Michigan State University


Experience Architecture (XA) is an interdisciplinary endeavor. Our program combines rhetoric, design, and computer science concepts to help graduates adapt, learn, and lead in innovative workplaces. Throughout all of the required classes to complete the XA program, students will be given real-world experience in leading teams and collaborating on different projects both in and out of the classroom. To do this, students will learn and practice how to design, develop, and architect user experiences. Students will also learn how experiences emerge across ecosystems–websites, apps, devices, and other spaces and places, as knowledge of current technology encourages creativity and innovation in these areas for the future. Coursework in the classroom is often supplemented by experimental or hands-on work necessary in making the transition to future workplaces.

Core Courses

Basic principles of user-centered design as applied to user experience. Usability, information architecture, interaction design, and service design practices, tools, conventions, and professional community.

Researching for product, services, and processes as applied to user experience. Contextual inquiry, field studies, card sorting, participatory design, interviewing, focus groups, and usability testing. Field trip required.

Managing user experience projects. Project management, staffing projects, scheduling projects, managing process, writing specifications, sales, budgeting.

Process models used in the planning and designing of interactive experiences. Organization of information, user interactions, visual design attributes, prototyping methods, and interface design.

Integrate knowledge and skills acquired from previous courses. Conceptualization, planning, implementation, and assessment of a project, service, system or an idea in a collaborative setting.

Field experience in a professional environment that supports, user experience, interaction design, design research, usability, information architecture, project management, interface development, and/or web development. Work under the supervision of a professional.

Overview of form and communication analysis and manipulation. Investigation of theory, concept and visual tools central to developing visual communication systems.

Studio-based survey of experimental and futures-oriented design practices that are interdisciplinary in nature, intersect with emergent practices in the visual arts, and address broader issues of power, normativity, and social justice.

Deductive and inductive reasoning. Topics such as rational argumentation, fallacies, definition, meaning, truth and evidence. Techniques for critical reading and thinking.

Analyzing, evaluating, and authoring Web sites. Principles of design rhetoric. Practices of Web accessibility.

Rhetorical analysis of consumer, corporate, organizational, and popular cultures appropriate to professional settings.

Developing and maintaining large-scale, interactive Web sites. Visual design, usability, audio and video integration, ongoing site management, and web accessibility.


Theory and practice for architecting information, including understanding and developing taxonomies, folkonomies, site structures, tagging systems, and guided navigation for user experience.

Digital representation of objects such as numbers, signals, and 3-dimensional shapes. Algorithms that operate on digital objects. Computer communications and the Internet. Computer security and web services.

Introduction to programming using Python. Design, implementation and testing of programs to solve problems such as those in engineering, mathematics and science. Programming fundamentals, functions, objects, and use of libraries of functions.

Continuation of object-centered design and implementation in C++. Building programs from modules. Data abstraction and classes to implement abstract data types. Static and dynamic memory allocation. Data structure implementation and algorithm efficiency. Lists, tables, stacks, and queues. Templates and generic programming.

Formal and communicative properties of typography. Letterform, font specification, style, meaning, texture, and space. Sequence of analysis from formal aspects, to communicative, to a synthesis of the two.

Time-based design utilizing sound and motion for visual communication and personal expression relating to the field of graphic design. Conceptual and formal explorations relating to the moving image such as motion graphics, stop-motion animation, and kinetic typography.

Digital interactivity as a tool for visual communication, design and distribution of ideas. Conceptual, formal and typographical explorations relating to screen-based activities such as interface design, user-interaction and basic animation.

Principles and practices of communicating technical information for different audiences and purposes, and across multiple media. Methods of audience-based research, information design, project management, and technical style (verbal and visual).

Rhetorical, social, political, economic, and ethical dimensions of digital communication, including identity, community, genre, and events. Rhetorical dynamics of communication across digital spaces such as apps, websites, software, and other experiences.

Applied theory and best practices for content strategy. Understanding the content management lifecycle, aligning content strategy to business goals, assessing communication needs for audiences and participants. Issues in project leadership, management, intellectual property, and organizational communication for creating flexible, dynamic content and content structures.

Design of information systems for professional writers. Pitching ideas. Developing information and interfaces. User-centered design lifecycle. Activity analysis, object-oriented modeling, prototyping, and technical specifications, and implementation planning.

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