How Web Design Is Like Course Design

Concurrent Session 2

Brief Abstract

Learn how our team of expert educators (but novice web designers) applied our pedagogic expertise to UX and web design techniques like personas, user tasks, card sorting, and accessibility to improve our teaching and learning resources website.


Kenji Ikemoto, MA Ed. is an Academic Technology Specialist at Stanford University. He supports Stanford faculty and staff with one-on-one consultations, curricular support, educational programs, and peer-to-peer programs on the effective uses of information technology for education. Throughout his career in higher education Kenji has developed and managed campus-wide initiatives for quality course design, online course redesign, and mobile tablet learning, as well as designing and facilitating numerous professional development offerings. Kenji values evidence-based and inclusive learning and teaching practices, design thinking, community building, and strong collaborations. He is inspired by insights in learning science, innovative pedagogies, and emerging technology tools. He sees education as a key driver for positive societal change. On weekends he is often working on his latest craft project, playing tabletop role-playing games with friends, or hitting the trail on a bicycle or in hiking shoes.

Extended Abstract

Many educators often use digital platforms to achieve their goals. For example, to build networks for sharing resources (Sipes), or to offer faculty development programs (Lukes). User experience (UX) design describes “design philosophies, approaches, and tools that have originated within technology product design-related fields, namely user-centered design and human-computer interaction” (Minichiello et al.). Knowledge of UX is likely to be beneficial to those who design digital platforms.

For people unfamiliar with UX, this jargon and techie aura may be intimidating. However, this session proposes that many principles of user-centered design have parallels in the field of education. The growing prominence of Learning Experience design (LX) signals a shift “moving the field [of instructional design] towards more human-centered approaches to designing digital environments for learning” (Schmidt and Huang). Inclusive teaching practices, learner-centered course design, and experiential learning also seem to reflect this trend.

This session proposes to empower inclusive, learner-centric, and experiential educators to reimagine themselves as UX/LX designers. Participants will identify a design principle, compare it to familiar pedagogic strategies, and then identify an analogous UX design strategy. Participants then engage with sample UX activities and relevant tools. 

This session can have positive implications in a variety of professional contexts. Educational staff, faculty, graduate students, and directors may all have the need to develop a website. Oftentimes, a department or unit does not have an abundance of resources or dedicated web design staff. They may be called upon to manage a website on their own without a lot of web design experience. This session is applicable to many institutional contexts as well, including both public institutions with limited resources, minority-serving institutions seeking to build greater support for instructors and students via effective online resources, and private institutions where resources may not be adequately directed. Professionals at institutions of varying sizes or backgrounds are likely to find themselves needing to manage or make improvements to a website.

Participants in this session willl:

  • Identify and apply design principles shared between pedagogic strategies and UX/UI strategies for improving a website.

  • Practice using sample activities for UX/UI strategies in order to prepare to implement them in diverse institutional contexts.

The session will be structured by three questions, which participants will experience iteratively through several examples. This approach aims to reinforce analogical thinking by providing participants with multiple opportunities for practice and supporting them in applying the principles.

  1. What is the underlying design principle?

  2. What pedagogical strategies exemplify this principle?

  3. What UX activity uses the same principle?

The following underlying principles, pedagogic strategies, and UX activities will be examined.

  • Know your audience > Learner analysis, inclusive teaching > Fill in a persona card
  • Have clear objectives > SLO, backward course design > Identify user tasks
  • Organize information in easily understandable ways > Curriculum design, chunking, sequencing > Sort cards into categories
  • Leverage feedback > Formative assessment, student feedback, reflective practices > Complete sample usability testing task
  • Make it easy to access > UDL, accessible learning > Use a web accessibility checker

This session proposes to engage participants with a variety of activities. The facilitator will use audience polls (Poll Everywhere) throughout the session. Participants will also have opportunities to fill in a persona card, do a card-sorting activity, and use a web accessibility checking tool. The proposed agenda below lists 

  1. Introduction

    1. Self-introduction, session objectives, norms, and intentions for respectful engagement

  2. Identify the principle of knowing your audience

    1. Describe multiple example situations

    2. Identify the underlying principle in a interactive poll

  3. Apply the principle to pedagogic strategies

    1. Describe pedagogic strategies that include this principle

    2. Share benefits to the poll

  4. Apply the principle to a UX/UI strategy

    1. Describe personas

    2. Fill in a persona card

  5. Examine the principle of having clear objectives

    1. Repeat steps 2 through 4 above for the principle of having clear objectives. 

  6. Examine a selected principle

    1. Share a list of remaining principles, pedagogic strategies, and UX sample activities with links

    2. Participants try freely, facilitator supports

  7. Wrap-up

    1. Reflect on takeaways, remaining questions, and possible next steps

    2. Share with the group poll

Particpants in this session are expected to have a familiarity with the pedagogic strategies such as learner analysis, backward course design, formative assessment, Universal Design for Learning, and so on. Participants are also strongly encouraged to bring a web-enabled device to respond to audience polls and access all of the activities. Analog options will be provided for some but not all activities.

Lukes, Laura A. ;. Reid. “Rebuilding a Teaching Conference in a Pandemic: User-Centered Guiding Principles and Lessons Learned.” To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development, vol. 39, no. 3, Spring 2021,

Minichiello, Angela, et al. “Bringing User Experience Design to Bear on STEM Education: A Narrative Literature Review.” Journal for STEM Education Research, vol. 1, no. 1–2, Dec. 2018, pp. 7–33. (Crossref),

Schmidt, Matthew, and Rui Huang. “Defining Learning Experience Design: Voices from the Field of Learning Design & Technology.” TechTrends, vol. 66, no. 2, Mar. 2022, pp. 141–58. Springer Link,

Sipes, Shannon M. ;. Minix. “Building a Social Network Around SoTL Through Digital Space.” To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development, vol. 39, no. 1, Spring 2020,