the page limit will remain the same.
Assignment type Report
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
15 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
If the student fails the first written project exam, s/he can either submit a revised version of the project, or a completely new project for the re-exam
Description of the exam procedure

Students will select one real-world digital system of their choosing. They will analyze and critique the look and feel of the interface for that system using one or more of the theoretical concepts from the course.


Stuents will then present an alternative version of that interface that improves the look and feel by building on their critique. Preliminary empirical data (primary or secondary) should be collected to justify and/or evaluate these changes. 

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Digital systems are continuously emerging, adapting, and disappearing. Many of these systems possess similar functionalities, meaning users can choose between multiple systems that do the same things. Other systems are innovative and novel, meaning users often rely on snap judgements of system quality based on first impressions.


The design of digital systems must therefore consider more than just what a system can do; the design must consider how a system makes a user feel.


This course will move through core topics, beginning with the essential concepts of interface design, and then drilling down into more nuanced and specific considerations. This will include how we perceive objects in an interface, how we react to different aesthetics and forms, the types of emotions we experience, as well as more technical considerations such as color and font. We will also discuss how the tools we use shape our broader understanding and how we can properly illustrate and test alternative interface designs.

Description of the teaching methods
The course will consist of ten 3-hour lectures. Each lecture will be broken up into four parts.

First, we will introduce and discuss new concepts that help to understand how users interact with digital systems.

Second, these concepts will be applied to critique existing digital systems. This will be done collectively for illustration purposes, then independently by students in groups.

Third, each project group will perform a second critique, this time of the system they have selected for their project work.

Finally, students will re-design existing digital systems, building on the specific concepts and critiques already discussed.
Feedback during the teaching period
Topic-related feedback will be provided continuously in each class, as students present their critiques and redesigns of selected illustrative systems to their peers and the instructor. Online polling will also be used during classes to ensure students are comfortable with new concepts introduced within each session.

Project-specific feedback will also be received continuously in each class, based on each group's in-class critiques of the system they have selected for project work. Project groups will discuss these critiques with a paired group, with additional one-to-one feedback from the instructor where possible.

Additional project feedback will also be received in the final weeks, as students present their proposed redesign to the class.
Student workload
Lectures and in-class exercises 30 hours
Reading and preparation for classes 90 hours
Exam preparation 86 hours
Expected literature

Beaudry, A., & Pinsonneault, A. (2010). The other side of acceptance: studying the direct and indirect effects of emotions on information technology use. MIS Quarterly, 34(4), 689-710.

Galitz, W. O. (2007). The essential guide to user interface design: an introduction to GUI design principles and techniques. John Wiley & Sons, London.

Hall, R. H., & Hanna, P. (2004). The impact of web page text-background colour combinations on readability, retention, aesthetics and behavioural intention. Behaviour & Information Technology, 23(3), 183-195.

Hartson, R. (2003). Cognitive, physical, sensory, and functional affordances in interaction design. Behaviour & Information Technology, 22(5), 315-338.

Kaptelinin, V. (2014). Affordances and design. The interaction design foundation (pp. 25-62).

Star, S. L. (1996). Working together: Symbolic interactionism, activity theory, and information systems. In Y. Engeström & D. Middleton (Eds.), Cognition and communication at work (pp. 296–318). Cambridge University Press, Massachusetts.

Tractinsky, N., Katz, A. S., & Ikar, D. (2000). What is beautiful is usable. Interacting with computers, 13(2), 127-145.

Treisman, A. (1986). Features and objects in visual processing. Scientific American, 255(5), 114-125.


Some of the expected literature might change. The complete list of mandatory readings will be included as the course syllabus is uploaded, before the start of the semester.

Last updated on 24-03-2020