Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

University of Pennsylvania

Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society

University of Pennsylvania via Coursera


Unlock Unlimited Opportunities: Get 50% Off Your First Month of Coursera Plus
This is a course aimed at making you a better designer. The course marries theory and practice, as both are valuable in improving design performance. Lectures and readings will lay out the fundamental concepts that underpin design as a human activity. Weekly design challenges test your ability to apply those ideas to solve real problems. The course is deliberately broad - spanning all domains of design, including architecture, graphics, services, apparel, engineered goods, and products. The emphasis of the course is the basic design process: define, explore, select, and refine. You, the student, bring to the course your particular interests and expertise related to, for instance, engineering, furniture, fashion, architecture, or products. In prior sessions of the course about half of the participants were novices and about half had prior professional design expertise. Both groups seem to benefit substantially from the course. All project work is evaluated by your peers -- and indeed, you will also be a peer reviewer. This format allows you to see an interesting collection of projects while getting useful feedback on your own project.


  • Week #1: Introduction to Design
    • This module was designed to introduce you to the design process and to reinforce the critical role that user needs play in good design. You'll learn that design is conceiving and giving form to artifacts that solve problems, and also how to recognize and identify a gap in a problem. You'll explore what defines what users need, as well as ways to use those needs toward product design. By the end of this module, you will have begun your own design process by identifying 10 problem gaps and submitting them for feedback from your peers. You will also do a "5 Whys" exercise to help you determine the best design problem for you to solve in your final design project.
  • Week #2: Customer Needs and Drawing Solutions
    • In this module, you'll deliver your customer needs and learn the basic principles of drawing for product design: a necessary skill for any designer. The module begins with another peer review, this time on customer needs. This assignment requires you to conduct interviews with potential customers, and to come up with a list of at least 30 user needs. Given the time-intensive nature of this assignment, we suggest you begin it as soon as possible. As you conduct your interviews and begin your list of user needs, you can start watching the drawing videos, which will guide you through the processes of presenting your design in a clear, easily accessible format. By the end of this module, you'll be able to identify the main customer needs your design will address, and also be able to present your design as a drawing which employs the best practices of drawing for design.
  • Week #3: Design Concepts
    • The goal of this module is to move from defining the problem to designing a solution. You'll begin by learning about the exploration phase, and you will exit this phase with a number of design concepts for peer review. You'll also learn how to decompose a design to evaluate its overall function, and essential process in creating good design essential to the life of your design. Finally, you'll learn how to critically examine past design artifacts to inform your current concepts so that you can sensibly differentiate your product. By the end of this module, you'll have created 10 solid design concepts, and you will have received feedback on those concepts so that you can move to the next phase of the design process: prototyping.
  • Week #4: Concept Selection and Prototyping
    • This module was created to help you understand the selection process so that you can choose one design for prototyping. You'll learn key techniques for evaluating your design concepts, including the selection matrix, and the scoring matrix. And once you've selected some designs, you will also learn the uses and value of prototyping. You'll explore how prototypes are used to answer questions, to communicate and to distinguish milestones in the design process, and you will also work through the prototyping process so you can begin building your own, which you will submit for peer review. By the end of this module, you'll have selected one or more design concepts for prototyping, built prototypes, and received feedback on them from your peers. You'll also get to see some of your peers' designs as well.
  • Week #5: Aesthetics
    • Now that you’ve identified what concept you want to explore, this module will explore the aesthetics of design so that you can refine your prototypes to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible. You'll learn how aesthetics are used in design, and how they motivate reactions toward artifacts overall using a real-world example. You'll also learn how you can apply these aesthetic principles to your own prototype, so that you can make your prototype more appealing and pleasing to potential customers. By the end of this module, you'll be prepared to implement aesthetic changes to your existing prototype so that you can be ready to submit your final design project for review in the following module.
  • Week #6: Final Project Submission
    • In this module, you will submit your final project for review. You'll then evaluate the work of five (5) of your peers and receive feedback which you can use for the next iteration of your design. By the end of this module, you will have created a reasonable prototype, and received critical feedback on how to redesign your prototype so that you know which directions to purse should you continue working on this project after the conclusion of this course.

Taught by

Karl T. Ulrich


4.4 rating, based on 17 Class Central reviews

4.6 rating at Coursera based on 340 ratings

Start your review of Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society

  • Anonymous
    Even as a qualified designer this course was very educative.

    You need to spend a lot of time on some parts of the course but it is worth every minute.

    To be part of a group of students from all of the world is a real bonus. Not only do you have to think about your own artifact you also have to asses the artifacts of others which in itself is a design project.

    If you want to learn about design in a short time this course is powerful and addictive.

    Thank you Prof. Ulrich
  • Profile image for Ani Mamulashvili
    Ani Mamulashvili
    I'm Ani Mamulashvili, I'm 20years old,I live in Georgia,tbilisi,I study at Ilia's State University,on computer design faculty,I love drawing and I think I can create new ideas,new things,which becomes art more beautiful,I can singing and I want to know playing piano,my future plans are to become famous designer not only in my country.My dream is to go in Scotland and in America I think there is my space and It will change my life.I have a few friends,I will be glad to meet new people,I love new experiences and I think that I have more possibilities to do much more for me and for other people.Art is my life and my life is art.
  • Anonymous
    I'm working on 3D Applications and It was pretty comfortable to understand and submit my assignments on time.

    The course video lectures were very interesting and informative, now what ever I see, I can apply the design knowledge I gained from this course and I can understand about design lot more now.

    The step by step introductions to the task and clear, detail brief by the instructor and well organised materials, assignment briefs / instructions is all I like. Dislike really nothing..!
  • Anonymous
    Excellent. His methodology and approach to the subject is outstanding. You will have to work toward the creation and design of a tangible service or product so be prepared to apply yourself.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent class. Loved it!
    But, be warned if you want to successfully complete it you will need to do serious planning and design work on a project of your choosing.
  • Anonymous
    Total beginner, here, loved the course. I'll take it again to absorb it all, but it was inspiring and energizing. Well designed, well presented; encouraging, creativity sparking. Great course.
  • Profile image for Peggy Reeve
    Peggy Reeve
    Amazing course and instructor! Had me inventing things and designing prototypes after just a few lectures. I never would have don this on my own. Very motivating!
  • Anonymous
    Excellent lectures. Thought provoking examples. Challenging design problem.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent course

    Only issue is the highly subjective peer reviews
  • Aisha Zubair
    I found it interesting. ...and related to my field
    And hopefully this will help me out in future too
    Excited to start it right away.
  • Allison W
    I liked the course. I thought it was well-structured. I was able to get some good notes on brainstorming, sketching, and prototyping.

    It wasn't ideal for me to complete all of the activities, due to uncontrollable factors.

    I dislike the Coursera platform and how it locks you out of completing all of the tasks you upgrade. It's kind of annoying. I probably would've enjoyed the course more if it wasn't on Coursera.
  • Aana
  • Nyan Tun
    I very intestered design from my childhood. So, i want to learn creative design. My dream is next five year i am professional designer people.

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.

Someone learning on their laptop while sitting on the floor.